Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
The Drowsy Chaperone
NETworks Presentations LLC presents a national tour of the most celebrated new musical of the 2006 Broadway season, The Drowsy Chaperone, at the Raymond F. Kravis Center For The Performing Arts.
The Drowsy Chaperone is the story of a fussy and reclusive, middle-aged, modern-day musical theatre addict known simply as Man in Chair. To chase the blues away, he likes to listen to familiar old musicals. On this particular occasion, he drops the needle on his favorite LP (yes LP, not CD!), the cast recording of the 1928 musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone. From the crackle of his hi-fi, the musical magically bursts to life on-stage all around him. It tells the tale of a pampered Broadway starlet, Janet Van De Graaff, who wants to give up show business and marry her debonair suitor, Robert Martin. To complicate matters, there is an aspiring dim-witted actress named Kitty waiting to take her place, a producer determined to sabotage the nuptials, two gangsters looking to ensure that the producer doesn't lose money on their investment and, of course, her Drowsy Chaperone. The chaperone isn't naturally drowsy, but she is inclined to drink (despite the existence of prohibition) and it seems that alcohol makes her terribly, terribly drowsy. Needless to say, she is rather sleepy throughout the entire show. Since it is her job to keep an eye on Janet, her drowsy nature allows mischief to occur undetected. She even encounters a bit of mischief of her own in the arms of an aging Latin lover named Aldolpho.
This production of The Drowsy Chaperone is pleasant romp to start the New Year. The fantastic nature of the characters coming to life as Man in Chair tells the tale of his most beloved musical is charming, and the standard characters and plot twists of old movie musicals are comically nostalgic. The set for this production transforms easily from the meager apartment of Man in Chair into various glamorous locales, the orchestra plays fairly well throughout, and the choreography is at its best in ensemble numbers such as "Toledo Surprise."
John West is entertaining as Man in Chair, but he needs to go a bit further with his character. Elizabeth Pawlowski sings and dances well as Janet Van De Graaff, but seems a bit unexcited to be there. Leigh Wakeford, as Janet's groom Robert Martin, dances with smooth and polished beauty. He is more of a foppish dandy than a dashing leading man, however, and establishes no chemistry with Ms. Pawlowski.
Roberto Carrasco does a nice job as the pompous Lothario Aldolpho, but he is missing some of the robust legit sound expected in the character's signature song, "Aldolpho." The scatterbrained Mrs. Tottendale is played well by Kristin Netzband, as she channels quite a bit of Georgia Engel, who originated the role on Broadway. Patti McClure does a decent job as the Drowsy Chaperone, but misses out on being more over-the-top, which is the nature of the role. Jen Percival sings well as Trix, in a role usually way oversung and sometimes stylistically out of keeping within the period of the show-within-the-show.
As a whole, while all of the components are there in this production, it is lacking in the energy and chemistry that make this show magical. The ensemble numbers are the best part of this production, where everyone is full out. The rest of the time, though the show is enjoyable, the actors turn in a pale version of what the show should belike a weary matinee.
The Drowsy Chaperone features music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, and book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. It debuted at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 1999, and had its first complete production at the Toronto Winter Garden Theatre in June of 2001. It began previews in November 2005 at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, where it received five Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards. It opened on Broadway on May 1, 2006 at the Marquis Theatre and received five Tony Awards (with thirteen nominations), seven Drama Desk Awards (with fourteen nominations), four Outer Critic's Circle Awards, a Theatre World Award and a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. The first national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone opened in September of 2007. For more information on the show please visit www.drowsychaperone.com.
The Drowsy Chaperone appeared January 6 - 11, 2009 in the Dreyfoos Hall of the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. The Kravis Center is located at 701 Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach, FL. For information on their season, you may contact them at 561-832-7469 (561-832-SHOW) or 1-800-572-8471 (1-800-KRAVIS-1) or online at www.kravis.org.