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The Drowsy Chaperone
The Adobe Theater

Drowsy Chaperone
Zane Barker and Tim MacAlpine
I once prided myself as a lover of musicals. I loved it all: the dancing; the bursting into song while back-up singers and dancers emerge from out of nowhere; the silly, optimistic plotlines. I recognized the—there's really no other word for it—cheesiness of it all, and I ate it up. I don't long for the world to break into song and dance as much as I once did, but I still enjoy a good, cheesy musical every now and then. This I seemed to share with the rest of the audience at the opening performance of The Drowsy Chaperone at The Adobe Theater.

"A musical within a comedy," The Drowsy Chaperone is set in the apartment of Man in Chair (Ron Bronitsky), an older gentlemen who lives alone but seems perfectly content listening to his old Broadway records and getting lost in the nostalgia of musical theatre past. One of his favorites is "The Drowsy Chaperone," a (fictional) Broadway production from the late 1920s. Man in Chair invites the audience to listen with him and, as the record plays, the characters come to life onstage. The Drowsy Chaperone is set on the day of Broadway star Janet van de Graaff's (Lisette Herrera) wedding to oil tycoon Robert Martin (Tim MacAlpine); however, the mob boss who sponsors Janet's performances is less than pleased, and sends his two cronies (Jason Adam Cox and Andrew Melendez) to convince Janet's producer Feldzieg (Rónán MacCabe) to prevent the wedding. The musical has a bit of everything: mistaken identities, over-the-top accents, slapstick comedy (including repeated spit takes), and, of course, the "drowsy" (that is, "tipsy") chaperone (Erin Moody) who is supposed to watch over and advise Janet but spends more time drinking. Needless to say, comedy and chaos ensues.

The performance is interrupted every now and then by the comments and critiques of Man in Chair, who has listened to this musical so many times he knows everything about it. The show recognizes and embraces the cheesiness of musicals, laughing at itself all the way through, and encouraging the audience to laugh as well. After one musical number, Robert Martin comments that, while he doesn't know why he broke into song, he just couldn't resist: "The tune is so infectious!"

The cast members are talented and look good together on stage, but some of the singing and choreography in ensemble numbers isn't as sharp as it could be. At the performance I attended, there were one or two noticeably flat notes, and the dancing wasn't always quite synchronized. However, the performers give a good show and keep the audience entertained. Herrera is impressive as the poised starlet; her vocal and physical performance talent is showcased in "Show Off." Erin Allen is endearingly ditzy as Kitty, the wide-eyed chorus girl hoping to become the next "leading lady"; and John Keisling (playing the "self-proclaimed ladies' man" Aldolpho) and Moody provide much of the comedy by throwing themselves into their melodramatic roles. It is a shame that Jessica Fisher has the smallest role as Trix the pilot, because her clear voice dominates the few numbers she was in.

The Drowsy Chaperone is playing through March 11th at The Adobe Theater, 9813 4th Street NW, Albuquerque, NM 87114. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 2:00pm. Tickets are $15 General Admission and $13 Seniors and Students. For tickets and information, call 898-9222 or visit adobetheater.org.


Photo: Ossy Werner

--Sarah Parro



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