Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
The action of The Drowsy Chaperone is basically a re-creation of this fictional 1920s musical, as Man in Chair plays the records on his turntable. And while it might appeal most to fans of Broadway musicals and to cast album collectors, the show is so witty and happy that I imagine it would entertain just about anyone.
As mentioned, it is John Scherer, as Man in Chair, who introduces the musical to the audience. Scherer proves to be extremely winning and ingratiating and he is the perfect host for this lark of a show. The Drowsy Chaperone is, essentially, a musical within a musical and, as Man in Chair plays the LPs of the fictional 1920s musical, the action of that musical is brought to life within the confines of his apartment.
All of this is directed with élan by Hunter Foster, and the cast he has assembled is stellar. In the fictional musical, Janet Van de Graaff, as portrayed by the radiant Stephanie Rothenberg, is about to get married, but all sorts of wild escapades get in her way. As her husband-to-be Robert Martin, Clyde Alves is movie-star handsome, as well as being a super performer, including executing a showstopping tap dance with the talented Tim Falter (as the best man, George) early in the first act. The choreography by Chris Bailey is just about perfect, with several enjoyable song and dance turns.
Jennifer Allen is a particular standout, as the title character, with her big song, "As We Stumble Along," being a highlight. But there is also the riotous John Rapson as Aldolpho, a Latin Lothario, and the ditzy chorus girl Kitty, played to the hilt by Ruth Pferdehirt. Also shining in this top to bottom excellent cast are the funny Blakely Slaybaugh and Parker Slaybaugh, as two gangsters masquerading as pastry chefs, the amusing Ruth Gottschall as somewhat lightheaded Mrs. Tottendale, and Danielle Lee Greaves, as Trix the Aviatrix, who somehow manages to make her entrance flying a plane.
Foster also has a first-class team of designers at his disposal, including costume designer Gregg Barnes and lighting designer Kirk Bookman, whose combined work truly comes up aces. The inspired musical direction is by Michael OFlaherty, who leads the dynamite offstage band.
The Drowsy Chaperone at Goodspeed Opera House is really complete bliss from beginning to end, filled with lots of laughs, delightful numbers, and it just may make musical comedy converts of anyone who attends the show. Go see it.
The Drowsy Chaperone, through November 25, 2018, at Goodspeed Opera House, 6 Main St., East Haddam CT. For tickets, please visit www.goodspeed.org or call the box office 860-873-8668.