Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

The Drowsy Chaperone

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts kicks off 2008 with the five-time Tony Award winning musical The Drowsy Chaperone.  This touring version of the most celebrated musical of the 2006 Broadway season is presented by Stanford Broadway Across America and the Florida Theatrical Association.

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 entitled 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 insure that the producer doesn't lose money on their investment, and, of course, her Drowsy Chaperone.  Her chaperone isn't naturally drowsy, you see, 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 an utterly delightful romp perfect for starting 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 charmingly executed, 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 with exuberance throughout, and the choreography is at its best in "Cold Feets," "No More" and "Toledo Surprise."

Jonathan Crombie is wonderful as Man in Chair, managing to make it all seem like this is happening for the first time as he propels the show forward.  Andrea Chamberlain is pert as Janet Van De Graaff.  Mark Ledbetter as her groom Robert Martin, and Richard Vida as his best friend George prove to be admirable dancers in "Cold Feets" where their feet are far from cold.

James Moye does a nice job as the pompous Lothario Aldolpho in his signature song, "Aldolpho."  The scatterbrained Mrs.Tottendale is played to perfection by Georgia Engel, who originated the role on Broadway.  Nancy Opel is as deliciously dry as the martinis she drinks as the Drowsy Chaperone.  She sings "As We Stumble Along" with a tipsy glory that leaves one wishing for an encore.

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 national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone  opened in September of 2007. For more information on the show and its tour, please visit

Stanford Broadway Across America - Ft. Lauderdale is presented in arrangement with the Florida Theatrical Association, which is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida.  Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over 5 million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year.  For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit

The Drowsy Chaperone is scheduled to appear through January 13, 2008 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For tickets and/or information on the many diverse offering of the Broward center for the Performing Arts you may contact them at 954-462-0222 or on line at  Tickets are also available in person through Ticketmaster  by phone at 954-523-3309 in Broward County, in person at Ticketmaster outlets,  or on line at

Man in Chair: Jonathan Crombie
Mrs. Tottendale: Georgia Engel
Underling: Robert Dorfman
Robert Martin: Mark Ledbetter
George: Richard Vida
Feldzieg: Cliff Bemis
Kitty: Marla Mindelle
Gangster #1: Paul Riopelle
Gangster #2: Peter Riopelle
Aldolpho: James Moye
Janet Van De Graaff: Andrea Chamberlain
The Drowsy Chaperone: Nancy Opel
Trix: Fran Jaye
Super: Chuck Rea
Ensemble: Kevin Crewell, Taylor Farrell, Chuck Rea, and Jennifer Swiderski

Director/Choreographer: Casey Nicholaw
Music Director/Conductor: Robert Billig
Scenic Design: David Gallo
Lighting Design: Ken Billington
Sound Design: Acme Sound Partners
Costume Design: Gregg Barnes
Hair Design: Josh Marquette
Makeup Design: Justen M. Brosnan
Production Stage Manager: Eric Sprosty

The actors and stage managers in this production are members of Actor's Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Photo: Joan Marcus

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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