BWW Review: THE DROWSY CHAPERONE at Clarksville Little Theatre
The Company of The Drowsy Chaperone. Photo courtesy Clarksville Little Theatre.
The Drowsy Chaperone
Directed by Janet Morris
Review by Taylor Clemons
Entire contents copyright © 2017 Taylor Clemons. All rights reserved.
Everyone enjoys a good old fashioned musical comedy right? Well, for the most part anyway. The big problem with most is that there are always little things that reek of of a less progressive time, covered in a layer of cheese too thick for the greasiest pizza you can find. The Drowsy Chaperone is somewhat of a new musical/classic musical hybrid. The show premiered on Broadway in 2006 and was nominated for an array of awards, including Best Musical at the Tony Awards. The show starred a slew of Broadway fancies too numerous to name.
The show opens on a man, in a chair (Greg Collier). He is simply known as, well "Man in Chair". We, the audience, through some bit of theatre magic are all sitting in his living room. He breaks the 4th wall as he pours himself a drink. He proceeds to talk about early musicals, citing his favorite as the widely unknown The Drowsy Chaperone. For the sake of narrative, we the audience indulge him, and he starts to play the old vinyl cast recording. As the record begins, the musical bursts to life in his tiny New York apartment. Throughout the evening, we watch the show within the show, with occasional commentary by Man in Chair. The plot of the show within the show (The Drowsy Chaperone) is very complicated and hard to explain but very easy to follow. So for that reason, and because I don't want to spoil even a moment of comedic magic, I'll sum it up with a line from the show: "Music, mayhem, and a gay wedding!"
The show stars an embarrassment of riches from the Louisville theater community. It's lead by Greg Collier who is an absolute delight as Man in Chair. He plays the part equal parts humor and melancholy. The character, while adoring musical theatre, you can't help but feel something is missing from his life, and musicals are just part of filling the void. As for the show within the show, highlights for me personally included Carrie Chastain, Jeff Ketterman, and Valerie Canon as a drowsy chaperone, a kooky latin lover, and the love struck bride respectively. Chastain possesses a deadpan glare like no other. With a single flourish of the arm, the audience was putty in her hands. Ketterman is, well, something else... in the absolute best way possible as Adolpho. His comedic timing is superb, and he leaves no set piece without teeth marks. Canon brings a wonderful style to Janet, and proves why she's one of our community's most valuable assets in terms of her beautiful dancing, and her ability to take the wide eyed nature of Janet van de Graff and embody it fully. The supporting cast is wonderful for the most part, and is rounded out by a fantastic ensemble of terrific dancers.
Janet Morris's direction was spot on for this show. The reason it works so well, is that it's a very specific type of satire. It is all at once a cheesy classic musical, while being self aware of that fact and poking fun at itself every chance it can. Morris does musical comedy very well, so I was very excited to hear that she was taking on this underrated gem.
There were a few minor hiccups here and there, but that's very run of the mill for a community theatre musical with almost 20 cast members and a 5 piece band. On the whole everything came together quite nicely and will only continue to do so throughout the show's run.
If you're looking for a fun carefree night of joyous entertainment, this show is exactly what you need to see. So make the trip across the bridge and treat yourself to an evening of fun and laughter.
The Drowsy Chaperone
May 12, 13, 14, 19, and 20 at 8pm and May 21 at 2pm
Clarksville Little Theatre
301 E. Montgomery Ave.
Clarksville, IN 47129