BWW Reviews: A Musical Theater Delight at Theatre UCF's THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
Theatre UCF's fall musical, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE is a show within a show that delights musical theater fans by spoofing everything that defines our obsession. It is definitely recommended for anyone who has listened to a show's cast album over and over again. While some jokes may fly over the heads of non-thespian loving civilians, there are still many great laugh out loud moments enjoyed by all.
The fourth wall is broken when the audience meets the non-descript Man in Chair inside his New York City apartment. The Man in Chair serves as the narrator and says aloud what we have all thought about while listening to our favorite cast album or see a live show. He opens with some theater jokes like quips about cell phone interruptions and relevant improv that immediately builds a relationship with the audience. Then he shares his favorite cast album for an old 1920's fictional hit THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. As the record plays, the Man's apartment is transformed and the cast album comes to life before our eyes.
As with many glamorous 1920's musicals there are big company song and dance numbers; "famous" stars who need their solos on-stage; and love-struck starlets trying to make it in show business. The plot is relatively simple and easier to follow as the Man in Chair provides commentary. He acts as though he is explaining to an old friend all the nuances of this particular record. In THE DROWSY CHAPERONE the trouble starts when the young beautiful actress Janet Van De Graaff decides to quit show business and marry a man she met on a whimsy. Quitting show business would mean trouble for her boss Mr. Feldzieg, owner of the Feldzieg Follies, who also happens to owe money to a mobster. Then there is Janet's drunken chaperon who is charged with keeping her away from the groom until the actual wedding.
As Theatre UCF's mainstage musical, the production does not miss a beat with the big company numbers. Some of the most enjoyable numbers included "Show Off," "Toledo Surprise," and "I do, I do in the sky." Though some of the choreography seemed to be directly ripped off from the original Broadway production, the production's stars provide the enthusiasm necessary to carry the show.
Special applause goes to Tyler Beauregard as Robert, Janet's fiance, for his high energy tap routine and silvery vocals during "Cold Feets." Joined by the best man, George (Tony Pracek), the duo's toe tapping number perfectly reflected the 1920's routines. Beauregard then strapped on a pair of roller skates and a blindfold to skate and sing around the set in "Accident Waiting to Happen." It would not be surprising to see Tyler Beauregard making it on Broadway in the future.
Sandia Ahlers owns the role of Chaperone. She plays a diva and has the diva voice to complement her act. As a character the Chaperone is an interesting mix between hopeless romantic and drunk. Alex Bair is a natural Man in Chair. He is goofy, but likeable. His timing is good and when he breaks into the show it feels natural. Fredy Ruiz is a hysterical Aldolpho and plays into the character with all stereotypes. As two gangsters, Jay Pastucha and Jason Osorio, are a fun pair who masteRed Food puns and speaking in unison.
The Man in Chair's apartment remains the main set; however, it changes with each passing scene. Cast members enter and exit from unexpected places like the refrigerator or the bookshelf. There is a fabulous murphy bed that drops the Chaperone into her scene, and even a propeller airplane. The set transitions totally work for the story being told.
While die-hard musical fans will enjoy this more than most, but it is also a fun musical for those who are not. Dancing monkeys, stereotypical orientals, and an airplane add randomness to keep the non-musical lover entertained.