Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Sutton & Engel Kick Up Heels in The Drowsy Chaperone in LA, Nov. 18-Dec. 24

The Drowsy Chaperone, a frothy toast to the musicals of the twenties, will star Sutton Foster and Georgia Engel in its Broadway-bound premiere at the Center Theatre Group.  It will run at the Ahmanson Theatre in LA from November 18th through December 24th, with previews set to begin on November 10th.

Produced by Kevin McCollum (Rent) and Roy Miller, the show (which has long been in development) will mark the directorial debut of Casey Nicholaw, who choreographed Monty Python's Spamalot The show's origins are unique: the show "began quietly, seven years ago this month, at a stag party for Second City's Bob Martin. He was getting married, and his friends Greg Morrison and Lisa Lambert had written a collection of songs, called The Wedding Gift for his bachelor send-off," according to Variety.  Songwriters Morrison and Lambert joined forces with bookwriters Martin and Don McKellar (the film The Red Violin) to craft a show in which the main character is a fan of 20s musicals, including one about a wedding party.

Foster has been cast as Janet, the bride, while Engel will be seen as Mrs. Tottendale, a ukelele-strumming dowager.  In addition, Martin himself will play Man in Chair, whose fondness for 20s musicals transports into the action of his favorite musical--the chipper concoction of the title. 
"This pre-Broadway musical is a deliciously silly and affectionate love letter to the great musicals of the gay 1920s — a time when the champagne flowed, the caviar chilled and all the world was a guilty pleasure. This fabled 1928 Gable & Stein musical classic tells the tale of a pampered Broadway starlet who wants to give up show business to marry. Her producer sets out to sabotage the nuptials or it's curtains for him. Enter the chaperone, the debonair groom, a dizzy chorine, the Latin lover, and a couple of gangsters. Ruses are played. Hi-jinks occur, and the plot spins completely out of control!," according to Ahmanson notes.

The show, with bride Janet Van de Graaff as one of the producers, was presented some years back at the Toronto Fringe Festival.  Mounted there at a budget of $2,000, it took $20,000 for David and Ed Mirvish to produce it at The Passe Muraille and $1 million for its 2001 staging at the Winter Garden Theater in Toronto.  When Miller arranged for a 45-minute condensation of the show to be presented at New York's National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the show charmed audiences and Miller teamed up with an interested McCollum.  The show was to have played the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the summer, but then-artistic director Michael Richie signed on with LA's Center Theater Group, whose resident theatre is the 2,000-seat Ahmanson.

Nicholaw, who has been attached to the project since the day after Spamalot's opening, previously choreographed Bye Bye Birdie and Can-Can at Encores!, as well as the New York Philharmonic staged concert of Candide and
Sinatra: His Voice, His World, His Way at Radio City Music Hall, among others.

Foster won a Tony Award for another musical that tongue-in-cheekily embraced the 20s--Thoughly Modern Millie.  Recently, she received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Little Women, and has also appeared on Broadway in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Annie, Grease and Les Miserables as well as the Actors' Fund benefit concerts of Funny Girl and Chess.  Engel received an Emmy Award for playing Georgette on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."  She has also been seen as Pat MacDougall on "Everybody Loves Raymond."  She has appeared on Broadway in The Boys from Syracuse, My One and Only and the original production of Hello, Dolly!

For more information, visit

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You