Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...

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Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#0
Posted: 11/22/05 at 10:56am
This thread is intended for those of us who have already seen "The Drowsy Chaperone." Brilliantly innovative shows come along (if we're lucky) once every decade or so... and now theatre-goers everywhere have a reason to celebrate.

We need a place to breathe the "air of freedom" and discuss and post openly! A chance to raise questions, analyze the innovations, argue a bit, cheer our favorite performances, and predict the future of this amazing show that is now headed for Broadway in what will be (without doubt) a notable run.

To all others reading, I say WARNING:

--ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK--

Many of us have already stated that we hope the BWW posters will see this show "cold" and let it (potentially) overwhelm them the way some of us have been overwhelmed. Hey, but it's up to you. If you want to peek behind the curtain in advance, then read away. Comment away if you choose as well.

But don't say you haven't been warned! Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#1
Posted: 11/22/05 at 1:23pm
Good! Now we can talk freely!

First, I should say that one of the great delights for me in this show is that I do NOT share "Man In Chair"'s affection for creeky, old musicals. Except at a distance from a speeding car. I am a product of the rock era who did not grow up around theatre. Even when Hair and JCS came out, those shows just sounded like bad rock to me. It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I saw my first Broadway musical: Sweeney Todd, original cast. And I've been hooked ever since.

So, for me, ALL theatre songs from the 20s and 30s sound like parodies even if they're totally serious. (The exceptions being the Great Standards by Gershwin, Porter, etc.)

One of the reasons I loved this show was that my partner Jim used to do Musical Comedy Saturdays for me. He would put on a record -- yes, a record -- and take me through every musical in his bookcase, which was substantial. I usually hated them all, but I loved his love for them and I loved watching him talk about them.

Now you see why I loved the set-up for Chaperone. It was like being home. I also loved all the opening dialogue, expressing everything I hate in current musicals -- when he said, "And please, Elton John, can we just end this charawwde NOW??" I almost exploded with laughter.

It's rare when a show gives you at least two huge belly laughs before the curtain even rises or the lights get turned on.

I also loved his discussion of overtures, the way he poured some tea -- "Oh, listen! A little change! A dance number!" as he guided us through the overture followed by, "It's better if you close your eyes."

Then, when the orchestra takes over from the little scratchy record, it's THRILLING! We are LAUNCHED! It's a perfect set-up. He has given us context, humor, and put us at ease that this is gonna be fun mixed with silliness and love.

It was on my second visit that I really fell down and almost lost dinner when the faux-Second Act curtain happened. All that RED and that Chinese song. I loved that it was populated by the actors we've now come to know -- the lothario and the older diva. It's the nightmare version of "The King and I."

But what a scream when he runs across the stage and says it's the wrong record. Everything stops. The actors droop and then walk off-stage. His once a month cleaning woman had switched records and put them in the wrong sleeve.

More! More!
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#2
Posted: 11/22/05 at 1:32pm
I feel kind of bad for the people sitting around me....I somehow figured it out that it was the wrong record as soon as the curtain opened, and screamed to my friend in laughter. It might have given it away to a few around me. Sorry!


"He's a man of 1,000 accents, all of them offensive!"

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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#3
Posted: 11/22/05 at 1:48pm
I did NOT realize it was the wrong record. I just kept staring at the stage completely perplexed. But I loved the finger choreography. It was so classic! And I loved that they cast it with those two actors. I could totally see that show in my mind's eye without ever having to sit through it.

"Nowadays we leave the racial stereotypes to Disney and let the kids sort it out."
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#4
Posted: 11/22/05 at 3:20pm
My fave was their faces when he stopped the record...couldn't decide if they were annoyed that they had to stop, after donning those crazy getups for only a half of a number, or that they were just making a "can you believe I am doing this dreck" kinda face. Pure hilarity.


"Don't want to modulate" (as the key changes....HA!)


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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#5
Posted: 11/22/05 at 3:50pm
"I don't want to show off no more" is truly a stunning comic tour de force. I still want to know how she pulled off that costume change. Wearing nothing but a swim suit, then they put an umbrella in front of her, and two seconds later, it's a totally different outfit. I gasped both times I saw it.

BTW, they did some very incisive trimming from the first preview to the opening night. It was very surgical and the producers/creators seem to sense exactly where it wasn't working. The gangsters had a number that was cut, the roller skating number was cut in half. They cut down the spit scene. And there was some dialogue when the two divas were in the same scene that as modified. In the preview, the older one would talk over the younger one, cutting off her sentences. In the trimmed version, they cut some dialogue and just let the older one stand in front of the young one to make the point. There was also a longer number for the male chaperone where he did magic tricks. That was cut.

None of these moments were necessary, nor were they particularly effective. Fun, maybe, but they slowed the show down. Sometimes you can just have too much. Considering the short preview time, I am truly impressed by how quickly they discovered the problems and fixed them.
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#6
Posted: 11/22/05 at 4:47pm
I can think of some minor tweaks that could still be made. The powerbar eating scene should be trimmed a little bit. I also think they need to give Sutton another showstopper.
"It does what a musical is supposed to do; it takes you to another world. And it gives you a little tune to carry in your head. Something to take you away from the dreary horrors of the real world. A little something for when you're feeling blue. You know?"
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Globe and Mail article#7
Posted: 11/22/05 at 4:56pm
From The Toronto Globe and Mail

"Kevin McCollum, whose Broadway shows include the megahits Rent and Avenue Q, and who invested in the Los Angeles production of Chaperone with the hopes of taking it to Broadway, declared the Variety review to be, "an 11 out of 10."

Yesterday afternoon, producer Roy Miller said the reviews came as welcome news. "People have been talking about the show the way we've been talking about it for years, so it's certainly nice to know we weren't crazy," he said.

A New York production, which could cost upwards of $11-million, still has a few hurdles to clear. All of the likely theatres are currently booked through the spring, which means another show has to fail before Chaperone could succeed.




"It does what a musical is supposed to do; it takes you to another world. And it gives you a little tune to carry in your head. Something to take you away from the dreary horrors of the real world. A little something for when you're feeling blue. You know?"
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#8
Posted: 11/22/05 at 4:59pm
God, it's taken me forever to get back to this thread after starting it... I'm so glad you "dove in."

steveshack --- That was wonderful about your partner taking you on similar journeys! Very cool. I think this musical is going to have more appeal than we think. It reminds me of A Chorus Line a bit, for this reason. While the first people to see that show went crazy for it, nobody was sure if it would appeal to anyone who wasn't a dancer or at least involved in the theatre. Obviously listening to the hopes, dreams & personal history of those PEOPLE putting it "on the line" went much further than the fact that they were all dancers auditioning for a Broadway show.

I think the Man in the Chair represents anyone who has a passion for something unique, or something that they feel is so special they want to share it with others. That can be ANYBODY who wants to get out of their own skin for a few hours, and it can be about any passion, not necessarily '20s musicals. The fact that he is so engaging, terribly funny, and non-judgemental (as you said no "snobbery" here) is what makes us want to take the journey with him and just go with it.

Singingbackup---So many favorite moments to discuss, but ultimately it was the ending for me.

I actually welled up with tears when he thought the show had been ruined for us by the power failure. We had lost the final moment, and he was so desperate for us to have that thrill and share it with him. It actually made me cry. (I know, I'm a sentimental sap, to be sure.) Anyone who tries that hard to show people his true passion has won my heart. I think this is universal and not relegated to '20s musicals or theatre in general, even.

I predict Bob Martin is going to be the first winner of Best Actor in a Musical, without actually singing or dancing at all in the show (barring some charming humming, etc.) A very rare performance and character... and artist.

I'm sure I'll write more later, based on your posts. I gotta get back to work now!
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#9
Posted: 11/22/05 at 5:01pm
Bob Martin is a first-rate comedian. I would not be surprised to see him get a sitcom deal after this show hits NYC.
"It does what a musical is supposed to do; it takes you to another world. And it gives you a little tune to carry in your head. Something to take you away from the dreary horrors of the real world. A little something for when you're feeling blue. You know?"
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#10
Posted: 11/22/05 at 5:31pm
SO, they cut the "Toledo" number?
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#11
Posted: 11/22/05 at 6:05pm
Singingbackup---I totally didn't see the "wrong Act II" coming either. That was such a hoot. I guess I've seen too many crazy nonsequetors in grand old musical shows. I just went with it blindly until the whole thing screeched to a halt. I was laughing so hard when they slinked off the stage with those weary "attitudes." Priceless!

…Just like that wacky nonsequetor that turns up in the Monkey Ballet. “Suddenly... We're in Paris!” Why? Just because! It was a Gene Kelly hallucination gone terribly wrong. I loved every minute of that. Taking a lousy "monkey" lyric and blowing it up into a gigantic misguided dream ballet. Complete with a Cyd Charisse type slinking around. Following the theory, "when something's not right, make a bigger deal out of it!"
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#12
Posted: 11/22/05 at 6:21pm
The monkey ballet was hysterical. It effectively (but lovingly) spoofed dream ballet sequences.

I'd like to add that the show was directed very astutely. It's directed as a spoof but as a LOVING spoof. There's no descent into camp or condescension towards the genre. It's easy to see how a less talented director could destroy the show by making the show camp or more savage in its comedy.



"It does what a musical is supposed to do; it takes you to another world. And it gives you a little tune to carry in your head. Something to take you away from the dreary horrors of the real world. A little something for when you're feeling blue. You know?"
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#13
Posted: 11/22/05 at 7:39pm
best12bars, I'm glad you understood my post. I loved Chaperone even though I don't share Man in Chair's passion for them. However, I do have a working knowledge of them and was, I think, aware of all the insider references. It's possible someone who knows nothing about these shows will be lost when the Monkey ballet comes up, wondering whatever is going on up there. I mean, the choreography alone had me doubled over and when it was followed by, "They cut it in previews because nobody understood it," I howled -- especially when he said it was replaced with that little love song between Mrs. Tottenham and Underling.

It makes you wonder if people DID try more adventurous things that got cut because nobody thought anyone would "get it" at the time.

>The fact that he is so engaging, terribly funny, and non-judgemental (as you said no "snobbery" here) is what makes us want to take the journey with him and just go with it.

His character is truly a marvel. It's a perfect balance of hapless snobbery and unmitigated childlike enthusiasm for something he knows, in advance, is silly and ridiculous -- as ALL those shows are. Shows like this are why "Showboat" was written.

>I actually welled up with tears when he thought the show had been ruined for us by the power failure. We had lost the final moment, and he was so desperate for us to have that thrill and share it with him. It actually made me cry.

That's a great point. His absolute heartbreak, followed by his announcement that he would have to start it over again, just killed me. I could feel his heartbreak. And that's a GREAT notion, that he would win the Tony in a role that doesn't sing or dance. I hadn't even thought of that, but it's true. He's really that good.

The "Toledo" number wasn't cut. There was something else in Act Two that was cut which featured the gangster pastry chefs. I don't remember what it was.

>I'd like to add that the show was directed very astutely. It's directed as a spoof but as a LOVING spoof. There's no descent into camp or condescension towards the genre.

A great point, BroadwayBaby. A friend of mine said that what he loved about it the most was that, along with the parody aspect, it had an inherent sweetness at its heart that never felt sticky or forced. It was an honest sweetness that grabbed your heart and never let go. By the time it ends, when -- oh, god, this is the spoiler that I don't want to reveal -- he is uplifted and carried away by his dream, you have not choice to just thank the musical comedy gods that they would give him this redemption.

And, even then, it only adds to the pathos of his life.
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#14
Posted: 11/22/05 at 8:20pm
After reading the scathing review given to the show's Canadian incarnation by Richard Ozounian ("a musical for people who hate musicals"), I think it is safe to say that we can give the director much credit for achieving the perfect tone for the wonderful LA production.

"It does what a musical is supposed to do; it takes you to another world. And it gives you a little tune to carry in your head. Something to take you away from the dreary horrors of the real world. A little something for when you're feeling blue. You know?"
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#15
Posted: 11/23/05 at 12:05am
another thing that really makes it work is the fact that, even though the actors are playing these hilarious wacky characters in such an absurdly entertaining "show", they take it very seriously. There's no cheap, gimmicky 'schtick' up there on the stage. That's what grounds it and gives it such heart.

Also, I found the bit with the 'super' a missed opportunity for a bigger laugh or another tug at the heart. Bigger laugh if, when Man in Chair reveals his love for musicals and the super responds in kind, it would be even funnier if he rattles off a few 'classics musicals'he thinks are great, and then 'ruins it all' by including a few real clunkers (CATS, BIG, STARMITES, etc..).
Not sure I explained this right, but the night I saw it, the joke kinda didn't hit like maybe it could. The other direction would be to give MAN IN CHAIR more of a "hey, I'm not alone" moment.

Small quibbles.
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#16
Posted: 11/23/05 at 2:00am
Great to discover this thread upon my return from seeing Chaperone. This is truly a show where you sense that the audience knows that it's getting a first peek at something something so spectacularly original that soon everyone will be talking about it. How fortunate I feel to be living in L.A. right now. Everything everyone has said so far is true. It's a musical that speaks to people who love musicals, but even those who could care less will be caught in its spell. Unlike Singing Backup, I don't think that one needs to know nothing before seeing the show. I had heard the basic premise and it didn't spoil my enjoyment. But certainly the many surprises once the show gets going are best not known before seeing Chaperone for the first time. I did figure out right away that it was the wrong record for "Act 2"--seemed pretty obvious to me, but no less delicious a moment for figuring it out. I also can't figure out how Sutton changed her costume so fast.

We Ovation Voters got seated in Row X, but even back there my eyes were filled by the spectacular costumes, sets, and especially the lighting which illuminated the stage with candy colors. I've already got a 2nd row seat to see it close up in two weeks, which I'm definitely looking forward to (being literally surrounded by what's happening on the stage.)

A treat for those in the audience tonight. One of the producers got married on stage (for real!) and he and his bride were married by Bob Martin (who apparently, like Joey on Friends, got certified on the Internet!)
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#17
Posted: 11/23/05 at 2:40am
I saw it tonight for the first time and LOVED IT!!! Even my husband, who is a tough sell, thought it was very smart and well done. As for the 'wedding' after the show, I kept wondering if it was a part of the show, so it wasn't until the final curtain that I realized the wedding was for real. (I wasn't clever enough to pick up on the wrong record in act 2, and was afraid I might be getting duped again.)

I must see this again before it leaves LA, and will tell all my friends about it. Too many funny references to comment on, but this show had me from the first few lines in the dark before curtain.
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#18
Posted: 11/23/05 at 2:43am
What a neat treat to get a real wedding! This could start a trend....take a group of friends to see the show and suprise them by being called up on stage and getting married for real!
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#19
Posted: 11/23/05 at 2:46am
Apparently the bride's mother (who was in the audience) didn't even know about the wedding! Her father walked her out on stage and gave her away, so he knew about it. As a mother with two daughters, I'm not sure I'd like that kind of surprise.
Updated On: 11/23/05 at 02:46 AM
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#20
Posted: 11/23/05 at 2:53am
That sounds so romantic! Hey, it's the bride's day, period. Mom has little to no say...
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#21
Posted: 11/23/05 at 2:57am
No arguement here. I agree...it's the bride's day. I'm just saying, I wouldn't want to be surprised along with thousands of other complete strangers. But, being one of those complete strangers, it was fun to watch.
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#22
Posted: 11/23/05 at 3:36am
>Bigger laugh if, when Man in Chair reveals his love for musicals and the super responds in kind, it would be even funnier if he rattles off a few 'classics musicals'he thinks are great, and then 'ruins it all' by including a few real clunkers (CATS, BIG, STARMITES, etc..).

He did this on opening night, citing all the big musicals Man In Chair had already hinted at hating, especially mentioning how much he loved the helicopter in Miss Saigon -- which was REALLY funny considering there was a huge airplane in the living room.
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#23
Posted: 11/23/05 at 10:51am
That wedding must have been surreal... in a show that is already surreal in so many ways. What a special performance! (I have a feeling that all performances of this show are special.)

I'm sure the Saigon gag reference is locked, but Bob Martin is a Second City alum... (and so are his collaborative partners)... They perform sketch comedy that evolves out of improvisation. It's at the root of this whole show and the idea itself. I actually worked for Second City about 15 years ago. What a great bunch of talented people. I'm sure Bob throws in a few spontaneous lines every now and then, as he feels the need. I'd be shocked if he didn't, knowing his background.

But I would also bet the show is "locked" as a general rule. That's the Second City way, as well. The sketch evolves out of improvisation... but then it's locked and performed repeatedly as written (with the odd one-liner exception to the rule).


EDIT: I feel the need to elaborate just a bit on that... I'm sure that "Chaperone" is locked as much as ANY musical running out-of-town, pre-Broadway is locked. They very well may be tweaking and tightening here and there... but these revisions aren't evolving spontaneously in front of the audience. At least not for Second City folk. Their way is to rehearse from scripts for the main sketches. After their main show, they perform a nightly "set" (is what they call it). The "set" is a group of improvisations, usually taken from audience suggestions, etc. These are the basic improv training games that are at the root of the Second City method.
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Updated On: 11/23/05 at 10:51 AM
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re: Drowsy Chaperone SPOILERS thread...#24
Posted: 11/23/05 at 11:58am
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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