BWW Review: THE DROWSY CHAPERONE at Castle Craig Players

BWW Review: THE DROWSY CHAPERONE at Castle Craig Players

On Friday, April 6, I had the pleasure of seeing THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, a mostly one man comedy, but with an ensemble musical cast. How is it possible for a mostly one man comedy to have an ensemble cast? The writing of Bob Martin and Don McKellar combines with the music and lyrics of Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison to create a show within a show. Under the excellent direction of Ian Galligan (The Elf from "The Santaland Diaries"), the Castle Craig Players performed an amazing production for a packed house at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse in Meriden, CT, a theatre full of patrons who all enjoyed this wonderful performance. The entire cast appears to greatly enjoy their roles, radiating positive energy that is felt throughout the audience.

The set depicts the apartment of the central character and narrator who is merely referred to as "man in chair," a character brilliantly performed by Michael Veillette. One of the best parts of the set is that his cabinet doubles as an entrance.

The show opens in the dark, where the man in chair is heard narrating from stage, talking about musicals. The lights soon come up, as he continues to address the audience. Michael Veillette does so well with this character that, at this point, it feels as if it could have been successful if this whole production was merely a one man show. The man in chair talks about a musical called "The Drowsy Chaperone," and pulls out the record for it, to play on his phonograph. The story on this record is set in 1928. As the music on the record starts up, and the overture ends, the characters come to life on stage, and perform the musical that is set within this otherwise nearly one man show. Throughout the performance, we still receive the narration from the man in chair.

The story of the musical is that it is the wedding day of Robert Martin (Blaine Poirier) and Janet Van De Graaf (Kristen Scheuermann.) These roles are played exceptionally well. Blaine Poirier sings while roller skating on stage, blindfolded. Does that sound like an accident waiting to happen? That's the name of his song. Kristen Scheuermann does some amazing stage antics while singing a song called "Show Off," which talks about how now that Janet is getting married, she will no longer be a star of the stage., and no longer get to show off, as she gets to do during this number. Janet is deliberately over-the-top, as part of the show's commentary regarding classic musicals.

The title character, the Drowsy Chaperone, is performed brilliantly by Lisa Gamsby. This character seems to be perpetually drunk, assigned with the one task of making sure that the groom and bride do not see each other on their wedding day, before the wedding, to accommodate the superstition that such is considered to cause bad luck.

Bobby Schultz plays George, the best man who has to coordinate everything. This very comical character is deliberately loud and overt, a truly convincing performance reflective of great comedic sidekicks.

Wesley Tack and Francis Michael play gangsters incognito as chefs who deliver a bunch of food related puns, while making their threats. Their stage chemistry is excellent, as they synchronize their singing and movements, reflective of comedic duos.

Bob Filipowich excels at Aldolpho, the over-the-top character who is pridefully obsessed with proclaiming his own reputation as a ladies' man, essentially the fictional character who wise fictional women would know to stay away from. As usual, when a show contains a male character like that, it also contains a female character who lacks such wisdom. Which female character would that be? Come see the show!

Cast member Don Poggio deserves a lot of credit for his willingness to take multiple literal spits to the face, to enhance the humor of the production.

A highlight of the show is when the man in chair's record starts to skip, and all the characters on stage repeat their movements and singing in accordance with the skip. This is convincingly done by this very talented cast.

I highly recommend THE DROWSY CHAPERONE which the Castle Craig Players have scheduled to continue to run at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse, in Meriden, CT, through April 15, on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM, and on Thursday, April 12, at 7:30 P.M. For tickets, please go to http://www.castlecraig.org/.

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From This Author Sean Fallon

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