|The simple stage setting before the whole apartment set is revealed!|
"The Drowsy Chaperone" is a gem among musicals. It was on Broadway in 2006 and was nominated for thirteen Tonys, snagging the awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score among others. The story of the show has a play within a play structure - with our host and narrator "Man in Chair" talking directly to the audience throughout about his favorite musical, the fictional 1928 production "The Drowsy Chaperone." The audience "listens" to his copy of the record while the show comes to life in his apartment. This show is utterly charming and the HoneyNerds saw a fantastic production of it in Santa Monica last Friday!
This is one of my favorite musicals. I love it for the catchy and infectious tunes, the puns, the meta way in which it tells the story, and the fun and silly romance. And there is a lot of heart underneath it as the Man in Chair shares his love of this musical with the audience. I identify with his character because I also find solace and joy in listening and watching musicals and can obsess over tiny moments in my favorite shows.
The actual story of the musical within the musical is simple - a group of people come together to celebrate the wedding of Robert and Janet, a famous actress who is giving up her career for marriage. Through a series of misadventures - Janet's chaperone does not keep a watchful eye on her, and Robert accidentally kisses another woman (who was actually Janet in disguise) and the wedding is called off at the end of the first act. But of course, everything is resolved by the second act and we end up with three couples deciding to marry.
I've seen this show once a few years ago, but the production we saw recently was at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica. The quality of the acting, singing and set design were fantastic. This is a smaller theater, but the production values were excellent and they did complete justice to the show. I found myself grinning throughout!
When Charlene and I first met, I mentioned my love of the television show Bunheads, starring the incredibly talented Sutton Foster. I knew that she had a Broadway background, and Charlene was excited to tell me about her role as Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone - from there, she gave me the soundtrack and insisted that I listen. I was immediately delighted by the whimsical nature of the show, as well as the catchiness of the individual songs. I'd been curious to see it performed on stage, and this production certainly lived up to my expectations.
The casting was top-notch: Holly Weber as Janet and Christopher Tiernan as Robert showcased both their great singing abilities and comedic timing; the dashing lothario Adolpho was brilliantly portrayed by Aric Martin with deft wit and flair; and Michael Heimos (who also produced) was absolutely mesmerizing as the "Man in Chair", guiding the viewers through his ups and downs with skillful grace and charm - he pulled the audience in and never let go! I've only called out a few, but the entire cast was terrific and deserves high praise.
We both loved this production and will absolutely patronize the Morgan-Wixson Theater again in the very near future. Maybe we'll see you there!
PS. For a taste of the show - please check out Sutton Foster performing the song "Show Off" at the Tony Awards. The song highlights the main character Janet's resolve to quit show business and marry Robert. Although she can't help but "show off" her talent as a performer!