The Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre presents 5-time Tony Award-winning The Drowsy Chaperone, with Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, and Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. Director Jeffrey B. Davis also performs in this hysterical production, with Vocal and Musical Direction by Merissa Driscoll.
The set shows a compact apartment; small but neat, with framed theatre posters lining the walls. A stack of albums and a record player sit on a table next to a well-worn recliner, and a bed that can be folded into the wall lays between an old radiator an a large refrigerator, whose double doors are used as an imaginative entrance and exit throughout the show. Jeanne Forbes keeps the stage well-lit as Lighting Designer, and Costumer Mary Beth Smith-Toomey goes between modern-day and the 1920’s for this self-proclaimed, “musical-within-a-comedy.”
A pajama-clad musical fan becomes nostalgic about one of his favorite productions, and while playing the cast album in his apartment, The Drowsy Chaperone springs to life, surrounding him in women wearing fringed flapper dresses and luxurious fur coats, and men in crisp suits, and tuxedos.
Jeffrey Davis starts off the show as Man in Chair, a jaded, cynical bachelor who yearns for the days when musicals were more enjoyable. Directly addressing the audience, he decides to put on one of his favorite albums, a cast LP from the Jazz Age musical, The Drowsy Chaperone. As the music plays, the plot unfolds right in his apartment. A young, thriving celebrity (Barbara Lawson as Janet van de Graaff) is leaving the popular Broadway Follies to marry her handsome (if not entirely hokey) sweetheart, Robert Martin (Casey Fero). Janet proclaims her desire for a different life in the showstopping “Show Off.” As her absence would cause a dramatic dip in paying viewers, not everyone is happy about the union, particularly a pair of unintimidating Gangsters (two great performances by Harrison G. Lee and Christopher Rios), who threaten Janet’s manager Feldzieg (Carl Bownman).
Plots and schemes unfold to keep her from walking down the aisle, and the situation is not helped at all by her Drowsy Chaperone (Brett Warner Hurt), whose job it is to keep Janet calm and comfortable …if only she can stay out of the liquor bottle long enough to focus on the wedding-day hijinks that surround her.
The unnamed man’s sharp sarcasm and quippy anecdotes concerning the decline of musical theatre is truly some of the funniest writing I’ve seen while at a show. His general disdain vanishes as the music surrounds him, at times even exciting him to the point where he joins in on the energetic choreography by Mary Payne. A particularly fun scene shows Robert Martin and his best man George (Giorgio Mazzarelli) tap-dancing in a song about pre-wedding jitters called “Cold Feets.” Amy Wolf and Lyle Blake Smythers share tremendous chemistry as Mrs. Tottendale and her butler, Underling, singing a duet called “Love is Always Lovely In The End.” Other hilarious performances include Jason Krage as the macho and outrageous Adolpho and Katherine Lipovsky (an understudy at my performance) as the dim-witted performer Kitty.
The ensemble works extremely well together, and it is obvious that they are having a great time…and it is infectious! The choreography is also exceptional—playful and lively, and full of typical Jazz Age dance moves. I haven’t had quite this much fun at the theatre in a while…and seeing that I’m I review many shows, that should tell you something!
Perfect for an evening out or for a Mother’s Day treat, The Drowsy Chaperone is a great night of entertainment! It will make you smile, laugh, and tap your feet!
Running Time: Approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
The Drowsy Chaperone plays through June 30, 2013 at Lazy Susan Dinner Theatre – 10712 Richmond Highway, in Lorton, VA. For tickets, call (703) 550-7384.