If you are looking for some enjoyable entertainment before the holiday rush sets in, see The Drowsy Chaperone by the Goddard Music and Drama Club at the Barney & Bea Recreation Center. This production is pure adult fun.
The idea for this musical began in 1997, when authors Lisa Lambert, Bob Martin and Don McKellar, Greg Morrison and several friends created a spoof of old musicals for the stag party of Bob Martin and Janet van de Graaf. Lyrics were written by Lambert and Morrison.
The story revolves around Person in Chair (Kim Weaver) whose social life consists of old records of which she controls power over. One night she shares a 1928 musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, with her audience.
Vaudeville star Janet Van de Graaff (Christa Kronser) has announced she is leaving the stage to marry Robert Martin (Sean Morton) – a film star whose father owns oil wells.
Janet’s voice shifted between a Nell Fenwick silliness to a poor girl’s North East vernacular as she delivered her lines brilliantly. When Janet shook her hips dancing during “Show Off,” the audience could practically see men falling at Feldzieg’s Follies. The song and dance revealed the character’s love for performing.
It’s that love that leads the story to a play within a play. Victor Feldzieg (Don Mitchell) will do whatever he has to do to stop the wedding. His chief investor, the mob, has sent over a couple of “pastry chefs” (Linda Pattison, George Tansill) to make sure Feldzieg gets the job done. After all, no Janet, no successful show. Before leaving Feldzieg on their first meeting, the mobsters pull off an entertaining routine setting up the Toledo surprise.
Martin and his best man, George (Michael Silber), perform a tap dance in “Cold Feet.” The butler (David Murray Solomon) also gets in on the act delivering water to the pair. It is all well done.
Sherry Mitchell plays the drowsy chaperone, a 60ish “woman of the world” full of worthless advice. Her role is to keep the bride away from the groom on the wedding day, but that doesn’t go so well.
Others in the cast include Mrs. Tottendale (Kathy Nieman), Aldolpho (Jim Pasquale), Kitty (Jodi Vezzetti), Trix the Aviatrix (Gaby Dorney), and the Super (Kristi Gardner). The ensemble is completed with Katie Frye, Katrina Jackson, Bernard Kelly, Chris Riviello, Will Tansill, and Damien Ticer.
Director Ben Rollins did a superb job, and the acting was fantastic. Several scenes involved actors freezing as other action goes on, the Person in Chair repeating a favorite scene, or, my favorite when the record skipped and the troupe had to repeat movement and speech until the record was fixed.
The set is solid down to the classic turntable phonograph record player that the Person in Chair used in narration on opening night. Suzanne Smith deserves an award for what she did with era-costumes and hairstyles. Feldzieg’s suit is incredible. Hats off to Lauren Ward for the choreography. The production was a visual masterpiece.
Christine Wells conducted the orchestra which made everything flow smoothly. Music direction by Brendan Hurst also deserves kudos.
Producers Tiffany Hoerbelt, Kristi Gardner, and Christa Kronser have a hit on their hands.
Running Time: Two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.
The Drowsy Chaperone plays through November 10, 2019, at the Barney & Bea Recreation Center on Goddard Space Flight Center, 9998 Good Luck Rd, Greenbelt, MD. For tickets, call (301) 966-2623 or go online.