“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a very silly show providing wacky merriment to Marriott Theatre audiences in Lincolnshire.
This over-the-top send-up of Broadway musicals, old and new, however, is so wild that gales of laughter are the only response.
Set in 1928, during Prohibition but before the Depression, the musical revolves around a Broadway star played by Tari Kelly, who is renouncing the stage to marry the man of her dreams and son of an oil millionaire, played by Tyler Hanes.
Her producer played by David Lively, tries to dissuade her, because if she leaves, his show will fold. Two gangsters, played by the amazing Aguilar brothers also want the wedding cancelled, as their boss has a big investment in Feldzieg’s show.
Now running through June 27, this show won six Tony Awards in 2006, including Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical. The book is by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.
The show begins with James Harms in the role of a lonely man in a cardigan sitting in a chair, talking about how blue he feels. The only way he can lighten his spirits is to lose himself in the wonder of a Broadway show, so he puts on a record—yes, a black vinyl disk and the characters from the musical come to life on the stage.
Harms provides the narration, interrupting the show with comments, some personal, some philosophical, but always very funny..
Marc Robin, Marriott’s genius choreographer, has directed and choreographed this production to perfection, shamelessly exploiting corny puns, acrobatics and vaudeville-style routines repeatedly delighting the audience.
I lost count of the number of performers who can do the splits, hand stands and cartwheels, as they sing and dance. This is a very physical show with one massive production number after another. Balgord the chaperone has one off the whackiest songs “As We Stumble Along,” an obvious spoof on Broadway inspiration anthems such as “Climb Every Mountain” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
The gangsters’ song “Toledo Surprise” is Runyonesque, as if they just wandered over from the set of “Guys and Dolls.”
By the end Harms, the sad guy in the chair is singing and dancing along with the characters. And if you suspend disbelief, you will too.