Theatre Mirror Reviews-"The Drowsy Chaperone"

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entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"The Drowsy Chaperone"

A Review by Tony Annicone

Company Theatre's spring production is "The Drowsy Chaperone". The show first opened on Broadway on May 1, 2006 starring Georgia Engel as Mrs. Tottendale, winning Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score in 2006. The show within a show begins when a die-hard musical fan decides to play his favorite cast album called "The Drowsy Chaperone'' and the show magically burst to life in right in his apartment. The audience is immediately immersed in the riotous wedding day of a Broadway bride, a celebrity groom and of course a "drowsy" chaperone. The plot centers on Janet Van de Graaff, a showgirl who plans to give up her career to marry an oil tycoon, Robert Martin. However Janet is in "Feldzig Follies" and the producer is being threatened by two pun-happy gangsters employed by his chief investor. Dressed as pastry chefs the gangsters want Feldzig to stop the wedding and Feldzig employs Aldolpho, a bumbling Latin Lothario, to seduce Janet and spoil her wedding to Robert. Meanwhile Janet is having her doubts, dresses up as a French woman, tempts him to kiss her with a huge misunderstanding taking place. The ensuing plot incorporates mistaken identities, dream sequences, spit takes, a deus ex machina, an unflappable British butler, an absent minded dowager, a ditzy chorine, a harried best man and Janet's Drowsy meaning tipsy chaperone, played in the show within a show by a blowsy Grande Dame of the stage, specializing in "rousing anthems'' and constantly upstaging the occasional co-star. Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman pick the best 17 performers for these wild and madcap roles, winning them a spontaneous standing ovation at the curtain call.

Zoe and Jordie block the show wonderfully while Michael Joseph conducts a thirteen piece orchestra in the 1920's style music. Sally's dance numbers include Charleston, tap, tango and Busby Berkley type dances to name a few but especially impressive is the roller skating dance while blindfolded. Leading this cast as the pivotal role of the Man in Chair is Danny Bolton. He narrates the show keeping the plot moving along as well as delivering enormous amounts of dialogue with ease. The Man in the chair weaves his way in and out of the scenes in a hilarious manner. Danny commands the stage in this role, making many hilarious comments along the way. He joins in on several numbers including "Bride's Lament" and in the finale of the show. He shows the audience he can sing and dance marvelously with the rest of the cast. Bravo on a spectacular performance. It was like this role was written with him in mind.

Cat Umano is terrific as Janet from her very first entrance. Her dancing and singing as well as her acting and comic timing are fabulous. Cat is a beautiful gal who mesmerizes the audience in her songs, "Show Off" which starts as a torch song and builds into a belting number with acrobatics and high kicks. It's reminiscent of a song from "Gypsy". Cat also sings "Bride's Lament" where she compares her boyfriend to a monkey on a pedestal. Brendan Ford is debonair as her fiancee Robert. He is wonderful in "Accident Waiting to Happen" where he is dancing while blindfolded. It has to be seen to be believed. He also does a a song and dance number, "Cold Feets" with Matt Maggio as George, the best man. Their tap dancing is fabulous and it stops the show with their expertise. Matt displays his strong tenor voice in "Wedding Songs".

The biggest scene stealer is Corinne Mason as the Drowsy Chaperone. She is hilarious performing the clever shtick that Zoe and Jordie gave her while guzzling from the constant glass in her hand. Corinne is a hoot as she puts the moves on Aldolpho. She uses her powerful voice in as "We Stumble Along" which is about her drinking constantly, "I'm Aldolpho" where she is seducing the Latin lover with a tango and in "Message from a Nightingale" which is an Oriental song that is mistakenly sung on purpose. It sounds like "Western People Funny" from "The King & I" and has nonsense lyrics and rhyming words like Asian and Caucasian. Corinne does this song with Aldolpho, Kitty and the two gangsters, leaving the audience in stitches. Another scene stealer is the Latin Lothario played by Andrew Giordano. He is tall, dark and handsome and uses a smarmy charm to win over the audience. His rendition of "I Am Adolpho" is hysterical with the comic tango as is his wooing the charperone who he mistakenly thinks is the bride-to-be. Andrew's comic antics win him accolades from the audience and he stops the show when he says his name with his mysterious foreign accent.

David Giagrando is very comical as Feldzig, the producer. He displays his strong singing voice in "Toledo Surprise" where he and the whole cast do an energetic Charleston. One of his funniest moments occurs when the gangsters threaten him as he does a slow burn. Another scene stealer is Carole Shannon as Kitty, his dumb blonde girlfriend who wants to steal Janet's role. She displays her dancing prowess in "Toledo Surprise" and eventually ropes Feldzig into marriage by using a clever trick. Two more wacky characters are the two gangsters excellently played by Paul Brennan III and Justin Selig who disguise themselves as pastry chefs. They have many cooking puns and their characters are reminiscent of the two thugs from "Kiss Me Kate". Paul and Justin display their vocal skills in "Message from a Nightingale" and "Toledo Surprise". Their scene stealing antics are priceless. Playing the eccentric doweager, Mrs. Tottendale is Julianna Dennis. Her character has the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter with her ditzy behavior. One of her funniest scenes is when she tells the butler to bring her vodka but say it's ice water due to Prohibition. She has several spit-takes into his face which is hilarious. Her faithful comic British butler, Underling is played by John Porcaro. Their lovely duet, "Love is Always Lovlier in the End" is beautifully rendered. His precision walking as the butler is a hoot. Evette Anderson plays Trix, a mysterious woman who solves their problems in the finale. Her belting voice is heard in "I Do, I Do in the Skies" with the cast dancing up a storm to it. So for a fantastic high powered extravaganza, be sure to catch "The Drowsy Chaperone" at Company Theatre. They always do excellent theatrical productions and this one is no exception. Run do not walk to the box office and tell them Tony sent you.

"The Drowsy Chaperone" (4 - 27 April)
@ 30 Accord Park Drive, NORWELL MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide