The Drowsy Chaperone

Attended Nov 9, 2007, day before stagehands strike

This show opened on May 1, 2006, so it has been running for just over a year and a half.

Bob Saget just recently joined the cast for the next few months.  Saget plays the Man in the Chair, and to my mind he is a little bit flat.  The original cast featured comedian Bob Martin, who co-wrote the book, in that pivotal role.  Perhaps he brought more energy to it.  This character narrates and occasionally starts and stops the action when he turns off the record (yes, vinyl) from time to time for various reasons.  The action is his nostalgic imaginary elaboration of the record.  But he is outshone by all the other characters.

At one point the Man in the Chair says:  Sometimes I just want to leave my troubles and problems and those of the world outside the theatre:  I just want to be entertained.  Well isn’t that really the point?

A tap duet Danced by Peter Bartlett & Troy Britton Johnson was outstanding, and Gerry Vichi, a real old-timer as the producer, sparkles as well.

Man in Chair says he hates intermissions–this show plays without one–and one reason is that he dislikes “nattering about the lack of women’s restrooms.”  Well herein lies a real issue which has nothing to do with natteringOne of my biggest beefs with theatres is the uneven availability of restrooms.  I think all theatres built from now on will correct that imbalance, but something could and should be done now.  Long lines for women while men waltz in and out with the briefest of delays is unconscionable and offensive.

The story line is so paper thin that I have no problem revealing it as it is so beside the point.  The ingénue has met someone she barely knows and agreed to marry him and give up her career in the spotlight which she dearly loves;  vain as she is.  She tricks him by pretending to be another woman while he is blindfolded and gets him to kiss her.  Hello?  Swan Lake anyone?  The device works in the fabled ballet where there is a sorcerer involved, but here it is foolishness.  (The point, I guess.)  The producer owes money to gamblers which he apparently can only earn with his vain superstar so he wants to sabotage the wedding.  Yes, Guys & Dolls.  The ending is so beside the point that I won’t divulge it out of boredom, not because it will make the slightest difference should you see this play.  Then there is the moment when Saget repeats several times “Don’t pay attention to the lyrics.”  Hello again!  Straight out of zen.  Don’t think of a monkey.  It goes so far as to invoke actual monkeys in the lyrics.

So, is it entertaining?  Some sterling performances:  Danny Burstein as Adolpho rocks.  There is great energy (except when Man in the Chair slows it down by his interventions).  If you love Broadway musicals, sure you must see it.  If you are just looking for one to see this season, choose Xanadu or Spamalot instead.

(This review was written before we saw In The Heights which became our favorite, and the well-deserving Tony winner for best musical.)