THE DROWSY CHAPERONE — at the Performance Network Theatre through January 2, 2011.
The Drowsy Chaperone, with book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert, was THE hot-ticket item on Broadway when it won the Tony Award for Best Book and Best Score in 2006. An homage to American musicals of the Jazz Age, this play-within-a-musical transports the audience to 1928 and the world of glitzy showgirls, two-bit thugs (disguised as pastry chefs), English butlers, and all the best trappings of a fun night on 42nd Street.
Although the Performance Network Theatre’s production officially opened Friday night (it’s been in preview since November 12) the unprecedented demand for tickets has already given PNT reason to announce an extended season.
The Drowsy Chaperone is the story of a Broadway star (Andrea Mellos) who wants to leave the show because she’s fallen for the handsome son of an oil barron (Brian Thibault).
As you might expect (if you grew up watching Bill Kennedy at the Movies) the Broadway show’sproducer (Mark Hammell) has no choice but to hire a gigolo (Scott Crownover) to woo the girl and put the kibosh on the nuptials. Naturally. But he didn’t reckon on the groom’s Best Man, George (Matt Anderson), who is determined to have a wedding. Or the Drowsey Chaperone (Naz Edwards), who has her own interests to consider.
Of course, we only know all this because the story, and all the juicy back-fill, is being provided by the Man in the Chair (Phil Powers), who is a modern-day fan of all the old musicals. The play opens when he invites the audience to join him in listening to his treasured double-LP Broadway recording of The Drowsy Chaperone, and as we listen, the play comes to life.
Directed by Carla Milaarch with music direction by Ryan Lewis, this production is over-the-top fun, totally indulgent, and everything that musical theatre fans desire. It even includes some delightful tap dancing by Brian Thibault and Matt Anderson.
The Drowsy Chaperone is another showcase for the spectacular talents of Naz Edwards, but each member of the cast has a moment or two in the spotlight, and each rises to the occasion. This is a terrific ensemble performance by a stellar stellar cast. In addition to those already mentioned, the cast includes singing and dancing by Andrea Mellos, Eva Rosenwald, Phil Harmer, Pete Podolski, Linda Hammell, Lisa Lauren Smith and Charlie Sutherland.
Weekly performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m., with a 3:00 p.m. matinee on Saturday November 27 and December 11.
The extend run is through January 2, and tickets are available by calling 734-663-0681, ordering online, or by coming to the Performance Network Theatre (120 East Huron St., Ann Arbor, 48104) Monday-Saturday 11:00 – 6:00 or one hour before a performance. Tickets are priced at $30 – $46, with discounts available for seniors, members, students, children and groups. Performance Network is recommending The Drowsy Chaperone for children ages 12 and up.
Note: A special New Year’s Eve event is offered on December 31 at 9:00 p.m., featuring a champagne reception following the performance. Tickets are $75.