Friday, May 31, 2013


“The Drowsy Chaperone” is no sleeper.  It is a musical tucked carefully inside a comedy, a tribute to the glorious age of jazz, and it prides itself on being stuffed with clichés and dedicated to all the old musicals it delights in spoofing.
    The Connecticut Repertory Theatre on the campus of the University of Connecticut at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre will entertain this Broadway hit, that has sailed off to London, Australia and Japan, from Tuesday, June 6 to Saturday, June 15 and you’re invited to join in the musical fun.  “The Drowsy Chaperone” began its stage life as an entertainment for a stag party for the wedding of theatrical couple Bob Martin and Janet Van De Graaff in Canada and has grown, after several reincarnations, into the show that will delight you and your family now.   
     The show begins nostalgically with The Man in Chair, who puts on his phonograph to recreate his favorite musical, a 1928 stage show “The Drowsy Chaperone.”  He then serves as the commentator and narrator as the show comes gloriously to technicolor life, complete with seashell footlights, dazzling peacocks, trees of sugarplums and costumes that Halloween fanatics would envy.
    And just who is The Man in Chair you might ask?  None other than Pat Sajak, who has spent three decades “standing” as the charming host of “Wheel of Fortune” and he will be joined by Liz Larsen who stars in the title role.
    With book by Bob Martin and Don McKell, music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, winner of two Tonys for best score and best book and four Drama Desks for outstanding musical, book, lyrics and music, this is a show-within-a-show, centering around a conceited showgirl who decides to marry a man she’s known for two New York minutes and a producer who sees his meal ticket waltzing away.  The show depends on every campy device known to musical comedy and happily exploits them all.  Meanwhile The Man in Chair comments as he tries hard not to jump into the action and save the day and the damsel.
    The ditzy Mrs. Tottendale is just one of the eccentric and memorable characters who lead us on a merry parade to the wedding day as gangsters who double as pastry chefs try to intrude and simultaneously threaten.  At the same time, wedding planners, the all-important chaperone, the Latin lover and even the butler insinuate themselves into the bride and groom’s big day and into the pleasure filled plot.
    For tickets ($10-45), call the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre at 860-486-2113 or online at  Performances are at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday, Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The Summer Nutmeg Series also includes “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “The Music Man.” A three play subscription is $30-99.
    Come to the wedding and no gifts are required on your part.  You'll be the recipient of a gift of laughter and joy and musical merriment as “The Drowsy Chaperone” bursts into life magically before your eyes.

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