The IU Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance shows off their musical theatre program and wraps up the season with The Drowsy Chaperone. It’s a send up of those shows from the twenties where the plots were just the framework for the characters and their songs.
Guiding the audience through the evening is “the man in the chair.” He shares a beloved recording of the show adding regular, warmly wry comments about it. It’s nice that George Pinney who’s retiring after thirty years of building the musical theatre program plays the part in what he says is the first time he’s been on stage since 1979.
Oil family heir Robert Martin is set to marry stage star Janet Van De Graaf. Martin’s friend George is committed to keeping Robert away from Janet until the actual wedding. He’s keeping an eye of Robert and he’s hired a Chaperone to mind Janet.
Meanwhile Feldzieg, the manager of Janet’s show has minders of his own. They’re two gangsters disguised a pastry chefs. Feldzieg owes their boss money and he needs to keep Janet on stage go make his payments. Their solution is to engage the great lover Adolpho to seduce Janet and break up the wedding.
Things go awry. A blindfolded, roller skating Robert encounters Janet who’s pretending to be a French lady. A kiss occurs. She’s furious and calls the wedding off. Instead of a potentially resisting Janet, Adolpho encounters the more pliant Chaperone.
Disaster seem iminent, but as “the man in the chair” says “Everything always works out in musicals.” Robert and Janet get back together. Feldzieg’s girlfriend Kitty will marry him and rise to stardom as the show goes on. The show’s backer Ms. Tottendale decides to marry her butler. The Chaperone is ready to make Adolpho an honest man. Friend George has forgotten a minister, but Trix the Aviatrix arrives. As captain of her plane can marry all the couples and fly them off to honeymoon in Rio.
After the engaging opening comments from “the man in the chair” the Drowsy Chaperone has a lively overture. Things lag a bit, but we meet the characters and the act ends on a high note. The second act moves more quickly and finale of “Stumble Along” drew the applauding audience to its feet.
The show has a very talented and well-schooled cast Colin LeMoine and Caroline Huerta are especially engaging as the groom’s friend George and the mysterious Chaperone. Meadow Nguy was a personable and strong voiced aviatrix. Direction is by Kenneth Roberson a veteran that theatre goers may remember from of IU’s Sweet Charity and Into the Woods. Music direction was in the hands of Terry LaBolt. Choreography was by Liza Gennaro who’s work has been seen in Guys and Dolls, and Into the Woods. Charming costumes were by Chen Chen.
Performances of The Drowsy Chaperone in IU’s Ruth N. Halls Theatre continue through April 22.
This week’s patrons received flyers for the upcoming 2017-2018 season and musical theatre fans were pleased to see that The…Chaperone’s director Kenneth Roberson will be back to lead the season with Urinetown and that The …Chaperone’s choreographer Liza Gennaro will be joining the faculty and choreographing City of Angels.
At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker.