When friends created a spoof on old musicals for Bob Martin’s stag party in 1997, little did they know that the germ of an idea would spark Bob Martin and Don McKellar into co-writing a reshaped musical which would arrive on Broadway in 2006. THE DROWSY CHAPERONE blossomed into a smash hit winning six Tony’s and seven Drama Desk Awards. THE DROWSY CHAPERONE has it all – mistaken identities, dream sequences, the perfect English butler, the absent-minded society matron, mob gangsters, stage icons, the wedding of the year, absolutely gorgeous costumes, up-beat song and dance, and a “sort of” tipsy and “kind of” drowsy chaperone. The uproarious musical, which has graced many an international stage, now finds its way to the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica.
When the “Man in a Chair (Michael Heimos),” a quiet but fanatic lover of all things Broadway, decides to share his beloved record collection with the audience, everyone is in for a treat as a fictional musical megahit of 1928 is reborn in 2019. Suddenly, the man’s drab apartment is transformed into a spectacular stage full of light and color – as well as a huge troupe of singers and dancers who fill his place with impossible life. Everyone is getting ready for the wedding of the century, nuptials which will unite sensational Broadway diva Janet Van De Graaf (Holly Weber) and her true love, oil tycoon Robert Martin (Christopher Tiernan). Almost immediately, a chaperone (Janet Krajeski) is drafted to make sure that the bride and groom don’t see each other before the wedding. But bad luck may be in the wings anyway. Trouble looms as two unlikely chefs (Steve Weber and Deonte Allen) let the bride‘s producer, famous impresario Mr. Feldzieg (Richard R. Rosales), know that the mob doesn’t want the wedding to happen. It seems that the mob has invested in the show; and the marriage will result in the retirement of their very profitable superstar.
But the convoluted plot is really secondary to the dazzling display of musical talent that follows. The story is alive with silly but fun characters like Mr. Tottendale (Annalisa Erickson), the society hostess for the event; Kitty (Mirai Booth-Ong), the chorine who hopes to replace the star of the show; Adolfo (Aric Martin), the Latin lover who may come between the lovebirds; Underling (Daniel Koh), Mr. Tottendale’s faithful butler; George (Esteban Hurtado), the groom’s nervous best man; and Trix (Jenae Denise Thompson), an aviatrix with something up her sleeve. Each of the characters has some very special talent on display, from a supremely operatic voice to tap-tap dancing to die for. Above all, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE is a superbly entertaining show which will delight audiences. Would it surprise you to know that the musical ends up with three weddings?
Kudos to director Kristie Mattsson, who double as costume designer; she excels in both roles. More kudos to musical director Daniel Koh, who doubles as the groom’s shaky best man. He too excels in both roles. The excellent cast is picture perfect, and the entire production team does a bang-up job of bringing a delightfully spoof-full musical comedy back to energetic, vigorous, and spectacular life.
The Drowsy Chaperone runs through October 13, 2019, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Morgan-Wixson Theatre is located at 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405. Tickets are $30 (seniors $26; students $23). For information and reservations, call 310-828-7519 or go online.