By Claire DeMarco, ‘Burgh Vivant
Man in Chair (Greg Caridi) greets us offstage in a large chair that’s been incorporated into the audience seats. He chit chats with the patrons about his life and basically that he’s sad, a little blue and anxious. He does, however, have a love affair with an LP Album of the musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” The fictional musical was written in the Jazz Age in the late 20s and he begins to tell the audience in depth how wonderful this album is.
As soon as Man in Chair begins playing “The Drowsy Chaperone,” the characters appear in his living room.
This play within a play begins and we meet the characters through the first musical number, “Fancy Dress.” Janet Van De Graaff (Mairead A. Roddy) and Robert Martin (Colin Burns) are to be married. In attendance are Mrs. Tottendale (Patricia Cena Fuchel), an older hostess; Underling (Warren Ashburn) Mrs. Tottendale’s loyal employee; George (Andy Folmer), Martin’s best man and The Drowsy Chaperone (Meighan Lloyd Harding).
There are several wedding guests who have less-than-honorable intentions. Kitty (Carina Iannarelli) wants to take Van De Graaff’s place in the Feldzieg’s Follies since Van De Graaff will retire now that she is getting married. Feldzieg (Johnny Traficante), a Broadway producer, counts Van De Graaff as his big moneymaker and wants to stop the wedding. Aldolpho (Dewayne Curry) is hired to seduce Van De Graaff and destroy any chances of a wedding.
Side Note: Man in Chair weaves in and out of the production, highlighting important points about what is happening. He inserts himself when he thinks clarification is needed or when one of his favorite parts is coming.
Aldolpho seduces the wrong person. Van De Graaff thinks she’s caught Martin in an indiscretion and the wedding could be in trouble! Two gangsters masquerading as pastry chefs (Andy Coleman and Jeremy Ernstoff) confront Feldzieg to stop the wedding because their boss has a financial interest in the Follies.
Another Side Note: At one point in the musical, the lights go out in Man in Chair’s apartment. He is distressed. He thinks the show is ruined. The Superintendent (Christian Jones) arrives, fixes the problem and the musical continues.
Caridi does a great job as Man in Chair. He’s on stage all the time and easily transitions from an insecure, shy person to a bubbly enthusiast of “his” musical.
Lloyd Harding is fabulous with her double takes. She is a powerful presence on stage and a powerful voice to match.
Curry’s exaggerated accent and physical movements are particularly effective in combination with his costume props (a red-lined cape and walking cane).
Roddy shows off her wonderful voice in the “Show Off” number.
Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar.
This production should be silly, funny and ridiculous. And it is! If there is any serious underlying theme in “The Drowsy Chaperone” it’s expressed through Man in Chair. His life seems to revolve around this imaginary musical and he is totally animated and happy when he’s in this dream world he created.
“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a production of Little Lake Theatre Company, 500 Lakeside Drive, Canonsburg, PA 15317. It runs from April 25 to May 11, 2019. For more information, click here.