Light, happy entertainment may be just the tonic needed in these recessionary days. The Drowsy Chaperone, billed as a musical inside a comedy, is the right recipe, taking us back to a simpler time, one before even the era of the “D” word.
The critically acclaimed musical – it received more Tony Awards than any other musical of 2006 – comes to the Centre In The Square next week.
The show tells the story of a modern day musical theatre addict known simply as “Man in Chair.” To chase his blues away, he drops the needle on his favorite LP – the 1928 musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone.
From the crackle of his hi-fi, the musical magically bursts to life on-stage, telling the tale of a pampered Broadway starlet who wants to give up show business to get married, her producer who sets out to sabotage the nuptials, her chaperone, the debonair groom, the dizzy chorus girl, the Latin lover and a pair of gangsters who double as pastry chefs.
“The show is nothing but pure fun – it’s really charming,” said Lindsay Devino, who plays the ambitious chorus girl Kitty, in a phone interview from her native New Hampshire.
With the starlet prepared to be married and leave acting behind, Kitty angles to become the new star of the show.
“Kitty is the typical dumb blond – a little bit on the flakey side, but very sweet.”
As part of the musical portion of the show, she exists in a world of colourful sets and upbeat music, evoking all the glitter of the jazz age.
Outside of Man in Chair’s reminiscences, there are his comedic and sometimes acerbic reflections on the state of the modern theatre. His drab apartment and not-always-sunny outlook are in direct contrast to the musical. But it’s his role that has evolved as the lynchpin of the story.
“I think it has such a universal appeal – the Man in Chair, everyone can see themselves in him, he’s a sort of everyman,” said Devino.
It’s the ironic touches that make The Drowsy Chaperone a modern take on classic comedy.
With music and lyrics by Tony Award winners Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and book by Tony Award winners Bob Martin and Don McKellar, the story is Canadian in its roots.
Originally created as a 40-minute musical for Martin’s stag and doe back in 1998 by friends who were writers, performers and comedians in Toronto, the show went through several iterations before opening on Broadway and becoming a smash hit.
Completely original, it also became a critical favourite. Now, with the touring company, The Drowsy Chaperone is winning new converts on the road.
“Everyone is smiling after a performance, having a great time,” she said, noting the audience is filled with all kinds of people, from children out with their families to couples enjoying the romance of the story.
The Drowsy Chaperone takes to the stage for two shows Mar. 10 and 11 (7:30 p.m.) at the Centre In The Square. Tickets are $59-$99, available at the box office by calling 578-1570 or toll free 1-800-265-8977 or online at www.centre-square.com.