Drowsy Chaperone Review
by Vyctorya Thomas-Vanzant
Late at night on Thursday of last week, the proscenium theatre was exuberant with students and parents all hurrying to take their seats to see the opening of the hit Broadway and Tony winning musical, The Drowsy Chaperone.
Director Jeannine Marquie made the statement that the musical performed last year, Evita, was heavy—she wanted to choose something lighter and more comedic. The Drowsy Chaperone is narrated by a man captivated in the aspects theatre. He guides us through a musical performed in the 1920’s and reenacts it while throwing in his own comments from a chair in his living room.
The musical originally was written as a short piece for the stag party of Robert Martin and Janet van de Graaf who enjoyed it so much that they met with playwrights who wrote and composed it into a full 90-minute piece. The show hit the broadway stage in 2005 and won two Tony Awards the following year.
Gaby Jentzsch, cast member of The Drowsy Chaperone, shared that the musical was filled with different dance styles that ranged from the traditional musical theatre, to tap, and other mixed genres. According to Jentzsch, the tap dancing was the most challenging of the production, taking her nearly three weeks to master. The cast had began rehearsing around the month of December, learning complex choreography, building phenomenal set pieces, and working to improve the portrayal of their characters.
“It seems like an easy musical, but it’s not. It’s very hard to pull off and I think we did pull it off,” Gaby told me with a smile.
As an attendee of opening night, I can confirm that The Drowsy Chaperone was a spectacular showcase indeed.
Like Marquie promised, there is a man who, once the lights go up, expresses his love for the theatre and decides to cure his “non-specific sadness” by listening to the fictional 1928 musical, The Drowsy Chaperone. From there, the set transforms from an apartment to an impressive Broadway set complete with fancy costumes, glitz, a conflicted bride and groom, two threatening gangsters, an arrogant european, an ensemble, and of course, the drowsy chaperone herself. In this piece the bride, Janet van de Graaf, is leaving her successful Broadway career to marry Robert Martin, all the meanwhile a Broadway producer is hoping to sabotage the wedding in order to get Janet to forgo it and perform in his show instead.
Once the final song was performed and the lights went down, all I felt was growing disappointment as I realized that the show was over. This performance is a definite must-see; the set is carefully crafted, the costumes are spectacular, the singing and dancing is amazing. It’s clear that the cast worked extremely hard in every possible dynamic of this musical from the beginning to the very end.