The Drowsy Chaperone

Rated 4.0

Like Gov. Sarah Palin, The Drowsy Chaperone spends the whole evening winking at us. This high energy, very entertaining, multiple Tony Award-winning hit is billed as “a musical within a comedy.” What this 2006 Broadway show does best is honor old-fashioned musicals while slyly mocking modern special-effects extravaganzas.

The Drowsy Chaperone is an ode to olden-day song-and-dance shows. It pulls us in immediately when the house lights go down, and in the darkened theater we hear the voice of what seems like an audience member voicing his dread at sitting through yet another unknown musical. There is a relieved laughter from the audience who automatically relates to his wish for a short show sans sappiness or overly clever staging.

Stage lights go up, and there sits a sweater-clad, mild-mannered, middle-aged man plopped in his dreary apartment, addressing the audience about his frustrations and loves of musicals. The Man in Chair, as he is referred to, becomes our guide to the recreation of his favorite musical—a 1928 musical The Drowsy Chaperone—one he’s never seen, but imagines as he listens to his old LP.

The result is humorous, wonderfully cheesy, mercifully short (90 minutes), yet impressively produced and performed, complete with personable stars, big production numbers, glamorous yet garish sets and costumes, and talented singers and dancers.