LOS ANGELES, CA - I realized I was old when I spent $80 a ticket on a
show called RENT and left feeling like I didn’t get it. People were screaming and standing on their feet and yet
there I was, confused. I
was the older generation now. Many new shows have the same issue:
performers standing on the lip of the stage, yelling at me for two
hours straight, overacting all the while. What has happened to true
musical comedy and the subtleties in acting? It turns out that it is
not completely dead after all.
Like a breath
of fresh air, is The Drowsy Chaperone, currently
playing at the Ahmanson Theatre. This is the first exciting,
truly great musical I have seen since Sweeny Todd.
This show is witty and keeps the audience in stitches
most of the evening. Poking
fun at musical theatre while still paying homage to it, it
addresses nerds and geeks, namely people who still listen to
records, like me. And
it is surprisingly touching, when for a brief moment near the
end, you realize that life is rather sad and disappointing but
we have our musicals that take us away from our grimy little
lives and make us feel better if only for a moment.
is one of very few true triple threats.
Her voice is stunning, yet she even manages to execute
several single armed cartwheels (because her wrist is broken)
and comes down into a thigh numbing split.
Winning a Tony Award for her performance as Millie in Thoroughly
Modern Millie, she is vivacious, funny and full of true
talent. One of the best numbers in the show is “Show Off”
where Foster insists that she wants no attention from the world
and the media, while simultaneously usurping every ounce of the
as the Drowsy Chaperone herself, is reminiscent of classic stars
like Judy Garland. Her
subtle, seasoned performance brings the entire production a
notch higher. She
speaks with an unforced command that only comes from solid
Bob Martin is
a comic genius, speaking the words we’ve all thought when
sitting in a darkened theatre waiting for the overture to start.
Playing the part of the “narrator” or the Man in
Chair, he gets the show rolling by putting on an old L.P. of his
favorite musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, while
hanging around is dull apartment. As the music begins, the
apartment comes to life with colorful characters, dancers and
singers from an bygone era. His comic timing is impeccable. He
even makes eating a Power Bar hilarious and every nuance of his
character is layered with a combination of self consciousness
and a true unbridled joie de vivre for musicals. His monologue
about the plight of a gay man in a straight marriage was
As darling as ever, just like the days of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, is Georgia Engel, playing a delightfully funny airhead: the soft spoken, vapid, neophyte. It was only slightly distracting when her ukulele strumming does not match the real ukulele player in the pit, but I suppose the fact that chorus girls come streaming out of the refrigerator creates an already unbelievable situation: like most musicals of that time. That is what makes it so charming.
Johnson’s character, The Underling is divine, perfect really,
with every bit of snobbiness and compassion the butler character
can muster. Even
funnier than his recurring role on Frasier, he has to endure
being spat on repeatedly, even by the delicious Ms. Engel, which
is a feat few actors could bare with such comedy and grace.
ALDOLPHO. Adolpho! How many ways can this name be
sung? Dozens of times actually: fast, slow, loud, soft,
elongated and every other possible permutation known to man. During his song, “I Am Aldolpho,” Danny Burstein is
fabulous as he introduces himself to whom he thinks is the bride
he is supposed to seduce, but who is actually the older, eternally drunken
to imagine that two, goofy bakers who sing and dance are really
two gangsters in disguise, but that is exactly the case with
Jason Kravits and Garth Kravits.
The pair adds some of the funniest moments to the show.
Rounding out this stellar cast is Eddie Korbich, Lenny Wolpe,
Jennifer Smith, Linda Griffin, Angela Pupello, Joey Sorge and
Patrick Wetzel. Each ensemble number is a showstopper in itself,
especially the final, aerodynamically charged song, “I Do, I
Do In The Sky,” which features the phenomenal Kecia
Lewis-Evans playing the character of Trix.
For an unforgettable evening of fine performances and
exciting new music, don’t miss The Drowsy Chaperone, now
playing through December 24 at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music
Maestro Arts and Reviews
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