Jan 24, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
“The Drowsy Chaperone” is anything but sleepy.
In fact, as staged by the Baldwinsville Theatre Guild, the show is as perky as a caffeinated chorine gushing with personality and pizzazz. Set in the Roaring Twenties, the Tony Award-winning musical showcases 17 upbeat performers directed by Stephfond Brunson and a swinging septet conducted by pianist Abel Searor.
The action begins when a die-hard musical-theater fan played by Mark Baker spins his favorite cast LP — remember those? — and the 1928 musical comes to life in his living room. There’s not much to the story, but the Man in Chair introduces us to a host of colorful characters including a reluctant bride, a roller-skating groom, a ruthless producer, an egotistical gigolo and a gin-swigging chaperone. The impending wedding hits a snag when two gangsters posing as pastry chefs threaten to cancel the nuptials so that leading lady Janet Van de Graaf can return to the stage show in which their boss has heavily invested.
Making his directorial debut with “Chaperone,” Brunson carefully cast this show with proven performers who give it their all from opening scene to curtain call. The multi-talented Brunson, who appeared and coordinated the dancers in last year’s “Urinetown,” also choreographed “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Despite the fact that there are often more than a dozen actors cavorting on stage, it never seems over-crowded. Brunson’s deft direction keeps everything copacetic.
One of the niftiest dance routines pairs a best man played by an “ecstatic” Donnie Williams with Peter Dowling’s groom in a carefree tap-dance called “Cold Feets.” Not only does Dowling dance well, he also displays a full-bodied singing voice on “Feets” and “Accident Waiting to Happen.”
As the stage star bride-to-be, Korrie Taylor hits all the right notes on “Show Off,” “Accident” and, in Act II, “Bride’s Lament.”
Other standouts include Kathy Egloff as the tipsy Chaperone singing “We Stumble Along,” Josh Taylor and Brina Duger as the baking bad guys threatening a “Toledo Surprise,” and Maxwell Anderson portrays Adolpho, a self-centered Latin lover who loudly declares “I Am Adolpho!”
Anderson previously starred in BTG’s “Othello” and “The Drunkard,” and he demonstrates his remarkable range again here. As Anderson belts out Adolpho’s autobiographical anthem, his exaggerated braggadocio draws a gale of guffaws.
BTG veteran Deborah Taylor plays the rich and bewitching wedding hostess, Mrs. Tottendale, and she puts on the Ritz in Act I with “Fancy Dress” then later impresses with “Love Is Always Lovely.” She sings these tunes in tandem with Harlow Kisselstein portraying her butler, Underling. This unlikely couple’s spit-takes make a comic comment on the hypocrisy of Prohibition.
As theatrical producer Feldzieg, Doug McCall, the former director of the Liverpool Community Chorus, joins in on “Toledo Surprise” along with aspiring showgirl Kitty played by Kate Kisselstein. As Trix the Aviatrix, Marguerite Beebe flies everyone into marital bliss with “I Do, I Do in the Sky.” All along the way Baker’s Man in Chair adds delightfully droll commentary about the action and the actors.
In some productions, the versatile Josh Taylor will take over as Feldzieg while Marlina Beebe steps in as one of the gangsters. Rounding out the ensemble are Kathleen Hoy and Donna Smith.
Produced by Heather Jensen, BTG’s “Drowsy Chaperone” is both the bee’s knees and the cat’s pajamas. Catch it while you can!
“The Drowsy Chaperone” continues at the First Presbyterian Education Center, 64 Oswego St., at 8 p.m. Friday and. Saturday, Jan. 25 and 26; at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27; and at 8 p.m. Feb. 1 and 2. Tickets cost $20, $18 for students, and $18 for seniors at the Jan. 27 matinee only; 877-8465; baldwinsvilletheatreguild.org.
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