You won’t be caught napping at ‘Drowsy Chaperone’


“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a hoot! Despite its off-putting title, the show will keep you awake and toe-tapping as it does a take-off on the musicals of the 1920s. Recreating the mushy musicals of the past is a daunting endeavor but the clever writing and the talented cast make for a delightful evening at the Ahmanson Theater.

Everything is actually brand-new-all the songs, lyrics and choreography. Although the plot is a polyglot of old chestnuts, there are surprises all along the way. Fortunately, a nerdy narrator talks to the audience and remarks that he is about to play one of his favorite recordings, a musical of the 1920s.

The story revolves around the fact that the stage producer doesn’t want his star to get married. This is familiar territory but the co-authors of the book, Bob Martin and Don McKellar, have a few tricks to make it seem new. Few productions at the Ahmanson have had me laughing out loud, but this one did.

The show has Broadway polish, thanks to the excellent cast and the outstanding use of sets and costumes. Oh, those costumes! They’re spectacular. This is a feast for lovers of delectable clothing.

Every member of the cast is first class. Mr. Martin himself plays the “man in the chair,” who manages to get himself involved with both the audience and the performers. One might be a little leery at the beginning of the show, but once Sutton Foster does a marvelous number called “Show Off” you are completely captivated. There are other splendid trifles with clever lyrics and music by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. “As We Stumble Along” gives you an idea.

Miss Foster has a handsome fiancé in Troy Britton Johnson, who not only smooches but tap dances. What good is a new old-fashioned musical without tap dancing?

Georgia Engel, who was the fey Georgette in the “Mary Tyler Moore” show, is her same dopey self as the hostess for the wedding (she hopes) has a lovely number called “I Remember Love,” performed with Edward Hibbert. As the drowsy chaperone hired to watch the bride, Beth Leavel is slinky and sexy and lots of fun. Her boyfriend, the mandatory Latin lover, is played by Danny Burstein, who is absolutely hilarious. Others who provide laughs are Eddie Korbich as the wedding arranger, Lenny Wolpe as the producer and Jennifer Smith as the dumb blonde, again mandatory.

Kecia Lewis-Evans gets a chance to shine as an aviatrix who sings, and smaller roles are well handled by Jason Kravits and Garth Kravits, as gangsters, and Linda Griffin, Angela Pupello, Joey Sorge and Patrick Wetzel as everything else.

What a great job Casey Nicholaw has done as director and choreographer! Bravo, David Gallo for the sets and a double bravo to Gregg Barnes for those yummy costumes.

This is a Christmas gift for Angelenos who have decided to eschew Charley Brown and Scrooge in favor of glitzy entertainment. The show closes on Dec. 24.