By Samantha Stiller and Jody Key
The best theater bang for your buck this coming weekend is with Mill Creek Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone. I saw it on Saturday and all I can say is BRAVO!! This show is a rip-roaring good time and the highest caliber high school theater We’ve seen this school year!
If you’re not familiar with the story, this play opened on Broadway in 2006 and starred, among others, the incomparable Sutton Foster and endearing Georgia Engel. The show is a musical with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and book by Bob Martin and Don McEllar.
This story is a play within a play, told by a narrator known simply as “Man in Chair”, who confesses he hates musicals, but listens to the fictitious circa 1920s recording of The Drowsy Chaperone when he’s feeling “anxious for no particular reason” or what he likes to call “blue”. As he listens to this rare recording, the characters appear in his dingy apartment, and it is transformed into an impressive set with painted backdrops, and glitzy costumes. Man in Chair offers running commentary throughout the show from his apartment on the stage. This commentary sporadically reveals aspects of his personal life, such as his failed marriage.
Director Sarah Lindahl, Musical Director Miro Gomez, and Choreographer Rachel Lauria have crafted a perfect mix of singing, dancing and acting for their stellar ensemble. The blocking, choreography, and complex harmonies create even more layers for this fantastic show.
Henry Boston, as the grumpy Man In Chair brings an unstoppable energy to the character. From rants about divorce to destroying a landline phone mid- show, this role could not have been more perfectly cast.
Mae Argento gives a wonderful performance as The Drowsy Chaperone herself. Great characterization and powerful vocals help bring the constantly intoxicated chaperone to life. She and Andres Ibarra’s Aldolpho knock the already-amusing show up a few more notches with their blend of comedy and chemistry.
Speaking of chemistry, Janet Van Der Graff, played by Elaine Whitbeck, and Robert Martin, played by John Brannigan, deliver adorable performances as the bride and groom of this off-kilter wedding. Whitbeck’s stunning range and over-dramatization as a starlet who is ready to settle down and Brannigan’s tapping and rollerskating skills as a madly in love millionaire bring the meaning of “lovebirds” to a whole new level.
Regan Kulig and Matthew McCrory, playing Mrs Tottendale, the clueless wedding hostess, and Underling, her faithful yet frustrated servant, respectively, play off of each other brilliantly. The Vodka spit in the face scenes are absolutely side-splitting.
Other Key-noteworthy performances include Jeremy Gilstrap as George, Tasha Lochtenbergh as Kitty, Luke Badura and Tyler Knowles as Gangsters 1 and 2, Andres Ibarra as Aldolpho, and Olivia Clark as Trix the Aviatrix.
Overall, Mill Creek Theatre’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” is a fantastically funny show that is not to be missed! It plays this Thursday thru Saturday, March 22-23, and is sure to be a sell-out. Get your tickets now at https://millcreektheatre.ludus.com/index.php