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The Drowsy Chaperone is a one act musical with book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. It debuted in 1998 at The Rivolimarker in Toronto and opened on Broadwaymarker on May 1, 2006. The show won the Tony Award for Best Book and Best Score. It started as a spoof of old musicals written by friends for the wedding of Martin and his wife, Janet. The show has had major productions in Torontomarker, Los Angeles, New York, London, and Japan, as well as two North American tours.

Synopsis

The Drowsy Chaperone is an homage to Americanmarker musicals of the Jazz Age, examining the effect musicals have on the fans who adore them.

The Man in Chair, a mousy, agoraphobic Broadwaymarker fanatic, seeking to cure his "non-specific sadness", listens to a recording of the fictional 1928 musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone. As he listens to this rare recording, he is transported into the musical. The characters appear in his dingy apartment, and it is transformed into a glorious Broadway set with seashell footlights, sparkling furniture, painted backdrops, and over the top costumes.

The plot of the show-within-a-show centers on Janet Vandegraff, a showgirl looking to give up the stage in order to marry an oil tycoon, Robert Martin. However, Janet is the star of "Feldzieg's Follies", and a lot of money is riding on her name to sell the show; and Feldzieg, her producer, is being threatened with bodily harm by two gangsters employed by his chief investor. Disguised as pastry chefs, these two pun-happy thugs threaten Feldzieg to stop the wedding, in order to ensure Janet's participation in the next production of Feldzieg's Follies. In order to save himself, Feldzieg enlists Aldolpho, a bumbling Latin Lothario, to seduce Janet and spoil her relationship with Robert. Meanwhile, Janet is having doubts about her groom. Disguising herself as a French woman, she tempts Robert into kissing her, and a massive misunderstanding emerges. What follows is a pastiche of every classic, clichéd plot thread ever to grace the stage, including mistaken identities, dream sequences, spit takes and the occasional deus ex machina, and involving such stock characters as an unflappable English butler, an absent-minded dowager, a ditzy chorine, a harried best man, and, last but certainly not least, Janet's "Drowsy" (read "Tipsy") Chaperone, played in the show-within-a-show by a blowzy Grande Dame of the Stage, specializing in "rousing anthems" and not above upstaging the occasional co-star.

Watching from his armchair, Man in Chair is torn between his desire to absorb every moment of the show as it unfolds and his need to insert his own personal footnotes and vast trivial knowledge, as he continuously brings the audience in and out of the fantasy. As the show goes on, more and more of his personal life is revealed through his musings about the show, until, as the record ends, he is left again alone in his apartment — but still with his record of a long-beloved show to turn to whenever he's blue.

The concept that the audience is listening to the musical on an old LP is used throughout the show. At one point, a skip on a record causes the last notes (and dance steps) of a song to be repeated until the Man in Chair can bump the turntable. A "power outage" near the end causes the stage to go dark in the middle of the big production number. Despite the show-within-the-show being a two act musical, 'The Drowsy Chaperone' is played without an intermission; at the end of the "show"'s first act, the Man in Chair observes that there would be an intermission if "we were sitting in a Theater, watching The Drowsy Chaperone. Which we're not." The monologue at the intermission of the musical ends with the Man in Chair changing records on the turntable and leaving to use the bathroom. The new record is actually the second act of a different musical by the same composer and librettist, starring many of the same actors. "Message from a Nightingale" is performed in costumes evoking Imperial China, with the performers displaying cliched Chinese accents and mannerisms. The Man in Chair returns to the stage and replaces the disc with the correct one for Act II of "The Drowsy Chaperone."

Initial development

The Drowsy Chaperone started in 1998, when McKellar, Lambert, Morrison and a group of their friends created a spoof of old musicals for the stag party of Bob Martin and Janet Van De Graaff. In its first incarnation, there was no Man in Chair, the musical styles ranged from the 1920s to the 1940s, and the jokes were a lot more risqué. When the show was reshaped for the Toronto Fringe Festival, Martin became a co-writer, creating Man in Chair to serve as a narrator/commentator for the piece.

Following the Fringe staging, Toronto commercial theatre producer David Mirvish financed an expanded production at Toronto's 160-seat, non-profit Theatre Passe Muraillemarker in 1999. Box office success and favourable notices led Mirvish in 2001 to finance further development and produce a full scale version at Toronto's 1000-seat Winter Garden Theatremarker. During that production, Linda Intaschi, Associate Producer of Mirvish Productions, invited New York producer Roy Miller to see the musical. Miller saw potential in the show and he optioned the rights.

In 2004, along with Canadian actor and fund-raiser Paul Mack, Miller produced a reading for the New York's National Alliance for Musical Theatre – and invited his colleague and Broadway producer Kevin McCollum. The reading captured McCollum's interest, and he teamed up with Miller, as did producers Bob Boyett, Stephanie McClelland, Barbara Freitag and Jill Furman. An out-of-town engagement followed at the Ahmanson Theatremarker in Los Angeles (2005), and after alterations, The Drowsy Chaperone officially opened on Broadway on May 1, 2006,.

Productions

Broadway

The Broadwaymarker production opened on May 1, 2006 at the Marquis Theatre, and closed on December 30, 2007 after 674 performances and 32 previews. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw the original Broadway cast included Bob Martin, Sutton Foster, Georgia Engel, Edward Hibbert, Beth Leavel, Jason Kravits, Garth Kravits and Danny Burstein.

West End

The show lasted about two months in London’s West Endmarker. The team that brought the show to Broadway staged the show. Previews started on May 14 2007, first night was on June 6, and after fewer than 100 performances, it closed on August 4. A largely British cast, including the established Elaine Paige – making her West Endmarker comeback after six years – John Partridge and Summer Strallen joined the show’s co-author Bob Martin recreating his Broadway role of "Man in Chair." The Novello Theatremarker’s owner Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who had seen the show in previews in New York had supported its transatlantic transfer. London's critics were generally optimistic about the show, although some had been less impressed. Even the slashing in mid-June of 35 percent off the price of the best seats failed to generate enough interest; a month after opening, the producers decided to close it on August 4 2007, instead of the scheduled February 23, 2008. "… shows in London can run safely … at lower capacities than they require on Broadway.… But, as the transfer of The Drowsy Chaperone has just proved, sometimes even a Tony-winning Broadway hit can’t even achieve that," London's The Stage commented.

The musical received 2008 Olivier Award nominations for Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical (Summer Strallen), Best Actor in a Musical (Bob Martin), Best Theatre Choreographer (Casey Nicholaw), and Best Costume Design (Gregg Barnes).

North American tour

The national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone started on September 19, 2007 in Toronto at the Elgin Theatremarker. Among the performers were original Broadway cast members Bob Martin and Georgia Engel, who originated the roles of the Man in Chair and Mrs. Tottendale, respectively. While Engel performed with the company for the extended engagement, Martin did not continue beyond Toronto; his role was taken over by Jonathan Crombie. Nancy Opel played the role of "The Drowsy Chaperone". The Drowsy Chaperone played more than 30 cities in the United States, including Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatremarker, where the show ran before going to Broadway.

Subsequent Canadian Production

The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company produced an independent production in Vancouver, British Columbia of The Drowsy Chaperone opening November 27, 2008 running until December 27, 2008. In July 2009, The Thousand Islands Playhouse will mount another independent production, directed by Kathryn Mackay, choregraphed by Dayna Tekatch, and musical directed by Sandy Thorburn.In co-production with Canada's National Arts Centre English Theatre, the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company's production of The Drowsy Chaperone plays on the Shoctor stage of the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, September 5 to October 4, 2009.

Japanese production

The first translated production of the musical opened in Japan on January 5, 2009.

Australian production

The Australian production will have a limited engagement in Melbourne in January 2010. Geoffrey Rush will star in the role of the Man in the Chair.

University Production

On October 1 2009 the The Drowsy Chaperone opened in the Jones Theater at Baylor University in Waco Texas as the University/College World Premiere. The show ran for seven performances and sold out every night..

Song list

  • Overture Orchestra
  • Fancy Dress Company
  • Cold Feets Robert, George
  • Show Off Janet, Company
  • As We Stumble Along Drowsy Chaperone
  • I Am Aldolpho Aldolpho, Drowsy Chaperone
  • Accident Waiting To Happen Robert, Janet
  • Toledo Surprise Gangsters, Feldzieg, Kitty, Mrs. Tottendale, and Company
  • Message From A Nightingale Kitty, Gangsters, Aldolpho, Drowsy Chaperone
  • Bride's Lament Janet, Company
  • Love Is Always Lovely In The End Mrs. Tottendale, Underling
  • I Do, I Do In The Sky Trix, Company
  • As We Stumble Along (Reprise) Company


The original cast recording contains two bonus tracks titled, "I Remember Love," which is a duet between Mrs. Tottendale and Underling, and "Message From A Nightingale", which is the unabridged version of a portion of a song that is cut short in the show. "I Remember Love" also contains a ukelele solo by Ukelele Lil as Mrs. Tottendale. It was replaced by "Love is Always Lovely in the End."

Casting

Original Cast


Original Broadway cast


Notable replacements


Original London cast


Awards and nominations

Awards
  • 2000 Canadian Comedy Award Pretty Funny Comedic Play
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical – Book by Bob Martin, Don McKellar
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design – Gregg Barnes
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical – Beth Leavel
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics – Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music – Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design of a Musical – David Gallo
  • 2006 Theatre World Award – Bob Martin
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical – Bob Martin, Don McKellar
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Musical – Gregg Barnes
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical – Beth Leavel
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Original Score – Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical – David Gallo


Nominations
  • 2000 Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding Costume Design - Christopher Richards
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical – Bob Martin
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical – Sutton Foster
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography – Casey Nicholaw
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical – Casey Nicholaw
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical – Eddie Korbich
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Orchestrations – Larry Blank
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Sound Design – Acme Sound Partners
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical – Bob Martin
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical – Sutton Foster
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Choreography – Casey Nicholaw
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – Casey Nicholaw
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical – Danny Burstein
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Ken Billington, Brian Monahan
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Orchestrations – Larry Blank


References

External links




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