Last night I went to see The Drowsy Chaperone at the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center with my mother. I was familiar with the show when I walked through the door and I had listened to the soundtrack. I thought that none of the numbers were really that notable.
I knew that it had been nominated for the Tony in 2006 and lost to Jersey Boys. Personally, I think it should have won over Jersey Boys, but that was just a bad season for musicals on Broadway. I had also read Ben Brantley’s review of the Broadway production, which was “Oh well, it’s okay.”
The Drowsy Chaperone starts off in a pitch black theater. We hear a voice say, “I hate theater. Well, it’s so depressing, isn’t it?” The voice goes on about the sad state of the theater today and says how we sit in a darkened theater praying, “Dear God, please let it be a good show.” Which is a sentiment I share all too often, particularly if I’m paying a certain amount for a ticket.
It is a monologue that I found relatable and I believe my mother did too. I know some other people in the audience might have agreed as well. The voice that bemoans the tragic state of musicals belongs to Man in Chair and is a theater queen. He pulls out a record of his that he enjoys, the original cast recording of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a musical from the 1920s. As he plays the record, the show comes to life (literally) in Man in Chair’s apartment.
He provides witty insights and comments on the musical. Which is good, because that was the best part of the show.
It was funny, but I left feeling empty. The numbers are unmemorable and Man in Chair is the only well-developed character. I understand that this is him listening to the recording, but I’ve listened to a lot of soundtracks for musicals where the characters had some basic sketch and depth to them.
But the show dragged too much and it was just not that interesting. Man in Chair remarks that a musical is supposed to take us away to a different world and “The Drowsy Chaperone” failed to do this.
The costumes were very nice and over the top; appropriate for a musical that’s supposed to be from the 1920s.
Oh well. When’s the next Hypocrites show?