The concept of the musical within a musical may be thought of as overdone, (think A CHORUS LINE, THE PRODUCERS, etc.) but Villanova Theatre’s production of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE is a breath of sassy fresh air in the genre. A beloved spoof on all musicals, it’s a delightful romp where we never leave the small apartment of our devoted and slightly Mad Hatter-like narrator, “Man in Chair,” adeptly played by Ahren Potratz, seen earlier this year in the chilling HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE. The musical comes to life in “The Man’s” apartment, and we’re swept up and away with a mythical show unfolding before us.
This clever tribute to the Great American Musical tradition with a sarcastic twist is just delightful for anyone who may be bored with the revivals being pumped out on Broadway these days. With over a dozen award nominations, CHAPERONE was the deserved winner of among others, five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards back in 2006, originally conceived by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. A nostalgic evening of clever wit and great singing voices, it’s classic Broadway fare with a snarky edge.
Potratz’s “Man” whisks us along to savor every note of the entire score of this show within a show. It is his favorite pastime, an indulgent evening of his beloved show tunes, and on vinyl, no less. John Raley’s scenic design includes old vinyl records on the walls of the charming apartment setting, bringing us back to a time of musical innocence, where tape decks and vinyl ruled.
Jen Jayne as the Chaperone was a joy, it’s hard to believe she’s not more of a professional (yet), as Villanova frequently employs Equity actors for their productions, including fellow grad student Potratz. She dazzled the audience with her rendition of “As We Stumble Along”. Other memorable performances include Christine Petrini’s marvelous “Show Off,” Seth Thomas Schmitt-Hall’s “I am Adolpho,” the tale of the sordid Latin lover; and the snazzy tap number “Cold Feet.” Endearing gangsters disguised as chefs, and Ellen Knapp’s cute Kitty added to the cast in comic supporting roles. Kudos to choreographer Kevin Dietzler who stepped in as an emergency replacement; director Reverend Peter Donohue, and the cast for handling a catastrophe in stride and still putting on a stellar show.
CHAPERONE’s accolades are well earned; clever and witty with some uproarious songs and great performances. Running time of one hour forty-five minutes with no intermission, enjoy THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, you’ll feel a little dizzy with delight.
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar
Music by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison
Directed by Reverend Peter Donohue
Nov 6 – Dec 2, 2012
The Vasey Theatre
at Villanova University
800 E. Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085