Heather Matthews, Culture Editor
It isn’t often when I can say that I have found a new favorite musical. In fact, I am extremely stubborn and will subject any play or musical to harsh critique. However, I met my match while watching the Theatre Department and Mask & Hammer’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Not only was I pleasantly delighted by the casting, the entire premise of the show and the acting of the individual students, but I was won over by about the fifth minute of the show. I will admit, I was dubious first. Not to give away the entire show, but it begins with a narrator on a darkened stage. I couldn’t see anything, and I was confused, which made me not too happy. However, once the lights came up and I figured out what was going on (as did the various other slow viewers), I fell in love.
“The Drowsy Chaperone” tells the story of a man (Tony Ruperto), recently divorced and somewhat lonely, who is listening to his favorite musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” As he tells the story and listens to the record of the show, the audience is pulled into the show in front of us. The narrator occasionally jumps in with the cast to dance and sing, all the while maintaining his outsider-ness to answer phone calls, make jokes or tell us facts about certain roles. By far, the narrator was my favorite character. I was enamored not only by the entire idea of having a narrator who was outside the cast and acts as an audience member, but who was also charming, witty and outright adorable. The record played that tells the story of “The Drowsy Chaperone” surrounds the marriage of Janet (Megan Harrington) and Robert (Jared Barton); Janet is an actress and Robert is a wealthy oil tycoon. The wedding will take place in one day, but Janet’s producer needs to stop the marriage so that he does not lose his biggest star. The producer, Feldzieg (Dominick Gaudosio), is followed by his girlfriend Kitty (Kelsey Beck), who only wants to be the next biggest star by any means – mind reading, dancing, singing, whatever it takes. Robert is joined by his best friend and best man George (Mark Durkee), and acts as a charming and suave male lead. Janet, on the other hand, is a beautiful, talented and somewhat naive young woman who yearns only to know that her intended truly loves her. Additional characters were Aldolpho, the infamous lover (Jared Gates), and the drowsy/alcoholic chaperone herself (Kimberly Berg).
Getting away from my love for the narrator, I thoroughly enjoyed each of the other characters in their own light. Each individual, from the leading lady, Janet, who sings while drinking water, down to the butler, Underling (Colin Larnerd), stole my heart. Best of all, the male leads were featured just as much as the female leads, something that is somewhat hard to find in musicals. Even better, Robert and George had a tap dance duet that won the heart of every woman in the audience. Any man that can dance is definitely in my book of favorites.
The only lamentable part of the show that I had was that the songs were somewhat forgettable. With the exception of “Show Off,” I could not for the life of me hum any song from the show. That is not to say that they were performed anything less than spectacular, but just that none of them particularly blew me away. What did knock me off my feet, however, was the extreme skill that each actor and actress showed on stage. At one point, Barton is on skates. At another part, the record skips, which is shown by the entire cast in perfect sync repeating the exact same motion and song clip. Even without the one token person in the audience who laughs too loudly at everything, the crowd was uproarious time and again. Overall, I would highly recommend this show, preferably with the SUCO cast, to any student. As I even saw from multiple Facebook statuses, “I’m not even a fan of musicals, but I actually liked this!”