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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

The Drowsy Chaperone

The Drowsy Chaperone
Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar
Music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison
Directed by Donald Rupe
Musical Direction by David Foust
Choreography by Erik Yow
Starring Blake Auburn, Joe Saunders, Dannielle Irigoyen, and Eric Yow
Central Florida Community Arts
Presented at Central Christian Church
Orlando, FL

If we can’t make fun of our ancestors, who do we have left? Politicians? In this extremely self-referential musical, authors Martin and McKellar deconstruct the classic 1920’s musical. These were uniformly fluff pieces with a cardboard cutout romance separating songs and dance numbers of various qualities. To this day I can’t watch a Fred Astaire movie without fast forwarding to the dance number, but this show makes that filler material fun. Meet “The Man in The Chair” (Auburn), a lost and sexually repressed guy with a love of old musicals. We drop in through the magic of modern stage craft, and he relives his favorite show for us aided by a live and vibrant cast.

Robert Martin (Saunders) and his money are marrying Janet Van der Graaf (Irigoyen); she’s a hot performer with a solid plan for retirement. Best Man George (Yow) handles the details, and Janet’s agent Feldzieg (Quentin Prior) is stuck without a star. To add a little peril, Feldzieg is chased by two of the least threating mobsters (Hector Sanchez, Jr. and Brandon Munoz-Dominguez) since “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight” Then there’s the alcoholic Drowsy Chaperone (Sara Catherine Barnes), the Latin Lothario Aldolpho (David Lowe), a senile widow Mrs. Tottendale (Courtney Johnson) and her long-suffering butler Underling (Alex Roberts.) Everything is played for laughs as we start, we stop, we mistake identities, and sing songs about it. Frankly, this is much better than any material it might parody.

But that’s not to say its perfect. On the plus side, Robert and his Best Man George pull off one of the best tap numbers I’ve seen in years. Chaperone Barnes sings, dances and vamps rings around Adolpho who pushes his character a bit too far even for this farce. The comedy muggings of Sanchez and Munoz-Dominguez are never ominous, and Ms. Van der Graff doesn’t quite hit her marks in “Show Off.” Somewhere back stage is an excellent four-piece band, and they are never out of tune. While this is a community theater production, its quite good and could become excellent if it runs long enough. The script is robust, the music lovable, and as to the premise…it’s still just musical theater.

For other Central Florida Community Arts events, please visit cfcarts.com

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