Image from https://theatredance.utexas.edu/event/drowsy-chaperone
UT Theatre and Dance dazzles in Wonderful Production of The Drowsy Chaperone.
The Drowsy Chaperone, a hit musical and winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Original Score, gets it own treatment from UT’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Directed by Nick Mayo, a graduate of the Julliard School, the musical revolves around a man (Scott Shipman) listening to a recording of his favorite cast album from the fictional 1928 musical The Drowsy Chaperone. As the “ Man in Chair” plays the album from his chair near the record player, the cast magically appears in his apartment to perform the musical, offering a wonderful love letter to 1920’s jazz musicals.
The story within a story concerns the marriage of celebrity Janet (Lauren DeFilippo) to Robert (Connor Barr), a man she just recently met. At their wedding, a cast of crazy characters, each with their own agendas, work to either let the wedding proceed or stop it in its tracks. Musicals in the 1920’s did not rely on plot, but characters were largely created either by or for the actors, who tended to be popular Vaudeville Performers. In that respect, The Drowsy Chaperone perfectly emulates the style of jazz musicals, all while bringing along a character who exists outside their crazy world and drawing us into the the 1920’s he loves.
Not enough can be said for Scott Shipman’s performance of Man in Chair. His energetic and enthusiastic performance ties together the entire musical and is what makes it really work. If he did not bring the energy, it remains doubtful the audience would have the capability to really get invested in this show. In a musical filled with stereotypes and one dimensional characters, the Man in Chair offers the only truly three-dimensional character, and his dorky, passionate love for musicals brings out the true musical theatre fan in all of us.
That’s not to say the rest of the cast does not bring their all to the show. Everyone from Lauren Defilippo to Connor Barr to Matthew Rodgers play their stereotypical characters with an energy and level of humor that really shines throughout the musical. Since Main in Chair largely avoids singing, these actors are the ones who really make the musical component of the show so compelling. Filled with hilarious musical numbers like “Accident Waiting to Happen,” “ I am Adolpho,” and “As We Stumble Along,” these numbers really help show why Man in Chair has such a passion for these old musicals.
In a time of great stress at UT due to the impending doom of finals, we could all use an enjoyable, fun break from the stress of school life. In that, The Drowsy Chaperone represents not only a great escape, but a wonderful, must-see musical.
Click HERE for tickets.