Review: The Drowsy Chaperone


Jessica Stoddard

“The Drowsy Chaperone,” the second show in Buffalo State College Theatre Department’s season, is an entertaining, feel-good musical. Written by Bob Martin & Don McKellar (book) and Lisa Lambert & Greg Morrison (music and lyrics), it has the light and simple storyline of a classic Golden Age musical, alongside the quick dark whit of a modern show.

The story focuses around a lonely, passionate Man in Chair (Kent Botia), who first laments about how actors talk directly to the audience throughout shows nowadays. “I didn’t pay good money to have the fourth wall come crashing down around my ears.”. Ironically, he does precisely that for the next two hours. Introducing the audience to his favorite musical by playing the record, the man pictures the show coming to life.

The show-within-a-show revolves the wedding of vaudeville dancer Janet Van de Graaff (Elise Vullo) and Robert Martin (Jake Grear), son of a wealthy oil magnate. Janet’s marriage means the end of her stage career, which producer Mr. Feldzeig (Zachary Becker) is not happy about. He spends the entire show trying to convince Janet to not marry and not to leave the showgirls. It’s not just the show that’s in danger, but Feldzeig’s life, as his business is all caught up with the mob. The two mobsters who are threatening Feldzeig come to the wedding in disguise as the pastry chefs. Also, staying in the guest house is the drunken chaperone for Janet (Kaeli McGinnis), a nervous best man (Eddie Spaulding), a forgetful society lady (Kirsten Brady), her faithful butler (Jacob Thompson) and a bumbling Lothario (Ezra Bedoya). It isn’t a party without a bit of commotion, mistaken identities, and complications.

The show hosts many entertaining numbers. The standout song was “Cold Feets,” where groom Robert is getting nervous on his wedding day and decides to tap his troubles away in a duet tap routine with his best man. Both Grear and Thompson dance wonderfully, and get a well deserved rousing round of applause for their performance.
Many classic comedy moments remind me of a black and white movie and are performed brilliantly by all the cast. The comic timing is well-rehearsed, and the jokes and silly moments get many laughs from the audience.
Director and choreographer Carlos Jones understand the style and showbiz nature of the 1920s, and his routines are a delight to watch. The musical itself isn’t the most life-changing, but it’s an easy watch that takes you back to the roaring 20s.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” runs through November 23 at the Warren Enters Theatre.