The Drowsy Chaperone is as near-mythic in theatre circles as it is
legendary for Man in Chair, the musicalís central character. The sunny
little musical that started life as a pre-wedding celebration and moved up to
two Toronto productions after a sold run at The Fringe, took Broadway sort of
by storm a couple of seasons back. And now, running until October 14,
it is back here in
The show has
vastly changed from its
The unique feature of The Drowsy Chaperone, and almost certainly what raised it to its Tony Award-winning height, is the creation and performance of the role, Man in Chair. Martin, co-writer of the book and the actor who has played this character for much of the life of the project itself, whines, laments and salivates from start to finish. His shut-in of a musical theatre queen is always endearing and almost always hilarious. Martinís throwaway is self-assured and never smug, a rare combination. His personal charm and warmth draw us close to him, which in the Elgin Theatre is no easy feat. And he frolics through many of the musical numbers, allowing his dreams to lead him where they may.
The rest of the cast is strong on all counts, but as the 100 intermissionless minutes flew and then ticked by, it seemed as though the many skills onstage were not put to their full advantage. The Drowsy Chaperone is Man in Chair, and though he needs the ensemble to illustrate to us what he adores in the world of 1920ís musical comedy, we begin to feel that he is probably all we need.
the start of a national tour (that is a