Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Little Something When You're Feeling Blue

The Gallery Players in Brooklyn once again presents a Broadway musical on a small scale without losing the integrity of the piece. The Drowsy Chaperone, with music and lyrics by Greg Morrison and Lisa Lambert and book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, opened on Broadway in 2006, but if you missed it then, you can see this production (now with a Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark joke!), directed by Hans Friedrichs, through February 20.

Man-in-Chair (Craig Treubert) invites the audience to listen with him to his favorite show, The Drowsy Chaperone, a (fictional) musical from the '20s. As we listen, the characters take over his living room while he provides running commentary. Star Janet Van De Graaf (Whitney Branan) is about to marry Robert Martin (Eric Weaver), but her producer (Robert Anthony Jones) is trying to stop the wedding so that she won't have to give up show business. The show contains jokes that were stale in 1928, but the humor comes from Man-in-Chairs knowing asides. The play-within-a-play aspect involved more elaborate set pieces on Broadway, such as staircases appearing in the living room, but Jared Rutherford theater-memorabilia filled apartment uses a few doors just as effectively.

It's not really fair to the cast that the memories of the Broadway originals are still so fresh. Branan is appropriately deadpan and a fine dancer, but her "Show Off," a highly-acrobatic number about how she wants to leave show business while performing for reporters, isn't the show-stopper it was with Sutton Foster. Standouts in the cast are the endearing Treubert, Weaver as the dashing and vacant leading man, and Edward Juvier, hilarious as the over-the-top Latin lover Adolpho.

Man-in-Chair loves The Drowsy Chaperone because it accomplishes what musical theater is supposed to do, pick you up when you're down and transport you. By these standards, this production succeeds.
Photo credit: Bella Muccari

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