The Lawrence theatre department made an excellent musical choice in “The Drowsy Chaperone.” The story, written in the ’90s, set mostly in the ’20s, was both uniquely constructed and hysterical.
Judging by the uproarious laughter from the crowd every few lines, the Friday evening show was a major success. The cast was in fine form, both vocally and comically, and the couples were well matched to play off each others’ energy. Everything from the costumes, to the set and to the singing in this musical was fantastic. The lack of an intermission actually helped keep the production from becoming too drawn out and held true to its wacky and rather alternative nature.
While I personally found the narrator to be too intrusive at times, transfer student David Pecsi’s acting was phenomenal nonetheless and he often had me laughing more than any other character. Without him, some of the more ridiculous aspects of the ’20s musical he plays may have been lost on the audience.
The voices, however, could definitely stand on their own. A substantial number of the actors who played primary characters, including Aldolpho, Feldzieg, George, Kitty, Robert and the Drowsy Chaperone herself, are juniors this year, but have been participating in musicals, concerts and operas from their first year. Reflecting on their performances as freshman and comparing them to those in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” their progress as vocalists is astounding. While their performances as freshmen were completely stellar, the vocals in Drowsy Chaperone reached a professional level. Junior Jon Stombres energized the audience as the best man and Gabriella Guilfoil’s voice in “As We Stumble Along” left us in awe.
The chemistry of the pairs was also pure brilliance. Junior Daniel Vinitsky and Guilfoil’s performances as Aldolpho and the Drowsy Chaperone were riotous on their own and downright hysterical together. Senior Tory Wood and senior Will Doreza’s performances as Mrs. Tottendale and “Underling” were just as brilliant as they were cute. Finally, Stombres and senior Alex York gave a notable tap dance performance in “Cold Feet” that was just as impressive as it was cheesy.
Personally, I felt that the most notably hilarious part of the musical was when the narrator leaves us listening to the second record of “The Drowsy Chaperone” and instead we see the actors perform a number from “The Enchanted Nightingale” as the man’s records have been mixed up. While this break from the actors’ personas may have been a bit jolting, it only added to the zany feel of “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
The part of the musical set in the ’20s wrapped up in an intentionally predictable and over-the-top fashion, with all four couples deciding to get married on a flight to Rio. However, the true ending of the musical was more somber in fashion. The narrator gives us a deeper insight into his own personal feelings towards the musical and we learn that his love for the musical and the Drowsy Chaperone herself stems from his mother’s love of the musical and the hard times they experienced. From there the deeper meaning is deduced: that these silly and excessive musicals lift us out of harsher realities and transporting us to a safer and happier place. The entire cast then closed the show out with a happier rendition of “As We Stumble Along,” and I believe the audience did indeed leave happier and more content then they were when they arrived.