By Peg McRoy
Hendricks County Civic Theatre is in rehearsal to present a real treat of a production for theatre aficionados. Enthusiastic performers and fans alike will delight in the little-known but deeply appreciated musical titled “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
“It is a show that is not as well known in the general public, but theater people know and love it,” said Todd Dillon, director of the show. “It is a nostalgic homage to old-time musical theater, specifically in the early 20th century.”
Known as a show within a show, the musical is centered around a reclusive Broadway fanatic, simply named The Man in the Chair, as he listens to a rare LP recording of a fictional 1928 musical comedy called “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
As The Man in the Chair reminisces about the production and listens to the music, his small apartment transforms into an amazing Broadway set.
“As he puts on his record the musical becomes live in his little apartment,” said Dillon. “Members of the cast come out of the closet and refrigerator as the story unfolds. Because it is a vinyl record, he occasionally lifts the needle as the show progresses to narrate the story and fill the audience in on the characters and those who played them.”
It was originally written in 1997 by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison as a spoof of old musicals for the stag party of the about-to-be-married Bob Martin and Janet van de Graaf. Martin and van de Graff, were Canadian performers. Two of the main characters bear their names and persona.
The show opened in The Rivoli in Toronto in 1998 and on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre in 2006. Its Broadway run garnered 13 Tony Awards including Best Musical Score. It has since toured throughout Canada, United States, Australia, and Portugal.
“It is one of those beloved shows that some people just look at as fun,” said Dillon. “But it is nuanced. The main character desperately wants the audience to love his musical. But as he plays it he realizes that it is very dated in some important ways such as the way we look at marginalized people. There are a lot of stereotypes in the show. He tries to find ways to excuse it but realizes he can’t. It is not super in-your-face, but those things come up throughout the show.”
It is a show that does three things. It entertains, educates, and challenges viewers to reflect.
This Jazz Age musical contains a cast of talented actors who come from all different local community theaters. Rick Scott plays the Man in the Chair, Spencer Scott plays Janet van de Graff, Adam Bedel plays Robert Martin, and Nicole Bridgens plays Janet’s maid of honor known as The Drowsy Chaperone.
The rest of the cast includes Sam Godsey, Ian Brooks, Maureen Walton, Guy Lowery, Madeline Polizzi, Gabe Gutierrez, Caleb Hudson, Harley Foxworthy, Ginny Spillman, Darby O’Brien, Katie Batson, and Anna Kenney.
The musical opens July 27 and runs through Aug. 6. Go to hendrickscivic.com for more information and to purchase tickets.