Through August 16, 2009
Reviewed by Kirsten Wylder
Tuesday night, I didn't sleep well. At. All. So come
Wednesday, I was going to be playing the part of the Very Drowsy Reviewer in
Chair 23 at the Robert G. Reim Theatre. I worried that I might not pay
attention and miss something. Nothing to fear. Stages St. Louis not only woke
me up with their dazzling production of The Drowsy Chaperone, they had me literally guffawing! I don't think
they're capable of producing anything other than great theater!
The story starts in the dark with a voice relating to the audience about his theater experiences. Once the lights come up, The Man in the Chair then turns to tell us about his record (yes, record) collection and specifically, the one he intends to share with us: The Drowsy Chaperone
. Soon after, his studio apartment transforms into the world of a 1928 Musical complete with gimmicks, multiple song styles, bad puns (I loved them - very punny), tap dancing, a moon, a wedding, some stereotypical characters and some atrociously funny lyrics. The Man leads us through every number and gives us his insight (or deep-seated feelings) to make the trip that much more pleasurable. If you have a smidgeon of a sense of humor, you'll laugh.
The cast is uniformly wonderful; not a weak link in the bunch. Tari Kelly is adorably hilarious as the smitten bride and actress, Janet. She IS Janet all the way from her fantastic facial expressions to the quintessential perfectly pointed toe. I was thoroughly entertained with her number "Show Off." David Edler as "leading man" Robert Martin, and Brian Ogilvie as his best man and go-to-guy, George (of course), put on a tap dance number - "Cold Feets" - to wow and woo. I was enthralled. Stages favorites Zoe Vonder Haar, Kari Ely and Ben Nordstrom are featured bringing giggles & smiles with their portrayals of Trix the Pilot, Mrs. Tottendale, and Gangster #1 respectively. Newcomer Michael Baxter, joins Mr. Nordstrom as Gangster #2 and what a team they make! The bits never end with these two and they are flawless. Edward Juvier lays it on appropriately thick as the stereotypical lusty European who set on winning "all the ladies." He and Drowsy Chaperone, Christianne Tisdale, are a delight in his self titled number "I Am Aldolpho." John Alban Coughlan portrays Mrs. Tottendale's butler Underling to a "T." Their duet, "Love is Always Lovely" was thoroughly endearing. Ed Romanoff as producer Feldzeig and Melinda Cowan are a charming May-December pairing. Laura Ernst, Andrew Kruep, Patrick Martin and Katy Tibbets fill out the ensemble with energy and aplomb. But it's David Schmittou that owns the stage as our ever present guide: The Man in the Chair. He is wholly committed to making certain we come to adore this musical and its idiosyncrasies as much as he does. I do believe I laughed harder at his moments than just about anyone in any play - ever. He's just what this sleepy spectator desired to bring about reanimation! He was perfect.
Michael Hamilton's direction was spot on; but then again, isn't it always? Choreography by Dana Lewis was captivating. Musical Direction by Lisa Campbell Albert and orchestral design by Stuart Elmore were delightful; moving the story along effortlessly. Scenic design by James Wolk was beyond clever and never let us forget we were in a studio apartment despite the cast's best efforts. As always, Lou Bird outdoes himself with costuming. Lights by Matthew McCarthy were creative and lent to the moments flawlessly.
If you're looking for an evening of mirth, merriment and general silliness, you won't want to miss this production. Tickets will go fast for this production. "It has everything from a little Busby Berkeley to a little Jane Goodall." I couldn't have asked for a better evening of entertainment. Bravo Stages! Bravo!
For more information, you may call 314-821-2407 or visit www.stagesstlouis.com