The Drowsy Chaperone Will Leave You Laughing
Sometimes you just need to laugh and laugh. Laughter is the best medicine, especially when you feel down. The Drowsy Chaperone, music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison; book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, is a hilarious musical focusing on a musical theater lover who, to lessen his feelings of sadness, puts on a record of his favorite musical, the fictional 1928 show, The Drowsy Chaperone. As it plays, the show—a broad parody of 1920s American musical comedy—comes to life onstage, while the man comments on the music, story, and actors. Full of energy and quick quips, this musical is designed to entertain while underscoring the madcap genre of the 1920’s and 30’s musicals. The musical within the comedy revolves around a wedding— the starlet of the day, who is sacrificing her career, is scheduled to marry a leading man, much to the chagrin of the producer. As the story unfolds, there are shenanigans involving gangsters, a Latin lothario, and a completely incompetent chaperone! Throughout the musical, our musical theater lover, referred to only as “Man in Chair,” acts as narrator, punctuating the action with his comments—sometimes wry, sometimes astute, and always funny.
The musical has an interesting history and a connection to Los Angeles. It started in 1997 as an off-the-cuff spoof of old musicals created by Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison, and Don McKellar for the stag party of Bob Martin and Janet van de Graff. The original did not have the “Man in the Chair” (Narrator) and featured musical styles from the 1920’s to the 40’s. Later, Bob Martin joined the team, and the Man in the Chair was created to serve as the narrator and commentator for the journey through the musical. It’s first staging was at the Toronto Fringe Festival. From there, it caught the eye of a producer who financed an expanded production in a Toronto Community theater in 1999. After that, it went to another, larger theater in Toronto, where a Broadway producer saw it and optioned for the rights. A reading was prepared for the National Alliance for Musical Theater in 2004, where a second Broadway producer saw the show. After more collaborations, it then was produced at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles in 2005 and, after some changes, it opened on Broadway on May 1, 2006.
Directed by Cantor Judy Sofer, The Drowsy Chaperone will be the 2023 Spring show of the JFed Players Community Theatre Ensemble. This will be the company’s twenty-third production! For almost twelve years, the JFed Players have staged productions with a Jewish connection—whether that connection be a Jewish writer, composer, or works that reflect Jewish values. As the JFed Players has grown, so has their audience, and they wish to thank all of their supporters over the years. If you like to laugh and laugh, The Drowsy Chaperone is one JFed Players’ production that should not be missed!
Lori McKenna is a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.