HUB Review: The Drowsy Chaperone at Sacramento’s Wells Fargo Pavilion

HUB Review: The Drowsy Chaperone at Sacramento’s Wells Fargo Pavilion

By Michael P Coleman

“I hate the theater.  It’s so disappointing.”

Those lines open The Drowsy Chaperone, the multiple Tony Award-winning musical that runs through Sunday, July 14 as a part of this summer’s Broadway At Music Circus series.  They are  spoken by the show’s narrator, billed simply as Man In Chair.

If Man In Chair really believes that — and he certainly (and hysterically) gives the impression that he knows what he is talking abouthe obviously has not seen this riotous production!

At the opening of the show, in a completely darkened Wells Fargo Pavilion, Man In Chair welcomes the audience to join him in listening to his favorite cast album, a fictional hit from 1928 about a celebrity bride as she approaches her wedding day. 

The “show within a show” format informs one of the funniest live productions I’ve ever seen. The breaking of the fourth wall, typically, sometimes loses its luster for me as lesser shows often plod along, but not so with this Drowsy Chaperone

That is a testament to this show’s crisp script and the brilliant cast, who repeatedly displayed the ability to start and stop on a dime, ceding the stage to Man In Chair.  It’s also a testament to the aforementioned Man In Chair, masterfully played by Emmy Award-winning comedy writer, songwriter and actor Bruce Vilanch.

But Vilanch has a lot of competition in this production.  The show’s drunken title character is wondrously played by Broadway At Music Circus alumna Lynne Wintersteller, whose comic timing, rubbery facial expressions, penchant for physical comedy, and stage presence reminded me of Saturday Night Live alumna Kristen Wiig. 

Similarly, Kaleigh Cronin blew me away as Janet Van de Graaff, especially during her purposefully overblown first number, “Show Off.”  And Bradley Dean, making his Broadway At Music Circus debut as Aldolpho, almost made me consider changing my name…but then, I’d never be able to utter “Aldoooooolpho” like he does! 

There was no one song or dance number that stood out in this production, really — no “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Memory,” or “Home”…but that’s ok.  As The Drowsy Chaperone’s final tune attests, the best of musical theater gives us something to take with us, some little song to which we can hum along, “as we stumble along,”  And undoubtedly, this production of The Drowsy Chaperone does that.  

Last night, Broadway At Music Circus knocked it out of the park with a show that I knew nothing about when I walked in.  This morning, I’m streaming the original cast recording.  Maybe I was wrong about that “no one song stood out” thing.  “As We Stumble Along!”  

And also this morning, as my husband brought my first cup of coffee to me as I wrote this review, I said “Thank you, Underling!”  And we both cracked up all over again. 

Get in on the laughs and see The Drowsy Chaperone this week.  But a note of caution: this one runs for close to two hours with no intermission…so pace yourself! 

Tickets for The Drowsy Chaperone start at $45, and are available by phone at (916) 557-1999, online at BroadwaySacramento.com, or in person at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street in Sacramento.  The show runs through Sunday, July 14.  For more information, visit BroadwaySacramento.com.

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