Curtain up on Mid-Life Players as they opened their new production, “The Drowsy Chaperone” in concert-style fashion at the Just Off Broadway Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 14 for a limited run through Nov. 15.
The players explained in a pre-curtain speech that they are a group of mature actors who still like to perform and play instruments while remaining connected to the Kansas City theater scene, and, as such, produce several concert-style musicals annually. “The Drowsy Chaperone” developed from a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. Music and lyrics come from Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.
The show lends itself well to concert-style and allows the actors to step forward with their characters, recite the lines, and perform the music. Some choreography comes with the package, but the focus is on the characters and the singing. In this case, the lively musical came to life with an excited cast, great voices, fun costumes, and a funny, preposterous story-line which adds to the enjoyment of the piece as it lampoons the musical theatre genre of which it belongs.
Bob Allen plays the unnamed narrator who explains the story line and pokes fun at Broadway musicals as the audience is hearing the score played on his turntable and vinyl recording. No, it’s not really playing, but the characters come on stage to sing and act out what he is describing.
Sit back and expect fun and a lot of laughs with this show, but be advised to bring a seat cushion, because the seats are the most uncomfortable seats in the area, and the show is about 100 minutes without an intermission. A five minute stretch would help the show, but does not effect the fun contained in the lively dialogue and lyrics.
The show presents an array of characters where very few are connected, like many older Broadway musicals possessed. “The Drowsy Chaperone” depicts a musical set in 1928 but played in the present time. The narrator makes references to cell phones, interruptions and the modern distractions of current society. The tongue-in-cheek dialogue of the narrator are priceless and draw the most laughs.
Opening night brought a substantial audience to the JOB Theatre–a nice audience for a Thursday opening. The show is fun, lively, and fast-paced. The sound might have been a slight problem for those not seated in the center section, facing the actors. Microphone adjustments can and will fix this small technical problem.
All in all, the show moves quickly; the songs are all fun; the costumes are time appropriate; the lampoon of old Broadway musicals is sharp, witty, and well delivered. Standouts in the cast are Bob Allen as the man in the chair, Becky Clark as the chaperone, Dav Riley as Aldolpho, Joy Richardson as Janet. Of the supporting cast, the oh-so-innocent groom, Chad Light is funny, and the gangster pair of Jean Covillo and Kristine Norvaishas keep the audience’s focus when on stage.
The cast is: Bob Allen as the narrator in the chair, Linda Wetzel as Mrs. Tottendale, Gary Barber as Underling; Chad Light as Robert, Bill Bergman as George, John VandeVoort as Felzieg, Susan Williams as Kitty, Jean Covillo as Gangster 1, Kristine Norvaishes as Gangster 2, Dav Riley as Aldolpho, Joy Richardson as Janet, Becky Clark as Chaperone, Andrea Hobley as Trix, Danise Deckert as Reporter, and Ken Kasten, Kate Elcock, Debbie Huffman as the ensemble.
The production team is led by Therese Riley, director; Jim Vinkenberg, musical director, Mackenna Riley, stage manager; Philip Kuzila light and sound technician; Debbie Goddard, first keyboard; David Campanella, second keyboard; Shai Kinder, flute/piccolo; Holly Hague, soprano/alto saxophone; Mike Hicks, bass clarinet/tenor saxophone; Steve Hohnstadt, trombone; Devon Wiley, percussion.
“The Drowsy Chaperone” runs one weekend only Nov. 12-15 at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. Check the JOB website for more information.