Watching a live performance has a romance similar to reading words off paper. Ascended in time from when Plautus and Terence original comedies performed in proscenium. Over 2000 years later in a new country, preformed in a new theater, is a new comedy, “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
The Man in Chair is a hardcore musical theater fan that narrates the story with passion and dramatic flare. The play begins in his humdrum of an apartment where he speaks with such enthusiasm it is difficult not to be pulled into his world of theater. Rhetorically he asks if we, the audience, would like to listen to a record from the original cast recording of a (fictional) comical Broadway musical called “The Drowsy Chaperone.” As he sets the needle to the vinyl, static sound tells of an age of Jazz, and the audience is magically transported to 1928.
The show was written for Hale Center Theater’s unique theatre-in-the-round. The theatre contains multiple stage sets that are incorporated as the show progresses. With eight entrances through the floor, including traps and quick lifts, Hale Center Theater’s set also features surprise entrances through pieces of furniture.
Bob Martin and Don McKellar originally wrote the Drowsy Chaperone with some friends as a spoof on old musicals. It debuted as a musical play in 1998 in Toronto, music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. Later it opened on Broadway in 2006, winning the Tony Award for Best Book and Best Score. The show has had major productions in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, London, Japan, and now playing in our humble abode Salt Lake City.
However you like to get your laughs, “The Drowsy Chaperone” will have you side stitched by the end of the show. Over the top acting, and smart sincere dialog from both the Man in Chair contributes to the classic humor. Stacked with costumes, props, and did I mention the finally? And yes that was a rhetorical question. You will have to go see the show to find out, I can promise you the Hale Center Theater holds nothing back on budget.
HCT’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” is directed and choreographed by Tinney with musical direction by Anne Puzey. The show stars Greg Barnett as Man in Chair; Marcie Jacobsen as the Drowsy Chaperone; Kelly Coombs and Debra Weed as Janet Van de Graaff; and Ames Bell and Taylor Eliason as Robert Martin. Costumes were designed by the HCT design team headed by Suzanne Carling; technical direction and scenic design by Udy; lighting designer is Spencer Brown; and assistant technical direction and sound design by Dan Morgan.
Performances are Monday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with matinées each Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. and occasional weekdays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices for Monday through Thursday evenings and matinees are $22 per adult and $15 per child (5-11 years); for Friday and Saturday evening shows tickets are $26 per adult and $16 per child (5-11 years). Tickets may be purchased online at www.halecentretheatre.org, via telephone at (801) 984-9000 or at the Hale Centre Theatre box office at 3333 South Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City, Utah.