In modern society, there is often a nostalgic love for the past. People look wistfully to a lost golden age, losing themselves in music films, and shows lost to the sands of time. Such is the story of the musical The Drowsy Chaperone, put on by Wakefield High School. The cast and crew worked together to pull off a show that was wonderfully entertaining and reminiscent of the roaring twenties.
The Drowsy Chaperone debuted on Broadway in May 2006, earning 5 Tony Awards during its run. The book is by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and presents the comical story of a middle aged, disillusioned man sitting in his living room and wishing for happier times. When he puts on his favorite record, the music from a low budget 1920’s show called The Drowsy Chaperone, the story comes to life in front of him as he narrates along. The audience watches as the man’s own relationship with the show changes, and it becomes clear that his own story intertwines with the characters’ in a surprising way.
For a comedy based in the 1920’s, a lot of caricatures and overacting was necessary to pull off the plot, and this cast handled it with ease. In the role of show-girl turned housewife, Samantha Rios showed off stellar vocals and an amazingly high level of energy. Her counterpart and love interest onstage, Robert, was played by Garrett Rinker, whose constant commitment to his character was impressive. Xavier Molina played Aldolpho, the “stereotyped Latin lover,” whose spot-on accent, hilarious comedic timing, and stellar delivery of the song “I am Aldolpho,” had the audience in stitches. Rinker took a small, featured role, and turned his moments onstage into the best of the show.
Leading the cast in the role of Man In Chair, Ethan Chow brought amazing realism, comedy, and age to a character that often comes off quite plain, and created a beautiful emotional build as the story went on, bringing the audience to realize that his own backstory was a bit more heartbreaking than he first wanted to admit. In all, the cast worked wonderfully together to deliver high energy numbers and cohesive group moments that really added to the Broadway stereotype of a show.
Many technical elements were used to pull off the “Show-within-a-show” style. The lights, designed by Amanda Bloom, were dynamic and moved quickly to shift back and forth between the Man In Chair and the show the man’s watching. The set, designed by the Wakefield Set Crew, was full of thoughtful details and accents, everything set perfectly within the time period. Set changes were simple, with few pieces moving on and off to represent new locations, which was remarkably effective and made good use of the space.
In all, Wakefield’s The Drowsy Chaperone, was a night of rousing entertainment from the Roaring Twenties, with comedy and energy that truly represents what a great night of theatre can be.