The Drowsy Chaperone by Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, PA
April 25th, 2017
Review submitted by Karishma Singh of Friends’ Central School
The Drowsy Chaperone is a lighthearted, comedic musical within a musical, in which “the man in a chair,” an agoraphobic, theatre fanatic, takes the audience away to the world of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” one of his favorite shows.
The show is about the wedding day of a businessman, Robert Martin, and his bride-to-be, Janet Van De Graaff, a Broadway star on the verge of giving up her career for wedlock. The guests include the hostess, Mrs. Tottendale; her employee, Underling; George, the best man; a Broadway producer wanting to stop the wedding to save his show, Feldzeig; the eccentric Adolpho, enlisted by Feldzeig to seduce Janet and ruin the wedding; Kitty, a flapper who wants to replace Janet on Broadway; four gangsters disguised as chefs who have also been hired to stop the wedding; an Aviatrix, Trix; and, of course, Janet’s drunken chaperone, appointed to keep the bride and groom away from each other.
With Abington Friends School’s energetic ensemble, revolving set, precise lighting, and exceptionally talented cast, they certainly did justice to this complicated, fast-paced show.
The Man in the Chair, played by Michael Carpenter, carried the production from his opening monologue in the dark, to the very last moments of the reprise of “As We Stumble Along”. His character was one that could have easily been played as a one-note role, but he portrayed it with a complexity and development that captivated the audience.
Saria Rosenhaj’s interpretation of Janet was also multifaceted, and her evolution from a flashy star to a compassionate bride never felt forced or trite. Alongside her, Drew Jacobson brought Robert to life and wowed the audience with his skilled tap dancing and ability to successfully rollerblade on stage while wearing a blindfold. Their rapport felt natural and was very reminiscent of a 1920’s engaged couple.
Another pair that bowled over the audience, was Adolpho and Drowsy, played by Brian Wang and Rebecca Macey. They each had perfect comedic timing, and embodied both the serious and whimsical aspects of their characters.
Kaiya Case as Mrs. Tottendale also added an air of upbeat humor, and her spit takes on Garrett Weinstock, proved their dedication to the show, and had audience members doubled over in laughter.
Cameron Hodges perfectly executed the voice of a Broadway mogul in his depiction of Feldzeig. Everything from his stance to his voice transformed him into a typical producer that furthered the plot every minute.
Overall, the cast and crew effortlessly came together to put on a show that, as a man in a chair once said, “does what a show is supposed to do. It takes you away.”
Review submitted by Harleigh Myerovich of Harriton High School
Put on your favorite record, sit back in your chair and enjoy Abington Friends School’s performance of The Drowsy Chaperone! This award-winning musical invites us into the home of the Man in the Chair, a cynical homebody with a love of musical theatre. The show begins as he puts on a record of his favorite show and continues as it comes to life in his living room. A witty parody of musical theatre in the 1920s, The Drowsy Chaperone is also a heartwarming reminder of the power of theatre as a whole.
The Abington Friends School did an excellent job in tackling this demanding one-act production. As Man in Chair, Michael Carpenter commanded the stage as a constant narratorial presence. With sharp comedic timing and commitment to his character, Carpenter kept the audience grinning through each pause of the record and turn of the plot. As the hapless groom-to-be Robert, Drew Jacobson also garnered plenty of laughs from the audience, roller-skating, singing and tap dancing across the stage with equal aplomb. In “Cold Feets”, a lively tap duet with the Robert’s best man, George (Zachary Ford), Jacobson impressively executed each step and brought the comedy of his character into his movements.
As Drowsy, the tipsy chaperone after which the show is named, Rebecca Macey also brought her character to life in each of her scenes. In her solo, “As We Stumble Along”, Macey fully embodied Drowsy’s drunken, dramatic flair. Alongside her, Brian Wang embraced the outlandish Aldolpho, a swaggering Latin heartthrob. At times, the cast had issues with diction but overall delivered a sharply comedic and energetic performance.
Another strength of Abington’s production was the spectacular set constructed by the Abington Build Crew. At the center of the set was a spinning platform, painted to look like a record, which served as both the apartment for the Man in Chair and as the estate for his imagined production. The thoughtful decoration of the apartment by the Abington Props department, including black and white Broadway headshots and posters from classic musicals, served to aptly characterize the Man in Chair and provide a vibrant backdrop for the production.
Overall, it’s no “Toledo Surprise” that Abington Friends School delighted the audience with their production of The Drowsy Chaperone.