Front Row Reviewers

You’re in for a “Toledo Surprise” at Old Barn Community Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

By Christy Hudson

I had never heard of the small town of Collinston, but I made the trip there to check out their community production of The Drowsy Chaperone. For some reason, my phone GPS gets me lost all the time, and it was convinced I was supposed to turn into someone’s driveway. But I eventually outsmarted my technology, followed the road a little bit further around the bend, and found the Old Barn Theatre, and I was able to watch their fun production. The Drowsy Chaperone originally premiered on Broadway in 2006 at the Marquis Theatre. The book is by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, and the music and lyrics are by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.

The Drowsy Chaperone is a play-within-a-play. It is a fictional classic Broadway musical that parodies real classic Broadway musicals. The narrator, known only as the Man in Chair (Morgan Hawkes), is feeling “blue,” so he decides to put on a record of one of his favorite musicals, The Drowsy Chaperone. He then guides the audience through the simplistic story of a showgirl who has decided to quit showbusiness to get married, and we watch the characters from it perform in his home around him. It is full of tropes and clichés from real Broadway shows from the 1920’s era.

Hawkes maintains a high level of energy throughout the show. He often interrupts the record to provide factoids and trivia about the fictional actors, and to share his opinions on some of the songs and scenes. It is easy to get swept away along with him, as he is also being swept away with his enthusiasm for the show.

The Drowsy Chaperone herself is played by Katherine Newman. She, as well as the other actors, have the opportunity to play the fictional actors playing the characters in the play within the play (musical comedy Inception, anyone?). The Man in Chair explains that the actor Newman is playing always insisted on being given a rousing anthem in every show. So, the Chaperone sings “As We Stumble Along,” which Man in Chair excitedly exclaims, “Basically she sings a rousing anthem about alcoholism. That’s what I love about her.” Newman plays this role well, as the diva playing the Chaperone, and she inhabits the stage the way an actual diva would.

Nicole Martineau plays Janet Van de Graaff, the starlet who is choosing to leave the spotlight to marry the man she loves. This role was originated on Broadway by Sutton Foster. Martineau is very enjoyable in the role. Her musical number, “Show Off,” is especially fun. She brings out Janet’s dramatic side well.

Man in Chair turns our attention to the B plot involving Janet’s producer Feldzieg who is played by Sam Farnsworth. Tyler Jones and Tyler Daley play the cartoonish gangsters posing as pastry chefs, who spend the whole show giving Feldzieg threats through food-related puns.  Sylvia Newman is Kitty, who is trying to convince Feldzieg to let her replace Janet as the leading lady. A lot of the show’s funniest moments come through these characters.

One of the most memorable characters is Aldolpho, played by Matthew Jeppesen (he makes sure you remember his name). Aldolpho is a self-proclaimed Latin ladies’ man whom Feldzieg tricks into seducing Janet to ruin the wedding. Jeppesen gets a lot of laughs with his portrayal, and it’s clear he is having a lot of fun with it.

Katharine Newman also serves as the choreographer, and she has put together some fun dance numbers, featuring a lot of Charleston’s and 1920’s swing dancing. The ensemble helps these numbers become a party, one in particular being “Toledo Surprise” at the end of Act One. I also enjoyed “Cold Feets,” which is a tap number that featured Zac Erickson and Tucker Smith as Robert Martin and his best man George, respectively. They both brought a lot of energy to it and made it very enjoyable.
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The Old Barn Theatre is not very large, and the seating is on all four sides around the stage. This makes the experience a little more intimate, and Man in Chair is practically sitting in the audience with us, watching the show the same way we are. Director Heather Gleason and Assistant Director Sylvia Newman have put this show together well. The production team also includes Nicole Martineau as Music Director, Byron Okada as Technical Director, Katherine Kruger as Support Staff, and Kamilyn Michaelis as the Stage and Properties Manager.

The Old Barn Community Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone is a very charming production. The audience laughed the whole way through. It gives us a chance to reflect on why musical theater is so great. As Man in Chair uses showtunes to battle his blues, we also get to be reminded of how much fun it can be to get carried away in the music and stories of musicals, and to take a break from the difficulties of life for a while. I am the kind of person who does sometimes get a little carried away when I listen to showtunes while home alone, just as Man in Chair does. If you relate to that feeling at all, this could be a fun show for you to check out.

Old Barn Community Theatre Presents The Drowsy Chaperone, Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison
Old Barn Theatre, 3605 Bigler Rd, Collinston, UT, 84306
July 20-21, 23, 27-*28, 30, August 3-*4, 6, 10-11, 2018
7:30 PM, doors open 7:00 PM (*2:30 PM matinee)
Tickets: $9.00 Adults, $8.00 Seniors and Children under 12 (Purchase tickets here)
Contact: 435-458-2276
Old Barn Theatre Facebook Page
The Drowsy Chaperone Facebook Event



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