I hadn’t gone into Point Park Conservatory Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone expecting to be devastated — but director Jack Allison and star Mason Alexander Park have a big surprise up their sleeves.
We open with the character “Man in Chair,” sitting in his living room talking about his love of musical theater and a particular 1920s show, The Drowsy Chaperone. Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison have written a score for this made-up musical filled with perfectly ersatz 1920s musical numbers. The Man imagines the performers acting out the show in his living room. Bob Martin and Don McKellar have written a typically vapid ’20s-style plot about a Broadway star giving up the stage for a marriage which everyone is either celebrating or sabotaging.
Martin and Keller have also written for Man in Chair side-splitting ongoing commentary about the show, the actors, musicals in general and the real world. As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time doing the same thing in the privacy of his bedroom, I couldn’t not adore this 1998 Broadway hit.
Allison, choreographer Eileen Grace and music director Camille Rolla do a great job with both “The Drowsy Chaperone” and The Drowsy Chaperone. The energy and commitment of this knockout cast are remarkable. Brittany Pent and Jared Thomas Roberts are charming as the lovebirds. Javier Manente dances and sings the Best Man like a force of nature, and Adriana Milbrath, in the title role, knocks her big solo out of the park.
Which brings us to Park as Man in Chair. He begins, in both looks and manner, like YouTube star Tyler Oakley; jumpy, funny, sweet and smart. But under Allison’s direction, we watch him slide deeper into his own fever dream. It’s difficult to realize what the stakes are for Park, because his illusions are so incredibly entertaining.
Until the end. I can’t really talk about it — partly not to reveal spoilers, but also because it’s nuanced enough that I’m not sure what I thought happened actually did.
But a chill ran down my spine and tears were rolling down my face. Thanks to Park’s glorious performance and Allison’s vision, this Drowsy Chaperone is one of enormous power.