The Drowsy Chaperone is a comedy musical that debuted in Broadway in 2006. From November 10, 2017 to November 12, 2017, the Oakwood School in North Hollywood held its production of the musical. The musical was full of humorous lines, hilarious characters, and many memorable musical numbers that Broadway fans would simply enjoy.
The play begins as the Man in Chair, a Broadway fanatic, tells the story of The Drowsy Chaperone while playing a rare recording of the musical. His apartment is transformed into the 1928 setting of the musical itself. The musical begins on the day of the wedding of Robert Martin and Janet Van De Graaff, a famous actress who decides to retire from the spotlight and go into marriage life. Those is attendance are the aging Mrs. Tottendale and her servant called Underling, Broadway producer Feldzieg, the dimwitted Kitty, the best man George, two gangsters, the Chaperone, Latin Lover Aldolpho, and aviatrix Trix. Feldzieg, who wishes for Janet to continue starring in his show, Feldzieg’s Follies, must do everything he can to prevent the wedding from happening. In addition, the gangsters reveal to Feldzieg that their boss has invested greatly in the producer’s show and wants insurance for its financial success, which is unlikely without Janet. Feldzieg then manipulates “self proclaimed famed Latin lover” Aldolpho to seduce Janet and ruin her relationship with Robert. That plan fails when the Chaperone of Janet is mistaken as the bride by Aldolpho.
Janet, wondering if Robert really loves her, poses as a French girl “Mimi” and encounters Robert blindfolded and roller-skating. When asked by “Mimi” about how he met his bride, Robert describes their first lovestruck meeting. Carried away by his emotions, Robert kisses “Mimi” because she seems just like Janet, all to Janet’s disappointment and fury.
Thus, despite Aldolpho’s mistake and Feldzieg’s failed plan, Janet cancels the wedding against Robert’s wishes. However, after hearing Robert’s true confession that he loves her and the Chaperone’s advice to “l-ve while you can,” Janet decides to marry Robert. The play ends with Janet and Robert, Aldolpho and the Chaperone, Mrs. Tottendale and Underling, and Feldzieg and Kitty all getting married on a plane with Trix performing the marriages.
Despite this play being a small production held at a local Los Angeles school, the performance was still amazing. The play gave me a very good feeling of the era of the 1920’s, not only with display of setting, but also with many references of the era such as Prohibition. The drama program at Oakwood School is very close, if not completely, at the professional Broadway level of acting. The actor for the Man in Chair creates a very good depiction of the character as a classy, mousy, Broadway fanatic. In addition, the actor of Aldolpho was not only hilarious, but fitting to play the character in all aspects. The musical numbers in the play are part of the definition of what Broadway songs could and should be. Personally, my favorite numbers were “Cold Feets” and “Toledo Surprise”.
Something I have noticed in many play productions of modern theatre is the race diversity in the actors, regardless of how small or large the production was. In this particular production, it would seem fit that by judging the setting and era, White actors play all of the roles. However, many of the actors are of other ethnicities. The actor of the Man in Chair was African American, which gave me a very different view of the character, seeing that the character has always been played by a white man. In addition, a Korean actor played one of the two gangsters in the play and the other gangster was played by a female actress, some other things other versions of the play have most likely never done. I can see that the theater district has embarked on a pathway that is opening up more opportunities for actors and actresses of many different backgrounds.
The theater district may in fact be a sign that society has been and still is making efforts for equal opportunities regardless of race and gender.
Christopher Kim/ Chatsworth High School 11th Grade
<Christopher Kim/ Chatsworth High School 11th Grade