Drowsy Chaperone review - last week to see Leanne Borghesi

Posted by Jessica Coker on March 1, 2011 at 5:04 PM


Review: “Diablo Theatre Company’s ‘Drowsy Chaperone’ drives straight for the funny bone – Contra Costa Times Review: Diablo Theatre Company’s ‘Drowsy Chaperone’ drives straight for the funny bone

By Pat Craig
- Correspondent

Posted: 02/15/2011

Musical comedies have based their stories on some pretty unusual topics — selling your soul to the devil so the Washington Senators will win the pennant, finding a place for a crap game, even teaching a young woman to speak proper English. So it probably isn’t really surprising to find one of the funniest musicals ever is about going to a guy’s apartment to watch him play the cast album from a 1928 musical called “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

What is most amazing about ‘Chaperone” is just how wildly funny it is. Director Daren A.C. Carollo and his Diablo Theatre Company cast have done a wonderful job re-creating it, beginning when the curtains opening on the cluttered apartment and reveal the Man In the Chair (Michael Patrick Gaffney), a slightly fey, ever-smiling fellow who knows far too much about early 20th century pop culture and musical comedy. He tells us he likes to put the two-record (yes, “record”) album on the turntable whenever he’s feeling a little blue, to remember that cold night in 1928 when America (OK, Broadway, but what’s the diff?) met the drowsy chaperone. Then, with the drop of a needle, the dreary apartment bursts forth with color and flash, as the cast takes over the little studio and turns it into Mrs. Tottendale’s (Laurie Strawn) mansion on the day of the wedding between Broadway superstarlet Janet Van De Graaff (Sharon Rietkerk) and oil tycoon Robert Martin (Daniel Epstein). It’s to be a wonderful day with Broadway’s finest in attendance and a beautiful setting for the wedding of the season. But the pebble in the rice here is Feldzieg (Michael Markovich), bent on stopping the wedding so Janet can keep earning big bucks for him. Feldzieg shows up with his current arm candy, ditzy ingenue Kitty (Samantha Bruce), and a pair of Toledo gangsters disguised as pastry chefs (Justin Isla and Ned Hansen).

Through it all, the Man In the Chair is dropping hilarious asides to advance the plot, comment on what the actors do in their private lives and a bit about his own life. But most of all, he serves as an enthusiastic cheerleader for the show, dancing, applauding like a seal on steroids and casting his 1,000-watt grin over the action. Gaffney is just unbeatable in the role.

The rest of the cast, too, is fantastic, from those already mentioned to Aldolpho (Dan LeGate), the delightfully cheesy Latin lover; the drowsy chaperone herself (Leanne Borghesi), played with maximum theatricality and drunkenness; George (Stephen Foreman), the harried, tap-dancing best man; and Trix the Aviatrix (Jackie De Muro), who flies in just in time to save the day. What makes it work so beautifully is that every character has a moment to shine, and all of them take full advantage, much to the delight of the audience.

The tunes in the show are charming and sound like those you might here from the time period. G. Scott Lacy directs the music, Sheri Stockdale choreographs, Carol Edlinger designed the attractive period costumes and David Gallo designed the evocative and quite flexible set. All combine to create one of the best shows produced on the Lesher main stage in some time.


By Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison, Bob Martin and Don McKellar; presented by Diablo Theatre Company.
 WHEN: 8 p.m. most Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays through March 5; also 2 p.m. Feb. 26.
 RUNNING TIME: 1 hour, 45 minutes
 WHERE: Lesher Center for the Arts, Civic Drive at Locust, Walnut Creek.
 TICKETS: $17-$48; 925-943-7469,

Posted on February 15th, 2011 « Review: “The Drowsy Chaperone” – Broadway MagazineReview: “The Drowsy Chaperone” – Walnut Creek Journal » Leave a Reply Cancel reply items marked with * are required

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