Review: “The Drowsy Chaperone” is anything but drowsy

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    The Drowsy Chaperone, played by junior Adele Bloch, stumbles onstage during the musical’s introduction on Friday in the Paly theater. “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a comedy that had the audience laughing out loud, has upcoming performances this week from Thursday, March 12, to Saturday, March 14. Photo by Alex Merkle-Raymond.

    The Palo Alto High School Theatre Department brings song and laughter on stage with a new musical comedy set in the 1920s. “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which premiered Friday, exceeds expectations by causing the audience to laugh out loud throughout the performance, giving the audience members a good run for their money.

    The story revolves around The Man in the Chair, played by senior Oskar Soderberg, and his bizarre obsession with Broadway musicals. One night, as he plays a record of the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” the characters come to life and transform his apartment into a dazzling Broadway stage. As the musical progresses, the Man in the Chair continuously interrupts the performance to give comedic commentary about each scene.

    The musical stars senior Cara Kienitz as Janet Van de Graaff, an actress engaged to businessman Robert Martin, played by senior Will Kast. On the couple’s wedding day, a series of events staged by multiple characters interrupts the proceedings and threatens to prevent the two from marrying. Producer Feldzieg, played by senior Ido Gal, is threatened by gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, played by junior Paul Bleich and senior Lizzy McCole, to prevent the marriage as it will result in the loss of his show’s leading lady. While fending off attempts from airhead Kitty, played by sophomore Alia Cuadros-Contreras, to become the leading lady, Feldzieg convinces “Latin Lover” Adolpho, played by junior Ophir Sneh, to seduce the bride. However, Aldolpho mistakes Janet for her chaperone and hilarity ensues.

    The groom is not supposed to see the bride on the wedding day, and so the task falls to the Drowsy Chaperone, played by junior Adele Bloch, with her constant drunkenness and hilarious input, to keep the lovebirds away from each other. The groom, convinced by his best man, George, played by sophomore Jackson Kienitz, that the best way to relax is to meander in roller skates with a blindfold so as not to see his bride on the wedding day, provides comic relief with his roller skating attempts. Each of the individual plots, including a comedic dialogue between the butler, played by sophomore Jason Pollak, and hostess Mrs. Tottendale, played by senior Jamie Garcia, intertwines into an amusing play that is made even more interesting by the Man in the Chair’s input.

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    Two gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, played by junior Paul Bleich and senior Lizzy McCole, provide the play with drama and comic relief. Photo by Alex Merkle-Raymond.

    “The Drowsy Chaperone” uses creative props and costumes, both of which establish the extravagant setting and transport the audience to the 1920s. The play employs various set pieces that allow actors to efficiently alternate between the jazz age and present day without confusion. The alternating eras also allow the Man in the Chair to relay amusing critiques about the musical’s faults as well as general opinions about individual actors. This breaking of the fourth wall positively affects the performance as it provides entertainment and helps the audience connect with the Man in the Chair.

    The music from the Paly Band was on point with all of the character’s actions, and the transitions between pieces were flawless. The music never drowned out the characters’ singing and brought to life the play’s upbeat tone. The mood and plot of the play never faltered, and the play’s hour and a half length did little to bore the audience. The lighting was also well in-tune with the actors’ actions, especially in one scene in which the flashing lights emphasize Janet Van de Graaff’s emotions as she suffers a mental breakdown.

    All of the actors did a wonderful job of portraying their characters. Bloch’s portrayal of the Drowsy Chaperone was very well acted with her swaying movements and the constant presence of a martini glass. The Chaperone’s cynical, yet funny view on life provided an interesting contrast to the other characters’ optimistic outlooks. Kienitz made a wonderfully glamorous actress, while Gal’s performance of Feldzieg greatly illustrated the desperate producer’s frustrations. The gangsters’ food puns were as amusingly ridiculous as their costumes, and Sneh’s dramatic swishing of his cape and cane during his portrayal of Aldolpho provided a good laugh. Soderberg’s insightful and sometimes moving commentary as the Man in the Chair showed to the audience that the play is wonderful because it is so ridiculous.

    However, audience members may need to pay extra attention to some characters with heavier accents. The actors sang skillfully as their voices remained pleasant and in tune. The few dance routines added a flair to the musical aspect of the play, and Will Kast and Jackson Kienitz even broke out tap dancing.

    “The Drowsy Chaperone” invokes a constant stream of laughter from the audience, making it a memorable and lighthearted experience. The absurd, yet lovable cast of characters along with the music and jokes makes the musical a must-see. The play’s hilarious script and actors’ performances ensure that the audience will be laughing by the end of the night.

    “The Drowsy Chaperone” has three more shows this week on Thursday, March 12; Friday, March 13; and Saturday, March 14. All shows start at 7:30 p.m. in the Haymarket Theater. Tickets are $10 for students and seniors and $15 for adults.

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