A Charming Old-Style Musical at Theatre Jax

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

"The Drowsy Chaperone," the new play at Theatre Jacksonville, is a charmer, a funny, affectionate spoof of the kind of silly, romantic musical often found on Broadway stages in the late 1920s.

The show begins in the small apartment of an older gentleman, probably gay, though he informs us he was once married. It didn't end well. Clearly disappointed by the way his life has turned out, the character, billed as Man in Chair, finds consolation in his collection of record albums, cast recordings from Broadway musicals.

On this day, he has decided to listen to "The Drowsy Chaperone," a silly romance from 1928, in which a wealthy bachelor and a pretty actress prepare to marry after a whirlwind shipboard romance. As Man in Chair listens - and provides running commentary - his apartment becomes a Broadway stage.

The characters are mostly stock types - a gruff producer, his dim-witted girlfriend, a Latin lover - and the plot is a trifle in which there will be a bump or two on the road to happiness.

What sets the show apart is the wry commentary provided by Man in Chair, who loves this show despite its faults and knows its history, including what happened to the original cast members, some of whom didn't live happily ever after.

The production at Theatre Jacksonville is crisply directed by Dave Allen Thomas and well acted by a large cast. …