“The Drowsy Chaperone” has awakened audiences at NoHo’s historic El Portal Theatre with the crowd-pleasing musical within a comedy presented on the Debbie Reynolds Mainstage through Sunday, September 24. It is a clever show that needs an enthusiastic cast with oodles of talent and comic timing — fortunately the super-energized ensemble for the production has all that and more.
The musical is perfect at presenting comical characters singing and dancing in an effervescent world narrated by “Man in Chair,” played flawlessly by Craig Sherman. Sherman’s performance is essential to the show’s success as he puts a record on a turntable and weaves the journey for the audience to enjoy the Man’s favorite Roaring ‘20s musical about all the crazy characters who gather for a problematic wedding.
As Janet the starlet/bride-to-be, Kelly Caswell is a show-off as a singer/dancer. The nervous groom Robert is played with infectious fun by Robert William, along with James Marino as his best man George. Stephanie Davis as the designated Chaperone provides some of the biggest laughs with George Chavez as the lothario when they team for the “I Am Aldolpho” number.
As for the rest of the cast, there is not a weak link in the bunch which includes Frank Rock as the frustrated producer, Ainé Graham as the bimbo flapper, Doug Holiday and Fred Mayelian as the “Toledo Surprise” gangsters, Jackie Mellor-Guin as the wedding hostess and John Morris as her long-suffering butler, plus Sarah Ryan as aviatrix Trix. Terrence Garner, Steven Beecher, Lydia Botello, Michael Craig and Gabriella Roberts complete the ensemble.
Skillful direction from Donna M. Manfredi keeps the action going at an impressive pace. The creative team has Debra Desiree Danley as Assistant Director; Robert William as Vocal Director; Joe Polinsky, Choreographer; Wendy Hahn, Costume Coordinator; Ines Roberts, Stage Manager; Brian Maly, Scenic/Light Design; and kudos to producers Arthur Aaronson and Douglas Holiday. All give attention to details that make the production perfection.
The Drowsy Chaperone is a feel-good treat for lovers of old fashioned musicals, running through Sunday, September 24, at the El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. For tickets call 818-508-4200 or online at ElPortalTheater.com.
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years. She is half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.