‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ at historic El Portal Theatre Sept. 15 – 24 offers a fun feel-good musical to chase your cares away

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If you want an experience that will put a smile on your face and a spring in your step, go see The Drowsy Chaperone. The award-winning musical within a comedy is presented on the Debbie Reynolds MainStage at the historic El Portal Theatre for eight performances from September 15 to 24.

Craig Sherman as The Man in the Chair.

The show is a great venture for producers Douglas Holiday and Arthur Aaronson (friends since the class of ‘67 Van Nuys High School), who encourage you to put aside the news of the day and see a show that makes you feel good. “And your friends will thank you for bringing them along. It is a nostalgic romantic musical comedy that will make you long for carefree days. It’s a window into the past but relatable today with a sprinkling of irreverence that pokes fun at stereotypes,” Holiday reports.

It is for everyone who loves old fashioned musicals with fun archetypal characters. The show is about an actress in the Roaring Twenties who wants to quit being a “show-off” and settle down. But two wacky gangsters try to stop her wedding, and there’s more excitement with the romantic lead — Latin Lothario, harried producers, a ditzy flapper, and many others.

The intricate show-within-a-show story is told by Man in Chair (played by stage veteran Craig Sherman) who escorts the audience through his favorite musical that was so monumental in his life.

Along with Sherman, the stellar cast includes Stephen Beecher, Lydia Botello, George Chavez, Kelly Caswell, Stephanie Davis, Terrence Garner, Ainé Graham, Sarah Holzer, Michelle Jace, James Marino, Fred Mayelian, Jackie Mellor-Guin, John Morris, Gabriella Roberts, Frank Rock, Mike Smith, Robert William (also the show’s vocal coach), and Doug Holiday. Actor/producer Holiday says, “The chemistry behind-the-scenes explodes on stage with the entire talented and loving cast.”

One of the many highlights is “Toledo Surprise,’ the gangster’s euphemism for a hit. Holiday says, “The spectacular Roaring Twenties dance number is the signature moment in the show that gets the entire cast involved for over five minutes.” There’s also the breathlessly funny “Accident Waiting to Happen” roller skating number; the “Message from a Nightingale” spoof; and the Latin lover’s “I Am Aldolpho,” which is a real crowd-pleaser.

Producer Aaronson says, “It’s a great time to mount this very smart show and the El Portal Theatre is perfect. There are all great seats to see the singing and dancing. It’s a two-hour musical comedy escape with every character a gem, like those enjoyed in the memorable Carol Burnett sketches. Remember Burnett’s Norma Desmond? We’ve got her and more. The fun-loving show is the opposite of the title. It’s neither drowsy or about watching over kids. The Drowsy Chaperone is pure entertainment for all ages.”

At the historic El Portal Theatre September 15-24, The Drowsy Chaperone is directed by Donna A. Mandredi, choreographed by Joe Polinski, produced by Douglas Holiday and Arthur Aaronson. For tickets and information call (818) 508-4200 or go online to ElPortalTheatre.com.

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