By Melissa Giordano
The Tony Award winning musical The Drowsy Chaperone, the current offering from The Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center (CMPAC), is indeed a fascinating piece. I say fascinating because at its entertaining core, it is a show within a show spoofing old musicals. The plot includes mistaken identities, dream sequences, an unexcitable English butler, a Broadway producer going crazy over his Follies production, comical gangsters, a ditzy chorine, a harried best man, and an alcoholic, er, “drowsy”, chaperone amongst other stereotypes. The enjoyable Jordan Hue directed incarnation runs through March 12th at the charming Oakdale, Long Island, venue.
We first meet “The Man In Chair” portrayed by CMPAC staple Matthew W. Surico. This character is looked upon as a father figure as the audience has, let’s say, gathered for story time in his living room. Insidently, John Mazzarella’s clever one-room set is comprised of a quint apartment. The length of the show has him – in present day – depicting his favorite 1920’s show, The Drowsy Chaperone. However, as he is playing the cast album for us – and giving a running commentary – that musical “comes to life” next to him as if in a dream sequence. Mr. Surico is delightful in the role of our gentle, kind storyteller and receives lots of laughter as he is giving us a glimpse of his favorite show – even the scenes and songs he doesn’t like. And even though Mr. Surico is perhaps too young for this type of role, he connects well wih the audience.
Additionally, Long Island theatre vet Emily Nadler is thrilling as the title character. You’ll be in absolute stiches with Ms. Nadler’s rendition of “As We Stumble Along” in Act One. Standouts also include Mr. Mazzarella with Jordan Yates as the gangsters. Their shtick brings roars of laughter to the enthusiastic audience. Another highlight among the talented cast is Giovanni Marine who is superb as the self-proclaimed famous Latin-lover Aldolpho. With the incredible Danny Burstein in this role during the original Broadway run, whoever portrays Aldolpho has to be top notch and Mr. Marine excellently delivered.
Overall, it seems an important thing to remember when seeing The Drowsy Chaperone is to pay attention and to have an open imagination. The book by Bob Martin & Don McKellar and Score by Lisa Lambert & Greg Morrison could come off as confusing if you miss a moment of the show. This particularly as they go back and forth between the dream sequence and present day so quickly. All of this is heightened by the brilliant live orchestra headed up strongly by Carl Hottinger. You’ll also adore the costumes by Ronald Green III. And, Ryan Nolin’s choreography is lively and entertaining.
And so, The Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center certainly has another hit on their hands with The Drowsy Chaperone. A talented cast and creative show make for a night at the theatre that is full of fun and laughter.
Photo by Larisa Schadt/Larisa Mae Photography