Leavenworth Summer Theater gives theatrical tropes in meta-musical

todayAugust 13, 2023 8

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LEAVENWORTH — Like the main character in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” fans of musical theater might not only attend every Broadway-based performance possible, they could devote themselves to listen to original cast-album soundtracks of their favorite shows, memorizing lyrics and obsessing over trivial production facts.

Audiences for Leavenworth Summer Theater’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” could come to appreciate the history of musical theater since the whole thing is a send-up of a fictional 1928 show, with all the tropes of the Golden Age.

Drowsy is a euphemism for drunk in this prohibition-era story. While stumbling along, the chaperone (Briar Hoper) fails to protect the diva-bride (Cherisse Martinelli) from seeing her groom (Mason Atwood) on their wedding day.

The groom Robert is sent to the gardens on roller-skates to fix his cold feet. But he’s blindfolded to keep from seeing Janet, a Follies girl who belts the rousing number “Show Off” about her choice to leave the stage lights to be a wife.

Her producer (James Klarich) is threatened by two gangsters (Alex Aweburn, Kyle Holcomb) posed as pastry chefs with a baker’s dozen of puns. The runner-up for his leading lady is Kitty (Maddy Atwood), an obnoxious ditz.

The chaperone is seduced by a stereotypical Latin lover, Aldolpho (Skyler Cuthill), who struts and sings the number “Aldolpho” about his own name with ridiculous passion.

Plenty of couples are engaged by the end of the play, similar to several of Shakespeare’s comedies. However, a missing minister requires the ancient Greek’s deus ex machina theatrical device to save the day and finish the show.

In the meta-musical the main character, Man in Chair (John Mausser), is feeling blue until he puts on the musical’s record in his little apartment, where the show comes to life. He warmly interjects factoids about the original characters and play’s structure.

“Act two of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ begins with this: a haunting lament of a very depressed bride. Now, when you are listening to this, um, try to ignore the lyrics … they’re not the best, but the tune is beautiful …,” Man in Chair narrates.

The lyrics in question make a metaphor of the unfaithful groom as a monkey on a pedestal. “Oh monkey, monkey, monkey. You broke my heart in two,” croons Martinelli repeatedly to comic effect.

The tune is indeed beautiful as sung by Martinelli with her effortless and trained voice. She was cast in the lead role for all three LST productions this season. The other two are as Maria in “The Sound of Music” and Cinderella in “Cinderella.”

Vocal director Autumn Manson brings out the best of all performers in the musical about a musical. Jazz-era costumes by designer Sheryl Sutherland with assistance from Camille Drotts and Annaliese Chambers delight and brighten up the stage with its set design by Alex Winterle.

Conductor Juel Iwaasa leads the live orchestra of people on keyboards, reeds, trumpet, trombone, bass, drums and percussion.

Director Daina Toevs guides LST’s cast and crew of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which debuted in 1998 in Toronto, Canada, until opening on Broadway in 2006, where it won five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards.

If, like for Man in Chair, all it takes to feel happy is a show with song, dance, romance, romps and a few spit takes, audiences likely will keep filling the seats of the Leavenworth Ski Hill Amphitheater for LST’s outdoor production.

Shows are Aug. 15, 18, 24, 31 and Sept. 3.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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