‘Drowsy Chaperone’ is Witty, Well-Crafted Parody of Musicals

In The Drowsy Chaperone, a nerdy little man in a cardigan describes his theater obsession. Whenever he plays an old vinyl record, outrageous characters from a forgotten musical appear in his bland apartment.

There’s a corny romantic plot in this witty and entertaining parody presented by Premiere Productions at Welk Resorts through Aug. 27, and audience members expecting slapstick and pretty costumes will enjoy the nostalgic charm.

Some may be oblivious to the Man’s social commentary, and his jabs about racial stereotypes. But we are drawn into his lonely fantasy world, which gives the play a heart.

The play directed and choreographed by Ray Limon has a show-within-a-show structure, in the realm of Mel Brook’s The Producers.

Vincent Pasquill as the Man in Chair has the physique and delivery of Woody Allen. Gay weddings are different now, he says. We’re too smart for stereotypes. His fantasy musical from prohibition days includes an African American pilot named Trix. A sparkling Justin High struts in a silver bomber jacket and shakes the rafters in a finale song.

The Man suggests we ignore the lyrics of the songs and offers insight into characters. Madcap vignettes include Ashlee Espinosa as Janet Van de Graaff, the Oops girl who thrills in big songs about love and show bizz as she cartwheels and kicks into daring split landings.  She changes clothes in a snap, and she’s in love with Robert, a tall and clumsy fool who sings and dances “I’m an Accident Waiting to Happen” while on roller skates.

There is lively tap dancing in “Cold Feets,” and a light soft shoe dance to “Love Is Always Lovely in the End.” A highlight is “Toledo Surprise” with gangsters posing as bakers (Chris Bona and Dante Macatantan), a rhythmic tune about chopping up nuts and dancing the Charleston. It’s hard to forget the song with a chorus of dancing monkeys.

Robin La Valley as Mrs. Tottendale is a loveable dingbat in her Little Bo Peep gown. There’s a sequence of spitting out vodka that is annoying until a skipping record makes it a clever bit of timing.

Alex Allen plays the sexy Latin lover Adolpho with every stereotyped accent and costume imaginable. According to the Man, Adolpho drank himself to death and was partially consumed by his poodles.

As the Drowsy Chaperone, a boozy Lisa Dyson spits out one-liners with remarkable timing.

Music is recorded and crisp. Run time 90 minutes with no intermission.

The Drowsy Chaperone runs through Aug. 27. www.welkrestorts.com 888-802-7469. Presented by Premiere Productions.

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