“The Drowsy Chaperone,” which won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Book and Best Score, features music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. The musical pays tribute to the Jazz Age shows of the 1920s and their power to transport audiences into a dazzling fantasy and lift audience spirits in hard times.
The story begins when a die-hard musical-theater fan, known as “Man in Chair,” plays his favorite cast recording, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” on his turntable — and the musical literally bursts to life in his living room. It tells the story of a pampered Broadway starlet who wants to give up show business to get married, the producer who sets out to sabotage the nuptials, her chaperone, a debonair groom, a dizzy chorine, a Latin lover, and a pair of gangsters who double as pastry chefs. Man in Chair’s love of “The Drowsy Chaperone” speaks to anyone who has ever been transported by the theater.
The cast of 19 features T.J. Lamando (Man in Chair), Elizabeth Miller (Janet Van De Graff), Tommy Joscelyn (Robert Martin), Bronwyn Whittle (Beatrice Stockwell), Keland Alaka’I Sarno (Adolpho), Jordan Bunshaft (Feldzieg), Dan Kriss (George), Nick Mestakides (Underling), John Alati (Gangster #1), Jonathan Quigley (Gangster #2), Becky Grace Kalman (Kitty), Danielle James (Trix), Grace Woodward (Mrs. Tottendale), Katharine Bragg, Steven Copp, Kelly Hubbell, Robert J. Keir, Jesse Pimpinella and Sarah Rosen.
“The Drowsy Chaperone” began life as a spoof of old musicals written by friends for the stag party of Robert Martin and Janet Van De Graaff. The groom was so delighted that when the team retooled and lengthened it for the Toronto Fringe Festival, he added himself as the narrator. That led to a larger Toronto production, which in turn attracted the attention of Broadway producer Roy Miller.
Following a tryout at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, “The Drowsy Chaperone” opened on Broadway in May 2006 at the Marquis Theatre for a run of 32 previews and 674 performances. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, the original Broadway cast included Bob Martin, Sutton Foster, Georgia Engel, Edward Hibbert, Beth Leavel and Danny Burstein. Beth Leavel won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Wagner College Theatre has an intimate connection with the show. WCT alums Janine LaManna and Elizabeth Pawlowski both played Janet Van Der Graff — LaManna on Broadway, and Pawlowski in the show’s national tour. Alums also connected to the show include Beth Cochran-Renoni and Brian Renoni, assistant company manager and electrician on the show’s first national tour, and Dan Scullin, who did a later tour.
“Chaperone” is directed by Staten Islander Ryan Gibbs, who stage managed the show’s national tour. Choreographer Brian Padgett was also part of the touring company. James Higgins is music director. The creative team features scenic design by Richard Kendrick, costume design by Kurt Alger, lighting design by Vicki Neal and sound design by Richard Kroth. Macey Best is production stage manager.
The Wagner College Theatre production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” runs from Wednesday, Feb. 26 through Saturday, March 1, and from Wednesday, March 6 through Sunday, March 9. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Contact the Wagner College Theatre box office at 718-390-3259 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 12 to 4 p.m. Single tickets are on sale now for “The Drowsy Chaperone,” with a variety of price ranges for children, seniors and adults. Wagner College students attend free with current ID.