The Conservatory’s spring musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a self-styled “Musical Within a Comedy,” fused modern and vaudevillian musical theater styles to create a uniquely entertaining experience. The show gave the students the chance to explore both new and more familiar theatrical genres. Director Laura Lang-Ree, musical director Catherine Snider and choreographer Katie O’Bryon guided the 43 students in the cast in learning the various performance styles.
The production follows the Man in Chair (Tristan Killeen, grade 12), a shut-in and Broadway enthusiast who unearths and listens to a recording of a fictional 1928 musical known as “The Drowsy Chaperone.” After getting approval from the audience to guide them through the show, he puts the record on his player and the musical comes to life in his living room.
The plot of the show within the show takes place on the wedding day of oil tycoon Robert Martin (Neel Salukhe, grade 12) and famed Broadway actress Janet Van De Graff (Noel Witcosky, grade 12), who has pledged to quit show business to devote all her time to married life.
This doesn’t sit well with the boss of the two gangsters (Ian Richardson and Kevin Moss, both grade 10) who have infiltrated the wedding disguised as pastry chefs in order to protect their boss’ investment in the musical “Feldzieg’s Follies,” of which Van De Graff is the star. So begins a screwball comedy with rousing musical numbers and periodic bittersweet insights into the life of the Man in Chair which give the show the substance that made it so popular with Broadway audiences when it debuted in 2006.
Stalwart set designer Paul Vallerga brought his trademark creativity to production, creating a versatile set that was easily changed to suit a variety of locales, and which included a large airplane and a Murphy bed. Clever props made their way into the show as well, courtesy of prop designer Joan Sommerfield. Natti Pierce-Thomson again handled the lighting design, splendidly capturing the musical’s many moods.