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“The Drowsy Chaperone” at Sun Valley High School

blumey student critics
T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
Brielle Kronstedt

From the first moment Man in Chair (Kevin Stafford) took his seat in a well-loved armchair, Sun Valley’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” captivated its audience. Though set and props were minimal, the fabulous cast could have made us fall in love with them in an empty parking lot. It was whimsical, sweet and charming as all get out.

Set in the 1920s, “The Drowsy Chaperone” is a parody of the laughable musical comedy style of the time. It is a crazy, ludicrous mess, complete with thugs dressed as pastry chefs.

It begins with Man in Chair discussing his favorite musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” with the audience. Throughout the comedy, we’re entertained with bits from that musical and enthusiastic interjections by Man in Chair.

The musical is about the conflict that arises when the lead of a show decides to quit and marry a rich man. The producer of the show is pressured by two thugs, because a worried investor wants to break off the wedding. (He goes as far as hiring a romantic Latin type to break up the couple.) This all occurs on the day of the wedding, so the bride is being babysat by a very drowsy chaperone, while the groom is dealing with cold feet with his best man.

Technical problems marred the first two scenes, which is natural on opening night. Yet by the time Janet Van De Graaff (Kassidy Jewell) began her mesmerizing solo, “Show Off,” the cast had already swept the audience away. Jewell and her drowsy chaperone (Stephanie Hurtado) had range, clarity, and power, particularly in Hurtado’s solo “As We Stumble Along.”

The groom, Robert Martin (Codi Bryan), was dynamic and never broke from his naïve, doe-eyed character. Aldolpho (Romel Mencia) was not only hilarious but stunned the audience with his silky voice. Kitty (Brittney Neshat), the desperate bubbly blonde, was thoroughly entertaining. Mrs. Tottendale (Cameran Hackler) and her loyal Underling (Drew Long) were a fabulous additional subplot. Gangster #1 (Elijah Moran) and Gangster #2 (Sabrina Moran) never failed to make us laugh with their well-timed pastry puns and lively facial expressions.

Last but definitely not least, the audience fell in love with Man in Chair (Kevin Stafford) long before the lights began to dim. He excelled in running the show as the witty, bitter lead. Unfortunately, best man George (Nick Celis) and Broadway producer Feldzieg (Skylar Stone) seemed insecure in their parts. However, the charming cast made it easy to overlook these few stiff moments.

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