March 19, 2014

‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ at Providence High

Show-within-a-show takes us back to the boozy 20s but keeps a foot in the present

The story of “The Drowsy Chaperone” revolves around a narrator in his mid-40s, walking the audience through his favorite musical, which is also called “The Drowsy Chaperone.” That musical is centered on the marriage of a showgirl, Janet VanDe Graff, and hilarity goes on throughout it. It’s a show within a show: The narrator walks you through, scene by scene, explaining characters and the actors who play them, even giving opinions on musical numbers. It’s an interesting concept that keeps you intrigued. But for me, after a while, it seemed to get old.

The performance aspects of the Providence High School production ranged from high to low. The actors did a great job of staying in character and portraying the quirky characters. The two who stood out the most were Kitty (Rachel Kowadlo) and the narrator (Jonathan Walls). They kept the crowd laughing and connected to the show.

Kitty was the ditzy type, with great comedic scenes and a wacky personality. The narrator made himself relatable to Broadway lovers like myself, explaining the irritations of people talking, phone use during performances and even the length of blackouts at the beginning of a show. He made me laugh and say “Yes, someone understands.” While some other actors stood out, they didn’t add their own flair to portrayals. The characters are already stereotypical, and I would have loved to see little personal additions to make the characters sparkle.

The set for the show was a marvel. It looked like an apartment, until the middle was pulled out and replaced by the “set” for “Chaperone;” meanwhile, the ends were still the insides of the apartment, around which the narrator moved. The tech work was a little slow at first, but it picked up speed and stayed consistent for the rest of the show.

The musical itself is enjoyable and something different from the normal shows that take you to a whole different world. The production had flaws but was well-performed and delightful to watch.

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