"I know it is not a perfect show, the spit-take scene is lame and the monkey motif is labored ... but it does what a musical is supposed to do! It takes you to another world and it gives you a little tune to carry in your head for when you're feeling blue."
So says the narrator of the Tony Award-winning comedy "The Drowsy Chaperone," presented by the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America on two consecutive weekends, Friday, Feb. 22, through Sunday, March 2.
"The Drowsy Chaperone" is simultaneously tribute and farcical satire of a typical 1920s "Jazz Age" Broadway musical. Framed and narrated by an agoraphobic Broadway fanatic known as The Man in the Chair, the musical unfolds in his imagination when he sits down to listen to a record of his favorite musical, the fictional "Drowsy Chaperone." Throughout the play, he offers his own, often disparaging, commentary.
In a unique twist on typical staging, the set design of the CUA production has The Man in the Chair sitting in front of the stage on the floor of the theatre. Rather than taking place before him in his apartment in a classic Broadway interpretation, the musical sprouts above him, as if directly from his imagination, says director Jay D. Brock.
"It occurred to me that [The Man in the Chair] is making the audience up ... We are his invention. You can tell that because his interaction with us is so natural and so comfortable but as soon as he has to talk to a real person he becomes incapable of communication ... As he's making up the show, he also has to make up the audience to watch the show," Brock says.
The seven-piece band will be silhouetted against a colored backdrop at the back of the stage, giving the audience "that old sense of the big band...the conductor, the piano, the brass players," Brock adds.
The creative team has contracted with New York choreographer Kimberly Schafer, providing an emphasis on dance in the show that is also unique.
"We're virtually turning every number into a dance number," Brock says.
Musical direction will be provided by Denise Puricelli, assistant professor and co-chair of musical theatre.
Performances will take place in Ward Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 22-23 and March 1, and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 23 - 24 and March 2. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for CUA alumni, $10 for seniors, faculty, and staff, and $5 for CUA students with ID.
There will be a preview performance on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m. with discounted ticket prices: $15 for general admission, $10 for CUA alumni, and $5 for seniors, faculty, staff and CUA students with ID.
Tickets will be available online at music.cua.edu beginning Feb. 1 and can be purchased at the door.