Sunday, April 13, 2008

Drowsy Chaperone Update

Did I laugh? Until I nearly choked. Did I cry? What do you think? Not that there were many tender moments here - the sweetest love ballad had lyrics like: "I put a monkey on a pedestal and then he ran away... He left his jacket on the pedestal and his little rusty cup... Oh monkey, monkey, monkey, you broke my heart in two..." (This was one of my choking episodes.)

But I found myself tearing up during a little number ten minutes into the show called "Cold Feets" - a song that was little more than an excuse for some great tap dancing - classic, perfectly executed, with blithe and dazzling smiles by Mark Ledbetter and Richard Vida. This show's book drips with irony, but the triple joke is that all of the stagecraft is rendered with spectacular honesty. I'm transported back to Band Wagon and "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan."

But the sincerity of the singing and dancing wasn't enough to have me weeping - it was how the show gets to the heart of the meaning of escapism. Much of the show's humor and poignancy arises from its post-modern situation - a 1920's era Broadway show is taking place in the drab apartment and imagination of The Man in the Chair - a lonely Broadway connoisseur who puts on his old records when he's feeling blue. Much like Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo and the 1981 Pennies from Heaven with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters, but without their grimness, The Drowsy Chaperone never lets you forget the harsh reality that the airiest musical confections temporarily erase.

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