“The Drowsy Chaperone” Returns For Stages’ 30th Season And It’s Better Than Ever

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David Schmittou opens the show as The Man In The Chair and guides us through “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Photo: Peter Wochniak

They blew us away in the 2009 season with “The Drowsy Chaperone” and now, for their 30th Anniversary Season- Stages St. Louis reprises one of their biggest hits. Is it even better the second time around? Too close to call so I’ll just say “yes!” As someone who can identify with The Man In The Chair (collecting cast albums for 50-plus years), this show has a special appeal. Imagination always inspired me with shows I’d never seen performed as I tried to see them through the marvelous recordings. That’s just what happens on a grand scale with this show- the recording starts and the performers burst into this man’s living space and recreate the 1920’s magic of a show titled “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

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The Jacobs twins and Steve Isom get us started on the eventual production number, “Toledo Surprise” in “The Drowsy Chaperone” at Stages St. Louis. Photo: Peter Wochniak

David Schmittou returns in the iconic role of The Man In The Chair. A bit cynical at times but his love of musicals always comes through. Whether just sitting in his easy chair, cheering on a performer or even getting into the action on stage, Schmittou is totally committed to this obsessive character as he guides us through the magic of vinyl. What a performance.

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Corinne Melancon in the tile role and Edward Juvier as Adolpho in Stages St. Louis production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Photo: Peter Wochnicak

This time around, Corinne Melancon takes the title role and brings her special blend of song styling and often outrageous humor to the Drowsy Chaperone. She is nothing short of brilliant in both her featured number- “As We Stumble Along” and with her delightful play off the self-proclaimed Latin Lover, Adolpho- played again with high camp and low humor by the effervescent Edward Juvier.

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David Schmittou watches as Laura E. Taylor as Janet sings in “The Drowsy Chaperone” at Stages St. Louis. Photo: Peter Wochnicak

The young bride and groom, Janet and Robert, are played with abandon by Laura E. Taylor and Andrew Fitch. Their number, “Accident Waiting To Happen,” with him on roller skates and blindfolded, is a true highlight in a show that’s filled with both musical and humorous highlights. Real twins, Ryan Alexander Jacobs and Austin Glen Jacobs play the gangsters posing as pastry chefs and they are a nimble pair indeed. Their specialty number, “Toledo Surprise,” which turns into a big chorus number, is truly filled with surprises.

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Corinne Melancon belts out “As We Stumble Along” while Laura E. Taylor looks on in the Stages St. Louis production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Photo: Peter Wochniak

Kari Ely is charmingly ditzy as Mrs. Tottendale who is hosting the wedding and the droll John Flack is superb as the butler who everyone refers to as “Underling.” Steve Isom shines as Feldzieg, the Broadway producer who is trying to foil the wedding so that Janet will return to his employ and Dana Winkle is a real treat as the scatterbrained Kitty who accompanies Feldzieg and tries to convince him that she can take over the role abandoned by Janet. Con O’Shea-Creal also proves a valuable member of the troupe as George, Robert’s best man and almost steals the show with an energetic tap number with Robert as they discuss their “Cold Feets.”

As usual, the Stages ensemble is as talented as the featured players. Taking on all of the friends and guests, they are an invaluable part of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” singing and dancing their hearts out. The great team of Michael Hamilton- Director and Dana Lewis- Choreographer have fashioned this show into an unmistakeable hit. Fast paced and over-the-top hilarious. Musical direction is by Lisa Campbell Albert with orchestral design by Stuart M. Elmore. The magnificent, ever-changing set design by James Wolk is a wonder to behold and Sean M. Savoie’s lights are impeccable. Brad Musgrove’s costumes complete the magnificent technical aspects of the show featuring glam, glitter and suiting the 20’s to a T.

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The cast of “The Drowsy Chaperone” (including The Man In The Chair) at the end of a production number at Stages St. Louis. Photo: Peter Wochnicak

With music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, “The Drowsy Chaperone” may be the perfect musical about musicals. It is so good to see it staged again by the wonderful Stages St. Louis. Their love of musicals is unquestioned and this is one of the biggest and brightest (and funniest) of their 30 season run. Don’t miss it as it plays through August 21st. Give them a call at 314-821-2407 for tickets or more information.

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