Villanova Theatre’s presentation of “The Drowsy Chaperone”



Jessie Himel

Those lucky enough to catch “The Drowsy Chaperone,” presented by the Villanova Theatre, this past weekend were treated to an entertaining “show within a show” featuring rousing musical numbers and intriguing subplots.

The show centers on Man in Chair (Vincent Raspa), a reclusive Broadway enthusiast, who tries to mitigate his sadness by listening to his record of the musical comedy,  “The Drowsy Chaperone.”  He is emotionally transported to the wedding day of Broadway star Janet Van de Graaff (Kelly Jusczak) and oil tycoon Robert Martin (Jack Evans).  We learn that Janet willingly gave up her acting career to marry Robert. This will contribute to the financial downfall of her show—Feldzieg’s Follies.  As a result, two gangsters (Jackson Anderson and Austin Wild) force the show’s producer Feldzieg (Brian Jacko) to sabotage the wedding because their boss’s investment in Feldzieg’s Follies will plummet without her as the star.  Eventually, Janet’s underlying doubts begin to surface and lead her to test Robert’s love for her.  She inevitably must decide whether she values Robert over her prolific acting career.  

The real fun revolves around a series of entertaining subplots and stirring musical numbers throughout the performance.  Feldzieg’s desperate attempt to sabotage the wedding was a show-stopper as he inadvertently created the odd pairing of the gullible, arrogant Adolpho (Steven Baldwin) and the carefree alcoholic Drowsy Chaperone (Clare Reckner).  Additionally, the interactions between the flighty Mrs. Tottendale (Kasey Lynch) and her apathetic servant Underling (Matthew Moorhead) were highly comical.  Three musical numbers particularly stood out—“Cold Feets,” “Toledo Surprise” and “Love is Always Lovely.”  

Throughout the show, the Man in Chair continually broke the fourth wall to share his personal insights on the characters and plot.  His refreshing commentary engaged the audience on a more intimate level by making an older play relatable to a modern day audience.  His occasional realistic interruptions, like the record skipping and the power outage, were impactful because they grounded the audience in his world.  His unwavering devotion truly highlighted his immersion in his beloved musical. Vincent nailed this tricky character and gave the audience a passport to this fascinating world.

There was nothing “drowsy” about “The Drowsy Chaperone.” The entire cast and production were top-notch, the musical numbers were exciting and the story itself was thought-provoking and highly enjoyable.