The lights go down for Sacramento’s Broadway at Music Circus production of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and after a moment, a cantankerous voice comes out of the gloom:
I hate theatre. Well, it’s so disappointing, isn’t it? Do you know what I do when I’m sitting in a darkened theater, waiting for the show to begin? I pray. Oh dear God, please let it be a good show. And let it be short. Oh lord in heaven, please. Two hours is fine. Three hours is too much!
That’s The Man in the Chair, a portly old recluse who loves playing cast albums of Broadway shows from decades past on scratchy vinyl LPs. He’s our improbable MC for this show brimming with glittering production numbers and sarcastic monologues, leading us through one of his favorites, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a fictitious musical from the Roaring ’20s.
He sets up the songs he adores, like this lament from an actress:
Janet: I don’t want to be cute no more, make the gentlemen hoot no more, I don’t want to wear fruit no more, I don’t want to show off!
Chorus: She don’t want to show off no more…
Our guide then pops back in, with tart remarks about anything on his mind:
Remember when November used to be cold. No more! November is the new August now. It’s global warming! We’re all doomed!
Which leads into another energetic production number, this time with tap dancing.
As he leads us through this fictitious musical, our host explains the meandering, implausible plot of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” about a glitzy society wedding that’s going off the rails.
The show’s large cast, dressed in a colorful cavalcade of costumes, spoofs the stock characters found in these 1920s musicals, like the seductive Latin lover and the ditzy dame. What makes this show appealing is the glittering, energetic dance numbers interspersed with witty dialogue and topped off with sarcastic comments from our host,The Man in the Chair.
The Man in the Chair is played by Bruce Vilanch, who honed his verbal repartee doing four seasons on the Hollywood Squares. So if you’re looking for silly summer fun, check out “The Drowsy Chaperone.” And by the way, the show clocks in at just under two hours… exactly what our host asked for.
The Broadway at Music Circus production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” continues through Sunday, July 14, at the Wells Fargo Pavilion.