Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Stage

Broadway musicals spoofed in Richey Suncoast Theatre's coming production

NEW PORT RICHEY — Those who disdain Broadway musicals, saying "seen one, seen 'em all," may laugh the loudest at The Drowsy Chaperone, a spoof of Broadway musical cliches playing March 3 to 20 at Richey Suncoast Theatre.

Those of who love all those shows can laugh along, as they recognize — and delight in — those very cliches the haters love to hate.

The 2006 Tony Award-winning (Best Book, Best Original Score) musical revolves around a play within a play, with every stock character and situation ever used (or overused) on Broadway. It's told through the eyes of an anxiety-plagued Broadway fanatic, the Man in Chair (Chris McGinnis, John Baker in Whose Wives Are They Anyway?), who slumps in the tackiest chair in his cramped apartment as he listens to an ancient recording of the fictional 1928 musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone. ("Drowsy" is a euphemism for "tipsy," by the way.)

He's transported to a glittery stage set. But even as he watches the stylish singers and dancers act out his favorite show, he can't keep himself from expressing a running criticism of what they're doing, pulling the audience between the stage fantasy and the reality of his dreary life.

The show within the show happens on the wedding day of oil tycoon Robert Martin (Ryan Bintz, HAMIs as Marius in Les Miserables and Billy in Chicago at Stage West Community Playhouse). Robert is getting ready to marry Broadway star Janet Van De Graaff (Suzanne Meck, Gloria in Bye, Bye Birdie), who vows she is giving up the stage to be a housewife.

The problem is that the producer of the show she's supposed to star in next, one F. Feldzieg (Mark Lewis, Capt. South in The Amorous Ambassador), learns from two low-level gangsters (Andrew Niederdorf and Justin Buyea) that the unnamed mob boss who is backing the show insists that Janet be the star, or else he's pulling out. Worse, if the Big Man doesn't get his way, the gangsters will have a murderous Toledo Surprise for Feldzieg.

Feldzieg decides his only choice is to break up the wedding, and he enlists the help of the vain Latin lover Aldolpho (Mike McGuigan) to seduce Janet so that she'll forsake Robert and star in his Feldzieg's Follies.

That doesn't sit well with the ditzy Kitty (Jessie Willis), who wants to be Feldzieg's new star, and that can only happen if Janet is out of the picture.

Meanwhile, Janet is beginning to have doubts about Robert, so she consults the Drowsy Chaper one (Vicky Stinnett, Guenevere in Camelot). The tipsy chaperone can only sing As We Stumble Along, a paean to drunkenness as a way to get through life.

It's all a long run of stage chestnuts: mistaken identities, a dream sequence, spit takes, a staid English butler, a dotty dowager, a drunk scene, a Broadway impresario, comically bumbling gangsters, a dizzy blond and even the ancient Greek tragedy fallback, the deus ex machina, where a machine flies in from the sky to save the day. Or not.

The 21-member cast is led by director/choreographer Linda Hougland (co-director of Mame, Camelot, A Chorus Line, Cabaret) and co-director David Blethards, with Michele Paula Rose as music director.

Comments
Review: A seemingly inexhaustible shelf life continues in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

Review: A seemingly inexhaustible shelf life continues in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

TAMPA Apparently, the Phantom lives forever.Thirty-two years after its premiere, one of the top-grossing musicals of all time is still packing ’em in. Sunday’s matinee at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts showed why Andrew Lloyd ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

TAMPA — Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 this year. The Florida Orchestra performed two of his works Friday, the second of which paired the dances from West Side Story with the overture to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.The orches...
Published: 02/17/18
Five things that make Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Volta’ different and fun

Five things that make Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Volta’ different and fun

TAMPA — Cirque du Soleil is back in town with a new show.The Montreal-based company always puts on an extravaganza, splashing around color with the abandon of a toddler playing with paint buckets and a storyline several layers deep, the artistic skel...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/18/18
On stage this weekend: Trumpeter Haken Hardenberger, Complexions Contemporary Ballet

On stage this weekend: Trumpeter Haken Hardenberger, Complexions Contemporary Ballet

FLORIDA ORCHESTRA: ROMEO AND JULIET The Florida Orchestra has lined up a romantic evening. This weekend’s concert, Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, pays tribute to Tchaikovsky and Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein’s prelude, Fugues and R...
Published: 02/14/18
‘Brownsville Song’ at Stageworks tells important story but falls short on believability

‘Brownsville Song’ at Stageworks tells important story but falls short on believability

TAMPA — In some ways, the latest offering at Stageworks Theatre comes loaded with promise.A young man with a lot of motivation, personality and wisdom dies in a random and violent way. In telling his story, we also get a glimpse of life in a Brooklyn...
Published: 02/12/18
Laura Benanti talks about her Melania impression, growing up ‘the odd person out’ and more

Laura Benanti talks about her Melania impression, growing up ‘the odd person out’ and more

Tony winner Laura Benanti (for best actress in a musical), who brings her cabaret act to the Straz Center this week, was a self-described ugly duckling. Growing up in New Jersey, she never tired of Sondheim soundtracks and struggled with a secret shy...
Published: 02/09/18
Even Jimmy Buffett does not live the Jimmy Buffett lifestyle anymore

Even Jimmy Buffett does not live the Jimmy Buffett lifestyle anymore

Jimmy Buffett awoke one morning last year in one of his many homes — he can’t remember which one, there are a lot of them — and a panic gripped him in his throat. His new Broadway musical, Escape to Margaritaville, was coming along nicely, but someth...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/09/18
Florida Orchestra mixes it up, collaborates with community in 2018-19 season

Florida Orchestra mixes it up, collaborates with community in 2018-19 season

ST. PETERSBURGThemes are useful sometimes. Right now, the Florida Orchestra is still enjoying the heart of its 50th anniversary season, which has been big and loud and celebratory.At other times, maybe it’s best to just put a fine program together an...
Published: 02/08/18
Andrea Bocelli, ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and Cirque du Soleil are all in town for Valentine’s Day

Andrea Bocelli, ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and Cirque du Soleil are all in town for Valentine’s Day

VALENTINE’S DAY: ANDREA BOCELLISuperstar Andrea Bocelli and Broadway legend Kristin Chenoweth team up again, the conclusion of a three-city tour. This time it’s a crossover trio with soprano Nadine Sierra, a 2009 winner of the Metropolitan Opera Nati...
Published: 02/07/18
Updated: 02/09/18
The weekend is cool, but how about a Valentine's Day Wednesdate?

The weekend is cool, but how about a Valentine's Day Wednesdate?

Happy February, lovers. Valentine’s Day a week away. Have you made plans? Possibly not, since the holiday falls on an inconvenient Wednesday this year (especially inconvenient for those who observe Ash Wednesday, a day of denying yourself exce...
Published: 02/07/18