The Drowsy Chaperone in Ann Arbor, Michigan

With this entry I am launching a new blogging challenge/effort that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I will offer reviews or commentary on ALL theatrical productions that I see this year. A former colleague, Sam Hurwitt, has been doing a similar routine at his blog, so I’ll credit him with the inspiration.

I’ll offer some thoughts on the performances I see, but not necessarily a full review of the production. This directive may change over time. I am grateful to be setting this intention, especially where I wanted to keep a list of plays last year, and did not. The last time I did was nearly four years ago in London, England, and that was only through a book of ticket stubs and some brief notes on each play.

To kick off the new year, I attended THE DROWSY CHAPERONE at the Performance Network theatre in Ann Arbor, where I am here for a New Year’s weekend visit.

The show was light, cheerful and ultimately entertaining. I wondered about the lighting design, where many actors were out of the spotlights and follow spots, as well as the general lighting plot. Oddly, some scenes were lit with what seemed to be partial lighting, while others were full and hearty. In reading the reviews of the show, it seems that other audience members also picked up on that discrepancy. Nonetheless, the exuberance of the performers made the material shine. I particularly enjoyed The Drowsy Chaperone herself, as well as her associate, Janet, a so-called “rising starlet”.

The musical’s device of a narrator leading and occasionally interrupting the action reminded me of my own role in a 1999 high school production of Agatha Christie Made Me Do It, a comedy by Eddie Cope. Both plays essentially shared the character of a central narrator who watched the whole show and eventually was integrated into the performance at the end of the evening. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.


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