Siena College’s Creative Arts Department and Stage III collaborate once more to bring the community yet another brilliant and respectable production. This year, the stage focused their efforts on the production of The Drowsy Chaperone. This musical within a comedy directed by Sharon Paluch with musical direction from Tom Reno surely did not disappoint. The acting and musical talent of the students combined with the compelling set and technical support transported the audience to the home of an elderly man and even further into the play he was narrating. The fundamental execution of this play says wonders about all who were involved in its creation and about the program in general. Furthermore, the outstanding turnout enhances and proves that if there is a good show, people will be in attendance.
This play, set in the 1920’s, includes plenty of uplifting Jazz tunes and demonstrates the stirring effect it had (and is still having) on individuals. The inception of this play portrays a man sitting in a chair in his lonely apartment. To cure a case of the blues, this man decides to listen to his record of The Drowsy Chaperone. Almost instantly, the audience is transported into the midst of a Broadway musical. The man’s apartment takes on a whole new life as new props and characters demand the stage. This show within a show then finds its focus on a showgirl, Janet Van De Graaff, who is to marry Robert Martin. However, marriage does not come without sacrifice in Janet’s case. After her wedding, Janet plans on giving up her career in show business, as she no longer is in need of it. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for her producer who finds himself in deep with some gangsters that require further work from Janet. It is at that point that the producer, Feldzieg, begins devising an elaborate plan to cancel the wedding. He recruits the help of Aldolpho, a European self-proclaimed ladies man, to seduce Janet and ruin the marriage.
The marriage may not need outside intervention though, as Janet finds herself with cold feet and rethinking her decision to get married to Robert. Those scary notions of regret push Janet into do something outside the ordinary. On the day of the wedding, Janet disguises herself through means of a French accent and confronts Robert out in the garden. Robert proceeds to kiss this French woman after a short conversation and musical number, which sends Janet off in a fit, cancelling the wedding. Eventually however, after a series of quirky and eccentric events, these two characters find their way back to each other to finally be wed among a number of secondary characters.
Throughout this entire unfolding of events, the elderly man still sits and narrates. Yet, there is a sense of loneliness and discomfort on his face as he struggles to act as a passive audience member rather than a part of the play. This internal struggle and hopelessness constantly disrupts the flow of the record in a comedic yet gloomy way that forces the audience to feel sympathy for the man. At the end, the line between reality and fantasy is blurred and the audience is left with a feeling of satisfaction knowing the old man has found happiness and belonging in this record he holds so dearly.
The directors, cast members, producers, technical staff, and musical support did an outstanding job recreating this production and the extensive rehearsal period leading up to this show was extremely present. This play was both meaningful and quirky in the most entertaining and delightful way. It would seem implausible that anyone left that theater unsatisfied in the past two weekends and, if anything, these viewers were wishing it had lasted longer than it did.