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"The Drowsy Chaperone," show #887

Having the pleasure of attending the opening night performance of Sierra Repertory Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone served as a much-enjoyed evening at the theater. Directed and choreographed by Russell Garrett, the pacing is at spitfire speed, allowing the choice moments of emotional pull, and comedic bits you can luxuriate in, to shine. With a wholly talented, high-level-of-hilarity cast, this evening with the Man in Chair is a time well spent!

(Scott Viets (Man in Chair); Photo credit: Brooke Battle)

Scott Viets leads the company as the Man in Chair, our evening’s narrator and fan of the evening’s musical entertainment, The Drowsy Chaperone. Viets balances the Man in Chair’s feeling-blue laments and verbal annotations of the musical in real-time by giving palpable fluidity when he’s enthralled in musical escapism and delivering of the sad realities his Man in Chair has faced. Camryn Elias is a dynamite triple-threat as Janet van de Graaff, the musical’s starlet and bride-to-be. Elias’s big belt vocals are well-suited in “Show Off” and especially in the, otherwise, simply silly “Bride’s Lament.” Elias dazzles with dance, appropriately stereotypical ingenue acting deliveries, and a lovely chemistry opposite Collins Rush’s dashing Robert Martin, her groom-to-be. Rush’s tap skills are a flourish to watch alongside Steven Michael Stone’s affable best man, George, in “Cold Feets.” Rush and Stone make “Cold Feets” a show-stopping number early on and deliver a consistently engaging one-two-punch duo performance throughout the production. 

(Collins Rush (Robert) and Camryn Elias (Janet van de Graaff); Photo credit: Brooke Battle)

Brenda O’Brien’s Chaperone is another show-stopping turn audiences get to enjoy, especially in the nonsensical-but-quite-enjoyable “As We Stumble Along.” O’Brien’s vibrato and vocal calisthenics are superb in the solo, and O’Brien gives a wonderful mound of support in the company numbers among the vocally stellar cast. O’Brien’s comedic chops are given the proper entertaining, proper diva-esque treatment opposite Jerry Lee’s scene-stealing Aldolpho. From the moment Lee appears, and dives into flirtatious abandon opposite O’Brien by singing a fabulous “I Am Aldolpho,” their played-for-laughs love story shows it’s in comedically gifted hands. Laurie Strawn and Lee Strawn are delightful as Mrs. Tottendale and Underling, sharing a fun Spit Take scene and sweetly sung, vaudevillian turn at “Love is Always Lovely in the End.” Alex Figueroa and Gabriel Rodrigues serve as a terrific pair of Gangsters, nailing the bakery puns with panache while also leading a fantastically staged and performed company act one finale, “Toledo Surprise.”

(Laurie Strawn (Mrs. Tottendale) and Lee Strawn (Underling); Photo credit: Brooke Battle)

Featured standouts come from Ty Smith’s bombastically stressed out Feldzieg, Sarah Schori hilarious Kitty, and Hannah-Kathryn Wall’s superb voiced Trix. Wrapping the audience in the coziness of Man in Chair’s apartment is Dana Moran Williams’s wonderfully detailed and decorated scenic design (the selection of Broadway covers and Playbills donning the walls are a nice touch in titles chosen). Jeanne Reith’s costume design gives visual punch and a swell aesthetic for the entire cast.

(L to R, Front: Gabriel Rodrigues (Gangster #2), Alex Figueroa (Gangster #1); Sarah Schori (Kitty); Photo credit: Brooke Battle)

The Drowsy Chaperone plays through June 9th at the East Sonora Theater and let me assure you, Viets’s Man in Chair and company will serve as a perfect reprieve from the summer heat and boredom of daily life with a flashy, entertaining, and a laugh-a-minute production. Go see this show!

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