In Review: “The Drowsy Chaperone”

People love musical theater for its ability to remove the audience from the daily grind and bring them into a world where song, dance and glitter are a part of everyday life. If you’re looking for something to do for two hours that only requires you to sit, laugh and enjoy, The Drowsy Chaperone is the perfect way to go.

The Drowsy Chaperone is a musical within a comedy, and the two complement each other flawlessly; sometimes you forget you’re watching a musical and sometimes forget you’re watching anything but. The musical numbers are not overwhelmingly flashy and flamboyant but still give you that classic musical-theater-big-dance-number feeling.

Directed by Rene Pulliam, this is one of the strongest and most well-cast musicals that Ole Miss has seen in a long time. A farce about musical theater itself, the show is a good weekend activity for the diehard theater patron or the random student looking for something new to entertain them outside of football.

Jared Davis, an alum of the Ole Miss theater department, steals the show with his hilarious characterization of Man in Chair. After watching his performance, it’s a wonder why he was so overlooked in his time here before graduation.

A perfect fit for the neurotic lover of classic musical theater, Davis never stops being active throughout the entire two-hour performance. Even when the focus is completely off of his corner, he is constantly engaged in everything going on in front of him.

Every aspect of his character draws you into the show, eagerly anticipating what craziness will come next.

Senior Anna Donnell takes the part of Drowsy to a whole new drunken, sultry world while traipsing around the stage, martini glass in hand. As a representation of the Broadway stars of yesteryear, Donnell commands attention. While she is nothing new to this department, this could easily be one of her best mainstage performances of her college career.

Sophomore Christian Green is off to a strong start with his performance of Robert Martin. As his first major role here, Green creates a multi-dimensional character full of life and emotions. He pulls off his solo flawlessly and even manages not to skate off the stage blindfolded. After such a strong performance, I expect to see Green a lot more in his remaining years here.

Jade Genga, a newcomer to Ole Miss and Fulton stage, was a bit disappointing overall as Janet. While Genga has a beautiful voice and physically fits the character perfectly, she lacks an energy and commanding presence that a showgirl simply must have to survive in the business.

The pairing of Underling and Tottendale very easily could have been overdone and borderline annoying, but Christopher Young and Ashley Mitchell make comedic magic onstage. From Young’s entrance in Cold Feet as the perfectly proper British butler, he won my half of my heart for the night.

The other half was given to Mitchell from the second she took the stage in a puffy white dress without a clue in her (character’s) head. I could easily watch these two in a show of their own and never grow tired of them. They are, without a doubt, the quintessential comedic relief characters and pull it off flawlessly.

The best part of a musical (when you’re lucky enough to find one) is a live band backing strong singers. The band, hidden discreetly backstage, brings a new feel and authentic 20s sound to the stage without the annoyance of hearing Karaoke backtracks.

As always, you can’t beat a Dex Edwards set around here. With the entire set simply being the interior of an apartment, it’s difficult for much to stand out, but Edwards is known for putting the most emphasis into some of the smallest details. His work for the finale is definitely something not to be missed.

Overall, this show is top-notch and ready to entertain the masses. As Man in Chair so eloquently puts it, “I just want to be entertained. Isn’t that the point?”

Yes, sir, that is the point of theater. While there is something to be said about making a point and changing the world with art, its original purpose was to entertain, and that’s exactly what the cast of The Drowsy Chaperone will do.


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