‘Drowsy Chaperone’ awakens laughs and lively energy

TMT’s ‘The Drowsy Chaperone,’ a musical about a musical, brought plenty of puns, dance numbers and romance to the Kendall Hall stage. (Tim Lee / Staff Photographer)

A musical’s mission is to transport the audience into another world.

Or at least this is the belief of the Man In Chair, the main character in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a musical within a musical, which first debuted on Broadway in 2006.

TCNJ Musical Theatre successfully achieved this goal through their production of the show from Wednesday, Feb. 22 through Saturday, Feb. 25 on the Kendall Hall Main Stage.

The snarky commentary style of Joan Rivers, combined with the comfort and approachable manner of Mr. Rodgers, is a fitting way to describe the disposition of the Man In Chair. Complete with a brown cardigan that could have come right out of Rodgers’ closet, this Broadway snob (in the most endearing way possible) has his favorite musical, also titled “The Drowsy Chaperone,” come to life in his living room once he begins to play a record of the soundtrack, which takes him back to November 1928.

The Man In Chair (played by Adam Ziering,  freshman math/science/technology and special education double major) was the man of the hour — or the hour-and-a-half that the show lasted.

Even when there were elaborate dance numbers going on alongside him, Ziering stole the show, dancing and singing from his seat on the stage. He perfectly portrayed this hilarious hermit, who hates answering the phone but loves show tunes.

As the tale unfolds, a bride named Janet Van de Graaff (played by sophomore marketing major Kelly Cosentino)  tries to avoid seeing her groom, Robert Martin (played by freshman vocal performance major Justin Binnix), on the day of their wedding because it is bad luck.

The plot revolves around various characters either trying to encourage the wedding, or tear it apart.

A chaperone, played by Elizabeth Gerger (junior digital arts major) must keep the two separated, though she is much more focused on finding champagne during this time of prohibition.

The chaperone is distracted by a Latin lothario named Aldolpho (played by Nick Vitovitch, junior mathematics and computer science double major) whose mission it is to sleep with the bride-to-be so that the wedding will be called off. He mistakes the chaperone for Janet, and seduces the wrong woman.

Feldzieg, a producer (played sophomore mathematics and secondary education double major Jim Bloss), tries to separate the pair; otherwise, Janet, a showgirl, will leave the business.

Kitty, an over-eager, wannabe showgirl (played by Dana-Joy Carducci, freshman math/science/technology and special education double major) follows him around in the hopes of getting Janet’s role.

Ziering’s character pauses the record to add in commentary throughout the show, as the cast comes to a stop-still until the Man In Chair resumes the music.

Some songs were about silly subjects, such as one called “Monkey on a Pedestal,” where Janet laments over her love for Robert, whose pet name is “Monkey,” but the songs are purposefully absurd — as pointed out by the Man In Chair’s commentary throughout.

Though singing is a strong point of a show, another key is choreography. The cast members were masters of movement, whether taking on tap dancing, or roller-blading blindfolded across the stage.

Other highlights of the show included the punny pastry chefs, who were gangsters in disguise. They integrated dessert-related plays on words into all of their sentences.

In the finale, an airplane lands on the set, and the pilot, Trix the Aviatrix (played by senior psychology major Stephanie Wallace) doubles as a minister and marries the four love matches that develop over the course of the musical.

The Man In Chair’s love for the show is contagious, as the audience soon feels taken to another world too.