In the 1979 film “Meatballs” Tripper Harrison (played by Bill Murray) is a camp councilor. The camp loses every competition to a rival camp. The next big game is coming up and Tripper gives his opinion of the rivalry and the camp’s chances: “Sure, Mohawk has beaten us twelve years in a row. Sure, they’re terrific athletes. They’ve got the best equipment that money can buy. Hell, every team they’re sending over here has their own personal masseuse, not masseur, masseuse. But it doesn’t matter. Do you know that every Mohawk competitor has an electrocardiogram, blood and urine tests every 48 hours to see if there’s any change in his physical condition? Do you know that they use the most sophisticated training methods from the Soviet Union, East and West Germany, and the newest Olympic power Trinidad-Tobago? But it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. I tell you, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!”
I could give you a synopsis of the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone”, now playing at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, but it just doesn’t matter. When the entire cast is on stage for the conclusion of the play, they fill the entire huge stage, and it seems like there is sixty of seventy of them, but it just doesn’t matter. Some are funnier than others, but it just doesn’t matter. They will get a standing ovation from the nearly three hundred happy patrons. There are eighteen on stage for the curtain call. They did a wonderful job.
The musical starts with the stage and the audience completely in the dark. “I hate theater . . . Well, it’s so disappointing, isn’t it?” These words introduce us to comic adventure. The words are spoken by the man in the chair (John Douglas Rake), kind of like the stage manager from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town . . . except with a drinking problem and a love of musical theater from the 1920s. Soon the lights are up and the cast is out of the gates. It is a romp.
Any lows in the first act are merely set-ups for the tap dancing (love it, love it, love it) and the appearance of the self-promoting Latin lover Adolpho (absolutely over the top and then some).
The character Adolpho is being paid to make love to a bride to be in the hopes it will stop her marriage, but he mistakes the chaperone for the would-be bride. The chaperone (Nancy Hebert Bach) is a faded entertainment star who drinks too much. The chaperone and the Latin lover seduce each other. Nancy played the Drowsy Chaperone in its initial run at TMP. She has also appeared in seven other roles at TMP. She has numerous acting credits including roles with Seattle Opera and the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society. I would loved to see her in the Mikado.
Adolpho was played by John B. Cooper. John played Adolpho the first time TMP produced it several years ago. He has appeared in eight other productions at TMP as well. He has also appeared in thirteen shows at Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theatre and has been singing the national anthem for the Mariner’s for the last seventeen years.
I love tap dancing and Mauro Bozzo and Josh Wingerter lived up to my hopes and expectations. I’ve seen them both dance before. Jon Douglas Rake is the Managing Artistic Director & Choreographer of TMP. Jon loves this show and loves playing the man in the chair. Mauro danced and performed the same part in the initial presentation. We also appreciated him as the Emcee (heart breaking) in Tacoma Little Theatre’s production of Cabaret. – nwadventures.us/Cabaret-TLT-Review-2015.html
I was first introduced to Josh at the Tacoma Executives Association when I was a member there with his father, Jack (who of course was in the audience). Josh has acted, danced, and sang on cruise ships for a number of years and has acted in most of the theaters from Issaquah to Olympia.
The second act was a mad rush for the finish line, which included one scene from out-of-nowhere that brought down the house.
The production had a few minor problems, but . . . well . . . it just doesn’t matter.
I brought three guests. One was my youngest sister, and two were family members aged 13 and 14. We all gathered with eight friends (two of the couples joined us for the first production at TMP – link below for the interview with Jon) for pizza and appetizers prior to the musical. One of the friends had played the part of Adolpho as a senior in high school. We all laughed and had a great time . . . as did the audience . . . and that is what matters most. – nwadventures.us/DrowsyCrabFeed.html
This was the fourth or fifth time we’ve seen the musical including our initial introduction via Jon from an interview several years ago. – nwadventures.us/JonDouglasRakeInterview.html
I only saw seven empty seats in a row near the back of the house. There were a few scattered empty seats, but I had to look for them. We visited with a number of friends in the audience and chatted during intermission. Everyone was smiling and having a good time. The production runs through April 14th. For more information visit – tmp.org – Make your reservations early, you’ll probably want to see the musical twice. Peg and I are returning in April.
We can hardly wait to see The Drowsy Chaperone again.