The Drowsy Chaperone
When a die hard theatre fan plays his favorite cast album, the characters come to life in this hilarious musical farce.
Show Essentials
13
Roles
+ Ensemble
PG
Rated
2
Acts

Full Synopsis

The audience is greeted by the narrator, Man in Chair, sitting on a darkened stage. He is a fan of vintage musicals, who seems to be suffering from free-floating depression, and he quickly decides to cheer things up by playing a record of the original cast recording of a (fictional) Broadway musical entitled The Drowsy Chaperone.

No sooner has the needle touched the record than we, together with the narrator, are transported to a 1928 Broadway theatre and into The Drowsy Chaperone, a play-within-a-play, crammed full of every cliche, gag and gimmick from the golden age of musicals.

The estate of Mrs. Tottendale, a wealthy dowager, is the site of an imminent wedding between showgirl, Janet Van De Graff, to oil tycoon, Robert Martin. We are introduced to a barrage of characters during an introductory opening number ("Fancy Dress"), including Mrs. Tottendale and her Underling, a proper butler; dashing bridegroom, Robert Martin; harried and bumbling best man, George; producer, Feldzeig (a thinly-disguised homage to legendary Broadway producer, Florenz Zeigfeld); ditsy, would-be showgirl ingenue, Kitty; a pair of Gangsters disguised as the pastry chefs; Latin lothario, Aldolpho (a Rudolph Valentino-type); Janet's Drowsy (i.e., "tipsy") Chaperone (whom we understand is being played by a rather overbearing and potent grand dame of the theatre) and Trix, a glamorous aviatrix, a la Amelia Earhart. Throughout the show, Man in Chair will continue to comment and explain the action with asides to the audience.

Feldzeig is agonizing over the fact that his top meal ticket, Janet, is leaving showbiz to get married. The Gangsters, who are in the employ of one of Feldzeig's investors, pressure him to sabotage the wedding so that he can retain Janet's services as a performer.

Robert and George nervously prepare for the wedding ("Cold Feets"). George suggests that Robert blow off some steam by roller-skating. In order to prevent Robert from accidentally seeing the bride before the wedding, he also provides Robert with a blindfold.

Janet is lounging by a pool while fielding questions from reporters. Feldzeig arrives and attempts to convince her to reconsider the wedding, but she rebuffs him ("Show Off"). He enlists the help of Latin lover, Aldolpho, convincing him to seduce Janet.

In her bedroom, Janet shares with her Chaperone her excitement about the upcoming nuptials. This prompts the Chaperone to perform a rousing anthem about alcoholism ("As We Stumble Along"), which is not particularly relevant to the plot. Man in Chair explains that this song was written into the show due to the demands of the actress playing the Drowsy Chaperone, who always insisted that a rousing anthem be included in every show in which she performed. After Janet departs to find Robert, Aldolpho arrives and mistakes the Chaperone for Janet. The Chaperone quickly accepts his advances ("Aldolpho").

Janet encounters Robert, who is roller skating blindfolded in the garden. She puts on a bad French accent, and he fails to recognize her. At her request, he tells this alleged "stranger" how he first fell in love with Janet and they relive the moment together ("Accident Waiting to Happen"). However, this results in a kiss, whereupon Janet gets angry and accuses Robert of having kissed "a strange French Girl on your wedding day!"

Meanwhile, Kitty fails to persuade Feldzeig that he doesn't need Janet anymore because he has her as a replacement. The Gangsters arrive, angry that Feldzeig has not yet ruined the wedding. He distracts them by convincing them that they have showbiz talent ("Toledo Surprise"). Aldolpho arrives to announce that the wedding is off because he has seduced the bride, but Feldzeig informs him that he has, in fact, seduced the Chaperone instead. However, Janet arrives to announce that the wedding is indeed off because Robert "kissed a French girl." Feldzeig is ecstatic and leads the company in another rendition of "Toledo Surprise."

At this point, Man in Chair attempts to play the record of the Second Act of the show. He mistakenly begins playing a song ("Message from a Nightingale") from a different musical entirely, however, causing the setting of the play to shift temporarily to an oriental palace and all of the actors to assume new roles. Man in Chair hurriedly corrects his mistake and The Drowsy Chaperone resumes.

Janet laments the collapse of her romance with Robert ("Bride's Lament") and decides to continue her life as a star showgirl.

Mrs. Tottendale assures her Underling that the wedding preparations should continue, regardless of the apparent disaster ("Love Is Always Lovely"). She also makes it clear that she is in love with the Underling.

The Chaperone informs Janet that she intends to marry Aldolpho. Mrs. Tottendale and the Underling announce that they plan to marry, as well. Robert arrives and asks Janet to reconsider and marry him, after all. She confesses that she was the French Girl that he kissed and agrees that their wedding is back on. Feldzeig is saved from the Gangsters by virtue of his new leading lady, Kitty (who is also, he reveals, his fiancée).

There is great rejoicing in anticipation of the multiple weddings ("Wedding Bells #2"). George has neglected to arrange for a Minister, but, fortunately, Trix the Aviatrix arrives, and it is decided that, since she is technically the "captain" of a "ship" of sorts, she can officiate the weddings ("I Do, I Do in the Sky") and fly the wedding party to Rio for the Honeymoon.

The show is abruptly cut short by a power failure in Man in Chair's apartment. As the Superintendent arrives to attend to the breakers, the Man explains his love for the show as an antidote to "the dreary horrors of the real world." The entire cast joins him onstage for the grand finale ("As We Stumble Along – Reprise").

Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Man In Chair
Musical theatre aficionado who mourns the end of the Golden Era. He narrates the show as he listens to the record on vinyl.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 50
Mrs. Tottendale
The air-headed, proper, and bossy host of the wedding.
Gender: female
Age: 50 to 60
Vocal range top: Db5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Underling
Mrs. Tottendale's savvy butler who is thrifty and stiff yet has an understated sense of humor.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 50
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: Ab2
Robert Martin
The dashing, ever-cheerful groom; played by matinee-idol Percy Hyman.
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: Ab4
Vocal range bottom: C3
George
Robert's anxious, dim-witted best man who has Robert's best-interest always at heart.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 50
Vocal range top: Bb4
Vocal range bottom: F3
Feldzieg
Broadway producer who is desperate for his star to return to his show; played by Jack Adler.
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: Db4
Vocal range bottom: Db3
Kitty
Feldzieg's dim-witted companion who has hopes of being a star; played by Sadie Adler.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 30
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: Bb3
Gangsters
Posing as pastry chefs, this duo is intending to collect from Feldzieg; played by the vaudeville duo Tall Brothers.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 45
Vocal range top: Gb4
Vocal range bottom: Db3
Aldolpho
European self-proclaimed "ladies man"; played by former silent movie star Roman Bartelli.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 45
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: A#2
Janet Van De Graaf
The famous bride. Glamorous and talented star of Feldzieg's Follies; played by rising star Jane Roberts.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: -1
Vocal range bottom: G3
The Drowsy Chaperone
Janet's alcoholic confidante and friend; played by well-established stage actress Beatrice Stockwell
Gender: female
Age: 45 to 55
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Trix
The brave and brash female aviator who, by chance, is recruited to perform the wedding.
Gender: female
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: Ab3
Ensemble
Staff; Reporters
Full Song List
The Drowsy Chaperone: Overture
The Drowsy Chaperone: Fancy Dress
The Drowsy Chaperone: Cold Feets
The Drowsy Chaperone: Show Off
The Drowsy Chaperone: As We Stumble Along
The Drowsy Chaperone: I Am Aldolpho
The Drowsy Chaperone: Accident Waiting To Happen
The Drowsy Chaperone: Toledo Surprise
The Drowsy Chaperone: Act 1 Finale
The Drowsy Chaperone: A Message From a Nightingale
The Drowsy Chaperone: Bride's Lament
The Drowsy Chaperone: Love is Always Lovely in the End
The Drowsy Chaperone: I Do, I Do In the Sky
The Drowsy Chaperone: As We Stumble Along (Finale)

Show History

Inspiration

The musical parodies American musical comedies of the 1920s that feature over-the-top characters, comic gangsters and bawdy musical numbers. The idea for The Drowsy Chaperone was originally hatched when several friends created a spoof of old musicals for a party in honor of Bob Martin, one of the show's writers, and a friend, Janet Van De Graaff. Their namesakes are used as characters in the musical.

Productions

The Drowsy Chaperone is a musical with book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. It debuted in 1998 at The Rivoli in Toronto, Canada. The Broadway production opened in May of 2006 at the Marquis Theatre and closed on December 30, 2007, after 674 performances and 32 previews. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, the original Broadway cast included Bob Martin, Sutton Foster, Beth Leavel and Danny Burstein.

In June of 2007, The Drowsy Chaperone opened in the West End at the Novello Theatre. Leading the cast were Elaine Paige and Bob Martin. The production was staged by the same Broadway team and produced by Cameron Mackintosh.

The Australian production, staged by the Melbourne Theatre Company, opened for a limited engagement in Melbourne in January of 2010. Prominent Australian actor, Geoffrey Rush, played the lead character, Man in Chair.

Trivia

  • The main role known as "Man in Chair" was not in the original version of the show.
  • In October of 2007, comedian/actor, Bob Saget, made his Broadway debut in the musical as the Man in Chair.

Critical Reaction

"DELIGHTFUL, SPARKLING ENTERTAINMENT! You ll be over the moon! We haven't seen anything quite this original in a long time."
– Associated Presss

"The modern day lens creates a show which is accessible without sacrificing on humor."
– Broadwayworld.com

Connect

Billing

Requirements

You must give the authors/creators billing credits, as specified in the Production Contract, in a conspicuous manner on the first page of credits in all programs and on houseboards, displays and in all other advertising announcements of any kind.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
"You agree to bill the Play and the Authors in all programs, houseboards, posters, billboards, displays and in all advertising and all paid publicity, in the following manner:
Specifically, you must bill the Play and the Authors as follows:
 
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
(100%)
 
Music & Lyrics by
LISA LAMBERT and GREG MORRISON
(50%)
Book by
BOB MARTIN and DON MCKELLAR
(50%) 
"Such billing shall appear on the same line, immediately following the title of the Play, with no other words appearing on such lines. No one may receive billing larger than Authors, and only the director may receive credit the same size as Authors.
In addition, the following credit shall appear whenever Authors are billed:
'Original Broadway production of The Drowsy Chaperone produced by Kevin
McCollum, Roy Miller, Bob Boyett, Stephanie McClelland, Barbara Freitag and
Jill Furman.'
 
In advertisements of 1/4 page size or less or where only the title of the play, performance dates and venue are provided, the following "shortened billing" is permissible:
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
by Lisa Lambert, Don McKellar, Bob Martin and Greg Morrison
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited

Included Materials

ItemQuantity Included
LIBRETTO/VOCAL BOOK22
PIANO CONDUCTOR'S SCORE2

Production Resources

Resource
KEYBOARD PATCH SOLUTIONS
LOGO PACK
LOGO PACK DIGITAL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT SMALL
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT X-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK ADULT XX-LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD LARGE
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD MEDIUM
LOGO TEES SIX-PACK CHILD SMALL
ORCHEXTRA
PERFORMANCE ACCOMPANIMENT RECORDING
PRODUCTIONPRO
REFERENCE RECORDING
REHEARSAL ACCOMPANIMENT RECORDING
REHEARSCORE APP
SCENE PARTNER
STAGE MANAGER SCRIPT
SUBPLOT CUSTOMIZABLE SHOW POSTERS
TRANSPOSITIONS-ON-DEMAND
VIRTUAL STAGE MANAGER

STANDARD ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
BASS
DRUMS
KEYBOARD 1
KEYBOARD 2
PERCUSSIONANVIL OR BELL PLATE , BELL TREE , CASTANETS , CHIMES , GLOCKENSPIEL , GONG , GRAN CASA , HONK HORN , LARGE TAM TAM , MOUTH SIREN , PITCHED WOOD BLOCK , SIREN , TEMPLE BLOCKS , THUNDERSHEET , TIMPANI , TRIANGLE , VIBES , VIBRASLAP , WOOD BLOCK , XYLOPHONE
REED 1ALTO SAXOPHONE , CLARINET , FLUTE , PICCOLO , SOPRANO SAX
REED 2ALTO SAXOPHONE , CLARINET , FLUTE , SOPRANO SAX
REED 3CLARINET , PICCOLO , TENOR SAXOPHONE
REED 4BARITONE SAXOPHONE , BASS CLARINET , CLARINET
TROMBONE
TRUMPET
TRUMPET 2
TRUMPET 3