Wednesday, April 19, 2006

GAY STORE PRO & CON: The Drowsy Chaperone.

PRO: It's just like one of those zany old musicals.Remember those crazy old musicals that were just fun for the sake of being fun? Well so does the narrator of this play. Yes, you heard me: NARRATOR. The deal is that this gay theatre fan is feeling "blue" so he decides to put on the soundtrack of his favorite show, "The Drowsy Chaperone," and suddenly we are transported to the play-with-a-play itself. That play is remarkably similar to an actual old musical. If this actually sounds delightful to you, then this is your show.

CON: It's just like one of those zany old musicals.I guess I don't get their point. I thought it was to satirize these old musicals, yet rather than skewer them, it seems to be a love letter to them. Using the device of having a narrator guide us through the night only distracts from the point (whatever that may be) at hand. Satire or tribute, wouldn't the musical be best served as the musical itself? Couldn't the play-with-a-play just be the play? If you were going to make a comment on one of these old shows, why make this one IDENTICAL to the shows you're commenting on? If this show had done its job, why do I still have so many questions? I'm sorry, but if the idea is to have some gay man pull a Mystery Science 3000 on an old musical, I'd rather just go to the Goodspeed Opera house with a witty dude and two robots.

PRO: 90 minutes, no intermission.
I maintain that usually the best theater is short and sweet - the ideal being 90 minutes, no intermission.

CON: No intermission.No intermission = no escape.

PRO: Lots of belting.The creators of this show seem to think that the essence of these old musicals is a lot of bitches belting. So if that's your bag, this is a pretty good deal for you. Because essentially every number is a diva moment.

CON: Not enough dancin'!In my opinion, the main novelty with these old school musicals is that there are usually one or two really great dance numbers where the whole cast is just so gosh-darned happy that they can only express it by tearing up the floorboards with some good old fashioned tap dancin! There are some dance numbers in this show, but none that are a stand-out, let alone any that build to an exhilarating pinnacle of tap awesomeness, seen in such recent old school reinventions (see: "Forget About the Boy" in Thoroughly Modern Millie) I will forgive a show anything if boys are doing lots of crazy dance flips. There were none in this show. That is unforgivable.

PRO: Sutton Foster.I know - I didn't think I'd ever utter those words, either. But in a murky sea of cliched theater in-jokes and performances, Ms. Foster is a stand-out because she camps it up in the right way: by not taking herself too seriously.

CON: Bob Martin.
Not only does he appear as the show's narrator, he also wrote the book of the show, so he's a double offender as far as I'm concerned. His presence is not only wholly unnecessary, it actually serves as a terrible detriment to the show (see above). The fact that he stops and starts the show at his whim makes it seem to the audience that as a writer, he couldn't make up his mind about just how to tell the story and besmirches the glossy play-within-a-play with an amateur veneer.

PRO: It's really gay.Flashy costumes, theater references, Judy Garland-inspired torch songs, even a big black diva appearing miraculously out of the sky to bring it on home. If you're the type who likes to belt out showtunes at Marie's Crisis, you might have just died and gone to Gay Store heaven.

CON: It's really gay.It's one thing to be gay and campy and fun and witty, and it's quite another to have a dull theater queen talking at me for an hour and a half about what I'm already watching. But the show only takes this queer angle so far. In order to make the narrator not TOO queeny so that middle america could flock to this show on vacation, he seems to be almost asexual most of the time - or homosexual in a homogenized, Will & Grace sort of way. If you're going to be gay, really commit to being gay. Didn't The Producers have a song called "Keep It Gay?" Didn't The Producers win 12 Tonys? I rest my case.

In conclusion:
This was a novel idea I suppose, but despite some nice performances, the seemingly slapdash construction and the inclusion of the book's writer as an onstage narrator make for a severe lack of cohesion and a truly tiresome night at the Gay Store.

Survey says: .5 out of a possible 4 Gay Pride Flags. And I was being generous.


At 4:05 PM, Blogger barbara wilkinson said...

please proofread in future (play-with-a-play???) And don't forget to tell your "readers" what a Gay Store is....some newcomers may not have gotten the study guide.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger CultVult said...

five out of four flags or the reverse?!?!?


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