Stage Struck Review

Reviews for theater within the greater Los Angeles area.

Candlelight Pavilion wakes up “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and that’s a good thing.

John Lalonde is a delightfully over-the-top Adolfo in the Candlelight Pavilion's "The Drowsy Chaperone".


It’s true. Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin and their ilk wrote some of the best musicals you’ve never seen. The music has lasted, become classic and revered, but the plots were two dimensional necessities to get one from dance number to dance number. They haven’t survived because there was nothing there really, other than the songs and dances.

Which provides the core of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” the breezy Tony-winning send-up of those 1920s musicals, their ridiculous plots and delightfully superficial songs now at The Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont. We join a man obsessed with old musicals in his locked apartment, where he plays the full cast recording of his favorite, the fictional 1920s hit of the title. As he narrates and discusses the minutia of the production, we watch it appear in all its opulence, in his kitchen.

The result is delightful, silly and in the case of this production, polished and vibrantly energetic. Directed and choreographed by the husband-and-wife team of Carlos Martin and Kami Seymour, the impressive cast manages to capture the feel of having a Broadway show literally in one’s living room.

Chuck Ketter, who also designed the clever set, has a field day with the fussy little “Man in Chair” whose obsession, and whose humorous analysis threads the show together. He’s exactly right: hesitant yet passionate, apologetic yet instructive. He is joined by a host of others, with standout performances by John LaLonde as the ridiculously stereotypical “Latin lover,” Adolpho, Shaina Zalma Ostroff as the airheaded hostess Lady Tottendale, and Neil Dole as the wise butler, Underling.

Also worthy of special note are Laura Thatcher as the easily swayed Broadway star ready to give up her career for marriage, Wesley Alfin as her romantic focus, and Debbie Prutsman as the title character – a woman more in love with alcohol than her tepid job as guardian. Jon M. Wailin and Adam Trent make engaging, non-threatening gangsters. Jessica Mason tops off the evening as a suddenly-appearing aviatrix.

This show first appeared in the L.A. area at the Ahmanson Theatre in 2005. To see it translated to a much smaller stage is, surprisingly, to see it deliver a more direct sense of that enthusiasm for musical theater to the audience – an audience which cannot help but be receptive. Pair this with a reasonable dinner, and you have an attractive, lightweight, song-filled evening – an evening which will pass more quickly than you could imagine.

What: “The Drowsy Chaperone” When: Through April 15, 6 p.m. dinner Thursdays through Saturdays, 5 p.m. dinner Sundays, 11 a.m. brunch Saturdays and Sundays Where: Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater, 455 W. Foothill Blvd, in Claremont How Much: meal and show $48 – $68 general, $25 – $30 children 12 and under Info: (909) 626-1254 ext. 1 or http://www.candlelightpavilion.com

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