For those fans, the best thing about
Watching the show through his eyes, it doesn't seem hyperbole when he exclaims, "That's the glory of musical theater."
But this production could use more such over-the-top attitude all the way around. Director Bob Brandenburg doesn't let his actors run with the stock nature of their characters even though those characters are supposed to be spoofing musical-theater conventions while celebrating them.
The result? The show still celebrates musicals, thanks to well-sung numbers under the direction of Lulu Picart, and spot-on choreography by Myles Thoroughgood that makes the most of the Mad Cow's stage without overwhelming it. ("Cold Feets," danced with panache by Chris Burns and Shawn Kilgore, is a standout.)
But on the flip side, dialing down the characterizations lessens the spoof factor — and the comedy. Far too many funny lines are simply thrown away, the jokes lost in flat or rushed delivery.
A few actors do winningly play up the silly parody: Billy Flanigan and Ashley Willsey as a cigar-chomping producer and his peroxide-haired bimbo, and especially David Bracamonte, a glorious peacock of an ethnic stereotype as Latin Lothario Adolpho.
As the titular chaperone — drowsy is a euphemism for tipsy — Michelle Knight struts around the stage in full diva regalia but even she could milk the character's caustically comic lines more.
Andrea Stack, as Janet the starlet, suffers in that her character's big production number is strangely understaged — stripping all the visual irony out of a song titled "Show Off."
Far better staging comes in a dippy yet zippy production number that ends up in a kickline of stuffed monkey dolls. Ridiculous? Only in a musical? Yes, but that's when the silly glory of what "The Drowsy Chaperone" can be shines through.
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•What: Drowsy Chaperone
•Where: Mad Cow Theatre, 105 S. Magnolia St., Orlando
•When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and two Mondays, Oct. 24 and Nov. 14; 2:30 p.m. Sundays; through Nov. 20
•Tickets: $34; $32 seniors and students; $15 on Mondays