CENTERVILLE, Utah — At the very first incarnation of the insanely enjoyable “The Drowsy Chaperone,” patrons were taken aback when they were asked to pay an admission. But it was staged at a bachelor party.
The script was later retooled and musical numbers expanded before its New York opening, but the clever concept for the Broadway show, which received five 2007 Tony awards after a near-record 12 nominations, was developed for an unconventional bachelor party at a Canadian nightclub in 1999.
Comedian Bob Martin, a veteran of Second City Toronto, was the groom-to-be. To help defray wedding costs, Martin decided to produce a mini-musical tribute to his fiancÉe, Janet Van De Graff. The characters in his musical spoof of frothy depression-era musicals include a debonair millionaire oil tycoon, a ditzy chorine and a scheming Broadway producer. But there’s also a talented leading lady about to give up the stage for a marriage of true love, and the heroine remains named for the real-life bride, Janet Van De Graff.
“I hope audiences will laugh loud and long about the characters we’ve built,” said Maurie Tarbox, “The Drowsy Chaperone” director at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre. “But I know the show will take them on a fun and enjoyable journey.
“This is a smart script, and it has been a joy to see it come to life,” she said.
One of the special effects Tarbox hopes to wow audiences with is the landing of an airplane on the CenterPoint semi-thrust stage. “But the plane hasn’t ‘flown’ yet. Hopefully people will come just to see if it will work,” she said. “But if I give any more details about what to expect, then why come? I will say that audiences won't be disappointed.”
The airplane is “not the most important aspect of the show,” she added. What is crucial is getting the right tone for the actors to create the script's characters that are being embraced with a winking tribute.
“I’ve encouraged the actors to have a relationship with every character on stage. I believe by doing this, it takes the show to a whole new level,” Tarbox said. “The show is really spectacular with spectacular actors.”
“The Drowsy Chaperone” can be a broad-based audience-pleaser, particularly if the schtick is just right, and the show might just rank on the list of Top 10 musicals produced in the state. Producers of theater in Utah seem to have said in unsion, “Send in the Chaperones.”
While Tarbox had never seen the show, she “was very familiar with the music, so I jumped at the chance to direct.”
Surely the greatest hope of Tarbox is that, considering the reaction of the guests at the bachelor party of the first production of "The Drowsy Chaperone," CenterPoint theatergoers will have been pleased to have purchased admission after seeing her production.
If you go:
What: “The Drowsy Chaperone”
Where: CenterPoint Legacy Theatre,
When: Monday-Saturday, March 5-March 31 at 7:30 pm
How much: $17-$20
Tickets: 801-298-1302 or CenterPointTheatre.org