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The Drowsy Chaperone
The Drowsy Chaperone Original Broadway Poster.jpg
Broadway production windowcard
Music Lisa Lambert
Greg Morrison
Lyrics Lisa Lambert
Greg Morrison
Book Bob Martin
Don McKellar
Productions 1998 Toronto-The Rivoli
1999 Toronto-Toronto Fringe Festival
1999 Toronto-Theatre Passe Muraille
2001 Toronto-Winter Garden
2006 Broadway
2007 West End
2008 Broadway Tour
2009 Japan
2009 National Tour
2010 Melbourne-Melbourne Theatre Company
Awards Tony Award for Best Score
Tony Award for Best Book
Drama Desk Outstanding Musical
Drama Desk Outstanding Music
Drama Desk Outstanding Lyrics
Drama Desk Outstanding Book

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 and opened on Broadway on 1 May 2006. The show won the Tony Award for Best Book and Best Score. It started as a spoof of old musicals written by friends for the wedding of Martin and his wife, Janet. The show has had major productions in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, London, and Japan, as well as two North American tours.



The Drowsy Chaperone is an homage to American musicals of the Jazz Age, examining the effect musicals have on the fans who adore them.

The Man in Chair, a mousy, agoraphobic Broadway fanatic, seeking to cure his "non-specific sadness", listens to a recording of a fictional 1928 musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone. As he listens to this rare recording, he is transported into the musical. The characters appear in his dingy apartment, and it is transformed into an impressive Broadway set with seashell footlights, sparkling furniture, painted backdrops, and glitzy costumes.

The plot of the show-within-a-show centers on Janet Vandegraff, a showgirl who plans to give up her career in order to marry an oil tycoon, Robert Martin. However, Janet is the star of "Feldzieg's Follies", and a lot of money is riding on her name to sell the show; and Feldzieg, her producer, is being threatened with bodily harm by two gangsters employed by his chief investor. Disguised as pastry chefs, these two pun-happy thugs threaten Feldzieg to stop the wedding, in order to ensure Janet's participation in the next production of Feldzieg's Follies. In order to save himself, Feldzieg enlists Aldolpho, a bumbling Latin Lothario, to seduce Janet and spoil her relationship with Robert. Meanwhile, Janet is having doubts about her groom. Disguising herself as a French woman, she tempts Robert into kissing her, and a massive misunderstanding emerges. The ensuing plot incorporates mistaken identities, dream sequences, spit takes, a deus ex machina, an unflappable English butler, an absent-minded dowager, a ditzy chorine, a harried best man, and Janet's "Drowsy" (i.e. "Tipsy") Chaperone, played in the show-within-a-show by a blowzy Grande Dame of the Stage, specializing in "rousing anthems" and not above upstaging the occasional co-star.

Watching from his armchair, Man in Chair is torn between his desire to absorb every moment of the show as it unfolds and his need to insert his personal footnotes and his extensive-but-trivial knowledge of musical performances and actors, as he frequently brings the audience in and out of the fantasy. As the show goes on, more of his personal life is revealed through his musings about the show, until, as the record ends, he is left again alone in his apartment — but still with his record of a long-beloved show to turn to whenever he's blue.

The concept that the audience is listening to the musical on an old LP is used throughout the show. At one point, the record "skips", which causes the last notes (and dance steps) of a song to be repeated until the Man in Chair can bump the turntable. A "power outage" near the end causes the stage to go dark in the middle of the big production number. Despite the show-within-the-show being a two act musical, 'The Drowsy Chaperone' is played without an intermission; at the end of the "show"'s first act, the Man in Chair observes that there would be an intermission "if we were sitting in a theater, watching The Drowsy Chaperone. Which we're not." His monologue at the musical's intermission point ends when he changes records (ostensibly preparing the turntable to play the musical's second act), then leaves the stage "to use the bathroom". The new record is actually the second act of a different musical by the same composer and librettist, starring many of the same actors. "Message from a Nightingale" is performed in costumes evoking Imperial China, with the performers displaying cliched Chinese accents and mannerisms. The Man in Chair returns to the stage and replaces the disc with the correct one for Act II of "The Drowsy Chaperone."

Initial development

The Drowsy Chaperone started in 1998, when McKellar, Lambert, Morrison and several friends created a spoof of old musicals for the stag party of Bob Martin and Janet Van De Graaff. In its first incarnation, there was no Man in Chair, the musical styles ranged from the 1920s to the 1940s, and the jokes were more risqué. When the show was reshaped for the Toronto Fringe Festival, Martin became a co-writer, creating Man in Chair to serve as a narrator/commentator for the piece.[1]

Following the Fringe staging, Toronto commercial theatre producer David Mirvish financed an expanded production at Toronto's 160-seat, non-profit Theatre Passe Muraille in 1999. Box office success and favourable notices led Mirvish in 2001 to finance further development and produce a full-scale version at Toronto's 1000-seat Winter Garden Theatre. During that production, Linda Intaschi, Associate Producer of Mirvish Productions, invited New York producer Roy Miller to see the musical. Miller saw potential in the show and he optioned the rights.

With Canadian actor and fund-raiser Paul Mack, Miller produced a reading for the New York's National Alliance for Musical Theatre on 5 October 2004[2][3] – and invited Broadway producer Kevin McCollum. The reading captured McCollum's interest and eventually resulted in Miller, McCollum and Bob Boyett, Stephanie McClelland, Barbara Freitag and Jill Furman committing to producing the play. An out-of-town engagement followed at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles (2005), and after alterations, The Drowsy Chaperone opened on Broadway on 1 May 2006,.




The Broadway production opened in May 2006 at the Marquis Theatre, and closed on 30 December 2007 after 674 performances and 32 previews. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw the original Broadway cast included Bob Martin, Sutton Foster, Georgia Engel, Edward Hibbert, Beth Leavel, Jason Kravits, Garth Kravits, Eddie Korbich, and Danny Burstein.

West End

The Broadway team staged the West End production. Previews started on 14 May 2007, first night was on 6 June, but it closed on 4 August after fewer than 100 performances. A largely British cast, including Elaine Paige – making her return to the West End after six years – John Partridge and Summer Strallen joined the show’s co-author Bob Martin recreating his Broadway role of "Man in Chair." The Novello Theatre’s owner Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who had seen the show in previews in New York had supported its transatlantic transfer.[4] London's critics were generally optimistic about the show,[5] although some had been less impressed.[6][7] Even an early drastic reduction in the cost of premium seating for the show failed to generate sufficient enthusiasm for the production, and the producers closed it in August instead of the scheduled February 2008 date.[8][9] "… shows in London can run safely … at lower capacities than they require on Broadway.… But, as the transfer of The Drowsy Chaperone has just proved, sometimes even a Tony-winning Broadway hit can’t even achieve that," London's The Stage commented.[10]

The musical received 2008 Olivier Award nominations for Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical (Summer Strallen), Best Actor in a Musical (Bob Martin), Best Theatre Choreographer (Casey Nicholaw), and Best Costume Design (Gregg Barnes).[11]

North American tour

A national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone opened 19 September 2007 in Toronto at the Elgin Theatre. Among the performers were original Broadway cast members Bob Martin and Georgia Engel (Man in Chair and Mrs. Tottendale). While Engel performed with the company for the extended engagement, Martin did not continue beyond Toronto; his role was taken over by Jonathan Crombie. Nancy Opel played the role of "The Drowsy Chaperone". The Drowsy Chaperone played more than 30 cities in the United States, including Los Angeles at the Ahmanson Theatre, where the show ran before going to Broadway.[12]

Subsequent Canadian productions

The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company produced an independent production directed by Max Reimer, choreographed by Dayna Tekatch in Vancouver, British Columbia of The Drowsy Chaperone which opened 27 November 2008 and ran until 27 December 2008. In July 2009 The Thousand Islands Playhouse mounted another independent production, directed by Kathryn Mackay, choreographed by Dayna Tekatch, with musical direction by Sandy Thorburn.

In co-production with Canada's National Arts Centre English Theatre, the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company's production of The Drowsy Chaperone played on the Shoctor stage of the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, opening on 5 September and closing on 4 October (2009) and thereafter played at the National Arts Centre though 1 November 2009.

Japanese production

The first translated production of the musical opened in Japan on 5 January 2009.[13]

Australian production

The Australian production, staged by the Melbourne Theatre Company, opened for a limited engagement in Melbourne on 21 January 2010. Prominent Australian actor Geoffrey Rush played The Man in the Chair.[14][15] The production was announced to run through 20 February, but due to impressively high demand for tickets when they were first made available, the producers arranged for it to continue through 27 February.[16].

CD Release

A one-disc compact disc set was released in 2006.[17] It featured the original Broadway cast. Although it contained mostly only the musical numbers, it also contained enough of the Man in the Chair's narrative to give listeners a taste of his role in the production.

Amateur licensing

The show is licensed by Music Theatre International in the USA (these rights were just recently released), but the show is available to amateur and professional theatre in the UK via Joseph Weinebreger.

One of the first schools in the United States to be licensed for the show is Dunlap High School, Illinois.

Song list

  • Overture – Orchestra
  • Fancy Dress – Company
  • Cold Feets – Robert, George
  • Show Off – Janet, Company
  • As We Stumble Along – Drowsy Chaperone
  • I Am Aldolpho – Aldolpho, Drowsy Chaperone
  • Accident Waiting To Happen – Robert, Janet
  • Toledo Surprise – Gangsters, Feldzieg, Kitty, Mrs. Tottendale, and Company
  • Message From A Nightingale – Kitty, Gangsters, Aldolpho, Drowsy Chaperone
  • Bride's Lament – Janet, Company
  • Love Is Always Lovely In The End – Mrs. Tottendale, Underling
  • I Do, I Do In The Sky – Trix, Company
  • As We Stumble Along (Reprise) – Company

The original cast recording contains two bonus tracks titled, "I Remember Love," which is a duet between Mrs. Tottendale and Underling, and "Message From A Nightingale", which is the unabridged version of a portion of a song that is cut short in the show. "I Remember Love" also contains a ukelele solo by Ukelele Lil as Mrs. Tottendale. It was replaced by "Love is Always Lovely in the End."


Principal roles and casting

Character Original Cast Original Broadway Cast Original London Cast Original Australian Cast
Man In Chair Bob Martin Bob Martin Geoffrey Rush
The Drowsy Chaperone Lisa Lambert Beth Leavel Elaine Paige Rhonda Burchmore
Janet van de Graaff Jenn Robertson Sutton Foster Summer Strallen Christie Whelan
Robert Martin John Mitchell Troy Britton Johnson John Partridge Alex Rathgeber
George Steve Morell Eddie Korbich Sean Kingsley Rohan Browne
Aldolpho Don McKellar Danny Burstein Joseph Alessi Adam Murphy
Mrs. Tottendale Teresa Pavlinek Georgia Engel Anne Rogers Robyn Nevin
Underling Scott Anderson Edward Hibbert Nickolas Grace Richard Piper
Feldzieg Matt Watts Lenny Wolpe Nick Holder Shane Jacobson
Kitty Jennifer Irwin Jennifer Smith Selina Chilton Heidi Arena
Trix Jennifer Whalen Kecia Lewis-Evans Enyonam Gbesemete Zahra Newman
Gangster 1 Jack Mosshammer Jason Kravits Adam Stafford Karlis Zaid
Gangster 2 Doug Morency Garth Kravits Cameron Jack Grant Piro
Notable replacements (Broadway)
Notable replacement (London)
  • Steve Pemberton replaced Bob Martin in the role of Man in Chair from 10 July until the production closed on 4 August.

Awards and nominations

  • 2000 Canadian Comedy Award Pretty Funny Comedic Play
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical – Book by Bob Martin, Don McKellar
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design – Gregg Barnes
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical – Beth Leavel
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics – Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music – Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design of a Musical – David Gallo
  • 2006 Theatre World Award – Bob Martin
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical – Bob Martin, Don McKellar
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Musical – Gregg Barnes
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical – Beth Leavel
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Original Score – Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical – David Gallo
  • 2000 Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding Costume Design - Christopher Richards
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical – Bob Martin
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical – Sutton Foster
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography – Casey Nicholaw
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical – Casey Nicholaw
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical – Eddie Korbich
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Orchestrations – Larry Blank
  • 2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Sound Design – Acme Sound Partners
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical – Bob Martin
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical – Sutton Foster
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Choreography – Casey Nicholaw
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – Casey Nicholaw
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical – Danny Burstein
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Ken Billington, Brian Monahan
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical
  • 2006 Tony Award for Best Orchestrations – Larry Blank


  1. ^ He later stated that he based the role on Richard Ouzounian, host of CBS Radio show Say it with Music (see Discussion)
  2. ^ About NAMT. Retrieved 6 August 2007
  3. ^ Kevin McCollum, Introduction, CD liner notes, 10 May 2006
  4. ^ 'Drowsey Chaperone', Official London Theatre Guide, 6 March 2007]
  5. ^ Ouzounian, Richard. "Drowsy Chaperone wakes up British critics"The Star, 2007-06-08. Retrieved 20 April 2008
  6. ^ "Help, my tongue's stuck in my cheek!;"The Independent; 10 June 2007
  7. ^ 'Drowsy Chaperone'The Guardian, 7 July 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2007
  8. ^ Andrew Gans and Kenneth Jones. "London's Drowsy Chaperone to Close in August,", 6 July 2007
  9. ^ "Drowsy closes early in the capital,"Society of London Theatre, 9 July 2007
  10. ^ "The West End overtakes Broadway on price," The Stage, London, 25 July 2007
  11. ^ "Olivier Winners, 2008",, accessed 14 August 2009
  12. ^ Kenneth Jones; "Drowsy Chaperone Returns Home, to Toronto, for Tour Launch," from; 19 September 2007
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew."Geoffrey Rush to Star in Australian Drowsy Chaperone", 9 September 2009
  15. ^ [ The Drowsy Chaperone is a hit in Australia!, 18 February 2010
  16. ^ Boland, Micaela."Send in the Chaperones"The Australian, 19 January 2010
  17. ^ Ghostlight Records, The Drowsy Chaperone, Original Broadway Cast Recording 7915584411-2

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote


Man in Chair

  • Yes, it's the flimsy plot device that gets the plot going.
  • Try not to think of the poodles.
  • Are you surprised to hear I was married? Well..."
  • During an accident at a performance of "The Drowsy Chaperone" in which the murphy bed containg The Drowsy Chaperone and Aldolpho broke: Rent-controlled apartment. You get what you pay for.
  • We have a bride who’s giving up the stage for love, her debonair bridegroom, a harried producer, jovial gangsters posing as pastry chefs, and an aviatrix - what we now call a lesbian.
  • re: actor playing Aldolpho and the Chinese emperor: He was the man of 1,000 accents, all of them offensive.
  • ""So, that was the Drowsy Chaperone. Oh, I love it so much! I-uh-I know it is not a perfect show, the spit-take scene is lame and the monkey motif is labored...but it does what a musical is supposed to do! It takes you to another world and gives you a little tune to carry in your head for...for...when you're feeling blue, you know? As we stumble along on life's funny journey. As we stumble along into the blue."

The Drowsy Chaperone

  • (sung) 7 overrated wonders

7 underwhelming seas
6 excrutiating continents.
(spoken) Antarctica? Oh, please.


George: (refering to rollerskating) That's what I do when I wanna blow off steam!

Kitty: Pick a number between 1 and 3...

Feldzeig: No matter how well you play the part of the happy wife, you will never ever get a standing ovation!

That's the trouble with life. You're happy for 5 seconds, then something starts ringing.


Man in Chair: She was an alcoholic,
The Drowsy Chaperone: (sung) We look here. and we look there
Man in Chair: (spoken) Her character was I mean.
The Drowsy Chaperone: (sung) Searching answers everywhere. Never know where to turn or what to do.
Man in Chair: (spoken) To be honest she drank too.

Kitty: Ooh! What's goin on here?
Feldzeig: I'm developing a new act with the pastry chefs.
Gangsters: (sung) Toledo surprise!
Kitty: (spoken) You mean you're putting gangsters in the show but you won't put me in it? They're not even in the union!
Feldzeig: Shh... not so loud. the new act, its for you, Kitty. And these boys are your backup dancers!
Kitty: Backup dancers? Holy Cats!

Janet: The wedding is off! Robert kissed a French girl. Her name is Mimi. She's very beautiful.
Robert: I couldn't help it, Janet! She was just like you — only French!

Man in Chair: Here it comes — the moment that has fascinated me more than any other.
(Aldolpho drops his cane)
The Drowsy Chaperone: ...while you can.
Man in Chair: You have no idea how many times I've listened to that.


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