In CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” running now through March 31, it’s the wit, timing and sheer enthusiasm of our narrator that elevates the show from something entertaining to something absolutely memorable. His excitement and sheer love for the show is not only infectious, but hilarious.
The show, which opened on Broadway in 2006, follows The Man in the Chair (our narrator) as he takes us through the record for one of his favorite musicals from the 1920s, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” As we listen the characters come alive right in the narrators apartment, and we see the show happen in his imagination as The Man starts and stops the show to provide always entertaining commentary.
Doug Caldwell, who played The Man in the Chair in the Monday night opening cast, played the part perfectly. His character’s whole-hearted love for the show made everything feel more buoyant, and his asides gave the show both a poignancy and knowing humor.
There were other standouts in the uniformly solid cast, including Kate Rufener as the delightfully scene-stealing chaperone from the title. The breathy titter Rufener developed is just funny all on its own, and during a scene when she gets her young co-star out of the spotlight her easy confidence only made me want to cheer her on.
My favorite character from the show-within-a-show, however, was Danny Inkley’s Adolfo. The character is meant to be wildly stereotypical, but Inkley throws himself into every ludicrous pose so whole-heartedly that it was impossible not to love him. His accent was perfect and terrible all at once, and made everything that came out of his mouth hilarious.
The entire set team also deserves their own round of applause, with a richly detailed apartment set and entrance gags that worked beautifully. My favorite part, however, was the few seconds we saw of a completely different musical, just as fake as “The Drowsy Chaperone” but with a wildly different Oriental setting. It was only a few minutes of the show, but I still felt transported.