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The Drowsy Chaperone: On Stage at Roger Rocka’s

IN THE August 17 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment,
andLorie Lewis Ham,
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by Lorie Lewis Ham

Special discount on tickets to see The Drowsy Chaperone for KRL readers only–details at the end of this article.

The Drowsy Chaperone, currently on stage at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater in Fresno, is the dictionary definition of a big musical—it takes one back to the days of Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Ginger Rogers.

“To chase his blues away, a modern day agoraphobic musical theater fan drops the needle on his favorite LP, the 1928 musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone,” shared director Fred Bologna about the show. “As he listens to the album, he imagines the cast of characters coming to life in his living room telling the rambunctious tale of a brazen Broadway starlet trying to find, and keep, her true love.”

Steve Souza as Man in Chair

Bologna fell in love with Drowsy Chaperone after seeing it during a National Tour with Andrea Chamberlain, a Good Company Players alumni, playing the lead role of Janet Van de Graff. “I thought it was the perfect show for the theater.”

I saw Good Company Players production of this show recently with my teenage daughter and fell in love. Over the past year I’ve seen a lot of great local theatre of all forms and sizes from the simple and dramatic to big Broadway style productions. This one is definitely big and wonderful. I grew up watching Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby dance and sing their way through musical movies and this show reminds me of those days.

Daniel Hernandez as Robert Martin

Daniel Hernandez as leading man Robert Martin in the “musical” that comes to life in the Man in Chair’s living room, dances and sings his way into your heart and left the ladies in the audience from teenager on up swooning just like his character does Janet. His dancing best man played by Dominic Grijalva kept up with Daniel every step of the way. Emily Pessano as Janet was a perfect 1940’s style leading lady, as lovely as she is talented. They not only swept Man in Chair away to a simpler time but the audience as well.

Emily Pessano as Janet Van de Graaf

Dan and Laurie Pessano (as the butler and Janet’s mother) were charming and funny and I could truly imagine them as old vaudevillian stars–I loved the surprise end to their story. My daughter fell in love not only with Daniel but with the two young gangsters. Steve Souza as Man in Chair had me laughing all the way through the show. And then of course there’s Adolfo the Latin Lover and the Chaperone!

“I think we have a superb cast-a very talented cast-and a show that anyone who loves Broadway musicals will find truly entertaining,” said Bologna, and I would have to agree. Even the actors in the smaller parts were very talented. Great voices, great dancing, very funny and fun show. Honestly, everyone was great and there’s just too many to mention them all!

Laurie & Dan Pessano as Mrs. Tottendale & Underling

The Drowsy Chaperone, like the musical movies of the 40’s, is designed to whisk the audience away to another place and make them forget their troubles for a couple of hours and it definitely succeeds. Everyone left the theatre with a smile on their lips and a catchy tune in their heads. If you love big Broadway musicals this is one you shouldn’t miss!
 
Special Offer: Mention Kings River Life Magazine at the time of reservation and see Good Company Players’ The Drowsy Chaperone at the discounted group rate. Savings of up to $7 per Dinner & Show reservation. Offer valid any performance through September 11. Box Office: (559) 266-9494.

Check back every Wednesday night at 7 for a new Local Live!

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.

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