Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Nothing 'Drowsy' about this

Courting Tony voters and prospective bookers, the director and two cast members of "The Drowsy Chaperone" dropped in on the League of American Theatres and Producers conference in NYC last Thursday.

Something worked.

The show gathered 13 nominations yesterday, including Best Director, Best Actor in a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical, making the League guests three for three plus a Best Musical nomination for the show.

Director Casey Nicholaw was the choreographer for "Spamalot," but this is his first Broadway directing job. Sutton Foster previously won for "Thoroughly Modern Millie." And Bob Martin has won numerous "Canadian awards," but this is his first role on Broadway.

The show is a musical (within a comedy) about a man who listens to a 1920s record only to have it come to life around him. It's a literal representation of what happens when the stars of story, casting, direction, music and choreography align; we are totally absorbed into a performance.

The show began as an original production years ago during a stag party for Martin. Fortunately, his friends were all very talented.

Now, it's a huge hit on Broadway. (Don't you wish you had friends like that?)

Here's a bit of what they had to say:

Casey: What attracted me was its love of musical theater. It was just shaping it and turning it into a big, Broadway musical.

Sutton: I wanted to do something different after "Millie" and "Little Women." I was basically fried and burned out. I wanted to do something that was more of an ensemble piece. I auditioned and I never wanted a job more. What's so wonderful is that everyone has a moment to shine. I feel totally satisfied with my experience with the show.

Sutton: They asked me what kind of tricks can you do (referring to some of the acrobatic moves in the musical). I said, "I can touch my tongue to my nose." (And then she does.)

Casey: When stagehands start quoting the show, you know it's a good thing.

Bob (when asked about his impressions of NYC): You people honk your horns a lot.

Bob (when asked about reviews): The bad ones haunt me like a cancerous tumor. I remember one that called me "annoyingly charmless."

Sutton: (when asked about reviews): I don't read them. Bad reviews are terrible. And the good reviews are never good enough.

You can catch "The Drowsy Chaperone" at the Marquis Theatre in New York, and later on, on the road.

By the way, the show's marketing takes full effect of its nod-and-a-wink style.

One of its advertising lines: "In the real world, the only people who burst into song are the hopelessly deranged." So true.

See you at the theater.

- Michael K

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