CLO’s ‘Drowsy Chaperone’ Opens June 21st at the Benedum

By Jessica Neu

The Drowsy Chaperone is one of those musicals that opened to excellent reviews when it debuted on Broadway in 2006 but received little attention or fanfare. It closed one a year later in December 2007. Drowsy has achieved a cult following and become a staple for community and high school theater productions. Nominated for 13 Tony awards and took home 5 awards, but lost Best Musical to CLO’s first production of the 2022 summer series, Jersey Boys. The original Broadway cast included Bob Martin, Georgia Engel, Edward Hibbert, Beth Leavel, and Sutton Foster. 

Opening on June 21st as the second musical in Pittsburgh’s CLO Summer Series, The Drowsy Chaperone tells the story of a modern-day musical theater addict named Man in Chair who plays his favorite musical cast album, the 1928 musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone. The show magically comes to life onstage as Man in Chair comments on each facet of the spontaneous musical. He is often situated on the audience’s side of the fourth wall. The show’s character and synopsis are explained during the first of many catchy numbers reminiscent of the classic Broadway era. Audiences learn that it is the wedding day for oil tycoon Robert Martin and Broadway star Janet Van De Graaff, played by Katie Mariko Murray, making her PCLO debut

For the CLO’s production, The Man in Chair will be played by Clay Aiken, who first rose to fame as the runner-up on the second season of American Idol and has also starred on Broadway in Monty Python’s Spamalot. The show’s title character, The Drowsy Chaperone, will be played by Paige Davis. Millennials may remember her as one of the stars of TLC’s hit show Trading Spaces from the early 2000s. Davis is just as comfortable on stage as she is watching neighbors remodel each other’s homes. She has starred in the Broadway revival of Chicago and numerous off-Broadway productions of Mame, A Chorus Line, and Company. Pittsburgh CLO fans may remember Davis as Maria in CLO’s The Sound of Music production. 

Another wedding guest, the aging hostess, Mrs.Tottendale, will be portrayed by the incomparable Donna McKechnie. She starred in the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line, for which she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a musical. At 81 years young, McKechnie continues to be an avid part of the theater community starring in productions around the world. 

While McKechnie is far more accomplished and well-known in the theater community than Aiken or Davis, the top billing for the actors playing the Man in the Chair and Drowsy Chaperone suggests that the CLO is trying to target the millennial crowd who are feeling nostalgic about seeing stars from their favorite shows as teenagers. 

Regardless of age or connection to early 2000s popular culture, audience members will surely enjoy the show-stopping numbers and hilarious antics that unfold on the wedding day. 

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has recently revised its mask-mandate policy, and face coverings are now optional for all events.

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Categories: Show Previews

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