Things can get downright daffy when the theatre pokes fun at the theatre.
That is just what is happening in Theatre-by-the-Sea’s delightful production of the five-time Tony Award-winning musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” While the songs aren’t memorable, the lyrics are funny and the puns come at you at high speed.
Long-time favorite Lennie Watts, who wowed the Matunuck crowd in the late 1990s with his comic acting, returns in the pivotal role of The Man in the Chair, the character who keeps the play rolling and fills in all the blanks.
Watts appears to be having a good time as the lonely guy who wants us to hear his record album of his favorite 1920s musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” He drops the needle on the scratchy LP and actors appear in his living room, performing scenes from one of the corniest musicals imaginable. We’re also treated to TBTS’s live orchestra.
The silly plot revolves around the wealthy Robert Martin (Sean Montgomery) and actress Janet Van de Graaff (Erin West), who is about to give up her career as the two prepare to get married.
The wedding guests have arrived, including her director, Feldzieg (Rhode Island’s talented Ron Sarro), who has hired a couple of gangsters, posing as bakers, (James Wells and Derek Johnson), to stop the wedding. There are mistaken identities, puns, plot devices and all of the standard musical gimmicks in this campy production which starts slow but finishes with a bang.
Things really get rolling as the second act starts with a scene from a musical very close to “The King and I,” resulting in the play’s funniest moment.
There’s some good tap dancing by the best man (Kevin Loreque) and Montgomery, a great performance by Rhode Islander Phyllis Lynn as the ditzy Mrs. Tottendale, and an over-the-top performance by Tony Castellanos as Adolpho. His scenes with the drowsy chaperone (Happy McPartlin) are hysterical.
It was good seeing Watts back on the TBTS stage. Looking a bit older, the veteran actor/comedian hasn’t lost his timing and his ability to ad-lib, throwing in some of the funniest lines that were probably not in the original.
Nothing heavy here, just a fun night out at the theatre, and well worth the trip to that wonderful barn theatre by the sea.
“The Drowsy Chaperone” is at Theatre-by-the-Sea through Sept. 4. Call 782-8587 for reservations. Tickets range from $39-$54.