SAINT GEORGE — In quaint downtown St. George there is a building called the Electric Theater where The Stage Door Company is currently mounting a production of The Drowsy Chaperone; a charming show with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. The Drowsy Chaperone first debuted in Canada in 1998 and eventually made its way to Broadway in 2006.

The story follows a somewhat antisocial middle-aged man known only as Man in Chair, played in magnificent fashion in this production by Kevin Purcell. Man in Chair begins addressing the audience and explaining that when he feels blue, he likes to listen to musicals on LPs to help him forget for a little while. He then sets up the play within the play as he chooses to listen to an old forgotten show, The Drowsy Chaperone. What transpires for the next two hours is a fun show within a show that gives the audience a look into what is likely going on in most musical theatre lovers’ brains.

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As I came into the auditorium of the Electric Theater, the set design by Joshua Scott had me grinning from ear to ear. Is it because I also have playbills and posters all over my walls, some of the exact same show magnets on my fridge, and some of the same theatre books on my shelves? Maybe. All of it spoke to the idea that I was truly in the living room of someone who loves theatre. Which then added to the humor when the lights went down and Purcell as Man in Chair proclaimed the opening line, “I hate the theatre!” I knew I was in for a great time.

Man in Chair provides such a great commentary on how the love for good musical theatre transcends more than just liking musicals, and Purcell portrays this love with outstanding accuracy. From little moments like dancing in his chair and singing along, to the wonderful moments in “Bride’s Lament” when he not only tells us to ignore the lyrics that are not the best, but gets up and does the dance moves right along with Janet Van de Graaf, played by the lovely Jill Bearden. Musical theatre lovers will understand that feeling of sitting in their homes, playing the show in their heads, and getting up to dance and act along. However, where Purcell truly lets his acting shine is in the two moments in the show where the audience gets a chance to understand more of the Man in Chair – his past disappointments and losses. Purcell was visibly emotional, which in turn brought those emotions to my eyes; something that can be a bit more difficult in a comedy.

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The point near the end of the show when Man in Chair explains that he knows the show is not perfect, points out it’s flaws, but states that it does what a musical should do – take us away from our blue lives and give us moments of joy – is a perfect reminder of why people go to the theatre time after time, as well as why communities continue to put on shows and why Utah Theatre Bloggers is committed to reviewing shows both community and professional.

The rest of the cast is a wonderful accompaniment to Purcell’s Man in Chair. The premise of the story is that the audience gets to journey with Man in Chair through the show, and the rest of the cast plays out the songs that the Man in Chair is playing. While the entire show was pleasant, there were some standouts and only one real complaint. As is the case with almost all community theatres, the sound system had its challenges, and some of the mic backfiring was bad enough that it almost sounded like gunshots. I understand most companies cannot afford better systems, and the Electric Theatre is small enough that it crossed my mind that perhaps it would have been better to use floor mics or forego microphones altogether.

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While I could mention everyone in the cast individually, I will point out only a few specifics. Bearden as Janet is endearing in “Show Off;” her costume changes are spectacular in that song in particular. Costume design by Tonya Christensen is exquisite. As for dancing: the tapping by Robert, played by Brennan Walters, and George, played by Owen Scott, in the song “Cold Feets” is the delight of the evening. Choreographers Hannah Jordan and Shellie Thomas create an entertaining and toe-tapping experience. The addition of the dancing at the end of the song by Underling, played by the hilarious John Blasko, is the icing on the cake. Blasko, who plays a very straight-laced Underling, adds a great deal of humor in unexpected ways throughout the show. Cathy Ford as the Drowsy Chaperone is a perfect diva, and she portrays well the callback to the greats of the Broadway golden age with her song “As We Stumble Along.”

The Stage Door’s production of Drowsy Chaperone, just like Man in Chair so eloquently puts, is not a perfect show, but it does exactly what musicals are supposed to do. It helps take the winter blues away for an evening, gives motivation to get through the dreariest months of the year, and invites audience members to remember why it is they love musical theatre.

The Drowsy Chaperone, by the Stage Door Theatre Company, plays Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm through February 24th, with a 2pm Matinee on February 17th at the Electric Theater, 68 E Tabernacle, St. George, Utah 84770. Tickets are $17-22.