In April 2008, I went to see a musical that, in its own delightful way, changed my life.
The Drowsy Chaperone.
I remember leaving the theatre with my friend and now writing-partner, Lori Mooney, and practically dancing in the street because the show was just so infectious.
Yes, this show had Sutton Foster (I would give Sutton Foster ten Tony awards if all she did was sit at the edge of the stage and paint her toenails), but, most importantly, it was the most inspirational show I had ever seen! (After In My Life, the touching tale of a young man with Tourettes Syndrome who falls in love with a girl with OCD...after his mother and sister are killed in a car accident...and the two of them dance around in Heaven and look down at our hero. Nothing could top that one.)
The Drowsy Chaperone centers around a Man in a Chair...we never learn his name...who seems to live a solitary life, and he invites the audience to join him as he listens to a record of his favorite musical...a 1920's show called The Drowsy Chaperone.
The musical comes to live in his kitchen, and the narrator's face lights-up like a little kid as he watches the story unfold, almost like he's watching it for the first time...even though he knows it by heart.
Towards the end, the Man in the Chair says, "So, that was The Drowsy Chaperone. I love it so much...I know it's not the most perfect show...but it does what a musical is supposed to do...it takes you to another world, and it gives you a little tune to carry in your head for when you're feeling blue..."
If we're lucky enough, we all have our own Drowsy Chaperone. It reminded me of my love for The Fantasticks...which is really a very very silly and dopey show...but lifts my spirit and reawakens the hopeless romantic in me and makes me fall in love with it every time I listen to it or see another community theatre production of it.
(Funny story...last year, I was doing "The Run" for my last job, and was stopped outside of the Marriot Marquis. A woman asked me if I wanted free tickets to see a Broadway show...and all I had to do was have my picture taken with a member of the cast!" I said, "Why the HECK not!" and Jennifer Smith, who played Kitty in the show, handed me a big bag of Starbucks coffee. They snapped our picture and handed me two free tickets to see Drowsy...it would be my fourth time.)
(I never thought I would see the show without writer and star, Bob Martin, but leave it to Jonathan Crombie, GILBERT OF THE ANNE OF GREEN GABLES TRILOGY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, to bring me back.)
Two days ago, The Drowsy Chaperone closed, and I think Broadway is one great star dimmer.
Thank you, Bob Martin, for helping me realize how important it is for me to create something that could touch others.