Arts & Entertainment

‘Drowsy Chaperone’ Shines Spotlight on D.C. Area

This weekend, the McLean Community Players will have the opportunity to bring a popular Broadway musical to the Washington, D.C. area for the first time.

This weekend, the McLean Community Players will have the opportunity to bring a popular Broadway musical to the Washington, D.C. area for the first time.

“The Drowsy Chaperone,” directed by Wade Corder, tells the story within a story of a fictional musical that is analytically narrated by actor Larry Baird. While sitting in his apartment and feeling dejected, he plays the Man in Chair that has physically brought “The Drowsy Chaperone” to life by playing its vinyl after feeling nostalgic and confessing his passionate love for the record and period it was from. The play, set during the Prohibition Era, is a thrilling comedy with musical injections.

Baird, who’s been acting since the age of 5, is self-critical and says that he’s still preparing for the lead role. After being retired for seven years, he decided that he would step on stage once again, though all it took was a look at the script.

“I had never seen it or read it and that’s why I love it so much,” said Baird. “I discovered the script the first read through and it’s so much funnier than the CD is and it has more to it.”

The imagination of Baird’s character is as strong as the cast’s performance, interlocking his sensational ability to see them sing and dance as they fluidly exchange witty, knee-slapping comical dialogue.

In “The Drowsy Chaperone,” an experienced cast portrays a group of Broadway actors surrounding the lead actress in the musical-come-to-life, Janet Van De Graff. The character, played by Claire O’ Brien, is torn between decisions placed upon her by her lover that could either end her career as an actress or deliver her to wed. Lisa Ann Bailey, who also has won multiple awards, plays the title character of the imagined production.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a theatrical wonderland that hasn’t found its way outside of the musical theatre community and into the public eye despite its numerous awards and ceremonial accolades.

“There’s a lot of excitement from it within the musical theater community for those who know but as far as others, until it’s reached a mass awareness, people won’t know about it,” said Corder. “That’s why we’re trying so hard to make sure that everybody knows that this is one not to miss.”

Corder, who has directed three other works, acknowledges that it’s a fairly new play, having only debuted in 2006. However, he feels fortunate to wear the hat of director and believes that “The Drowsy Chaperone” is on its way towards critical acclaim, gaining popularity equivalent to plays like “South Pacific” and “Oklahoma.”

As with any good show, a heavy dose of props, lighting and costumes does much to make an enjoyable production for audiences. Summer Donaldson, the co-producer of “The Drowsy Chaperone” who has 20 years with the Alden Theatre, admits the production makes big demands in these categories.

“This is a huge and extensive show as far as physical aspects go,” said Donaldson. “We started about a year ago getting all of it together. When I first saw it, I wasn’t sure I could produce it because this time of year is horrendous. But I wanted to be on board as soon as I heard the music and sat down to read the script.”

In unison, the director and producer are in love with the script, music, and actors, and they have invested a lot of time and money on the ground ensuring the success of an “it sells itself” package.

This production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” opens at McLean’s Alden Theatre on Friday, Jan. 14 and closes on Saturday, Jan. 29. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are $17 – $19, with group rates available. Alden Theatre is located at 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean. For more information, visit