The first Broadway show David Washburn watched was “The Drowsy Chaperone” in 2007, so it’s only suitable that he direct the Sioux City Community Theatre’s version of the critically acclaimed musical. And although those Broadway memories still linger, Washburn intends to create his own production while also maintaining the play’s integrity.
“You want to stay true to the original material, but you don’t want to make a complete rip-off of what somebody else’s vision was,” said Washburn, who is directing the cast of about 20 people. “A lot of what you do is dictated by the script but you have the ability to put your own [spin on it].”
“The Drowsy Chaperone” was a critical darling on Broadway, earning 13 total Tony Award nominations and winning five in 2006. After seeing the musical, Washburn thought it would be a nice addition to the Sioux City Community Theatre’s repertoire of shows.
Ten years after the show’s initial Broadway debut, it’s finally happened. “The Drowsy Chaperone” opened last week and is playing shows every weekend until Oct. 2. The musical serves as the Sioux City Community Theatre’s season opener. Although it’s not a household name like “The Music Man” or “Mary Poppins,” Washburn is hoping audiences look beyond the possibly unfamiliar title, take a risk and enjoy the show.
“It’s a musical comedy and it’s not a name that folks are immediately familiar with,” said Washburn. “You say ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ and people are going to say, ‘What’s that about?’ It’s very funny and it’s got lot of great music in it.”
“The Drowsy Chaperone” -- dubbed a “musical within a comedy” -- is about an antisocial musical theater fan who decides to share his favorite musical record with the audience. As the needle dances along those vinyl grooves, the fictional 1928 musical “The Drowsy Chaperone” comes to life in the man’s home.
“He speaks to the audience throughout the show,” said Washburn. “We have these fun little tricks of things coming out of walls and things that come on and off stage. He will start and stop the action of the musical that he’s describing to the audience by stopping the record player.”
The man will comment on certain songs or offer insight on fictitious actors and actresses playing certain characters. The production also serves as a parody or throwback salute to the classic 1920s musical comedies -- think vaudeville-esque shows.
Thinking back to his time watching “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Washburn said it was helpful to see how the musical was made on Broadway.
“Had I not seen it, I probably would never have thought or suggested that we do it here,” he said. “It’s a great time. There’s nothing heavy here and it moves so quickly that I think everyone will feel like this is worth their time to come.”
Tickets to the “The Drowsy Chaperone” can be purchased at the Sioux City Community Theatre box office or online at scctheatre.org.