The Drowsy Chaperone tells the story of an agorophobic modern-day musical theater addict known simply as "Man in Chair" (Thom Johnson). To chase his blues away, he drops the needle on his favorite LP, the 1928 musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone. From the crackle of his hi-fi, the musical magically bursts to life around him in his apartment telling the tale of a pampered Broadway starlet (Libby Buck) who wants to give up show business to get married, her producer (Steve Hermanson) who sets out to sabotage the nuptials, the debonair groom (Jon Tigert), the dizzy chorine (Tiffany D. Wilson), the Latin lover (Jake McDuffee), a pair of gangsters disguised as pastry chefs (James Hildreth and Daniel Klingler), and her chaperone(Georgeanna Teipen), who isn't as much drowsy as she is tipsy. Other characters the audience will meet along the way are the absent-minded hostess for the wedding (Margo Sweeney), her English butler (Donald Stikeleather), and an aviatrix (Kelsee B. Hankins). Rounding out the cast in multiple roles are Nicole Bridgens, William Brown, Paige Clark, Nicholas Mitchaner, Ralph Passman, and Jennifer Poynter. Man in Chair's love of The Drowsy Chaperone speaks to anyone who has ever been transported by the theater.
The Drowsy Chaperone started in 1997, when McKellar, Lambert, Morrison and several friends created a spoof of old musicals for the stag party of Bob Martin and Janet Van De Graaff. In its first incarnation, there was no Man in Chair, the musical styles ranged from the 1920s to the 1940s, and the jokes were more risqué. When the show was reshaped for the Toronto Fringe Festival, Martin became a co-writer, creating Man in Chair to serve as a narrator/commentator for the piece. Following the Fringe staging, Toronto commercial theater producer David Mirvish financed an expanded production at Toronto's 160-seat, non-profit Theatre Passe Muraille in 1999. Box office success and favorable notices lEd Mirvish to finance further development and produce a full-scale version at Toronto's 1000-seat Winter Garden Theatre in 2001. During that production, Linda Intaschi, Associate Producer of Mirvish Productions, invited New York producer Roy Miller to see the musical. Miller saw potential in the show and he optioned the rights.He produced a reading for the New York National Alliance for Musical Theatre in October 2004, and invited Broadway producer Kevin McCollum. The reading captured McCollum's interest and eventually resulted in Miller, McCollum and Bob Boyett, Stephanie McClelland, Barbara Freitag and Jill Furman committing to producing the play. An out-of-town engagement followed at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles (2005), and after alterations, The Drowsy Chaperone opened on Broadway on May 1, 2006.