In this day and age, few high school students spend much time donning tap shoes and singing vaudeville, but that didn’t stop the talented students of Santa Barbara High’s drama program from doing exactly that in this spectacular production of The Drowsy Chaperone. With music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, The Drowsy Chaperone is a kind of “musical within a comedy.” The show starts with a monologue from the Man in Chair (Clayton Barry), our evening’s guide and commentator. He talks about the theater nowadays and begins to reminisce. Soon, with the help of a vinyl record of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” we are transported back to the Roaring ’20s and are pulled into the magic and glamour of that era on Broadway.
This show is all about escaping from harsh reality through the wonder of musical theater, and these intensely animated performances provided just such a release. The live band, the costumes, the lighting, the set, and the actors all displayed the level of professionalism that Santa Barbara High has consistently achieved under director Otto Layman. There was a tap number à la Singing in the Rain between groom Robert Martin (Jordan Lemmond) and best man George (Damien Gilbert) that was so good they could have been Broadway performers. Each and every character, from the Chaperone (Elli Harb) to glamorous Janet Van De Graaff (Emma Robins) to over-the-top Adolpho (Emilio Madrid), charmed and captivated the audience with their wild dynamics both with other characters and with the audience. At every point in the show, from the ending chaos of Act I to the harmonious resolve of Act II, the audience just couldn’t look away from the stage.