Villanova University President (and Barrymore Award-winning director) the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD returns to Villanova Theatre with the Philadelphia premiere of The Drowsy Chaperone, on stage November 6 – December 2, 2012. The darling of the 2006 Tony Awards, this hilarious show-within-a-show begins when a die-hard musical theatre fan puts on his favorite record – the cast album of the (fictional) 1920s musical The Drowsy Chaperone. From the scratchy crackle of his phonograph, a madcap musical magically bursts to life, transforming his humble apartment into a dazzling world of song, dance, and comic ingenuity.
The tongue-in-cheek musical comedy promises to delight audiences with the screwball saga of a pampered Broadway starlet who thinksshe's ready to give up show business for marriage; her producer who sets out to sabotage the ceremony, her saucy (and sauced) chaperone, the handsome, nervous groom, a Latin lover, and a pair of bumbling pastry chefs with ties to the mob. As nutty as Noises Off with the intoxicating charm of Anything Goes, The Drowsy Chaperone is a hilarious love letter to the theatre.
"In my final year as chair of the Theatre Department, I brought a group of my students to see the original Broadway production, and the show won me over almost instantly," said Donohue. "It's an homage to the melodic, slapstick-silly musicals of the 1920s, adorned with just enough postmodern footnotes to keep it fresh."
Donohue returns to the director's chair for the first time since taking office of the President at Villanova University in 2006. Donohue is no stranger to the stage, however, having chaired the Theatre Department from 1992 to 2006. He has received six Barrymore nominations for Outstanding Direction of a Musical for Urinetown, Parade, Children of Eden, Into the Woods, Evita, and Chicago (which received nine nominations and three Barrymore Awards, including Outstanding Direction of a Musical). His other directing credits at Villanova include City of Angels, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, West Side Story, Candide, and Once on This Island. As an actor, Donohue has appeared with Villanova Theatre in Twelfth Night, Don Juan, The Trojan Women, and The Passion of Christ.
According to Theatre Department Chair, Rev. David Cregan, "We are beyond thrilled to be working with Father Peter again, particularly on a musical as sure to please as this." With book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, The Drowsy Chaperone has been hailed as "clever, gleeful and intelligent" by audiences and critics alike (The New Yorker).
Tony-award winning writer, actor and comedian Bob Martin will speak immediately following the November 15th performance of the musical. Martin starred in the Broadway production of The Drowsy Chaperone as the "Man in Chair." He also collaborated with Don McKellar on the book. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as Man in Chair, and shared the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical with Don McKellar.
Villanova Theatre brings this rollicking musical world to life with the support of an award-winning creative team: Valerie Joyce (Assistant Director), Peter A. Hilliard (Music Director), Kevin Dietzler (Choreographer), John Raley (Scenic Design), Janus Stefanowicz (Costume Design), Jerold Forsyth (Lighting Design), John Stovicek (Sound Design).
Donohue directs a cast of experienced and energetic young actors including acting scholars Ahren Potratz (Man in the Chair), Jen Jaynes (The Drowsy Chaperone), Christine Petrini (Janet Van de Graff), and Peter Danzig (Robert Martin); graduate students Lauren Fanslau (Mrs. Tottendale), Phillip Vonada (Feldzieg), Seth Schmitt-Hall (Adolpho), Courtney Boches (Trix the Aviatrix), Emily Poworoznek and Steve Underwood (Ensemble). They are joined by outside actors Mitchell Bloom (Underling), Kevin Dietzler (George), and Justin Damm (Gangster #1) as well as undergraduate students Jake Steinberg (Gangster #2), Ellen Knapp (Kitty), Dylan DeGaetano and Karen McConarty (Ensemble).