south valley civic theater drowsy chaperone
South Valley Civic Theatre’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” cast includes, from left: Jason Eves (Adolpho), Peter Mandel (Man in Chair), Ken Christopher (Robert Martin), Riley Brown (Kitty), Nicole King-Yarbrough (Janet Van de Graff) and Ingrid Rottman (The Drowsy Chaperone). The musical opens Feb. 24 in Morgan Hill. Photo: Tim Ahlin
music in the park san jose

“The Drowsy Chaperone” may not have the name recognition of the big-time Broadway musicals, but its five Tony Awards are nothing to scoff at.

After debuting in Toronto in 1998, “The Drowsy Chaperone” made its way to Broadway in 2006, with New York Magazine calling it the “perfect Broadway musical,” and other critics hailing it as the best musical no one has ever heard of.

And Nicole King-Yarbrough, who performs as Janet Van de Graff in South Valley Civic Theatre’s upcoming performance of the musical, says that many people she knows who saw “The Drowsy Chaperone” for the first time left the theater convinced it was their new favorite show.

SVCT will bring the musical to the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse, 17090 Monterey Road, Fridays through Sundays from Feb. 24 to March 18.

“It’s definitely a show a lot of people aren’t familiar with,” said Malisha Kumar, who co-produces the musical with Ken Christopher and Ingrid Rottman. “It deserves a chance to be seen.”

“The Drowsy Chaperone” earned “Best Book” and “Best Original Score,” among its Tony Awards.

The musical opens with a man in a chair, who puts on a record to cheer himself up. In this instance, he plays “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and his apartment is transformed into a Roaring ‘20s jazz musical.

What follows next and throughout the musical’s runtime is a “comedy of errors,” Christopher said, featuring two lovers about to get married, an intoxicated chaperone, two gangsters going undercover as pastry chefs, and a full cast of goofy characters.

“In a world where things are far too serious sometimes, it’s good to go to the theater and see a show that doesn’t have the gravitas of a Broadway show, but it has a lot of innocent fun,” said Christopher, who also performs as Robert Martin. “You’re going to start laughing at the first note and all the way to the end note. That’s the medicine we need.”

Kumar said the cast of 20 also features a contingent of teenage actors, many of them veterans of the SVCT stage. In fact, they have flipped the script and have been teaching many of the adults the ropes of being on stage for the first time.

“It’s been fun to see the kids interacting with the adults, and the adults interacting with the kids,” she said.

Christopher and King-Yarbrough have once again been cast as the romantic leads, after playing in the lead roles in SVCT’s “Beauty and the Beast” last summer.

King-Yarbrough said the on-stage couple’s interactions, and arguments, with each other are presented in a way that is relatable to the audience, with Christopher adding that the actors’ previous repertoire have helped add to the believability.

“It’s definitely been fun diving into the show and seeing it come to life,” King-Yarbrough said. “Everybody’s character is so believable, and each and every one is funny. You are just laughing the entire time.”

South Valley Civic Theatre’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” opens Feb. 24 and runs Fridays through Sundays to March 18. For information and tickets, visit svct.org/2023_drowsy.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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