I stumbled across this cell phone video of a full performance of The Drowsy Chaperone by the original Broadway cast and I watched it all. The camerawork’s not great (and I’m actually somewhat appalled that an audience member would do this) but if you have a few hours to kill there are worse ways to spend an afternoon.
In the play, a man is “feeling blue” so he puts on a record — the soundtrack to the fictional 1928 musical The Drowsy Chaperone. As the overture starts, the musical comes to life, the actors fill his small apartment, and he guides us through a warm pastiche of musical theater tropes, punctuated by the occasional historical footnote or odd tangential digression. It’s a wonderful celebration of the theater and what it does, and a great explanation for why people love it, hokey parts and all. It’s hilarious, smart, and surprisingly poignant.
It was a thrill to see this play on Broadway with a packed house back in 2007, but it also feels startlingly appropriate to watch it now by myself in my apartment on a lonely Saturday afternoon.