Hello. How are we today? I'm feeling a little blue myself. You know, a little anxious for no particular reason, a little sad that I should feel anxious at this age, you know, a little self-conscious anxiety resulting in nonspecific sadness: a state that I call “blue". Anyway, whenever I'm feeling this way, blue, I like to listen to my music. So, I was going through my records this morning - yes, records - and I was about to put on the sound track recording of Meredith Willson's THE MUSIC MAN. I had a craving for a young Ronny Howard. But then I said “No! Let's have a treat! Let's disappear for a while into the decadent world of the 1920's. When the champagne flowed while the caviar chilled and all the world was a party” -for the wealthy anyway. So, I dug about and what did I find but one of my favorite shows Gable and Stein's “The Drowsy Chaperone;” Remember? Music by Julie Gable, lyrics by Sidney Stein. It's a two record set, remastered from the original recording made in 1928. It's the full show with the original cast including Beatrice Stockwell as the Chaperone. Isn't she elegant? And this is a full 15 years before she became Dame Beatrice Stockwell. Can you believe it?
I hate this scene. You can see where this is going can't you. It's really just a series of spit takes. You know, in some ways the Drowsy Chaperone was quite progressive. A black actress playing the Aviatrix, for instance. Yes, some elements were quite progressive, others were stale in 1928. Now, you're probably asking yourself, “what was that routine doing in the show?” Well, it's very simple: there's a song coming up, and they needed something to allow for the set change. It's mechanics. It's like pornography. (Continues mopping and notices that the audience doesn't understand ) Let me explain what I meant by that. In pornography the story is simplistic, some classic examples being… “how do I pay for this pizza” or “I am looking for a job, do you have any openings I might fit.” (Smiles in a shy and knowing way, then becomes self-conscious) My point is, as in a musical, the story exists only to connect the longer, more engaging ... production numbers…. Or reproduction numbers if you will. What? Well, what kind of a society do we live in if we can't discuss the similarities between pornography and musical theatre?
A petite fom, Mr. Feldzeig? Perhaps a nice profiterole. Perhaps we could give you something else to chew on. Something that ain't food. Your confusion is to be expected. Although we stand here before you in the guise of innocent pastry chefs, we are also - and primarily - employees of a certain individual. A certain individual who happens to be largest single investor in Feldzieg's Follies. He has sent us here - As pastry chefs - to express his concern about Ms. Van de Graaff's impending nuptials. Specifically, that if she gets married and leaves the show, then there ain't no show. We have your word she won't leave, but, to go back on that word-would be a recipe for disaster. Now, one cannoli hope we have made ourselves perfectly Eclair..
I am Aldolpho. What? De groom, he insult me. He call me… Aldolpho…. A scoundrel? This is outrageous! He is saying this to peoples ... to beautiful ladies, with breasts for making love. Why, I must... I must... I must take-a this groom into my hands and kill him! No… not kill him Aldolpho might get in trouble… Just hurt him, like he hurt Aldolpho. I will go to him. Wait…. What kind of man is this groom? A big man? A burly fellow? No. No. No. Aldolpho will not fight big men-small, pale, wheezy, little dwarf people that Aldolpho can (mimes swinging a golf club) punt far away. But no big men! Aldolpho is a lover of beautiful ladies. (he gets an idea) Some say I am the King of Romance. I will hurt him through his woman!! Yes Aldolpho must seduce his woman! Aldolpho will make love to bride! That will show people Aldolpho is no scoundrel! I go! I wait! What kind of woman is this bride? A big woman? A burly woman? Aldolpho bruises easily. Aldolpho likes the attractive woman, how you say. The cat in the pajamas (pronounced pa-yamas). I will go to this cat in pajamas. (he purr's)
Yes. Robert and I met on the lido deck of the Ile de France. He amused me with stories of his father's oil interests. We spooned, briefly, and then he proposed. So, I won't be returning to the stage. Ever. In a few hours I'm going to be Mrs. Robert Martin. Oh, my head is spinning. I'm so full of apprehension, but I suppose that's normal, considering the circumstances. Have you ever been married, Chaperone? No, don't answer… I know it seems crazy to give up a successful career to marry a man I hardly know, but somehow, for some reason when I look into his eyes ... his big, monkey eyes ... ah gee ... I get all woozy. And that's love isn't it? I suppose I'm just looking for a sympathetic ear or anything that pertains to my situation. Really you're not being the least bit helpful Chaperone. Couldn't you at least allay my fears with a few choice words of inspiration? I'm so conflicted. Oh. Please. Just tell me. Is Robert the man for me?
(Being philosophical) Yes, marriage, like life, is a mad whirlwind. No I have never married, I drink for pleasure, not out of necessity. Your woozy with love? ha, Not necessarily. The wooziness could be caused by any number of things. I mean, I'm woozy right now and I'm certainly not in love. Inspiration? Really, dear, that's not my forte. They are your feelings and something you'll have to decide for yourself. If you are that worried why don't you ask him? Why don't you say, “Roger, do you love me?” Now I know you shouldn't see the groom before the wedding and as the Chaperone that is my job and I take the responsibility very seriously. However, I'm just this moment feeling terribly, terribly drowsy. I'm afraid I have to have a lie-de-down. Now whatever you do, don't go wandering through the garden seeking out your finance to ask him the question upon which your future happiness depends. (she watches her leave) Such a skinny little fool. Still, I envy her. Oh, when will love come crashing though my door?
Mr. Feldzieg just has to give me a shot at being the leading lady. I mean, he is putting gangster in the show and not me, I don't understand it. He said it himself -I'm useless in the chorus. I been taking lessons just to be sure; Singing. Acting. Ballet. Yeah. I'm pretty good too. Last week I auditioned for Swanee Lake. I've also been working on a Mind Reading act. Presenting “Kitty, the Incomprehensible.” (speaking to audience) I'll prove it to you… Now, think of something. (closing her eyes and concentrating) Wait! I'm getting it... “pick up some milk ... and a loaf of rye bread ... and don't forget to shave your legs.” (she opens her eyes with a confused look, she slaps her head) Oh… I am reading my own mind, how silly! No wonder it was so easy.
Ah, Mrs. Tottendale. Now, don't worry. I have this whole wedding planned out. The key is organization. See? (holding up his fingers, each with a string tied around it) Each string represents a task yet to be completed. Pay the musicians, yell at the florist, book the Minister. This whole wedding's going to run like clockwork. (Phone Rings) Hello, Oh good I was just….. what! your not coming? You don't say? Well, why don't you just slime back into your mud hole, you backstabbing worm! (he hangs up) Well, now I have to find another minister. Boy is this tuff. You got the easy part! I've still got to get rice, boutonnieres, and a minister! I have the weight of the wedding on my shoulders! (Looking at Robert) What are you doing, dancing? Well stop it, you could've snapped an ankle. Tap dancing is too dangerous. Why don't you go out for a skate instead? That's what I do when it want to blow off some steam. Wait a minute. What was I thinking? Oh, no. You're not going out like that, my friend. You might see Janet. Here, put on this blindfold.
© 2013 Arlington Children's Theatre. All rights reserved.
Last updated: Sat May 11 2013 14:15 EDT