Theatre Information

Swift Creek Mill Theatre The Drowsy Chaperone

By • Nov 10th, 2013 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
The Drowsy Chaperone
Swift Creek Mill Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Swift Creek Mill Theatre, Colonial Heights, VA
Through December 21st
2:20 with intermission
$38/$55 Buffet (Plus Fees)
Reviewed November 9th, 2013

As anyone who reads this site knows by now, I am a firm believer that one of the great things about Richmond theater is that there is such diversity in what is offered. There have been several phenomenal dramas already produced this season in Richmond; but my personal preference has always been musicals and comedies — and, as such, musical comedies.

After seeing The Drowsy Chaperone at Swift Creek Mill Theater; I now have a new favorite musical comedy! I have to state up front, not only did I thoroughly enjoy this production, but my 15-year-old son, Jeffrey, who has patiently been attending shows with me the last few weeks; gave it his hearty endorsement with “this is the best show yet!” (Guess I’m raising him right!)

Director Tom Width also got it right, casting this show with many of Richmond’s most talented musical comedy actors and actresses and placing their talents in the perfect roles.

The plot is basic — “A Man in a Chair” (Richard Koch) is sitting in his living room, sharing with the audience his favorite record album — the cast recording of a 1930′s musical The Drowsy Chaperone. As he plays the album and narrates, the actors appear in his living room and perform the show, with occasional commentary and interruptions from the man in the chair. The musical acted out within this musical involves a young couple about to be married, and the cast of characters who surround them — some who support their marriage and some who do not want it to happen.

There are magic tricks, acrobatics, toe-tapping musical numbers (which literally shook the theater) a live eight piece orchestra and even an airplane or two!

I wish I could sing the praises of all 17 performers, but that would make this review too long. To highlight a few — Koch is just so engaging and entertaining as Man in Chair. Imagine one part Richard Simmons, one part Martin Short and one part Pee Wee Herman.
Christie Jackson is dazzling as the bride to be Janet, and Georgia Rogers Farmer is a riot as the Gracie Allen-esque Blonde Ditz Kitty. Both also put their beautiful and powerful singing voices to good use.

It is hard to say who had the greatest comedic moments; but David Janeski and Evan Nasteff gave me my biggest laughs with their oft punning gangsters posing as bakers. As a self-ordained master of the pun, I found that their timing and delivery made comedy seem to be a “piece of cake.”

In a cast of real characters, Matt Shofner and Nicole Oberleitner stood out as Latin lover Adolpho and “the Drowsy Chaperone.” Jacqueline Jones and Steve King also had some excellent moments as Mrs. Tottendale and her butler Steve King. I give them a special “Spitting Image” award, and will say no more, so you must see the show yourself to find out why.

This was the grand re-opening after a major renovation at Swift-Creek Mill Theater, but since it was also my first experience there, I can not say too much in comparison. I am told not only is it now ADA compliant with an elevator and larger restrooms, but there is also six miles of new wiring for new sound, light and video systems. I can tell you each of these was impressive in presenting such an ambitious production on such a small stage. My son was also very impressed by Tom Width’s set design from the constantly changing Murphy bed to the airplane.

As my son proved, The Drowsy Chaperone will leave you anything but drowsy (even Jeffrey stayed awake for the whole show); and the lively and talented production will be enjoyed by all members of your family from every generation.

The Cast

  • Man in Chair: Richard Koch
  • Mrs Tottendale: Jacqueline Jones
  • Underling: Steve King
  • Robert Martin: Dan Stackhouse
  • George: Paul S. Major
  • Feldzieg: Joe Pabst
  • Kitty: Georgia Rogers Farmer
  • Gangster #1: David Janeski
  • Gangster #2: Evan Nasteff
  • Aldolpho: Matt Shofner
  • Janet Van deGraff: Christie Jackson
  • The Drowsy Chaperone: Nicole Oberleitner
  • Trix the Aviatrix: Tarnee Kendell Hudson
  • Superintendent: Lucas Hall
  • Ensemble: Maggie Roop, Sarah Pruden, Asa Maurer, Lucas Hall

The Crew

  • Director/ Scenic Designer: Tom Width
  • Musical Director: Paul Deiss
  • Choreographer: Dennis Clark
  • Stage Manager: Tom Width
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Jesse Mattes
  • Lighting Design: Joe Doran
  • Costume Design: Maura Lynch Cravey
  • Running Crew: Vicki McLeod, Brandon Johns
  • Light Board Op: Becky Lussier
  • Sound Board Op: Stephen West
  • Stitchers: Alia Radabaugh, Dee Tomczak, Maura Lynch Cravey
  • Lighting Crew: Jesse Mattes, Becky Lussier, Todd Schall-Vess
  • Set Crew: Austin Cappiello, Bob Foley, Jesse Mattes, Cory Williams
  • Wigs: Maura Lynch Cravey
  • Photography: Robyn O’Neill


  • Reed 1: Susan M. Davis
  • Reed 2: Sheri Oyan
  • Trumpet 1: Alisa Erway
  • Trumpet 2: Jeff Erway or Randy Abernathy
  • Trombone: Alex Theofanos or Joel Nieves
  • Keyboard 1/ Conductor: Paul Deiss
  • Keyboard 2: Beth Almore
  • Percussion: Nick Oyler

Disclaimer: Swift Creek Mill Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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