By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
McCollum, always over-caffeinated in his other job as mid-morning TV chat-show host, could use some double shots to goose up the energy of his Man in Chair. He's mildly amusing as the musicals-obsessed nebbish in a baggy brown sweater, but anyone who's heard the Drowsy cast album can tell that McCollum's gone the lazy route of merely mimicking the inflections and timing of the role's Broadway originator, Bob Martin (who also wrote the show's book with Don McKellar; songs are by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison). Imitation is sincerely flattering and all that hogwash, but is it that hard to bring some originality to Man in Chair?
At Theatre Three we know better than to hope for more than mediocrity in the technical aspects of any show and this dowdy Chaperone lives up to low expectations on all counts. Designer Jeffrey Schmidt's scenery is a confusing mash-up of fake brick walls sprayed with focus-pulling graffiti against a parade of bright-colored comic book props and set pieces—it's West Side Story meets You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Lighting by Amanda West splashes the stage with unnecessary floral shapes but leaves dark patches where actors stand. Costumes by Michael Robinson fall into the hot glue and weeping boa feather school of cheap couture. The outfits aren't just bad; they're fiendish.
To add insult to penury, Theatre Three has inserted an intermission into a 90-minute show just to wring additional pocket change out of snack and bev sales.
As they did recently with [title of show] and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Theatre Three has made hash of a fun little musical you'd have thought was goof-proof.
It's so disappointing, isn't it?