Adolpho (Thom Allison) is a Latin lover hired to distract the bride in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a musical show-within-a-show, which makes its Arizona premiere at Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria March 4.

Photo by Bruce Monk, on loan from Manitoba Theatre Center and Thom Allison

The hit Broadway show, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which opens March 4 at Arizona Broadway Theater in Peoria, celebrates musical theater in all of its glory.

From broad humor and zany characters to big, splashy dance numbers and colorful costumes, the musical doesn’t leave anything out.

“There is a lot of heart to this show,” said Janet Miller, director of the musical, which makes it Arizona premiere. “It’s really considered one big valentine to musical theater, and you really see that displayed in this particular musical.”

Miller, who makes her directorial debut at ABT, said many people might not know the fairly new musical. But she believes audiences will embrace it.

“The writers took all of the conventions of old-fashioned musicals and put them into a good old comic romp that is a nod to musical theater,” Miller said.

Miller is no stranger to the business. She recently choreographed the hit off-Broadway production of “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” where she received a Lucille Lortel Award nominee for her work.

In addition, she has directed and choreographed several regional productions of various shows.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” follows a narrator known as Man in Chair, who plays a record of his favorite musical for the audience. As he listens to the show, the characters appear in his dingy apartment, transforming it into an impressive set and setting the scene for gags, gimmicks and clichés of the Golden Age of jazz.

The show-within-a-show revolves around a showgirl planning to give up her career to marry an oil tycoon. But a lot is riding on her current show, which is being threatened by two gangsters.

In 2006, “The Drowsy Chaperone” debuted on Broadway, received 13 Tony Award nominations and won five of those honors.

James Rio, who portrays Man in Chair, watched a show of the original Broadway production in New York.

Rio said he enjoyed the musical and feels fortunate to be a part of ABT’s version.

“It’s a great concept and a wink at the audience, because there are so many musical theater jokes in it,” Rio said.

Cassandra Klaphake, ABT’s artistic producer who also plays the title character, said she thought “The Drowsy Chaperone” would be a perfect fit at ABT and will introduce audiences to more than just big, well-known shows.

“It’s a fast-paced and ridiculously hilarious musical that never stops, and we believe people are truly going to enjoy it,” Klaphake said.

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