Opel is known for her brassy side, having earned a 2002 Best Actress Tony Award nomination as harsh, no-nonsense Miss Pennywise in Urinetown. Her voice tends to cut through fog and is perfect for anthems — which suits the role of '20s stage star Beatrice Stockwell, who sings "As We Stumble Along," the signature inspirational number of the Tony-winning, fizzy spoof of vintage musicals.
As previously announced, the show's Tony-winning co-writer Bob Martin will recreate his performance as Man in Chair in the tour when it launches Sept. 19 in his hometown of Toronto (at the Elgin Theatre).
Georgia Engel will play Mrs. Tottendale, which she created on Broadway.
Through July 29, Opel plays stripper Mazeppa and secretary Miss Cratchitt in the Encores! Summer Stars production of Gypsy at New York's City Center. She won a 2007 Obie Award for her work in John Epperson's comedy My Deah. Her Broadway credits include the most recent Fiddler on the Roof (Yente); Ring 'Round the Moon, Triumph of Love, Getting Away With Murder, Anything Goes, Teddy & Alice, Sunday in the Park With George and Evita (she was an Eva understudy, alternate and replacement). She was Drama Desk Award-nominated for Off-Broadway's Polish Joke.
* The tour launch of The Drowsy Chaperone is part of Dancap Productions' first subscription season in Toronto.
It's not known if Martin will play dates beyond his Ontario hometown, but Engel ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show") and Opel will stick around.
Engel and Martin originated their roles in director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw's production in Los Angeles in 2005-06 and moved with it to Broadway in spring 2006.
In Drowsy Engel plays an absent-minded dowager who exchanges spit takes with her butler. She also sings the charming duet, "Love Is Always Lovely in the End."
The tour schedule includes the following engagements, with more to be announced:
July 8-20, 2008: Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center *
Bob Martin helped develop Drowsy in Toronto in the late 1990s. It began as a scrappy wedding-gift lark by his pals in the local theatre and comedy community. Martin, co-librettist Don McKellar and songwriters Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison further developed the piece (adding the central character, Man in Chair), and the show was a hit in several venues in Toronto.
Before long, American producers Kevin McCollum and Roy Miller swooped in — engaging an American creative team — and aimed it for Broadway. With Martin, Canadians McKellar, Morrison and Lambert all won Tonys for their writing, too.
The Broadway staging of The Drowsy Chaperone, directed and choreographed by Tony nominee Nicholaw, continues at the Marquis Theatre.
The daffy musical comedy concerns a hermetic musical theatre fetishist who plays his favorite obscure cast album for the audience, explaining its plot and production history. In his studio apartment, the fizzy 1920s musical The Drowsy Chaperone comes to life.