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Theatre preview: ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

By Megan Bowers, Senior Staff Writer

Humor comes in many forms. It can be sarcastic, cheesy, slap-stick, witty or just downright goofy.

Stage Left's performance of 'The Drowsy Chaperone' manages to incorporate all of these and will keep you laughing the entire night.

"The humor is ridiculous," said first-year Al Oliver III, who plays Adolpho, a sex-crazed Latino man. "There's just tons of puns, innuendos and word plays."

The musical is a show within a show.

The main character, Man in Chair, is depressed and wants to listen to one of his favorite records. He picks the musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone," which is set in the 1920s and incorporates humor different from what is typically seen today.

"It has the cheesier type of humor that is not as intellectually challenging," said director Elizabeth Kehling. "You can tell it's an older period so it's funny because that would be the normal comedy in that time."

The overlying theme in the show involves the Man in Chair using musicals to escape.

"'The Drowsy Chaperone' helps him escape reality and transport to this world of magic and color and cheery things," said Kehling.

In "The Drowsy Chaperone," the main character, Janet Van de Graaff, is a starlet who has to quit her show when she decides to get married. She struggles with whether or not she is really okay with leaving Broadway to be with this man.

One of the biggest challenges with the show is the lack of depth within the characters.

"The characters are all very two-dimensional," said Oliver. "They are all very quirky and big but not very deep, so it's hard to focus on who your character is."

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Each cast member has their own way of creating who their character will be.

"Elizabeth had us fill out these character sheets to get our backstories and feel connected," said senior, Katie Duffy, who plays The Drowsy Chaperone. "I like thinking about that and who she is as a person on and off stage."

Other actors take a completely different approach, trying to relate to the real world.

"I try to channel my inner Al Capone," said sophomore Noah Hupp, who plays Feldzieg, Janet's producer, who is trying to keep her from getting married. "He's running this big business but I tend to just get frustrated on the stage because that's his personality."

Some of the actors need to do something physical to make the transition.

"I just jump around right off stage to get the energy flowing and then just stop, take a deep breath and walk on the stage in character," said sophomore Stephen Gullette, who plays Robert Martin, the groom-to-be.

Another challenge is that this production is entirely student-run and is put on through Stage Left, not the Department of Theatre.

"It's a blessing and a curse that it is student-run because you can connect with the directors because it's like college students," said Gullette. "But also, sometimes stuff doesn't get done because we have too much fun. It's just not productive sometimes."

The production also takes up a lot of time, with practices being held as often as five times a week due to the extensive choreography and the added obstacle of learning music.

"The time commitment was a challenge because I was doing other shows at the same time and balancing classes" said first-year Tiffany Turkovich, who plays Janet.

The show is one of the few this year with a cast of students from all different majors. Typically, they are cast specifically from the Department of Theatre, but Stage Left tries to include students from all over campus.

"My favorite part was meeting a whole bunch of new people I probably wouldn't have met otherwise," said first-year Emma Harris, who plays Kitty, the girl who wants to take Janet's role in the Broadway show.

The cast was able to bond quickly, which is extremely important in a show like this.

"I think when you have a healthy, supportive, fun relationship with your cast mates, it's easy to be more open on stage and really let the performance be your best," said Oliver. "You know everyone is there for you."

However, the most rewarding thing for most of the cast was getting the chance to share their talents.

"I love seeing what message you want to portray and then giving the audience that message through a work of art," said first-year Marco Colant, who plays George, the best man at the wedding.

Stage Left will be performing "The Drowsy Chaperone" at 8:30 p.m. on April 21, 22 and 23 in Wilks Theater. Admission is free.