Two worlds collide in musical-comedy ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

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Source: Andrew Restieri

Cast members rehearse for the Jewish Theatre Ensemble’s upcoming production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.” The show features a 1920s musical within a comedic play.

Amanda Svachula, A&E Editor


A&E


A power-hungry Broadway producer, a ditzy flapper, and a Latin lover are all extreme musical theater character stereotypes that will be featured in an upcoming student production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

The show, produced by NU’s Jewish Theatre Ensemble, premieres Thursday in the Norris Center Louis Room. “The Drowsy Chaperone” is what co-producer Andrew Restieri, calls a musical within a comedy.

“The characters are all absolute caricatures,” the Communication sophomore said. “They’re all heinous stereotypes and it plays to the absolute extremes.”

Set in present-day New York City, the plot follows a depressed man who finds comfort in the fictional 1920s musical “The Drowsy Chaperone.” As he plays the musical’s record in his apartment, the plot comes to life, forming a musical within the overarching comedy.

Communication junior Emma Wahl directed the show, which she said is one of her favorite productions of all time. She said it features stylized comedic movement and dialogue, and a lot of back-and-forth slapstick.

“The fundamental idea is very ‘Three Stooges’ in a way,” she said. “It’s something everyone can understand and connect to.”

In the world of the fictional musical, the characters join together to celebrate the wedding of a Follies star. Conflict ensues when a Follies producer attempts to stop the procession in order to get his performer back. Throughout the show, the depressed man will pause the record and comment on the antics and characters in the musical, Restieri said.

What is unique about the 1920s world is that instead of being depicted accurately, the cliches of the decade are exaggerated in a similar way to the characters, explained co-producer Bailey Sutton. The Weinberg junior added that the man’s world and the musical’s world are interconnected through the exchange of props, which are taken from the man’s world to create the 1920s world of the musical.

“It’s all about what the man thinks the 1920s looks like instead of what it actually looks like,” Sutton said. “It has a lot of flappers, glitz and glamour. The costumes and makeup are accurate to an extent but at the same time very stereotypical.”

Fourteen cast members will perform in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” one of the more lighthearted productions the NU theater community has produced recently, Sutton said.

Although the show is a lighthearted comedy, Sutton added that it is also thought-provoking and highlights the themes of escapism and storytelling.

Specifically in the NU community — for people who are stressed out about perfection — it shows that it is okay for life to be less than perfect, Restieri said.

“It’s a beautiful show about imagination, reality and about coming to terms with the life you’ve built for yourself,” Restieri said. “It also offers ways for the audience to escape into another world like this man does.”

Since Restieri, Sutton and Wahl began planning the production nine months ago, Restieri said he is looking forward to finally seeing the project come together.

“It’s been my child,” he said. “It’s been a pregnancy, literally for nine months. I’m excited for the audiences to see it because it’s a show that you don’t have to be a theater person to enjoy. It’s guaranteed to leave you happier as you walk out.”

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Twitter: @amandasvachula

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