'The Drowsy Chaperone' showcases local talent
The Spring Valley Stagehands have been busy practicing for their upcoming production since mid-January. The musical they will perform combines singing, dancing and humor to keep the audience entertained throughout the entire show.
Director Ethan Hayes, of Ellsworth, chose this year's musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone." This is the first production Hayes has directed, though he has taken part in six previous shows at the Spring Valley Stagehands Theatre.
While the musical takes place in the 1920s, the comedy carries through to this time period, Hayes said, adding the play is relevant to "my generation and generation X."
The premise of the show is the man in the chair, a middle-aged, introverted musical theatre fan (played by Luke Hayes of Beldenville) playing his favorite record from the fictitious 1928 musical "The Drowsy Chaperone." As his record plays the musical comes alive on the stage and the man in the chair talks about the actors, music, and story as the play progresses.
Hailed by New York Magazine as "the Perfect Broadway Musical" and winner of five Tony Awards, "The Drowsy Chaperone" is a musical with book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.
According to a Stagehands news release, it's the day of the wedding of oil tycoon Robert Martin and Broadway star Janet Van De Graaff, who plans to give up her career for married life.
Those in attendance include aging hostess Mrs. Tottendale; her loyal employee known only as Underling; Robert's best man, George; Broadway producer Feldzieg, who is hoping to persuade Janet to forgo marriage and continue starring in Feldzieg's Follies; ditzy flapper Kitty, who hopes to take Janet's place in the Follies; two gangsters disguised as pastry chefs; a self-proclaimed romancer/Latin lover Aldolpho; Janet's alcoholic Chaperone, who is supposed to keep her away from Robert until the wedding; Trix, an aviatrix, and ensemble members who play house maids, socialites, monkeys, and other characters.
The musical is Luke's first performance onstage and he jokes about why he is even in the play.
"I've never been in a play ever and I don't sing," Luke said. "What am I doing in a musical?"
Luke said he was told he wouldn't need to sing, so he decided to be in the play. While he hasn't been in plays before, he has attended his son Ethan's performances.
"I've been to theater a lot," Luke said. "I know a lot of the people here. Some of the people in the cast are Ethan's friends from school, so I know them."
Ethan said this show pertains to current times and has stereotypical characters with "comic structures of couples."
Assistant director Laura Hanson said this is the first year she has helped with directing a production in Spring Valley; she had never heard of this play before. However, she thinks people will enjoy the show.
"I think they will be surprised how they can relate to story lines," Hanson said.
"I think it's perfect for everyone," Ethan said. "Even if you're not a music person, there's lots of comic as well. It appeals to all people, unless you don't like fun."
Luke said he thinks some people will like the dancing.
"If a person likes to dance the tap routine will be a highlight for them," he said.
To have a successful theater group in a small town like Spring Valley is something for which Spring Valley Stagehands members are thankful.
"The community has always been amazing," Ethan said about Spring Valley's support of the theatre. "[Theatre] thrived in such a small area is just amazing. The community is really supportive of us."
"I feel very fortunate," Hanson said. "I'm constantly amazed. How thankful we are to have [the community] support us. Even if they're not in the show [they] come and watch and support."
Anyone interested in going to the play can buy tickets ahead of time at www.svstagehands.org or at the door. Ethan said in years past some shows have sold out, so he recommends buying tickets in advance. The Drowsy Chaperone will have 7 p.m. showings on April 12-14, 17, 19 and 21 and 2 p.m. showings on April 15 and 22. All shows will be at the Spring Valley Stagehands Theatre (S234 McKay Ave.)