When an aging musical theater fan listens to his favorite 1927 sound- track on his turntable, the Prohibition-era musical comedy magically comes to life right in his living room.
"The Drowsy Chaperone," opening the 46th season of the Minot State University Summer Theatre, opens Tuesday in the MSU amphitheater. Performances, through June 19, are at 8:30 p.m.
Conrad Davidson plays "The Man in the Chair," the music fan who narrates the action in "Chaperone."
Terry J. Aman/MDN - - C.J. Leigh as the swashbuckling Aldolpho and Claire Hoselton in the title role rehearse an exchange in the Minot State University Summer Theatre production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
"It's a great choice for our season opener," said director Aili Smith. "It has a comparatively small cast for a musical -- just 20 people -- but it has lots of good songs and dancing."
"The Drowsy Chaperone," with book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, is the tale of Broadway starlet Janet Van de Graaff, played by Shari Gubash, who is trying, against all odds, to get married.
Daniel Johnson plays Robert Martin, her bridegroom, with Brett Olson as George, his best man. Claire Hoselton portrays the title character, as well as Janet's maid of honor.
"The Drowsy Chaperone"
Minot State University Summer Theatre Amphitheater, June 14-19 at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $8 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, $5 for children 12 and younger, and $3 for MSU summer students, staff and faculty with current MSU identification. Discounts for service personnel and families apply on military appreciation night June 18.
Call 858-3228 for reservations or for more information.
Gaining access to the production
Construction is still going on at the north and west sides of the Minot State University campus, so the only access to the Amphitheater, located north of the MSU Dome, is from the entrance near Bishop Ryan.
Smith said they're all stock characters, but that they are "wonderful," including Zach Lee as Janet's producer Feldzieg, and Jazmine Wolff as Janet's fellow starlet Kitty, who schemes to become the new leading lady.
A swashbuckling Latin lover, Aldolpho, played by C.J. Leigh, and two bumbling gangsters played by Ryan Haider and Chris Stroschein are all bent on preventing the nuptials.
The theater producer, reluctant to lose his leading lady to marriage, is eager to stop the ceremony. But Janet's replacement, Kitty, is just as eager to see the wedding take place.
Mrs. Tottendale, who is hosting the wedding, is played by Peg Morris, with Cody Blotter portraying her "underling." Brittany Armstrong plays Trix, an aviatrix, and Joshua Snyder is the superintendent.
As for the plot, Smith laughed, "Plot? There is no plot."
Actually, she amended, the best man tells the bridegroom that it is bad luck to see his bride before the ceremony on their wedding day.
Everything stems from that, including 13 original songs, such as "Cold Feets," "Bride's Lament" and "Show Off," all set to sound authentic to a bygone era.
Summer theater director Kevin Neuharth suggested "The Drowsy Chaperone" to open the company's 46th season, and Smith said she applauded the choice.
"'Drowsy Chaperone' was written in 2006 and Variety magazine called it a refreshing cocktail of a show, with its swanky dancing, laughs and good music," Smith said. "There is so much dancing, everything from tap, swing and tango to Charleston and soft shoe."
Virginia Dohms directs a 10-piece orchestra. Jake Flaten is stage manager, and Katie Langemo assisted Smith with choreography.
"We chose a very minimalist set for 'The Drowsy Chaperone,'" Smith said. Rather, she said, the audience's imaginations will furnish it, leaving the stage open for dancing.