Revisit the roaring ‘20s in ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

April 30, 2013

By Lillian O'Rorke

Janet Van de Graaff, played by Jessie Spung, is praised as she performs her solo ‘Show Off.’ Photos by Lillian O’Rorke

Janet Van de Graaff, played by Jessie Spung, is praised as she performs her solo ‘Show Off.’ Photos by Lillian O’Rorke

Waiting in the wings of Skyline High School’s Lyceum Theatre, students sit quietly studying, but all that disappears when they are onstage, taking on the roles of drunkards, gangsters and flappers in the school’s new musical “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Opening May 1, the show takes audiences on a comical trip back into the days of prohibition, as imagined by a lonely old man listening to a record in his New York apartment.

“When I first heard the track for this production, I was hooked. There was no other option for what we should do for the musical this year,” production director Hannah Fry said. “It literally made me laugh out loud in my car, which gradually changed to singing at the top of my lungs.”

Written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, the show is a satire of 1920’s musical comedies.

In an attempt to cheer himself up, the old man listens to the recording of a 1928 musical. While he has never seen it live, the man imagines the story of showgirl Janet Van De Graaff, as she decides to give up stardom on the stage for love, coming alive in his living room — complete with glittering costumes and spit-takes.

“The entire point is that it is all in his imagination,” said Skyline senior Devon Davenport, who plays Kitty, a wannabe star. “So, we kind of work around that. There are a couple of small set things brought in. But, most of it happens within the confines of his apartment and really within the confines of his head.”

As the play-within-a-play unfolds, Van De Graaff prepares for her wedding day and for the transition from starlet to wife. Her producer, Mr. Feldzieg, however has different plans and sets out to keep his moneymaker in the spot light.

“I love it. I think it’s hilarious. It’s fun for everyone involved,” said Jessie Spung, the Skyline senior who sings and dances her way across the stage as Van De Graaff. “It’s a naturally funny show. There are so many hilarious lines that everyone can pick up on.”

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Jin, who plays Mr. Feldzieg, said it’s not just a production centered around one star, but that every role adds its own piece of entertainment.

“I think every character in this play has their own part. And, everyone has their own fun moment,” he said.

However, Jin wasn’t thrilled at first about playing the role of the producer.

“I am kind of a slimy man,” he said about his character. “I am just a horrible person in general. I like women and it’s just a mess.”

Van De Graaff’s best friend and drunken chaperone is also a mess. Charged with maid-of-honor duties, it’s up to the chaperone to keep the bride from the groom until the big day. However, the chaperone can’t seem to keep herself away from booze, nor does she even try. Singing an anthem of alcoholism, “As We Stumble Along,” the chaperone, played by 15-year-old Ayu Tanaka, belts out a commanding alto.

“She’s fun to play,” Tanaka said. “She knows everything about her. She knows Janet’s little quips and kinks and stuff. And, she loves to drink. The drunk character is always fun to play.”

Tanaka added that she is also excited that the hard work she and the rest of the cast and crew have put in during the past two months is finally going to pay off. Accompanied by a student orchestra playing big band tunes, “The Drowsy Chaperone” runs May 1-3.


If you go
‘The Drowsy Chaperone’
-7:30 p.m. May 1-3
-2:30 and 7:30 p.m. May 4
-Tickets $3 to $10, available at the door
-Lyceum Theatre, 1122 228th Ave. S.E., Sammamish

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