Drowsy Chaperone cast not dozing off preparing for musical

Theatre teacher Bill Ballard gives the students instructions on how to paint parts of the sets for the Coppell theatre production The Drowsy Chaperone. Photo by Rinu Daniel.

Theatre teacher Bill Ballard gives the students instructions on how to paint parts of the sets for the Coppell theatre production The Drowsy Chaperone. Photo by Rinu Daniel.

By Kristen Shepard
Staff Writer

Theatre teacher Bill Ballard gives the students instructions on how to paint parts of the sets for the Coppell theatre production The Drowsy Chaperone. Photo by Rinu Daniel.

Even though the curtain will not open for another month, the Coppell High School Theatre Department is already busy at work preparing and planning for opening night of The Drowsy Chaperone, a play they hope will blow their audience and critics away.

The Drowsy Chaperone is a humorous musical that tells the tale of a Broadway fanatic who sits comfortably in his chair admiring musicals from afar.  Then one day, the Man in Chair’s tedious life becomes overwhelmed with excitement as his favorite musical, which is appropriately The Drowsy Chaperone, comes to life in his living room.

Throughout the entire production, the plot is set up as a musical within a comedy, meaning the Man in Chair is on the stage at all times, witnessing the musical being played out in front of him. His commentary and reactions add to and shape the musical.

Senior Alex Smith, who played the Beast in last year’s production of Beauty and the Beast, is ready for this challenge of non-stop acting.

“I will definitely have more of a stage presence this year,” Smith said. “I think throughout the entire play I leave the stage once, maybe twice. But I’m excited; that’s where the action is.”

Smith, who also competes with CHS’ oral interpretation team and has been a part of the theatre department all four years of high school, is looking to leave it all on the stage as he graduates in the spring, with The Drowsy Chaperone as his final high school musical.

Smith’s role is not the only change made from last year’s musical, but the entire cast will be making adjustments in the production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

“Last year [in Beauty and the Beast], the cast was able to base their characters directly off what they had seen in the movies,” theatre department head Lisa Tabor said. “[Smith] knew the exactly what the audience expected from the Beast and so did the other characters. This year, the cast will have a lot of room for interpretation; they can be a little bit more of themselves.”

The first show date for The Drowsy Chaperone is not until Oct. 27, yet cast is already busy getting ready for opening day. Auditions took place on Tuesday through Thursday of the first week of school, and rehearsals are scheduled Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays every week for three hours leading to the production.

“As a student, rehearsals take a lot of time from my week. Most weeks I will spend 12 hours in rehearsals and quite a few more memorizing my lines,” Smith said. “I have a lot of lines and monologues I need to have perfected by opening day.”

Senior Sarah Bauer, who plays Janet Van de Graff, can also relate to the toll rehearsals can take on student actors

“I am captain of Vivace! among other activities,” Bauer said. “I am always super busy, but I want to be involved in as many things as I can handle and I enjoy being this busy.”

The cast as a whole for The Drowsy Chaperone is smaller than the cast of Beauty and The Beast, which made the audition process extra competitive. Only eight male leads and five female leads were available, along with 23 chorus spots.

“Last year the cast got really close as we prepared for [Beauty and the Beast],” Smith said. “We get to know each other very well from the long amounts of time we spend together, and I hope this year’s cast becomes as close. It helps us enjoy rehearsals more and hopefully improves our stage presence.”

Stage presence is not the only goal the cast is chasing, after last year’s influx of awards, the cast is hoping for another strong year during awards season. Last year, Beauty and the Beast took home several awards from The Schmidt and Jones Awards at Lyric Stage including Best Set Design, Best Actress in a Minor Role, Best Choreography, Best Female Ensemble member, and best actress.  Junior Emily McIntyre, who played Belle, took home a Jimmy award for Best Actress as well.

Over the next month, the cast of The Drowsy Chaperone will be found in F107 and the Auditorium for long hours, singing, dancing and running lines up to four days of the week. The musical will surely be filled with talent, humor and surprises and the long road to being ready for opening day has only just begun.

Junior Nathan Leonard contributed to this story as well.