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‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ Spotlights Young People’s Talents
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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Some of the youngsters taking part in The Spot’s newest production had never seen an LP record player like the one that spins them off into a hilarious farce of a 1920s-style madcap musical.

But the 15 young actors starring in “The Drowsy Chaperone” don’t miss a beat as they take the audience back nearly a hundred years to a musical and dance style very different from their own.

The Spot’s Young Company nails it as they do a hilarious interpretation of the Broadway show that won five Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Original Score.

“Everyone shines in their role and has thrown themselves headfirst into this absurd genre of high camp comedy, which is not easy to do,” said Director Yanna Lantz. “Comedy is extremely difficult, and in this slapstick world you have to nail the timing, physicality and land the joke with essentially every line and lyric. These young folks have worked so hard to deliver every moment with humor and passion, and it's remarkable to watch.”

Andrew Alburger plays the Man in the Chair, who introduces the audience to his favorite record—the recording of a fictitious 1928 musical. As the LP spins, the characters come to life.

They include two lovers on the evening before their wedding, two gangsters posing as pastry chefs, a desperate theater producer trying to prevent his leading lady from getting married and a tipsy chaperone.

It’s a Jazz Age silly madcap with one show-stopping song and one finger-shaking dance number after another, kicking off with the spirited ensemble piece “Fancy Dress.”

Brady Giles is a modicum of athleticism and coordination as he plays the groom, tapping his way through “Cold Feets” with his bumbling best man George, played by Cassius Klingenfuss. He may even stop a few hearts temporarily as he rollerskates blindfolded around the floor, which is painted like a record LP,  while his intended played by Rose Bicas-Dolgen poses as a Frenchwoman trying to see if he loves her.

Mrs. Tottendale, a sweet but confused hostess played by Coco Vorm, does a priceless vaudevillian spit-take with her employee Underling, played by Rowan Star, even though it’s a big cringy given how people have tried so hard not to share spit in public since the COVID pandemic started nearly three years ago.

Gangsters Asia Angel and Leo Star are downright punny as they deliver one pastry pun after another. Broadway producer Feldzeig played by Annika Petersen tries and tries to keep the wedding from happening so he won’t lose his leading lady, even as leading lady wanna-be Kitty played by Langley Bier tries to convince him she’s right for the part.

Ida Belle Gorby goes big as the tipsy chaperone, belting out “As We Stumble Along.” And Hunter Ervin shines as Adolpho, a Latin lover assigned to seduce the bride.

 

 

Lizzie Loving sings a beautiful number in her role as Trix the Aviatrix, while Elyse Duffield, Elena Tamayo and Eva Hatzenbuehler portray house staff and reporters. And Hatzenbuehler adds a perfectly quirky little gem at the end in her role as the building superintendent.

“This play takes place a long time ago, and we even got a whole seminar from a dramaturg (Savina Barini) to acquaint us with the tropes of the time. It was the Roaring Twenties, and there was a lot going on, a lot of big-time stuff, in America,” said Annika Peterson.

While the musical majors on fun, Alburger does ground it from time to time as he ruminates about love and its foibles and references the modern world.

“She even has a little Jane Goodall in her,” he says of one character.

“Musicals take you into another world,” he adds. “They help you escape the dreary horrors of the real world.”

Lantz agreed: “Musical theater is so grand, and this parody takes it to another level. I think there's something really fun about blowing characters and moments out of proportion--there's humor in the absurdity of it. As someone who searches for comedy in life, especially when things are hard, this musical really resonates with me. But beyond that, this show is just darn hysterical. These teens will knock your socks off.”

Yanna Lantz and Maria Gerhardt collaborated on some amazing costumes, including a sleek mermaid-like wedding dress like no other, while RL Rowsey coaxed some superb singing out of the youngsters. Samuel Moller designed the set and lighting and Brett Moellenberg the sound.

Megan Mahoney, who choreographed the show, said it was fun to make fun of kitschy musical choreography.

 “These kids are really talented. They had to commit to this type of comedy. God bless them—they jumped in and jumped in full time,” she added.

The show opens at 7:30 tonight at The Spot, 220 Lewis St. in Ketchum’s light industrial district. Subsequent shows take place at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8 and 9; at 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11.

Tickets are $10 for students and $25 for adults, available at https://www.spotsunvalley.com.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Spot’s Young Company is a tuition-free project for Wood River Valley high school students from Wood River High School. Sun Valley Community School and Sage School led by program alumni and professional mentors.

“As the only cross-high school theater project offered during the school year, we offer a space for these incredible youth to meet others that they may not,” said Yanna Lantz. “Some of the teens we work with have trouble finding their tribe where they fit in and can be accepted for who they truly are. After all, high school is really, really hard, and kids are bullied for all kinds of things from their sexual orientation to disabilities to body type. The Spot strives to be a safe-space where all are welcome and we embrace these young adults as the incredibly unique beings they are. Our ultimate goal is to instill confidence and love in themselves.”

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