Musical is Anything But 'Drowsy'

Skylar Bowers, a junior, left, sews trim to her costume as Isabella Fulker, a sophomore, watches while working in the costume area.

 

The plot to "The Drowsy Chaperone," this year's spring musical at East Lyme High School, is fairly conventional.

The musical, which premieres 7 p.m. Friday at the high school auditorium, features Joan Van Der Graff, an actress/dancer who is torn between marrying her tycoon husband and remaining true to her passion for performing.

But that story, as lost as you can get in it, isn't really the point of "The Drowsy Chaperone."

Rather, the musical's chief concern is theater itself and the joy and escapism of watching people act and sing on stage.

"If anything, it's about the love and appreciation of musical theater," Grant Place, the director of East Lyme High's drama

department, said.

"The Drowsy Chaperone," set in the 1920s is really a musical within a play. A nameless Man in Chair, played by Adam Pilarski, who sits to stage right listening to a record of a "fictional" Broadway show called "The Drowsy Chaperone" is how audiences first encounter the show.

The action of the play occurs in the Man in Chair's mind, and he occasionally intervenes mid scene and breaks the fourth wall with the audience.

"It's about being happy with yourself and being who you want to be," Lily Fryburg, who plays the title character, said.

Fryburg said her character is "a hoot," who is not unfamiliar with the bottle. "Drowsy," it must be said, is a euphemism.

The musical, with book by Bob Martin and Dan McKeller and music by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, debuted in 1998 at the Rivoli Theatre in Toronto. The musical debuted on Broadway in 2007, where it won five Tony Awards.

Not surprisingly, the musical mirrors for the cast and crew the fun, but chaotic, process of rehearsals and preparations of putting on a show.

According to Place, because of this winter's snow storms, several rehearsals were cancelled forcing an accelerated pace of preparations before opening night.

"We were really far behind," Ian McFarland, the stage manager, said.

But Fryburg said the rushing around brought the cast and crew closer together.

"We have a very driven cast and crew," Fryburg said.

The crew, along with some volunteers, built the set, meant to convey the Man in Chair's shambolic apartment.

McFarland said he and crew researched interior design from the 1920's to ensure some authenticity.

And the play also reminded some of the cast about why they wanted to sing and dance in the first place.

In a twist, Kelly Eberley, who plays Joan, first encountered the musical in same way the Man in Chair relates "The Drowsy Chaperone" to the audience.

"I listened to it," Eberley said. "I loved it."

Lily Fryburg, a senior, portraying
Lily Fryburg, a senior, portraying "Drowsy," performs a solo.
Kelly Eberle, portraying
Kelly Eberle, portraying "Janet," far left, and Austin Begin, portraying "Robert," rehearse a dance number while stage manager Ian McFarland left, Lily Fryburg, center, and Kaley Roberts, far right, watch from the edge of the stage. Photos by Dana Jensen/The Day

SHOW TIMES

March 4, 7p.m.

March 5, 2 and 7 p.m.

March 12, 7 p.m.

March 13, 2 and 7 p.m.

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