Faith Lutheran Theatre Company’s International Thespian Society is set to present “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a five-time Tony Award-winning musical that promises to take audiences back to the Jazz Age of the 1920s.
The play is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 17-26, with matinees set for 4 p.m., at the school’s Performing Arts Center, 2015 S. Hualapai Way. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at tinyurl.com/mt8ctsk.
The play comes from the book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. Music and lyrics are by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. Erik Ball is the troupe’s director and the head of theatrical arts at Faith Lutheran Middle School and High School.
“I heard the soundtrack, and I enjoyed it very much,” Ball said of “The Drowsy Chaperone.” “I clicked on the Tony Awards (on TV), and then I saw it at Super Summer Theatre when one of my friends directed it. And that sold me. It’s kind of a love letter to musical theater.”
The production begins with a middle-aged, die-hard musical theater fan, known simply as “Man in Chair.” He takes a seat and puts on a record of his favorite musical and proceeds to make tongue-in-cheek observations as the world between reality and fantasy blur. “The Drowsy Chaperone” is filled with clever dialogue and distinctive characters — glamorous wedding guests, a Latin Lothario, a tipsy chaperone and gangsters posing as pastry chefs.
Junior Harrison Langford, 16, plays Robert Martin.
“I love playing the airhead,” Langford said. “He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. … He’s just very funny.”
Langford said it was a challenging role because it requires spot-on comedic timing. He went to see the play three times when it was performed at Super Summer Theatre at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park and said the dances piqued his interest.
“I loved it because it’s ’20s, tap and the Charleston, all my favorites, all in one show,” Langford said.
The show involves an aviatrix who “lands” on stage in an airplane. Junior Jenny Navoa, 16, plays the pilot. She said she especially likes the song she sings.
“It’s a tune that gets stuck in your head,” she said. “… And I love being able to use the whole plane set.”
How much does it challenge her acting abilities?
“This one has definitely made me stretch my vocal skills,” she said. “I’m glad I get to experiment with how to reach different notes and practice my technique.”
From the start, Ball said, rehearsals ran up against a problem. Faith Lutheran is on a block schedule, so the class doesn’t meet every day.
“It feels staccato,” Ball said. “We meet every other day for an hour and a half. … We just get rolling, and we have to stop. We have to quit just as we’re feeling the forward momentum.”
The budget was another concern. They transformed props that they had on hand and repurposed what they could. Ball’s friend, who directed the Summer Summer Theatre version, allowed Faith Lutheran to use the airplane prop from that show. This day, it was stored in a side area, showing scuff marks from being transported.
“We just have to spruce it up a little,” Ball said.
He said the background for the set was minimal, mostly boxes stacked haphazardly atop as though in a storage unit.
“We’re sort of having a reality TV moment, like this is ‘Hoarders,’ ” he joked as he gestured at it.
He wondered how people would react to announcements of the show, as, despite earning Tony Awards, it is not that well-known.
“When they hear ‘The Drowsy Chaperone,’ people are probably going to go, ‘What?’ ” Ball said. “Only die-hard theater people are going to know the show. It’s not like ‘Shrek’ or ‘Legally Blonde’ or ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Even if you’ve never seen those shows, you know what they‘re about. I’m going to challenge audiences to give this one a shot. It’s become one of my top five favorite shows of all time. It speaks to an audience in a way that is not only entertaining, but it helps you understand why theater today is so important. Acting on stage is so very much needed, just like it was back in the Roman days. It’s still needed. And on top of that, it’s stinking hilarious.”
Opening night will include a wedding reception after the performance, with cake and punch for audience members.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.