Fall musical shows today, Nov 7-10

MUSICAL+SET+PREP%3A+Senior+Cato+Walls+uses+a+power+drill+to+build+a+set+piece+during+his+3A+theater+tech+class.+Students+in+that+class+are+constructed+set+pieces+for+the+upcoming+annual+musical.+Photo+by+Sarah+Mosteller

MUSICAL SET PREP: Senior Cato Walls uses a power drill to build a set piece during his 3A theater tech class. Students in that class are constructed set pieces for the upcoming annual musical. Photo by Sarah Mosteller

Sarah Ding

The theater department will present the annual fall musical “The Drowsy Chaperone” 7-10 p.m. Nov. 7 and 3-6 p.m. Nov. 10 in the Performing Arts Center. Tickets cost $6 for students, and $10 dollars for adults. The show, set in the 1920s, follows the story of a man named Robert who watches and comments on his favorite musical by the same name. Theater director Mike Pierson describes it as a “hilarious musical farce.”

“It centers around a die-hard theater fan who plays his favorite Broadway musical cast album for the audience, during which the characters come to life in his New York apartment,” Pierson said. “This is a show that features an ensemble cast of characters that plays to the strengths of our cast members.”

While Columbia Entertainment Company performed the musical in their 2011-2012 season, this will be the first presentation of the show at a local high school in Columbia. Many cast members, including sophomore Aidan Ryan, who plays Robert, are involved in show choir.

“He is a wealthy bachelor who is your typical stock character lead; two dimensional, overdone acting is key to the role,” Ryan said. “My character is important to the story because Robert is getting married to the leading lady, and what drives the plot is we both can’t see each other on our wedding day. This leads to a number of various conundrums filled with silly gags and witty banter.”

Senior Allison Whitom plays the leading lady, Janice. She also played the main character, Hope, in the play “Everything Goes” last year. 

“I am really excited,” Whitom said. “There’s a song that I do where I basically just have a mental breakdown, and I’m really excited for that because this is one of my first mental breakdown songs — it’s called ‘The Bride’s Lament.’”

The cast practiced for “The Drowsy Chaperone” for about one month. The audition process consisted of short scenes and song excerpts from the show, which the actors chose. They also learned a dance combination that was later used to assess dance ability. After, directors held call-back auditions to narrow down the choice between actors for specific characters.

“Students selected to the specific roles showed great preparation of their material, excellent performance during their audition and potential to portray the specific aspects required for the character they were chosen for,” Pierson said. 

After the directors picked roles, the cast started rehearsals, which take place Monday through Thursday from 6:30-9 p.m. Rehearsals include music, acting and dance; as well as learning to work with props and the set, built by the technical theater class.

The three sections of the technical theater taught by Dee Crosby have been building the set for around two months. Crosby describes the set as “one big room. . . with some surprises in it.”

“It’s going really great,” Crosby said. “But truth be told, we are always doing finishing touches on the set the day the show opens. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

With more than a week before the big show, the cast spent time brushing up on details and smoothing out the last kinks. Ryan said the process of constant rehearsal is tiring, but spending time with his peers and creating an enjoyable performance for the audience provide rewarding experiences.

“I love making laughter,” Ryan said. “I’ve done many musicals in the past, and I’ve learned something from every one of them. The main lesson, though, is that laughter is one of the things that makes both yourself and your audience feel good about themselves.”

Are you looking forward to this year’s fall musical?