Saturday, April 21, 2018
Stage

Weeki Wachee High students bring 'Drowsy Chaperone' to stage

WEEKI WACHEE

It's the classic story of working girl meets rich boy; they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. But when the girl is a Broadway star and nobody wants to see her give up her career for married life, mayhem ensues.

That's the premise of The Drowsy Chaperone, which will be presented this weekend at Weeki Wachee High School.

It's the wedding day of tycoon Robert Martin and Broadway star Janet Van de Graaf. Janet has a chaperone to keep her away from Robert until the wedding. But the chaperone, an alcoholic, does not do a good job since she is always a bit drowsy. Then there are the guests who want to break up the wedding, and other romances are kindled.

The musical comedy is a show within a show. The Drowsy Chaperone actually takes place in the imagination of the Man in the Chair, performed by senior Kris Hamlin, 18. The Man in the Chair is a Broadway fanatic who is sharing with the audience his favorite musical comedy from 1928. As he plays old records from the show, the characters of The Drowsy Chaperone come alive in his apartment.

"Man in the Chair is very energetic and excited about a lot of things," Hamlin said. "He knows all these trivial things about the show."

Hamlin said he was first exposed to the show when he heard the song Bride's Lament. He particularly likes that scene because the Man in the Chair, although unseen to Janet, is "really alive and very much with her. … Man in the Chair is the most energetic character."

That scene is also a favorite of freshman Karli Ulto, 14, who co-stars as Janet.

"I basically go crazy in Bride's Lament," Ulto said with a laugh. "It's fun playing a crazy character."

Ulto said Janet is in love with Robert but is conflicted about leaving the show.

"I find that I get very emotional and connected with (Janet)," she said.

Senior Christian Braz, 18, plays the role of the rich groom-to-be. Braz has played strong characters, including Curly in last year's school production of Oklahoma! and Daddy Warbucks in the Stage West Community Playhouse production of Annie Jr., and admits that Robert is not at all like the characters he typically plays.

"Robert is an eccentric character," Braz said. "He's this rich, famous guy who got famous because his picture used to be on a tube of toothpaste. … But he really isn't a very meaningful character."

Braz said his favorite scene is when he sings Accidents Waiting to Happen.

"When I decide to tap dance, my best man, George, convinces me that it is too dangerous; I may hurt my ankle," Braz said. "So instead I roller-skate — blindfolded."

He admits that although the blindfold is sheer, it is still difficult to see.

The show's other characters include Laura Bennett as Mrs. Tottendale, Dakota Ruiz as Underling, Colin Brooks as Aldolpho, Lexi McDaniel as Kitty, Aaron Wright as Feldzieg, Erik-Lee Troche as George, Addison Fields as Drowsy, Joemy Nolasco and April Zee as gangsters, Lyndsey Ruiz as Trix the Aviatrix, and Ty Stayt as the Superintendent. Playing reporters and the Tottendale house staff are Nadia Anderson, Samantha Cascio, Sativa Fisher, Ruby Graham, Delayne McFarland, Nicole Piccinich, Gabriella River, Sydney Sizemore and Amanda Waters.

The show is directed by Maritza James, the new drama teacher at Weeki Wachee. The musical director is Morgan Burburan, director of choirs and musical theater at Weeki Wachee High.

"This is really the first time (at Weeki Wachee) that I can be the musical director in its full capacity," Burburan said. "Having (James) with us has made a huge difference. She works with them on the nuances of acting, and I get to work entirely with vocals and instruments."

Burburan said the show will include an orchestra composed mostly of students, with a few community members.

James promises that while the show has some adult situations, it is PG-13 rated. "It's appropriate for high school, but not for elementary-age children," she said.

With her first show at Weeki Wachee, James said, she is proud of how well the cast is working together.

"It is coming along really, really well," she said. "Everyone is adding their own original work into it. It's a huge collaboration, and they are proud of it. These kids are working really hard. This is their show."

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