Drowsy Chaperone rehearsal scene includes (l-r) Ryan Baber, Carson Tate, Paul Anderson, Sydney VanDyke (On floor) and Kelly Urschel Edgar and Brian Larios.

Leawood Stage Company presents “The Drowsy Chaperone” at Avila’s Black Box Theatre

“This is a really fun show and the cast and staff have worked so hard to make it a wonderful production.”

By Kady Cramer

After missing its Thursday premier due to an illness, the Leawood Stage Company is set to feature its musical farce, The Drowsy Chaperone, on Friday, April 22, at Avila University’s Black Box Theatre stage, 11901 Wornall Rd. The performances will run 8 pm Thursday through Saturday, April 22- May 1, and Sunday matinees at 1:30pm. 

This will be the Stage Company’s first performance in its 24th season. Madison Dodd will direct the production for the first time with the Stage Company, though she has made several Stage Company appearances. 

“Her first show with the Stage Company was in 2007 when she performed with her mother in Music Man,” said artistic director April Bishop. “She was very young at the time and now she’s all grown up and director for us. So, we’re very excited to have her.”

A parody of the American musical comedy of the 1920s, the story centers around a middle-aged, recluse musical theatre fan. As he plays the record of his favorite musical, the fictional 1928 hit The Drowsy Chaperone, the show comes to life onstage, as he mockingly comments on the music, story, and actors.

“It’s a very heartwarming show,” said Bishop. “The man in the chair sits in his apartment alone but he’s having a conversation with the audience, breaking the ’fourth wall.’ Everything you see happening on the stage is playing out in his mind but we’re able to see what he’s thinking.” 

Mix in two lovers on the eve of their wedding, a desperate theatre producer, a not-so-bright hostess, two gangsters posing as pastry chefs, and you have the ingredients for an evening of chaotic fun.

The actors freeze in place while the man in the chair comments on what’s going on. “This is very different for a show,” said Bishop. “It’s very fun for the audience.”

Having initially planned to run the show in 2020, the production has been re auditioned, bringing on Brian Larios as ‘Man in Chair’ and Sydney VanDyke as ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’, as well as Music director Christina Vogler and Choreographer Hewleek McKoy.

“We had auditioned the show and basically had to start over,” said Bishop. “It was going to be our summer [2020] show and then of course the pandemic happened, and everything shut down.”

Thursday’s premier was cancelled due to a performer contracting the Covid virus. “We only had one member of the cast that tested positive for COVID,” said Bishop. “The rest of the cast tested [Friday] and everyone else is healthy.  We will be monitoring them each day.” As an extra precaution, Bishop recommends wearing masks while viewing the performance. “It is so sad to lose a performance because this is a really fun show and the cast and staff have worked so hard to make it a wonderful production.”

The Drowsy Chaperone debuted in 1998, opening on Broadway in May of 2006. The show was nominated for multiple Broadway and West End theatre awards, winning five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards, including Best Book and Best Original Score.

“It’s a show that any age person will enjoy,” concluded Bishop. “It’s got great music and a lot of dancing.”

Tickets start at $18. For more information, visit leawoodstageco.org.

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