Unlike alcohol, this show won’t leave you drowsy or needing a chaperone
“This show will leave a tune in your head, a tear in your eye, and a huge smile across your face.” –Jason Eisner, director
The Columbia Musical Theatre Society is putting on a production of The Drowsy Chaperone, a 2006 Tony-winning musical comedy that pays homage to 1920’s and 1940’s musicals. CMTS will have shows tonight (8:00 P.M.) and tomorrow evening (7:30 P.M. and 10:00 P.M.), with tickets starting at $5 for Columbia students. Drowsy correspondent Ross Chapman sat down with the director, Jason Eisner, and an actor, Sam Balzac, both CC ’17, to hear about the musical. Below are excerpts from two interviews with the creative geniuses.
What is The Drowsy Chaperone?
Jason: The Drowsy Chaperone is a rip-roaring, side-spitting musical within a comedy. It is about a lover of musical theatre who invites the audience into his apartment, and he puts on his favorite musical of all time, called The Drowsy Chaperone. And when he puts the record on, the musical comes to life in his apartment. It takes place in the 1920’s, and the plot is so convoluted and nonsensical in the most amazing way. The characters are very aware that it makes no sense. But it’s about a bride and a groom about to get married, and she’s a showgirl, and her producer doesn’t want her to get married… and mayhem ensues. At its heart, it’s about what we individually love so much. We all have something that we love that keeps us going. This is a man that has his flaws, he’s a very real person, but he’s us. It’s about what keeps us going.
What is your personal relation to The Drowsy Chaperone?
Sam: I’ve always been especially drawn to the music of the 1940’s and the golden age musical. I was raised on that music, which is sometimes considered that of the most tuneful musical era. My mom was really into musicals. She played in the pit a lot in high school. My parents are from New Jersey, so they went to a lot of shows while they were growing up. In that way I very much identify with the narrator. He was introduced to musical theatre culture by his mother, who saw all of these shows when she was a kid. I similarly kind of feel that displacement of being out of the time period but still being in love with that kind of music.
Jason: A few years ago, I started a list on my phone of musicals to direct when I got to college – yes, I was that person – and this was at the top of my list. Last year, I was the assistant director for a couple of shows here. I didn’t want to waste any time putting together a show, so at the end of last year, I put together a team, thought about the vision of the show, how to make it different from the original production, and how to also pay homage to it. So I proposed to the CMTS board. We got accepted, and six months later, two days before the show, here I am.
Themes, yellowface, and Hell Week after the jump