Richland students to perform "The Drowsy Chaperone"
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Richland High School students will present the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone” at 7 p.m. March 9 and 10 and 2 p.m. March 11 inside the Richland Performing Arts Center, located at 1 Academic Avenue in Richland Township.
Described as a “jazz-age musical” that parodies the classic shows of the 1920s, “The Drowsy Chaperone” is the winner of five Tony Awards, including “Best Book” and “Best Original Score.” It was written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar.
The musical tells the story of “Man in the Chair,” who puts on a record that comes to life in front of his eyes. “Man in the Chair” watches as a couple, on the eve of their wedding night, interact with a strange cast of characters, including a desperate theatre producer, a not-so-bright hostess, two gangsters, an aviatrix and more.
“‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ is a show that we've never previously performed,” said Jacob St. Clair, Richland High School’s musical director. “We try to stay away from repeating any of our past shows, and ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ is a great show that somehow got overlooked through the years. It's funny, full of excellent music and various styles of dance (including tap), and pokes fun at some of the tropes and conventions of musical theater that are quite strange when you stop to examine them. I think those who have been to a few shows will really enjoy the shots that ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ takes at older Broadway shows and traditions. It's wit and humor will surely entertain audiences.”
“The Drowsy Chaperone” stars students in grades nine through 12; the cast includes: Owen Meyer, Owen Towns, Jordan Wolf, Hunter Albert, Gavin Geibig, Aditi Sridhar, Shay Roth, Camden Vara, Rylee Morgan, Rachel Brand, Nicole Khouzami, Brady Batche, Erin Shaffer and Levi Beam.
The production is rounded out by large ensemble cast of staff, reporters, dancers and a featured tap ensemble. In addition, a Student Tech Crew helped to build the set pieces; said Crew will manage the set, props and technical elements during each performance.
“I'm always impressed with the students at Richland High School,” St. Clair said. “They always bring their ‘A game’ to rehearsals and shows. We have an impressive range of new talent this year and this is the perfect show to showcase them and show them off. I'm very grateful to get to work with such wonderful and talented young people.”
“The Drowsy Chaperone” is being directed by St. Clair, with choreography by Kait Houck and music direction by Eric Tedjeske and Casey Williams. Ben Easler is providing sound engineering; Wes Layton lighting design and costuming Theresa Arena.
“We have a great staff that has been involved with a lot of shows over the years and their passion and experience has been invaluable to our students,” said Ben Easler, Richland Performing Arts Center director.
“Jacob St. Clair has both acted in and directed many shows over the years. Our choreographer, Kait Houck, has extensive choreography and dance performance experience in many genres of dance, specifically musical theater. Wes Layton has designed lighting and worked in other capacities in many area venues. Our costumer, Theresa Arena, has created costumes and custom clothing for everything you can imagine. We also have John Teacher from Pitt-Johnstown’s theater department volunteering with some of our set design on this show. Our staff is very passionate about what they do and about fostering students’ talents, creativity and growth. I believe they are a huge part of what makes our shows a success.”
Gold card members are invited to a free spaghetti luncheon at 12:30 p.m. March 11 prior to the matinee performance.
Tickets for “The Drowsy Chaperone” are on sale now and can be purchased online at www.richlandpac.com or by phone at 814-269-0300. Tickets will also be available at the door.
St. Clair and Easler encouraged community members to attend the show and show their support to everyone involved in this year’s musical production.
“Supporting the arts and arts education is critical to keeping creativity in our society at large,” St. Clair said. “Theater teaches empathy, teamwork and fosters imagination in our young people. I believe it's critically important.”
“I echo Mr. St. Clair's sentiments,” Easler said. “Musical theater is one of the most complete art forms, combining visual arts, music and dance. There is great enthusiasm for these shows in our area and I would love to see this grow even more. Besides supporting our young performers, guests will enjoy a great show.”