Don’t be misled by it being billed as a comedy. “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a spring musical being put on by one of the area’s best fine arts departments at Carolina Forest High School is also a tearjerker.
“You do have the comedy side but you also have a serious love relationship, and it’s so much more than a comedy,” says junior Ryan Spraker, who plays the lead, Man in Chair.
Paying homage to musicals of the Jazz Age and looking at the impact musicals have on their audiences, “The Drowsy Chaperone” is a play within a play, as seen through the eyes of Man in Chair.
The play will be debut Thursday and run through Sunday with performances at 7:30 p.m. each night and 3 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday.
The musical is based on the book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. It opened on Broadway in 2006 and won the Tony Award for best book and best score.
CFHS theater educator Kelly Hall says this play gives students the opportunity to play a wide range of different characters.
“Not only does the audience delve into the Man in Chair character, they get a touch of the 1920s era,” she says. “It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it’s educational.”
Spraker, who says he wants to continue in theater — or become a lawyer “which is pretty much theater too” — has been involved in school theater since a role in “Aladdin” in seventh grade.
“In this role, I get to explore my love for comedy and the improve-type thing, but I can also explore the emotional journey the Man in Chair goes on,” he says. “This play will keep you laughing from beginning to end, but when I saw it personally, I cried on the way out the door. This play will take you through every emotion.”
Senior Carter Lowe, who plays Aldolpho, a character hired to break up the marriage of the male and female leads, agrees.
“This play is so much more than a comedy and I was so excited when I found out we were doing it.”
Lowe, whose career goal is to be a theater professor, describes his particular role as very goofy and very comedic.
Lowe says the role is challenging because the character is so flamboyant, it would be easy to overact.
“I’m going for the truth of the character,” he says.
Lowe says parts of “The Drowsy Chaperone” are hilarious, which also presents a challenge.
“It’s a hilarious play with a hilarious script and it’s hard to keep a straight face and pretend everything that’s making the audience laugh uproariously isn’t funny to you,” he says.
Hall says participating in plays such as this one benefits the students in different ways.
“Those who go on into the performing arts gain so many skills in acting, dance, vocal and theater training.”
But even those students who don’t pursue theater learn teamwork, cooperation, organizational and problem-solving skills, she says.
“Many of them take on leadership roles where the ability to communicate will be so important.”
This particular play, Hall says, is generally performed at a college or professional level.
“The genre is challenging in itself for high school students, but these students are willing to work to those high expectations.”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” Spraker says about the comedic side of the play.
“This play is quite interesting. It goes through every aspect of theater and has something for everyone.”
Tickets for the show are $12 and can be purchased by calling the school at 236-7997 or buying them online at www.cfhsshows.com.