Behind the Curtain: “The Drowsy Chaperone” To Hit The Stage At Skyline HS

 

It might just get a little crazy the next little while at Skyline High School Theatre. You see, the young thespians are staging the comedic musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, and it’s know for being a bit wacky.

“Just ridiculous enough,” said Isabella Preissle, a 17-year-old senior who plays the Drowsy (i.e. tipsy) Chaperone. “Luckily, we have a narrator throughout the show who explains everything to the audience when the scenes get ridiculous.”

The Drowsy Chaperone is a madcap, screwball musical within a comedy and it will run Nov. 3-11 at Skyline High. Show times are Nov. 3, 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 4 and 11 at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $20 for VIP, $15 for General Admission and $10 for students, seniors and Ann Arbor Public Schools staff.

This production of a classically silly 1920s musical is directed by Skyline’s own Anne Marie Roberts, with music director Brian Rose and choreographer Xavier Bush also pitching in.

“The play is a result of hundreds of hours of work by the cast and crew, and is a wonderful showcase for our tremendous talent at Skyline,” Roberts said. “We encourage friends, families and neighbors to support them by coming out to see the show.

“Ticket sales ensure we can provide our students with these great opportunities to showcase their incredible skills.”

One of those Skyline students with “incredible skills” is Claire de Vries a 16-year-old junior who plays Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone and has been involved with the theatre since she was 11 years old. Among others, she has played the lead Jennie Mae as a freshman in The Diviners at Skyline,  Juliet in Romeo and Juliet in Stratford, Ontario, and Tatonia inMidsummer Night’s Dream in Blue Lake in Northern Michigan.

De Vries also attended Artsbridge, a drama camp this past summer at the University of Minnesota, and was on her way to Rutgers University for a mock audition and drama open house when she was interviewed for this story.

Isabella Preissle, a 17-year-old senior who plays the Drowsy (i.e. tipsy) Chaperone.

“I just love my character in The Drowsy Chaperone,” de Vries said. “For whatever reason, I’ve played a lot of dark characters, but Kitty is silly and not super fun. She’s not very talented, but she’s a sweetheart. I just love playing her.”

The fictional musical The Drowsy Chaperone tells the tale of a Broadway starlet who must decide between her stage career and her true love. Mix-ups, mayhem and a wedding mark the hijinks of what follows. The show also features a roster of hilarious 1920s musical character types: the starlet’s debonair groom, a ditzy chorine, a Broadway impresario, a Latin lover, gangsters posing as pastry chefs, a befuddled dowager, her English butler, and a chaperone who isn’t so much drowsy as she is tipsy.

“The play starts with The Man in the Chair coming in and playing a musical soundtrack,” Roberts said. “He speaks directly to the audience as he’s playing his cast recording of The Drowsy Chaperone his favorite show, and the play happens in front of the audience in his living room.”

Preissle said she has thoroughly enjoyed rehearsal time leading up to the production and is looking forward to the real deal.

“It’s my first musical, and I’ve very excited,” said Preissle, who plans to major in Political Science in college and says this very well could be her last experience in theatre. She hopes to go out with a bang.

“It’s the 1920s, so there’s big hair, big makeup, lots of fun,” she said. “And, like I said before, it’s just ridiculous enough.”

Both Preissle and de Vries call the camaraderie of theatre one of their favorite parts of the experience.

“Theatre is one of the few extra-curriculars where grade levels disappear, you all just hang out together and push each other and try to make each other better,” Preissle said. “Even if you’re auditioning for the same roles, it’s a friendly competition, and then once the role is decided there’s not bad feelings or anything like that. It’s just ‘move on and let’s have fun.’”

Claire de Vries as Kitty.

Unlike Preissle, de Vries has definite plans to continue on in theatre after her high school days. She wants to major in theatre and has a few schools in mind. Her “wish list” as she called it, includes the University of Minnesota, Julliard School of Performing Arts and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.

“I’ve learned so much at Skyline, and it’s been a huge part of why I want to continue on in theatre,” she said. “Miss Roberts is a joy, fun to work with and she’s so dedicated to the theatre. And in this production, Brian Rose and Xavier Bush have been wonderful.

“It’s hard to explain the joy you get out of being challenged as an actor. And, we’re all having a lot of fun in The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Tickets to The Drowsy Chaperone are available online at https://skytheatre.booktix.com/ and will also be available for purchase at the performances. Skyline High School is located at 2552 N. Maple Rd., Ann Arbor.

 

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