OCTA Continues 2018-19 Season With THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

OCTA Continues 2018-19 Season With THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

Olathe Civic Theatre Association continues its first production of the 2018-2019 season, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. This musical comedy runs for two more weekends, September 7 - 23, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Julie Ewing returns after last season's VIOLET to direct this Tony Award-winner alongside Kevin Bogan as music director.

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE opened to sold out houses during their opening weekend. The show returns for two weekends September 14-16 and 21-23. The show is a feel-good American musical that is reminiscent of the 1920s jazz age. When a loyal fan shares a rare recording of his favorite musical, the characters come to life in an exuberant tale of love that leaves audiences delighted and breathless. A wedding, gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, and a drunk chaperone are just a few of the ingredients in this delicious farcical treat for the whole family. New York Magazine called it "The Perfect Broadway Musical."

Of the show, director Julie Ewing exudes: "This cast is ready to transport you to a place where the politics of the day can be forgotten for a few hours, and where spit-takes and cannoli are on the menu!" She's thrilled to partner with local choreographer Ann McCroskey who is working with the 16-member cast to bring out the grandeur of singing and dancing required for the production's show-within-a-show concept. Everything comes from the heightened imagination of the narrator, Man in Chair, an avid musical theatre fan who brings his favorite characters to life for the audience through his record collection and storytelling. "Ann has taken a cast of mostly 'movers' and has brought out the Ginger and Fred in them!"

OCTA audience members understand the charm of the theater's intimate space, therefore Ewing believes returning patrons will truly appreciate how this story is told thanks to the set design of Ken Schmidt. "This is my third show at OCTA and the third time I have worked with Ken. He has an excellent eye and knowledge of the unique limitations and advantages of the OCTA stage. I think we are becoming known for having interesting surprises in our use of sets and THE DROWSY CHAPERONE will not disappoint." When speaking of her desire to direct this show, Ewing explains that it was the last show her father saw featuring her eldest son, Riley, before her father passed away from cancer five years ago. "I'll never forget the determination of my father to make it to the final performance. He had to get released from the hospital to see his grandson as Man in Chair." Adding to Ewing's sincere poignancy when expressing her love of working at OCTA is her description of her first acting classes taught by the late, but fabulous, mentor and friend, Jan Conner.

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE adds another powerful musical to Ewing's OCTA resume alongside VIOLET and LITTLE WOMEN. "I tend to lean toward very story-driven shows where there is a strong message or moral... I enjoy telling simple stories that have a strong take-away for the audience. If there is an 'ism, I am at'em!! There are many touchstones that Man in Chair has that are directly tied to a musical. I identify with him, as I am sure many in the audience will as well." The musical pokes fun at musicals, but it takes the material at face value. "The finale wraps everything up in that sweet way that vintage MGM musicals come to a grand close."

The talented cast includes veterans of OCTA and stages throughout the Kansas City area. Ewing notes a highlight of the show, duo Mark Doyle and Fisher Stewart as Robert and George, both high school seniors who are bringing a fresh charm and energy in their debut at OCTA. Audiences will take note of returning OCTA favorites Bill Bergman, Matthew Henrickson and Laura Irwin (UNNECESSARY FARCE), Ashley Jones (VIOLET), and Peter Leondedis (ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS). Additionally, other actors make their OCTA debut with this production including Ashton Botts and Kathleen Marx.

In a true theatre blessing straight from the musical-comedy heavens, OCTA hosted a talkback with one of the inspirations for, and characters of, the musical THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. Actress and comedienne Janet Van De Graaff joined Peter Leondedis on stage and regaled audiences with stories of the show, her movie and stage career, and what it was like performing in high school with Peter.

The complete cast of talented singers and tappers includes: Peter Leondedis (Man in Chair), Mark Doyle (Robert Martin), Kathleen Marx (The Drowsy Chaperone), Ashton Botts (Janet Van De Graaff), Peggy Mall (Mrs. Tottendale), Matthew Henrickson (Aldolpho), Bill Bergman (Underling), Fisher Stewart (George), Laura Irwin (Kitty), Mike Peterson (Gangster One), Arthur P. Clifford (Gangster Two), Charles Christesson, Jr. (Mr. Feldzieg), Ashley Jones (Trix), Don Arnott (Superintendent), Mark McNeal (Ensemble), Dana Wardle (Ensemble), and Catie Wolff (Ensemble).

The creative team includes: Julie Ewing (director), Kevin Bogan (music director), Todd Wiley (assistant music director), Ann McCroskey (choreographer), Meghann Deveroux (stage manager), Rachel Phillips (assistant stage manager, Heather Stewart (costume designer), Ken Schmidt (set designer), Bill Case (construction foreman), Brandon Dupree (light designer), Joshua Finch (sound designer), Abby Wolff (props coordinator), Matt Pollock (sound board operator), and Brittany Becker (light board operator).

Tickets are available online now at www.olathetheatre.org! Season ticket holders can make reservations by writing tickets@olathetheatre.orgor by calling the hotline at 913-782-2990. Season ticket holders can indicate preferred date and seats.

Olathe Civic Theatre Association is a 501(c)3 organization producing theatre in Olathe since 1974. Performing in the Buddy Rogers Family Playhouse, OCTA produces five high-quality, engaging, and thought-provoking theatre productions a year. Through the generosity of volunteers, season ticket holders, donors, and the City of Olathe, OCTA has grown into one of the most progressive community theaters in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

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