Theater: 'The Drowsy Chaperone'

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Closing performances tonight and Friday, at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets $11 for students, $13 for seniors and $15 for adults, in advance at neyt.org, in person at New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat St. Brattleboro.

For more information, contact Katrina Spenceman at katrinaspenceman@gmail.com



New England Youth Theatre presents the "The Drowsy Chaperone," by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. The show is directed by Rebecca Waxman, with Music Direction by Mary Sugar and Lead Choreographer Shoshana Bass, and will be performed July 11 through 15 at New England Youth Center, 100 Flat St., in Brattleboro.

A farcical romp through the madcap world of musical theater, The Drowsy Chaperone is one of those shows that has audiences smiling from start to finish - it is in turn sweet, gentle, nostalgic, and funny-funny-funny. Packed with one show-stopping song-and-dance number after another, it is a valentine to the musical theatre genre and a fond reminiscence of times gone by.

As `Man In Chair' plays the record of his favorite musical, the (fictional) 1928 hit The Drowsy Chaperone comes to life onstage while he wryly comments on the music, story, and actors. The show lovingly skewers the tropes of early 20th Century musical theatre through the lives and action of the characters, taking equal-opportunity potshots at everyone and everything - including a glamorous showgirl and her world-weary chaperone, a nervous groom and his bumbling best man, a scheming producer, a misguided Don Juan and a pair of gangsters posing as pastry chefs.

Directed by veteran NEYT director Rebecca Waxman, with musical direction by visiting artist Mary Sugar, and choreography by Shoshanna Bass, Francesca Bourgault, and Brenda Siegel, the production is truly NEYT at its finest. "For kids, by kids" is fully on display here - with the students not only performing the show, but doing all the backstage work as well, from moving sets to hair and make-up, running the lights and sound, and even playing the music in the pit band in collaboration with the Brattleboro Music Center and conducted by NEYT alum Riley Goodemote.

"The Pit Band Program is one of my favorite things that we do here at NEYT," says New England Youth Theatre Executive Director Hallie Flower, "The band is comprised entirely of students, and this interplay between the student actor and the student pit gives each an incredible learning experience. For the band especially, it is an entirely new and different way to play, one that can't be replicated by playing at a traditional concert or recital."

The technical elements of the production are also created with the kids, and are spectacular as well. The costumes by Sandy Klein are stunning - a period-perfect reflection back to the heydey of the extravagant musicals of the 1920's, highlighted by gorgeous hair and makeup. The set by Jason Clark is replete with playbills and posters of the musicals of the era, and creates an ambience of nostalgia, ordinariness, and opulence at the same time.

Winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Original Score, and hailed by New York Magazine as `The Perfect Broadway Musical,' the play also serves as a window into the racial, gender, and social stereotypes of the early twentieth century. "Choosing a play like this allows us to open up a dialogue with our kids and explore issues that can be both healing and educational. Given today's cultural climate and the immediate things happening in our local community, we feel a responsibility to be leaders of change with our kids, which includes working on and presenting material that can be sensitive or sticky," says Waxman of the production. Allowing the students to be in engaged in the dialogue as they mine the material is a part of the process that NEYT holds dear, and what sets it apart from other youth theatre companies.

Full of fanciful song-and-dance numbers, with enough gags to entertain the kids and saucier jokes for the elders, The Drowsy Chaperone is truly a must see for any lover of musical theater. Don't miss your opportunity to tap your toes, laugh along, and observe the vitality and sincerity of live youth theater right here in downtown Brattleboro.

The Drowsy Chaperone plays its closing performances this week, July 11 to 14 at 7 p.m. and July 15 at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets for these performances are $11 for students, $13 for seniors and $15 for adults.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at  neyt.org, in person at the NEYT Box Office, or by phone at 802-246-6398 from 12 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. The show plays at New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat St. Brattleboro.

New England Youth Theatre is an accessible theater, with accommodations for wheelchairs, and Assistive Listening Devices for patrons who are hard of hearing.

Thank you to our generous sponsors: The Putney School, Hazel Restaurant, and Phillips, Dunn, Shriver & Carroll.

New England Youth Theatre is also supported by Foard Panel, the Vermont Children's Trust Fund, Vermont Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.




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