Bethel Theatre Presents “The Drowsy Chaperone”

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MISHAWAKA—On March 28, 29 and 30, the Bethel College Theatre Department will present “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a musical written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar.

The performances will be in the Everest-Rohrer auditorium at 7:30 each evening, with a matinee at 1 p.m. on March 30. Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for students and seniors and $10 for children 12 and under. To purchase tickets, call (574) 807-7080, or visit tickets.bethelcollege.edu.  

The show is directed by Adjunct Professor Debra Swerman. 

“It’s a little weird,” said Swerman. “It’s a musical within a comedy.” 

Swerman said that the play begins with the lead character, known as “man in chair,” giving the audience a monologue about how he’s feeling a little blue; however, one thing that cheers him up are musicals, so he pulls out an album of one of his favorite musicals, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and lets it play.

“He starts out in modern day, and then he takes us into the world of the musical,” said Swerman. “And so we’re seeing what he’s seeing in his mind’s eye... it takes us back to a 1928 musical.” 

The musical element is one of the biggest challenges of the production. 

“This particular musical has huge dance numbers,” said Swerman. “It’s getting a whole lot of people that may not have any experience with dance and teaching them the dance steps... this 1920’s style of lifting people, and high-kicking dance steps.”

Swerman said that while most of the play is light-hearted, there is a somewhat unexpected theme of sorts revealed at the end. 

“A lot of it is just for fun, but yeah, there’s a little sneaky, in there at the end... I don’t want to give it away, but there’s a monologue at the end that makes us walk away going, “Yeah, okay,’” said Swerman.

Stephen White, a junior theatre major, is portraying the character “man in chair.” 

White said that one of the neatest scenes is when the musical first begins to come to life inside the apartment. 

“The walls begin to shift, actors begin to come down from his bed, there’s actors coming out of his refrigerator,” said White. “This world, this musical theatre world... basically just comes alive in his head.”

White said one of the challenges of portraying “man in chair” is portraying a character who knows something from front to back. 

“He’s obsessed with this musical theatre world,” said White. “He knows all these facts and information about the actors, about the show, about the time and place, when, what, who, where, why, all of that, he knows all of this.”

However, White loves the high-energy aspect of the character. 

“He’s like a gossiper, so he wants to let everyone know the latest information,” said White. “If you don’t know, you will know by the end of the show... he’s somebody who I feel the audience will grow to appreciate.”

White encouraged students to come out and see the play. 

“Even if the title doesn’t ring a bell with you, just allow yourself to try something new,” said White. “It’s a comedy, so it’s full of laughter, so come to have fun and enjoy yourself.”

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