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Loveland High School’s “The Drowsy Chaperone”

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

Review by Juli Russ, Highlands High School Cappies Critic Team

A glamorous film star, a Latin lover, and a pair of suspicious pastry chefs. What could possibly go wrong? With humor and wit, Loveland High School's rendition of "The Drowsy Chaperone" transports audience members into the chaotic world of the 1920's through a series of impressive tap numbers, rousing anthems, and the enthusiasm and hard work of both the cast and crew.

The spirited musical parody, written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar , pokes fun at the absurdity of early theatrical comedy. Narrated by the Man in the Chair, a reclusive and quirky musical theatre fan, "The Drowsy Chaperone" uses a play-within-a-play format to tell the story of the fictional 1928 Broadway sensation of the same name. As he invites the audience to listen along to his record player, the Man's New York City apartment quickly transforms into the wedding of the century. The mischief, mayhem, and memorable musical numbers that ensue appeal to avid theatre fans everywhere.

Overall, Loveland High School did an outstanding job executing this production. The cohesion of the cast and crew was apparent, and the entire cast successfully tackled the challenge of comedic timing, one of the most difficult performance aspects of the show.

One of the most noteworthy standouts of the cast was Luke Rohling in his portrayal of the Man in the Chair. He did an excellent job of helping the audience find their footing amid the chaos and confusion of the story, while also maintaining his character throughout the entirety of the production. This was a particularly impressive feat, as there was rarely a moment when he was offstage.

Another notable talent was Lillian DeMillia in her role as the Drowsy Chaperone . Her vocals were impeccable during her feature number, "As We Stumble Along," as well as in her duet with Aldolpho, portrayed by Calloway Hefner. Daniel Eilert , portraying groom Robert Martin, and Joseph Koehne, playing the role of Robert's best man, George, had palpable chemistry onstage. Their tap number, "Cold Feets," was one of the highlights of the show.

The technical aspects of this production were also impeccable. The lighting department's strategic use of spotlights was notable, as was their use of multiple colors during "Bride's Lament," one of the opening numbers of Act II. It was impossible to tell that each lighting crew member was new to their position, as their work was seamless and consistent. The props work of Jordan Lawrence, Cayleigh King, and Rosa Karl-Chacon was also unbelievable, as they had to deal with putting together real drinks for the performance each night, along with juggling over sixty other props. The live orchestra's presence also added to the quality of the overall performance, especially noting their flawless transition from recorded audio to live music at the beginning of the production.

With toe-tapping energy and an extremely talented cast and crew, Loveland High School's production of "The Drowsy Chaperone" truly exemplified the meaning of old-school entertainment.

Review by Cassidy Perme, Highlands High School Cappies Critic Team

What more could you need for an evening's entertainment than Loveland High School's production of The Drowsy Chaperone which put the "show" in "Show Off?”

Written by Bob Martin and Don McKiller, The Drowsy Chaperone combines a farcical comedy with jazz-age music, making for an extremely engaging performance highlighting an anticipated wedding throughout the production. However, this show is told from a different angle than most as it is narrated through the eyes of a middle-aged, antisocial Man in Chair, who is a self-proclaimed expert on the show, and pauses for his own hilariously timed insight. The show features Robert Martin and Janet Van de Graff, a newly engaged couple who are both blinded by love. Through comedy, farce, and flashy numbers, this show allows for creative freedom like no other.

Loveland High School only heightened the hilarity through their talented actors, and technical aspects. From the complicated musical numbers to the constant need for high energy, Loveland tackled every aspect, and then some. The ensemble was able to handle complex choreography, while keeping up dramatic facial expressions that kept the audience captivated.

With one feeble hand on the record player and the other holding a cold glass of whisky, Luke Rohling, playing Man in Chair, was as entertaining as he was intriguing, playing the awkwardness of his character with full force. As the narrator of this boisterous, random show, he was always engaged and fully invested while also being the source of many comedic moments. Calloway Hefner, playing Aldolpho, the self-proclaimed "King of Romance," had every girl swooning, as a man who falls in love with the Chaperone by a mishap. Perhaps Hefner 's greatest strength was his impeccable European accent during his song, “I Am Aldolpho,” which heightened the hilarity of the show altogether.

The ensemble added to the show's tour-de-force performance. This was seen in the number “Toledo Surprise,” primarily sung by The Gangsters, portrayed by cast members Aiden McCracken and Andrew Hoffmann. They assisted Feldzieg, played by William Gibbs-Heard, in this musical number that was as glamorous as it was enthralling. Songs such as “Show Off,” and “I Do, I Do in the Sky” highlighted the ensemble with entertaining and synchronized choreography balanced with soaring vocals.

Beyond actors, the technical aspects were pivotal to the storytelling. As such, the end of the production required a full airplane to enter the stage which could mean disaster. The set crew featuring Hayden Ducker, Lillian DeMillia, Natalie Heath, and Ethan Segrist, rose to the challenge and successfully worked together to transform the stage into a runway allowing the airplane to "land."

Not a toe was left not tapping along to the riveting ensemble of comedy and drama in Loveland High School's “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Much like a plane, the cast and crew not only flew above expectations, but they soared.

Review by Izzy Moses, Highlands High School Cappies Critic Team

Combine a wedding, show business, and the roaring twenties and you'll have Loveland High School's "The Drowsy Chaperone" a parody of American musicals from the 1920's.

"The Drowsy Chaperone" follows the narration of the lovably awkward Man in Chair, who breaks the fourth wall by walking the audience through the story of his favorite musical.

Janet van de Graaff, infamous show girl, is leaving show business to marry a man she barely knows, debonair Robert Martin. Hijinks ensue as a producer and a pair of gangsters disguised as pastry chefs attempt to keep her in the show. The larger-than-life characters, high energy dance numbers, and the fun pokes at classic musical theatre troupes is what makes this show a favorite for audiences.

Loveland High School's production of "The Drowsy Chaperone" was held up by the cast's nonstop energy, picture-perfect visuals onstage, and impressive musicality.

Luke Rohling did an exceptional job acting as the connection between the audience and the stage in his character of the Man in Chair. His comedic timing was impeccable, and his personable nature made the most mundane of things about the show interesting to the audience. Anna Colletto exuded the vivacious and lively energy necessary in the role of vaudeville star, Janet van de Graaff. Her outstanding vocals shone through in her belting numbers like "Show Off" and "Bride's Lament," all the while her starlet smile never faltered.

Not only did the leads deliver top-notch performances, but the supporting cast gave the performance their all as well. Daniel Eilert, Joseph Koehne, and Busy Aiken carried a tap dancing number with the utmost showmanship, complete with jazz hands. Merrick Hummer's bubbly energy as Kitty made her scenes memorable. Aldolpho and the Drowsy Chaperone herself, played by Calloway Hefner and Lillian DeMellia, made for a hilarious comedic duo in the song "I Am Aldolpho." Impressive vocals were accomplished by Demi Sperelakis as Trix the Aviatrix, singing two spectacular solos at the beginning and end of the show.

As far as design goes, this production delivered. Although the list of props was demanding for the show, the props team, led by Jordan Lawrence, Rose Karl-Chacon, and Cayleigh King, stepped up to the plate as designers, as every prop was in time period. Stage managers Noelle Barry and Sydney Miller kept up with the quick pace of the show, having to barrel through several scene changes. Their effort to minimize the amount of time during a blackout made the show clip move along swiftly. The orchestra of the show was also a highlight, as they created an immersive experience as the melodies carried through the theatre.

With so many fun dance numbers and a performance that was filled with hilarity, Loveland High School's production of "The Drowsy Chaperone" was a wonderful celebration of humor and the roaring twenties.

Excerpts from Top-Ranked Student Reviews

“Luke Rohling brought a dynamic, enthralling personality as Man in Chair. He maintained his jittery, comical persona from before the curtains rose to his final bows. His excitement for the show and heartfelt internal musings brought an element of reality to the production, truly distinguishing him apart from the stock characters within the musical.”

-Soumya Jaiswal, William Mason High School

“The crews' hard work embellished the performances on stage. Light cues and prop entrances were always on time and precise. The use of flickering lights to mimic lightning during a thunderstorm was effective and unique. The hair and makeup added to the glamour of the time period and characters; the white stripe in Aldolpho's hair and Janet's curly bob truly made their characters even more spectacular.”

-Liz Browning, Colerain High School

“Merrick Hummer, who portrayed the ditzy, but loveable Kitty was fantastic. Hummer's wide smile and maintained energy throughout the musical made her a definite standout. To be taken note of were her erratic body movements as she shook, jumped, and skipped around her counterparts and across the stage. Her over the top facial expressions and enthusiastic delivery of lines all combined to create a memorable character loved by all.”

-Lin DeGraaf, Highlands High School

“The crew went above and beyond for this show with scene changes during acts, gorgeous light cues, and gorgeous 20s hair and makeup. The run crew did their job with quick precision and transformed the small apartment into grand theater sets. The light cues gave extra life to each number and added the theatrical touch to each moment. The hair and makeup crew added the glamorous touch to each character. They turned back time and transformed the actresses into those of the time period.”

-Shelby Lutz, Colerain High School

“Providing comedic relief in every scene present was the charming Aldolpho played by Calloway Hefner. Hefner caused an eruption of laughter whenever on stage through his entrancing personality, witty comments, and memorable performance of the song named after himself, ‘Aldolpho.’ The whole cast had an abundance of energy and fully embraced each and every one of their characters.”

-Nicholas Detzel, Taylor High School

“Running crew dealt with demanding, quick scene changes smoothly, especially since they had a number of large set pieces (including a plane)! The ingenuity of the set itself was notable, especially the authentic apartment pieces and magically lit fountain.”

-Natalie Muglia, William Mason High School

“Supporting characters, such as the Chaperone, played by Lillian DeMellia , and Aldolpho, played by Calloway Hefner, added even more of a comical aspect to the show. Calloway Hefner was one of the most humorous performers of the bunch, and acted his character in a loud and outlandish manner. Lillian DeMellia's beautiful voice allowed for some show-stopping numbers. Her rendition of ‘As We Stumble Along’ was breathtaking as she hit the wide range of notes and belted through the top of her register with perfection.”

-Molly Bucher, Highlands High School

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