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The cast of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a Drama Group
production that will open Oct. 16.
(Photo provided)​

Start with a die-hard theater lover, his chair and a recording of his favorite 1920s musical. Add a phonograph, of course, and a dream sequence that brings the stage fan’s musical to life as this play within a play starts to roll.

MaryEllen Fawk

Yes, Drama Group president Andy Leahy (Chicago Heights) falls asleep onstage and MaryEllen Fawk (Chicago Heights) directs as the Drama Group launches its 85th season with the madcap 2006 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” 

Billed as a “loving send-up of the jazz age musical” the production features “one show-stopping song and dance number after another.”

The storyline has many elements of a farce, including  a Broadway star about to be married, her cheating fiancé, a couple of gangsters disguised as pastry chefs and a desperate theater producer. That’s just for starters.

With her impending marriage, Janet (Mandi Corrao of Mokena) plans to leave the stage. With tons of illegal bucks invested in the production, two gangsters (Michael Carten of South Holland and Paul Milord of Lansing) caution producer Feldzieg (Brian Giblin, Tinley Park) to keep Janet in the show at all costs. Without her, it will fail, and the thugs and their boss will, uh, lose tons of money and will be very unhappy. Not good.

Add a few more characters and Janet’s intoxicated chaperone (Regina Gadotti, Chicago Heights) and the rollicking fun and fantastic musical numbers continue.

“A friend who saw the Broadway musical in 2006 sent me the music from this show,” Fawk said. “The lyrics are so crazy and set to melodies that stick with you. And the storyline is amazingly entertaining.”

Fawk, a Drama Group member since 2008, put in a request to direct the show for the community theater.

“The musical is a fusion of Broadway and vaudeville and totally captures the beginning of Broadway and the start of musicals with storylines, like Oscar Hammerstein’s 1927 classic, ‘Show Boat,’” Fawk said.

“’The Drowsy Chaperone’ is a show within a show, (and that) gives it the sophistication and style to connect with our contemporary audiences. And I really think the intimacy of the Drama Group’s Studio Theatre is perfect for this production.

“This cast and production team are working very hard and their commitment and devotion make me so honored to work with them,” Fawk said. “I hope the audiences come away from an evening (or afternoon) of laughter and delight.”

“The Drowsy Chaperone” opens Oct. 16 and runs through Oct. 25 with evening and matinee performances at the Studio Theatre, 330 202nd St., Chicago Heights. Tickets are $21, $20 seniors and $15 for students with ID at 708-755-3444 and at www.brownpapertickets.com.

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