Director, actor explain the challenges of “The Drowsy Chaperone”

By Nicholas Ingram

December 9, 2013

The season of comedy has put out another funny and entertaining escape of a show in Potter Hall. While the Drowsy Chaperone has been a classic of theater productions since the late 1990s, the cast and crew still ran into several challenges while putting together the show.

One of the many problems of the show was how it is presented. Tee Quillin, the director of the show, explained what elements were the biggest issues for the show.

“There’s the challenge with telling it so that an audience can understand when we are in modern times or in the 1920s,” Quillin said. “Lots of comic bits in the play, lots of slapstick comedy; the timing of those is crucial.”

Not only were there problems in how the show is presented, but there were also issues with the amount of time the cast and crew had for rehearsal and how they overcame the problems.

“We were having to schedule around making sure we got all of the rehearsal we needed while working around the shows that were coming out before ours,” Quillin said. “We knew about them going in but we planned around them. We improvised, adapted and overcame.”

For the actors themselves, there were challenges to overcome, specifically for Sebastian Smith who plays one of the main characters, Man in Chair.

“The most challenging part was not putting up a facade,” Smith said. “It’s been a real experiment and a real exercise in just living within the circumstances that I have been given.”

Not only were there difficulties with the stage performance, the orchestra playing live music for the show also had its own problems.

The Musical Director and Conductor Shaun Agnew said “We did not start a lot of music until three weeks into the process which is highly unusual and we did all of our music rehearsals essentially in three or four days half way through the process.”

However, after all of the challenges and problems that arose, Smith expressed how the Drowsy Chaperone was still a unique experience.

“This one is presented as a modern day play, showing you the past, where the others are constantly in the past,” Smith said. “That’s where I think the show is really going to shine because we are representing that time period.”

Finally, Quillin wanted audiences to pay close attention to small details throughout the show for those that have seen other productions in Potter Hall.

“One of the things I would tell audiences to watch for is there are things in the script that we have not added that have become images to productions we have done here at Missouri Western over the past two or three years,” Quillin said. “It’s to have a good natured laugh at ourselves.”