ZACH’s New Summer Musical THE DROWSY CHAPERONE is live on stage! Here are some stellar shots photographer Kirk R. Tuck took from the show. Please be sure to credit Kirk when you share them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, your blog or wherever they may land …
Congratulations to ZACH Theatre’s THE DROWSY CHAPERONE director Nick Demos for winning the 2010 Tony Award for “Best Musical” for MEMPHIS last week!
Seated 4th row behind the show’s star, Montego Glover, it was a short walk to the stage to accept the Tony — good thing too as he’d just finished his participation in a National Association of Musical Theatre panel two hours prior to the Tony’s after yo-yoing back and forth between New York and Austin nonstop for the last month. Quickly showering and putting on a tux: “It’s easy for a boy,” he said.
Now, he’s back in Austin putting the final touches on THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, which opens this week at ZACH. Coming full circle, this hit musical was also his first commercial producing gig in New York. “It’s just so much fun,” he said. “Watching was a far different experience than directing creatively.”
“For me ZACH’s production came together when I met Austin actor Martin Burke. He truly shaped the direction I chose to take with this staging.”
In the ZACH production, “Martin, who plays the Man in the Chair, is the facilitator of all the action. He makes it happen; it all comes from his head. He not only watches the musical unfold in his New York apartment, he participates and leads the audience in the most entertaining way.”
Robin Lewis, Joins THE DROWSY CHAPERONE’s Cast this Week!
A twelve-year Broadway and national Broadway touring veteran, Robin Lewis will be on stage for the first two weeks only for ZACH’s production of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. The show’s choreo-grapher, Lewis has also choreographed Porgy and Bess, Urinetown: The Musical, High School Musical, Jesucristo Superestrella/Jesus Christ Superstar and The Rocky Horror Show at ZACH. His national credits include Broadway’s Fosse, Dance Captain of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Dance Captain of A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Gardens. He toured with the first national tour of The Producers with Jason Alexander and Martin Short in Hollywood, and he has toured in A Chorus Line, Hello Dolly, Beauty and the Beast, as well as performances at The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Robin is currently on faculty at Texas State University and heads the Musical Theatre Dance program for the new Musical Theater B.F.A. program. Lewis is the Co-Founder/Producer and Artistic Director of TexArts in Austin.
Originally, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE was written by Bob Martin for his wife’s bachelorette party. Both are characters in the play, but when the show was first performed it was done with no set, no costumes and was done all in an apartment. A few clever producer friends were in attendance at this no-budget show, and said, “I think you have the makings of a Broadway musical here.” Eventually they did bring it to Broadway, where it won 5 Tony Awards in 2006!
Director Nick Demos wanted ZACH’s production to have a unique feel, reflecting both the worlds of the theatre and a New York apartment at the same time. For example, “Susan Branch Towne designed costumes to look as if everything could have come from the Man in the Chair’s own closet.”
“I also wanted the set and curtain-red apartment to feel like a stage, to at once reflect both worlds — the stage of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE musical and the apartment of the Man in the Chair where the musical springs to life.” Set designer Michael Raiford brought this vision to reality. Even the props (designed by Chris Cogswell) feel like they come from the Man in the Chair’s apartment.
Commenting on his cast for ZACH’s production: “There are really talented people in Austin, it’s amazing, tons of fine actors who are willing to do just about anything, with no attitude, no resistance and tons of panache!”
THE DROWSY CHAPERONE opens this week on ZACH’s Kleberg Stage, with previews today and Friday and a Champagne Opening this Saturday. Tickets are available online and by phone at (512) 476-0541, ext. 1.
By Producing Artistic Director Dave Steakley
The first time Rue came to ZACH she called us from the Driskill Hotel to get tickets for I Hate Hamlet where she was seated next to Karen Kuykendall and John Whisenhunt. Rue was also here to look for a house for her son Mark, and of course you couldn’t sit next to Karen for two hours without falling in love with her and enlisting her as your real estate agent and that is exactly what happened. Karen found the perfect home for Mark and a good friendship ensued. The next night they were laughing uproariously at Boyd Vance in Shear Madness together. A couple of seasons later she was my date for the opening of Gospel At Colonus, which she especially loved, as she loved the gospel music combined with an ancient Greek tale.
Over the years Rue visited many times staying with dear friends Steve and Judy Franden and Dr. Francis McIntyre and she always made coming to ZACH part of her frequent Austin stays. On her final trip here last year my partner Tony and I had a wonderful time with her on the Franden’s brick patio with supper on our laps. Rue was developing a musical for herself called My Last Five Husbands based on her autobiography and we were hashing out some structural things about the piece she was struggling with. She had asked me to take a look at the script and meet with the producers on my next NYC visit to see if it might be a good fit for me to work with her collaborators. Her subsequent by-pass surgery and health concerns tabled all of those conversations.
When Ann Richards died Rue sent a tree to ZACH to be planted in Ann’s memory because she so admired Ann. They had met through Karen, of course, and Rue knew that Ann was also frequently in the ZACH audience. There is a plaque at the base of the tree which reads “For Governor Ann Richards, this tree is planted in loving memory by Rue McClanahan.” The tree is just outside my office window so I pass it every single day and I always think of that trio of outstanding and memorable women. When Karen passed, Rue became a contributor to the Karen Kuykendall stage in ZACH’s new Topfer Theatre.
Rue was a true woman of the theatre, and even though she had an extraordinary TV and film career, the theatre in all its forms was her passion, with a particular fondness for musical theatre. She had this great way of sizing up a person or a comment through her half-closed gaze that fully relished the person and what was being said, savoring every detail. She was smart, quick-witted, thoughtful and completely genuine — an Oklahoma gal who maintained the honesty and hard work values of her roots. She was extremely proud of her son Mark, a musician and music instructor here in Austin, and he is one of the great joys of her life. I’ll miss her charm and intellect and joie de vie.
Three years ago when Rue was on her book tour she came to Austin and was our guest at our Red, Hot & Soul gala when Karen made her last cabaret appearance. The next day Rue delighted ZACH’s audience who packed the Kleberg Stage SRO in an interview I conducted on the set of Take Me Out. When asked by an audience member if she was like Blanche she responded, “Well, Blanche was an oversexed, self-involved, man-crazy, vain Southern Belle from Atlanta — and I’m not from Atlanta!” Golden indeed.
In THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, Janet Van De Graaff (played by Jill Blackwood) is a 1920’s showgirl who is about to give up the stage for love. But a lot of money is riding on her to bring in crowds as star of the upcoming production of “Feldzieg’s Follies.”
Feldzieg (played by Scotty Roberts), the show’s producer, has a lot riding on him too — chiefly two gangster investors threatening bodily harm if Janet doesn’t perform. Good thing Janet has a chaperone, “The Drowsy Chaperone” to be exact, who’s just tipsy enough to stay weary of the world and practically everything except her next drink!
Actress Meredith McCall stumbles on stage to play the Drowsy, specializing in rousing anthems, but there’s nothing more rousing to her than a good ol’ fashioned cocktail, which brings us to our first Drowsy Drink:
THE OLD FASHIONED
Speculated to be the very first drink called a cocktail, when prohibition hit this drink stayed in style. To mix one up, make sure to use an old-fashioned cocktail glass and add:
- Sugar, 1 lump
- Seltzer, 1 dash
- Ice, one square piece
- Orange bitters, 1 dash
- Angostura bitters, 1 dash
- Lemon peel, 1 piece
- Whiskey, 1 jigger
There’s some muddling and mixing involved too, but the Drowsy swears if you just throw it all in a glass the formalities of the drink won’t matter by the time you get to drink number two. Moving on … The Drowsy Chaperone never minds going:
BETWEEN THE SHEETS
Heck, when booze was outlawed, the more risque the drink name the better! Mix one of these up using:
- Lemon juice, 2 dashes
- Triple sec, 1 shot
- Rum, 1 shot
- Brandy, 1 shot
If that doesn’t make you drowsy, try moving on to the drink that’s the namesake for our favorite cocktail accoutrement, the swizzle stick, known in the 1920’s as:
THE GIN SWIZZLE
- Gin, 3 shots
- Simple syrup, just a dash
- Juice of 1 fresh lime
- Bitters, 2 dashes
Our Drowsy is definitely 3 sheets to the wind right now: Attagirl! Help a dame out by logging on to ZACH’s Facebook page and posting your favorite prohibition-era cocktail recipes!
Several local Munchkins have been cast in the upcoming Broadway Across America production of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Directed by
Jaclyn Loewenstein, these local Munchkins are 9 to 13 year old students from the Pre-Professional Musical Theatre Program at ZACH’s Performing Arts School:
- Munchkin Officials: Kate Brimmer, Ben Fletcher, Matthew Moore, Rubina Singh
- Munchkin Band: Emma Loewenstein, Sophie Poole, Kelly Scalpati, Olivia Schuh
- Lullaby Girls: Anna McGuire, Alia Vinson
- Lollipop Boys: Keaton Brandt, Wiley Fletcher
They also play the Witch’s Winkies in the 2nd Act!
Over the past four years, they have performed in many ZACH family musicals, including Everything About a Day (Almost), Call It Courage, Willy Wonka and Golly Gee Whiz! (with Tony nominee David Bologna.) Many of the Munchkins also appeared on ZACH’s mainstage in Caroline, or Change and Our Town. They also study dance and voice with ZACH instructor Adam Roberts.
Jaclyn Loewenstein (Austin’s Munchkin Director) has been actively developing ZACH’s Pre-Professional Musical Theatre Training Program since 2005. For her first ZACH Family Musical, The People Garden, she was awarded the 2006 B. Iden Payne Award for Direction. Since then, Jaclyn has directed talented Austin youth in: Wanda’s World, Everything About a Day (Almost), Willy Wonka Jr., Golly Gee Whiz!, Dear Edwina, The ZACH Showstoppers and many more. For the past 19 years, she has worked as an acting teacher, director and audition coach for a variety of institutions, including The Children’s Acting Academy in NYC and the Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston, IL. In NYC, Jaclyn was a casting assistant for numerous long-running Broadway musicals, including Chicago, Cats and Les Miserables, and she assisted director James Lapine on The Diary of Anne Frank, starring Natalie Portman. Jaclyn holds a BA in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill and an MFA in Directing from Illinois State University.