Ended, but not forgotten: Review of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

The cast and crew of “The Drowsy Chaperone” tear down the set of the show in what is called “set strike.” The set took weeks to build and only a few days to tear down, including three pieces on a fly system, two L-shaped walls, stairs to be rolled in and out, and a biplane to be hidden upstage until nearly the end of the show. All actors and crew sign up for set strike at the beginning of the season. It provides closure for them as they grieve the production’s ending, a way to literally see a show “through to the end.” Photo courtesy of Tori Swart
The cast and crew of “The Drowsy Chaperone” tear down the set of the show in what is called “set strike.” The set took weeks to build and only a few days to tear down, including three pieces on a fly system, two L-shaped walls, stairs to be rolled in and out, and a biplane to be hidden upstage until nearly the end of the show. All actors and crew sign up for set strike at the beginning of the season. It provides closure for them as they grieve the production’s ending, a way to literally see a show “through to the end.” Photo courtesy of Tori Swart

As an actor, audience members have told me time and time again how much fun it was to watch “The Drowsy Chaperone.” What they don’t realize is that it was just as fun, if not more enjoyable, to produce it.

As a track athlete performing in her first show with Aves Theater, the production was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Of course, there were similarities: the everyday practices after school, the immense focus, the camaraderie with the other actors.

But nothing prepared me for being at school until 10:00 pm. We came in to rehearse during snow days, even resorting to rehearse at a church on a Sunday.

Something strange happens when you spend so much time on a show. Lines become natural speech. Eyes adjust to the darkness of back stage. Choreography transforms into everyday movement.
Confidence builds. Relationships develop. A cast and crew meld into a family. The show becomes a part of your very being.
There is no doubt in my mind that theater magic happened during production. I made many friends, and greatly deepened the relationships I already had.
I grew to love every single up and down of the process, no matter how many times we had to run a set change. “The Drowsy Chaperone” became something special. I experience great talent, which developed into true excellence.
Now it has ended.
That has been most shocking to me- we spent so much time and effort to put on this show, yet after a mere four days of performances, it is over.
I will never be in the same isolated theater world with the same people ever again. “Drowsy” will never again fill my days as it once had.
My mother gave me a phrase that explained what I was feeling: a let-down. You don’t experience let-downs in sports. There is always the next season, the next year where you can focus and develop the same skills, same events.
I’ve developed such respect for actors through the show, and especially now, after the show. In theater, you don’t have the privilege of repetition. Every single show is a once in a lifetime experience, and then it vanishes.
The bitter-sweetness of the return to the real world is difficult to handle, to say the least. So, I gave myself a few days to reflect.
Now I can say this: as the Man in Chair would say, “Drowsy” is still there for whenever I’m feeling blue. Though it is now only a memory, I can count it as a cherished one.