Honeymoon funds and household miscellanea make good wedding gifts, but nothing tops surprising your soon-to-be-married friends with an original musical. Even better: imagine your musical gift becomes a Broadway hit and eventually wins several Tony awards.
It isn’t the escapist fantasy of a musical theatre lover — it’s the true origin story of "The Drowsy Chaperone." Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison and Don McKellar wrote and presented performers Bob Martin and Janet van de Graaf with a 1920s-style musical parody as a wedding gift. The show went on to become a success.
Now, new faculty member Stephen Brotebeck directs this effervescent comedy filled with song and dance at the San Diego State University School of Theatre, Television, and Film.
“For me, the musical is about escaping,” Brotebeck said, noting that anyone can identify with the show’s lead character, the Man in the Chair (played by Jacob Brent, Master of Fine Arts in musical theatre candidate). “Everyone has a means of escape, and for the Man in the Chair, it’s musicals.”
A musical in a comedy
The show takes place in a small New York City apartment where the Man in the Chair retreats into his record collection. With him, we become immersed in a 1920s musical comedy called “The Drowsy Chaperone” and characters begin to emerge from every nook and cranny of the apartment. Audience members can expect a lively staging with a few eye-popping surprises.
“There’s something for everybody in the show,” Brotebeck said, taking care not to reveal too much. “The design is stellar, the costumes are looking amazing, I think it’s going to blow people away.”
A new face
"The Drowsy Chaperone" is Brotebeck’s SDSU directorial debut, but his professional directing and choreography credits range from regional theatre to Broadway. He is most passionate about developing new work, which makes SDSU’s MFA Musical Theatre program a natural fit for him.
“Rob Meffe, the MFA program head, and myself are both committed to the early development of new musicals,” Brotebeck said. “With 'On the Eve' last semester, and hopefully more projects this year, that’s my favorite thing about this program.”
Aside from the beach and impeccable weather, Brotebeck appreciates San Diego for its local theatre.
“I love the vibrant theatre community here. I’m just starting to meet some of the other theatre directors in town, and I’m excited to meet more of them,” he said.
"The Drowsy Chaperone" opens March 4 and runs through March 13. Tickets can be purchased online.