TMTO takes comedy seriously

The company presents 'The Drowsy Chaperone'
Clockwise from top left, Tori Anderson (Drowsy), Adam Lohman (Aldolpho), Isaac Cosand (Robert), Justin S. Cowan ("man in chair") and Kelsey Tidball (Janet) will perform in TMTO's production of "The Drowsy Chaperone."Photo by Julia Moore

Thursday through Saturday, March 7-9 — The original "The Drowsy Chaperone" delivers plenty of laughs, but not enough for Teen Musical Theater of Oregon. Under the direction of Doug Warner, the company decided to "exploit and expand" the comedy within its production of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical.

More than 30 teens from area schools will present "The Drowsy Chaperone" — "a real lampoon of theater, itself" — at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 7-8, and at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

If you go

What: 'The Drowsy Chaperone'

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, March 7-8, and 3 p.m. Saturday, March 9

Where: Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford

Tickets: $18, or $9 for ages 18 and younger

Call: 541-779-3000

"With this show, the way the story is mapped out, you can expand the comedy to the moon," Warner says.

Craterian Director Stephen McCandless selected the play for its fun song-and-dance numbers — there are 12 — and its characters, but Warner saw the production as a wonderful opportunity to teach the kids about the science of comedy.

"Comedy is a very serious business when you break it down," he says. "If it's not polished or framed, and it's not laid out rhythmically, it'll kill the laugh."

The cigar shtick is one such trick of the trade that he was able to pass on to Zane Taylor, who plays Feldzieg in the show. Famous comedians, including Bill Cosby, Alan King, George Burns and Groucho Marx, would puff on their cigars to give the audience a chance to laugh at a funny line or some goofy acting, he explains.

"The audience won't laugh if they think they are going to miss something," he says.

TMTO borrowed professional, adult actor Justin S. Cowan from Next Stage Repertory Company to play "man in chair," who provides a running commentary and comedic relief — "all witty and slightly barbed" — throughout the show.

"Man in chair," a Broadway enthusiast, is moping around his living room when "he comes across a record (of a fictional Broadway musical) from 1928, and he decides to put the record on," Warner explains. "When he does, all this stuff comes out of his mind."

Characters from "The Drowsy Chaperone" begin to spill into his living room, where the show takes place. There's the bride-to-be, famed actress Janet (Kelsey Tidball); her wealthy groom, Robert (Isaac Cosand), who at one point skates blindfolded; the hostess, Mrs. Tottendale (Alyssa Monning); her butler, Underling (Conor Keating); best man George (Christopher Vincent); Janet's producer, Feldzieg (Taylor); Janet's intoxicated chaperone, Drowsy (Tori Anderson); young flapper and aspiring actress Kitty (Rachel Bennion); Latin ladies' man Adolpho (Adam Lohman); and others, including gangsters posed as bakers.

"What happens is that several people fall in love, and everybody gets married and flies away on a plane," Warner says. "Anything goes in 1928."

Choreography is by Cailey McCandless, vocal direction by Michael Wing, costumes by Sue Quackenbush, lighting design by Brad Nelson, sound design by Shawn Insall, hair and makeup by Meghan DeAngelo and music direction by John Taylor, who orchestrated and recorded the entire score from his piano at home.

"We get the full-blown orchestra coming from state-of-the-art equipment, rather than having just two or three musicians in the pit," Warner brags.

Tickets to the show are $18, or $9 for ages 18 and younger. Tickets are available at the Craterian box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., Medford, and or by calling 541-779-3000.

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