Sayville High’s Musical Production The Drowsy Chaperone Entertained Streaming Audiences
June 3 - 5, 2021
Entertainment—the "Main Point" of Sayville High School’s Musical Production The Drowsy Chaperone—Took Center Stage
“I just want to be entertained…that’s the point,” says the Man in Chair, the aptly named narrator who introduces modern audiences to the nuances of the musical theatre genre, and in particular, his favorite 1928 musical, The Drowsy Chaperone.
Sayville High School’s production of this playful spoof of Broadway not only included hilarious stereotypes on and off the stage but it was magnificently performed by every cast member (see program). The “pampered Broadway starlet [Maya Guacci] and her debonair fiancé [Hunter Caiazzo], an overzealous producer [Noah Ryan], a dizzy chorus girl [Chloe McCormack-Falk], the Latin lover [Aidan Deverna], an Aviatrix [Amelia Wells], a couple of bumbling gangsters [Dylan Schneider and Kyle Finn],” and the title character, the Drowsy Chaperone [Paige Gaiser] provided all the fun elements for “mix-ups, mayhem and gay weddings”—the 1928 definition of “gay,” that is.
“When a character’s in crisis,” notes the exuberant Man in the Chair [Ben Flaumenhaft], “they sing and dance. Better that, than just whining about it.”
No one can dispute the topsy-turvy struggles to find normalcy this year, however, these multi-talented, high school "Triple Threat" performers did not whine about it. Instead, with the support of their directors, the orchestra, and backstage crews, they put their talents into making the show do more than just go on. They made it spectacular—the singing was superb, the acting spot on, the comic timing impeccable, and the dancing a delight.
“I know it’s not a perfect show,” admits the Man in the Chair who in his enthusiasm more than occasionally wanders onto the stage to break the fourth wall and interject his opinions and insights, “but none of that matters. It does what a musical is supposed to do. It’s a little something to distract us from the chaos of the real world.” Truer sentiments could not have expressed how, in this Post-COVID-19 world, The Drowsy Chaperone, with its witty asides, eye-catching costumes and sets, was the perfect choice to bring joy and laughter.
Producing this show for a streaming audience was a genuine labor of love on the part of the Music and Drama departments, the producers and directors, and the crews. So much work was behind the scenes in designing and building the sets, in providing the lighting and sound, and additionally, in film editing the show for the exclusive streaming dates. However, to explain in better detail all the challenges this Sayville High School Musical production faced, Music Department Chairperson Jeffrey Hoffman composed a heartfelt Director’s Note:
~ DIRECTOR’S NOTES ~
Welcome to the Brook Street Player’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone
Last year’s loss of Fiddler On The Roof to the COVID pandemic has been one of the most crushing theatrical losses that I had experienced in my forty+ years of musical theatre. As horrible as it was for me, I am pretty sure it was twice as devastating for the students involved. That is why this show had to happen for these amazing young actors. I knew that we had to choose something that could be videotaped so that no matter what, it would be seen. Way back in September we didn’t know how long we had before schools would shut down. HA! Little did we know! While Drowsy had plenty of roles and they kind of fit some of our students, I wasn’t sold that it was the perfect show for our group. BOY, did the concern melt away at the auditions! These kids came prepared and blew me out of the water! I suddenly became very excited about this project!
Rehearsals went wonderfully and before you knew it, BOOM... video time! Once again on paper it looked like we could do this. But, what looks good on paper doesn’t always pan out. I left ten days available to film an hour and a half of material. Once again, I was stunned by the professionalism and dedication of this group. We were able to record the entire show in five days instead of ten! The patience and fortitude of the students was just amazing! Sometimes, doing a song or scene ten+ times searching for the perfect take!
Working with Mr. Kenyon and his students on the set was a joy from the very beginning. His brilliance and the massive talent of the students involved was nothing short of remarkable, leaving us all to marvel at the beauty of the set.
Mrs. VanBoxel and the student musicians prepared impeccably and were so ready to record over a 4-night period. The truly professional, beautiful sounds that came out of their instruments was a spectacle to behold! So many professionals have heard the recordings and could not believe that those sounds came from high school students.
I must make a very special thank you to Tech and Business Chairperson, Mr. Bryan Coon for his technical expertise, his support, and his friendship. He is responsible for all of the printing done for set decoration and props. The filming of the production could not have been done without the help of these wonderful students who were in charge of the actual filming of the project; Administrative Assistant: Jayliani Perez, Head Cameraman:Alexander Lepping, and Cameraperson: Emily Rosado.
Producing a show is such a thankless job. It is behind the scenes, but essential at the very least. Mr. Kramer’s contributions to this production are so numerous. From the actual contract negotiations with MTI, to the ordering of materials, to the artistic eye which has lit the stage, to the t-shirts, tickets, program, and just to the moral support that he provides. It may not be seen by the general public but I certainly appreciate it and I am thankful for his involvement.
As always, my right-hand person, and the Rock Of Gibraltar, Mrs.Baio was right there with her wonderful artistic sense, the uncanny ability to make people look as though they have been dancing for years, her impeccable eye for costuming, and strong back for me to lean on whenever I needed it. I truly could not do any of this without her help, encouragement, and friendship!
The past five months of work on Drowsy has been a labor of love for me. An opportunity to say goodbye to the last class of students I directed in the middle school and an attempt to make up for the loss of Fiddler On The Roof (which was an incredibly huge artistic achievement for those student actors, and due to the pandemic, never saw the light of day). It is the understatement of the world to say that I am so proud of these students and what they accomplished with this show. I truly love them all. It gives me great joy to know that we will always and forever have this shared experience to remember. Take that, COVID!
~ Jeffrey Hoffman