Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Inside look at Valencia's ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

      A dedicated group of acting students are currently rehearsing for this year's musical production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” in the Performing Arts Center at Valencia's East Campus. This up-beat, funny, and often over-the-top musical comedy is sure to entertain and delight all who attend.

     Julia Gagne, Valencia professor and the play’s director said, “Last year we did the Rogers and Hammerstein musical 'Carousel’ which is a huge show. So it's not outside the realm of my experience doing major musicals.”

     This 'forth wall breaking' production is a tribute to the roaring 20s and the beginnings of the Jazz era in music. It requires a real triple treat talent from most of the ensemble cast required to sing, dance, and act throughout the performance.

     It's set in a fantasy world in the sad but lovable mind of a man in a chair. The character has never seen the show, but when he listens to ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ in his lonely apartment, a grand musical performance breaks out. The “Man in Chair interacts with the audience as they watch, and eventually plays a role in the main performance.

     “It does exactly what a musical is supposed to do; it takes you to another world, and it makes you feel happy,” said Robert DiGiovanni, a second year Valencia business management student, who plays the role of “Man in Chair.”

     The story focuses on a love torn, Broadway star named Janet van de Graaff. “She's choosing between fame and love,” said Jillian Gizzi, a second year Musical Theater student, who plays the lead role of Janet. “You can tell that she still loves performing, but if she gets married it's all over.”

     Other great characters are part of the total experience, like the cheerfully tipsy and life-loving “Drowsy Chaperon,” played by Evangeline Mateo, and the flamboyant Latin Lothario “Aldolpho,” played by Paul Layton. Most of the cast have several songs and dance numbers they have to perfect before the first set of performances later this month.

     Theatrical performances like this are a special experience and anything can happen. After a Summer of loud explosions and superheroes at the box office, why not take in some real fine arts and support your fellow students at this production in Valencia‘s Performing Arts Center.

     Tickets are on sale now. It is recommended to buy tickets early to ensure a seat for you and your guests. Shows begin Friday, Oct. 21 - 23, and continue Oct. 27-30. More information can be found at

By James Tutten

(All photos by James Tutten)

Cast member look on as Jillian Gizzi performs during a solo .

Paul Layton as 'Aldolpho' seduces the
'Drowsy Chaperone' played by Evangeline Mateo.


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