I love music theatre. I have spent many hours watching musicals and many hours practicing and performing in musicals. When I was in the 4th grade I was cast as Marta in the Sound of Music. And the next year I got to see my first Broadway touring company of Annie in the newly restored 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle.
In high school and college I was never cast in a Musical. If you weren’t part of the music program, you weren’t part of the cast. It wasn’t until I moved to Wenatchee, after university, that I began my serious relationship with Community Theater.
Now when we return to Wenatchee for our brief summer stay, we always try to get up to at least one production put on by Leavenworth Summer Theater. Most of the productions are done outdoors where audiences are treated to theater with a spectacular view of the Cascades and the Icicle River Valley.
So when my friend Kevin McKee invited us up to see his final dress rehearsal of Drowsy Chaperone at the Festhalle, I knew I was in for an entertaining evening.
If you haven’t heard of this show, here is the synopsis. The story takes place in an apartment where a recluse plays his favorite musical on his record player. As the overture of the Drowsy Chaperone begins to play, the musical cast from the 1920’s appears in his living room and begins to perform. He stops and starts the action, from time to time, to give his opinions, annotations, and critiques of the show.
The show has many stars. Beyond the Man in Chair (John Mauser), there is the ingenue Janet (Marissa Ryder) who announces to the world that she is leaving the theater to marry her true love Robert Martin (Dennis Peters). The best man (Nicholas Main) tries to keep the wedding on schedule. There is the drunk chaperone (Daina Toevs) who is supposed to keep the two love birds from seeing each other before the wedding, but instead lets herself be seduced by the Latin lover Aldolpho (Morgan Bader). The theater producer, Feldzieg (Marcus Bingham) desperately tries to get Janet to return to his stage while at the same time trying to outwit two gangsters (Austin Raver and Trevor Williams) posing as pastry chefs.
The cast was highly talented. Their comedic timing was en pointe. They dazzled the audience with their tap shoes, their quick changes, and their vocal strength. And I have never seen a more hard-working chorus.
It might also be interesting to note that this year Leavenworth Summer Theater has become more like a college summer stock program. With the creation of the Music Theater major at Central Washington University, the summer casts have been filled with skilled actor/singer/dancers. Not that the talent presented by Leavenworth Summer Theater has been lacking, it’s just that this years casts have more depth than in the past.
If you live in Washington State, and you have always wanted to get over to Leavenworth for some summer theater, this is the year to go. You can see Fiddler on the Roof at the Hatchery stage, The Sound of Music on the Ski Hill stage, or The Drowsy Chaperone at the Festhalle stage. If you plan your timing right you could even stay three nights and see all three shows.
Have you ever been to a Leavenworth Summer Theater performance? What are your favorite musical memories?