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Roaring ’20s

A pair of gangsters, played by Matthew Minor, left, and Evan Hohnstadt, right, perform the musical number “Toledo Surprise” with Kitty, center, played by Audra LePage, during a rehearsal for Superior High School’s spring musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Wednesday. About 50 students take part in the comedy musical, which opens May 13. Jed Carlson /

A Tony-award-winning musical-within-a-play breezes onto the Superior High School stage next week.

"It’s like nothing we’ve ever done," said senior Sam Dotterwick, who plays the role of Underling. "It’s one of the very few comedies we’ve done in a long while."

Audience members will be transported to the set of a 1928 musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone," through a record being played by a shy Broadway fanatic, The Man in Chair. The characters appear in his dingy apartment and it is transformed in the world of the musical. As the plot unfolds, he adds interesting facts about the show, the actors playing the parts and his own life.

"It’s really entertaining," said senior Robert McGrady, who plays oil tycoon Robert Martin. "It’s so funny and so fresh, like The Man in Chair’s lines, I laugh still. And it’s really emotional, too. His arc is so powerful."

The show features bigger-than-life 1920s characters, from Broadway star Janet Van De Graaf and ditzy flapper Kitty to a pair of gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, a Latin lover, an alcoholic chaperone and a roller skating millionaire. When Van De Graaf decides to give up her Broadway career for marriage, the announcement sparks schemes involving mistaken identity, romance, tap dancing, glitz and giant monkey heads.

"I think the audience members who come to it are going to love it, and oh, the costumes," said co-director Cheri Tesarek. Expect feathers and sequins, pinstripes and fringe.

Theater people will enjoy the show’s wily nods to the craft.

"There are so many references to theater and productions because The Man in Chair is just so in love with theater," Tesarek said. "There are sly references to Disney, little sly references to the characters."

At one point, The Man in Chair reveals that a musical number was put in as filler for a set change; another has awful lyrics, he tells the audience, but it conveys the mood.

It takes more than 50 students to bring "The Drowsy Chaperone" to life, between the cast, crew and orchestra.

"I think it’s the funniest show we’ve done in a long time," said sophomore Zach Palmer, who plays The Man in Chair. "And there are so many good characters, there are so many new faces and fun little plot twists that go along with it, it’s kind of hard to tell what’s coming."

The show is a true ensemble piece, Dotterwick said, like "Game of Thrones." And it’s a perfect night out for people hoping to have a good time and enjoy themselves.

"If they come and see the show, they will love it," McGrady said.

Palmer understands his character’s fascination with the musical.

"‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ is such a bright world," he said. "Everything works out and it’s so magical that I really get why he’d love it so much."

Performances of "The Drowsy Chaperone" take place at 7 p.m. May 13 and 14, and 2 p.m. May 15 in the high school’s Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $8 for students, $10 for adults and $15 for VIP section seating. They will be available at the door or at the high school treasurer’s office.