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Student group hopes play doesn’t make audiences ‘Drowsy’

Kit Lewis / Lantern photographer

When classes end for the week, room 131 in Hitchcock Hall will be transformed from a lecture hall to a stage as the student organization Off The Lake Productions presents “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

“The Drowsy Chaperone,” which opens today at 8 p.m., is a musical comedy that “breaks down the fourth wall between the audience and the characters,” said Tyler Rogols, a sixth-year in music, and currently the longest-serving member of Off The Lake.

Rogols’ character, Man in Chair, “begins the show by just talking to the audience in the dark,” Rogols said.

Man in Chair plays the record of his favorite musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and suddenly the characters come to life in his apartment. The story centers on events leading up to the wedding of 1920s showgirl Janet Van De Graaff and oil tycoon Robert Martin.

Kelsey Tschanen, a third-year in history and co-director for the show, said “The Drowsy Chaperone” is “everything that people love about old 20s musicals.”

Tschanen, who co-directed the show with Johnny Robison, said the audition process began in January. There were 118 people who auditioned this year, and a cast of about 45 members was eventually selected.

Those involved with Off the Lake are not just music or theater majors, but rather students with a variety of majors and the common interest of musical theater, Tschanen said.

Off the Lake performs multiple times a year for service events such as Buckeyethon and the Red Party, an AIDS awareness event.

“Our motto is ‘service through song,'” Rogols said.

Off the Lake’s involvement with service is apparent in its upcoming show. Instead of a typical ticket price, admittance to the show is one canned food item.

The annual spring musical is the organization’s biggest event of the year, and all proceeds will go to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Rogols said the amount of canned goods in previous years has ranged from 2,000 to 3,000 pounds.

Lannette Speas, a fifth-year in psychology, is planning to see “The Drowsy Chaperone” at least twice during its run.

“Almost every student has a can of chicken noodle soup or can get one for a swipe,” Speas said. “Plus, the canned goods go to a good cause.”

Speas believes this show will impress audiences.

“From my previous experiences with Off the Lake, I know I am guaranteed a great show,” Speas said.

The non-profit, service-orientated group only receives a small budget from its University Residence and Dining Services sponsorship, so they find funds that can support their spring show.

“All the funds for the show come from grants within the university,” Rogols said.

Off the Lake applies for Ohio Union Activities Board grants and writes Residence Hall Council proposals for funds.

The money Off the Lake receives from grants pays for large expenses such as costumes and sets. Tschanen said the biggest expense is the purchasing of rights for shows.

Tschanen, who didn’t have an exact cost for this year’s show, said “The Drowsy Chaperone” is one of the group’s biggest performances and required almost $9,000.

Members of Off the Lake selected “The Drowsy Chaperone” as their spring show through a vote last summer.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” opened in Toronto in 1998, and won five Tony Awards, including Best Original Score, in 2006 when the show opened on Broadway.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” shows today at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and May 19, 20, and 21 at 8 p.m.

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