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Blinded By The Lights

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My Experience: The Drowsy Chaperone



The best feeling in the world is watching an audience laugh. Even when you aren't the actor on stage causing the laughter, it still is. It’s knowing that all the work everyone has done has finally paid off and that people are loving it that makes everything worth it. Any fights with your crew and doubts are suddenly forgotten when that curtain goes up on Thursday night. That’s what I learned during this show. I learned that after two crazy months, no matter what happens, when you finally hear that audience laugh it makes up for it all.

Going back to the beginning, for me it all started the night when I stayed up late reading the script the night before the first Crew Chief and Cast read-thru meeting. After getting a mere few scenes in, I fell in love. I had started learning more about musicals as I did more theatre, but I was never really a huge ‘musical fan’. I knew of some, I saw one, but I never really was sure what made people love them. On top of that, this was my second time being involved with any show, so it was obviously my first musical. Anyway, the next day at the meeting I was not really sure what I was getting myself into. I mean, I had much more experience in a technical sense than I did for plan 9, but other than that I had no real idea how a musical worked. So there I was, setting between Jamie Leonard, my previous Crew Chief who changed to Paint Crew, and Drew Broeckelman, listening to everyone read the lines I’d later know by heart. Now, I still can’t comprehend how fast everything went by. I mean, it seems like that all was just a few days ago.

Anyway, next came the weeks of work days. Or as I like to call them, “I haven’t seen the sun in a while” days, since a good amount of the time, it would be dark by the time I left. And during those work days, I honestly didn’t know how this show’s lights would turn out. Looking back, all the fighting and disorganization is nothing, but I know that at the time it really made me not even like lights anymore. So there I was, for a couple weeks, not even liking doing the thing I love. The cause of that came from multiple sources though. One being that I was the one who didn’t know as much as the other crew chiefs. There would be times when it seemed as though if I wasn’t there it honestly wouldn’t even make a difference. Now, in saying that, it’s not as if I was actually being treated that way. It was really all mental, and something that I needed to just get over and figure out for myself. Which I did do, and was a lot happier afterward. But even when I wasn’t too hot for lights, I never skipped a work day or didn’t work. There are many reasons behind that, but the major ones are that I don’t quit and that I actually couldn’t go home since there are usually showing going on at my house since we are selling it. With all this going on in my own head, it didn’t help the disconnect between all of lights crew as a whole. That disconnect continued all the way up to the tech weeks, where we all finally somewhat lost it. As the show got closer, the tension kept growing, as little was getting done. The tension was mostly between my co-assistant Crew Chief and myself against the head Crew Chief. The tension was at it’s peak by the second tech week, being so bad that communication was basically only between my co assistant and I. We couldn’t talk as a crew, and if we did it was unproductive. With cues still not completely put together and time running out, I was worried. But then something clicked. Then during show week things began to fall into place. Our communication began coming back and the excitement of the show was finally hitting me.

Then it was there. It was finally Thursday. Opening night. Potluck had gone great, but this time it was the real thing. The powerpoint of mostly my photos was up and running, the rituals were done, and the adrenaline was there. Then when the lights went down it was time to watch the same thing you have watched so many times, yet still find something new in it. But I found myself doing something I regret. I, at times, found myself waiting for the show to end. I guess I had seen it so many times I just subconsciously did. That didn’t stop me from mouthing along every word to every song and every line though. I loved doing it, picking up on changes and different things.

My favorite song from Drowsy is As We Stumble Along. It’s the song that always made me think “wow” and had me chuckle to the funny things Abby would do. It’s also the song that hits me straight in the heart when A.J. and the cast sing it in the end. It’s message, though cloudy, is something that I think engulfs the whole feeling of the musical. That even when things are bad, we’ll all end up stumbling along and finding the right way. That’s not staying that I didn’t laugh every time Aldolpho sang his song, or annoy everyone in my family by singing Show Off every time I walked up the stairs though. I love that about this musical. I could feel every emotion, and have it topped off by a monologue helping me understand what’s going on. As The Man In Chair says, "It does what a musical is supposed to do. It takes you to another world, gives you a little tune to carry with you in your head, a little something to help you escape from the dreary horrors of the real world. A little something for when you're feeling blue. You Know? ". And that line by the way, is my favorite. It is exactly how I felt.

It’s funny to say that I think the lights looks absolutely amazing after all the trouble I thought they would be, isn’t it? But it’s true, I sat down and watched the show Saturday night and thought about how proud I was of Alison and Breanna for all they had done. And maybe I felt a little proud for myself too. Really, I just feel so much overwhelming pride for this show. The costumes were amazing, the set made me feel like I was actually looking in, and the lights just looked like how I pictured them in my head.

I finally sat down and really watched the show for the first time Saturday night. I still did my spot light duty when I was supposed to, but since I was in the house I took the time to take it all in for the last time. I found myself tearing up for the first time during Stumble Along. I had not really listened before, but when I did it brought back everything. But it also made me happy. Happy to remember all the fun I had, to remember all the amazing people. So that’s how I made myself feel for the rest of the show. That is until A.J.’s last monologue. When he started crying, I lost it. The thoughts that I had been pushing away about knowing all my seniors who I’ve gotten so close to would be gone just got me. But it was also that I couldn’t believe that Drowsy was over and that I wouldn’t be there every day. And most of all, it was that I probably can’t do run crew for my last show with my seniors since I will be out of town for two days of tech week. I know I wasn’t alone in crying, and as I handed flowers to all the leads I had just as many tears in my eyes as them. I knew I wanted to give them one last thing for musical, so I gave them the flowers. Then as I watched these guys who I used to find intimidating before getting to know them crying, I knew that being a part of the musical was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I probably hugged Maggie about two thousand times that night, but it still wasn’t enough. I never would have thought I could get so emotionally attached when I walked into that read-thru. I had no idea of any of these wonderful experiences I would have. And when I got home after the party and strike, I couldn’t help but think of it all once again. As I thought of all the good times, I knew this was something I’d never forget. It was times likes like when I waited in the choir room for a good twenty minutes just to get a picture with A.J or when Breanna and I would dance to the songs during rehearsals. It’s stuff like that makes me know that even when things seem bad, I can just pull my boot-straps up and remember all the good times.


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