The Theatre and Dance Department performed their much-anticipated spring musical this weekend. The Drowsy Chaperone is director Gary Diomandes’ last show on the Saint Mary’s Winona Campus.
During my time with the Cardinal so far, I’ve worn many hats but have primarily acted as the sports writer, having been an athlete my whole life and thus being pretty knowledgeable about that landscape. So when I tentatively agreed to cover The Drowsy Chaperone, I felt that I was going to be a bit of a fish out of water.
Little did I know how enjoyable covering the show would be.
It’s a testament to the skill of the actors, director, and crew to have such a widespread love for the show across all different types of audiences. I also attended the show as a requirement for my Artscore class. Artscore students are, to be frank, notorious for hating the required attendance at performance events. This was not the case with The Drowsy Chaperone. Everyone I talked to, from the casually interested to the indifferent to the aggressively disinterested, ended up loving the show. So what made The Drowsy Chaperone so successful this weekend?
First, it starts with an incredibly talented cast. Junior Andrew Hanzelka, playing the part of “Man in Chair,” not only managed the very difficult role of a performer aware of his audience, but in fact knocked it out of the park. The audience related to him on a level that seems impossible until you experience it. Juniors Bailey Rose Steinke and Zach Hillman were charismatic and adorable as the classic lead couple and were accompanied by a masterful supporting cast. Standouts in supporting roles included senior Danielle Laferriere as The Drowsy Chaperone; junior Joseph Lozano and sophomore Taylor Crothers, whose portrayal of gangsters-turned-pastry-chefs turned heads; as well as sophomore Courtney Govan, who swooped in to save the day and deliver a rousing final number. Truly, every member of the cast contributed a compelling performance, no matter the time spent on stage.
Photos by Grace Homer
Less noticeable, but no less important, was the crew of the show and the orchestra performers in the pit. The show moved flawlessly through two acts, accompanied by period music and seamless set transitions and lighting.
But perhaps the biggest hero of the show was director Gary Diomandes, who is retiring from the Winona Campus after this academic year but will continue as the program director at the university’s study abroad program in London. The Drowsy Chaperone was a fascinating choice for Diomandes’ “swan song,” given the fact that the show is a satire on both culture in general and musical theatre specifically. Though he himself admitted that he is obviously not done with theatre and probably never will be, Diomandes will be missed at the Winona Campus after spending the last 28 years working in the Theatre and Dance Department at Saint Mary’s.
Sharing some final thoughts about the show, Diomandes said, “The Drowsy Chaperone was one of the best shows I have done here. I have a terrific cast and crew and the audience seems to love it.”
Thank you, Dr. Diomandes. We did.