Paul Bruce to direct and choreograph Guild’s ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

Photo by Sue Suchyta


Dearborn resident Paul Bruce, displaying his original set design, will direct and choreograph “The Drowsy Chaperone” for the Players Guild of Dearborn. Auditions for the “musical within a comedy” will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 14 and 15 at the Guild theater. The show will run weekends in May. For more information go to the Guild’s Website at www.playersguildofdearborn.org.

By Sue Suchyta
Are you a “triple threat” – can you sing, dance and act? If so, you may want to audition for “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a “musical within a comedy,” at 7:30 p.m. March 14 and 15 at the Players Guild of Dearborn. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m.

Dearborn resident and teacher Paul Bruce, a 25-year member of the Guild, will direct and choreograph the show, which was only recently released for amateur production. The show, which ran on Broadway from May 2006 through December 2007, won multiple Tony Awards, including Best Original Score.

The show is about a man living in New York City who invites the audience into his apartment as if they were a guest. As he talks to his “guest” he introduces them to his favorite musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” As the record plays, he introduces the characters, and one by one the actors appear, and the apartment becomes transformed as well into the set of the musical.

What kind of cast is he hoping will audition?

“The thing about this show is that it’s got all age ranges,” Bruce said. “We have everything from young people who would be like in their 20s to the oldest characters who could be in their 60s or 70s, and we need a few of everything in between.”

There are 13 featured characters, each of whom has specific physical requirements in terms of how they need to look and be aged.

“All of them, every single one of them, including the additional four ensemble people, have to be incredible singer, dancer, actor triple threats,” Bruce said. “We’ve had a lot of interest in it already, but we’d certainly like to have more. Anyone who is interested in the show I would encourage tenfold to come and audition for it.”

The show is a period piece, taking place at the end of the 1920s. Bruce said they are using some of the steps from that era.

Two men in the show will need to know how to tap, but Bruce says that if they have had “even marginal tap” he will be able to “make it work.”

What does he hope to see at auditions?

“Enthusiasm – mostly enthusiasm – it’s just this high energy show,” Bruce said. “And it’s incredibly fun to watch it. When you’re watching it really is a laugh every minute.

“And so you want to have people that are going to be able to work with that kind of energy starting from the beginning – they need to have it from day one, so that it transfers once all the other details are perfected and all that blocking and all that dancing and singing are in place. You still have to have it look to the audience like it’s a piece of cake to do it… and that’s where the joy and humor’s going to come.”

Bruce is doing the choreography as well as directing.

“I like to do that, because when you have two different people doing that, which is very typical, you always have problems with where does a piece of blocking for a director end and where does the dance begin… sometimes the choreographer and the director are working on two different shows,” Bruce said, “and … a lot of time is wasted.

“As a director I know exactly where my choreographer needs to have my people to start a number,” said Bruce with a laugh, “and vice versa. So it actually saves a lot of time in the long run because you don’t have to go back and repair things.”

Why should people make sure they see this show?

“It’s one of the most delightful, feel-good shows you’ll ever see,” Bruce said. “It’s amazing to me that this show didn’t do a Broadway tour. It was very successful on Broadway. It got lots of attention and several awards.

“But it’s not something that’s become a popular name yet, like ‘Les Miz’ or ‘Phantom.’ It was a much more modest show in terms of what’s there. There’s not tons of amazing special effects in it. It’s just a very cleverly crafted and written show with a beautiful script and score.”

For a list of the available roles, see the detailed descriptions posted on the Guild’s Web site http://www.playersguildofdearborn.org/html/current_season/audition5.html.

Those auditioning should be prepared to list all conflicts on their audition sheet. Audition forms may be downloaded from the Guild’s Web site at www.playersguildofdearborn.org.

The production will run for four weekends, May 6 to 29, with 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday shows and 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinees.

The theater is at 21730 Madison, south of the intersection of Monroe and Outer Drive in Dearborn.

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