OCTA opens with musical comedy


Olathe Civic Theatre Association announces its first production of the 2018-2019 season, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, with music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison and book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. This musical comedy runs September 7 – 23, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Julie Ewing returns after last season’s VIOLET to direct this Tony Award-winner alongside Kevin Bogan as music director.

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE is a feel-good American musical that is reminiscent of the 1920s jazz age. When a loyal fan shares a rare recording of his favorite musical, the characters come to life in an exuberant tale of love that leaves audiences delighted and breathless. A wedding, gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, and a drunk chaperone are just a few of the ingredients in this delicious farcical treat for the whole family.  New York magazine called it “The Perfect Broadway Musical.”

Of the show, director Julie Ewing exudes: “This cast is ready to transport you to a place where the politics of the day can be forgotten for a few hours, and where spit-takes and cannoli are on the menu!” She’s thrilled to partner with local choreographer Ann McCroskey who is working with the 16-member cast to bring out the grandeur of singing and dancing required for the production’s show-within-a-show concept. Everything comes from the heightened imagination of the narrator, Man in Chair, an avid musical theatre fan who brings his favorite characters to life for the audience through his record collection and storytelling. “Ann has taken a cast of mostly ‘movers’ and has brought out the Ginger and Fred in them!”

Loyal OCTA audience members understand the charm of the theater’s intimate space, therefore Ewing believes returning patrons will truly appreciate how this story is told thanks to the set design of Ken Schmidt. “This is my third show at OCTA and the third time I have worked with Ken. He has an excellent eye and knowledge of the unique limitations and advantages of the OCTA stage. I think we are becoming known for having interesting surprises in our use of sets and THE DROWSY CHAPERONE will not disappoint.” When speaking of her desire to direct this show, Ewing explains that it was the last show her father saw featuring her eldest son, Riley, before her father passed away from cancer five years ago. “I’ll never forget the determination of my father to make it to the final performance. He had to get released from the hospital to see his grandson as Man in Chair.” Adding to Ewing’s sincere poignancy when expressing her love of working at OCTA is her description of her first acting classes taught by the late, but fabulous, mentor and friend, Jan Conner.

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE adds another powerful musical to Ewing’s OCTA resume alongside VIOLET and LITTLE WOMEN. “I tend to lean toward very story-driven shows where there is a strong message or moral… I enjoy telling simple stories that have a strong take-away for the audience. If there is an ‘ism, I am at’em!! There are many touchstones that Man in Chair has that are directly tied to a musical. I identify with him, as I am sure many in the audience will as well.” The musical pokes fun at musicals, but it takes the material at face value. “The finale wraps everything up in that sweet way that vintage MGM musicals come to a grand close.”

The talented cast includes veterans of OCTA and stages throughout the Kansas City area. Ewing notes a highlight of the show, duo Mark Doyle and Fisher Stewart as Robert and George, both high school seniors who are bringing a fresh charm and energy in their debut at OCTA. Audiences will take note of returning OCTA favorites Bill Bergman, Matthew Henrickson and Laura Irwin (UNNECESSARY FARCE), Ashley Jones (VIOLET), and Peter Leondedis (ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS). Additionally, other actors make their OCTA debut with this production including Ashton Botts and Kathleen Marx.

In a true theatre blessing straight from the musical-comedy heavens, OCTA is thrilled to announce a talkback with one of the inspirations for, and characters of, the musical THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. On Saturday, September 8, following the performance, actress and comedienne Janet Van De Graaff will join Peter Leondedis

on stage and regale us with stories of the show, her movie and stage career, and what it was like performing in high school with Peter. Janet began her career with The Second City in Toronto and has appeared in many movies and television series. She has won three Canadian Comedy Awards, for Best Female Improviser (2002 & 2004) and Best Female TV Performance (for HISTORY BITES in 2002). Make your reservations now for OCTA’s “THE DROWSY TALKBACK!”

The complete cast of talented singers and tappers includes: Peter Leondedis (Man in Chair), Mark Doyle (Robert Martin), Kathleen Marx (The Drowsy Chaperone), Ashton Botts (Janet Van De Graaff), Peggy Mall (Mrs. Tottendale), Matthew Henrickson (Aldolpho), Bill Bergman (Underling), Fisher Stewart (George), Laura Irwin (Kitty), Mike Peterson (Gangster One), Arthur P. Clifford (Gangster Two), Charles Christesson, Jr. (Mr. Feldzieg), Ashley Jones (Trix), Don Arnott (Superintendent), Mark McNeal (Ensemble), Dana Wardle (Ensemble), and Catie Wolff (Ensemble).

The creative team includes: Julie Ewing (director), Kevin Bogan (music director), Todd Wiley (assistant music director), Ann McCroskey (choreographer), Meghann Deveroux (stage manager), Rachel Phillips (assistant stage manager, Heather Stewart (costume designer), Ken Schmidt (set designer), Bill Case (construction foreman), Brandon Dupree (light designer), Joshua Finch (sound designer), Abby Wolff (props coordinator), Matt Pollock (sound board operator), and Brittany Becker (light board operator).

Tickets are available online now at www.olathetheatre.org! Season ticket holders can make reservations by writing tickets@olathetheatre.org or by calling the reservation hotline at 913-782-2990. Season ticket holders can indicate preferred date and seats.


Opening night, September 7: Guests will be treated to a post-show celebration with the cast and crew.

Saturday, September 8: “THE DROWSY TALKBACK!” Guests are invited to a post-show talkback with Janet Van De Graaff.

About Olathe Civic Theatre Association

Olathe Civic Theatre Association is a 501(c)3 organization producing theatre in Olathe since 1974. Performing in the Buddy Rogers Family Playhouse, OCTA produces five high-quality, engaging, and thought-provoking theatre productions a year. Through the generosity of volunteers, season ticket holders, donors, and the City of Olathe, OCTA has grown into one of the most progressive community theaters in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Social and Digital Media

Receive daily updates by ‘liking’ OCTA’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/olathecivictheatre and follow OCTA on Instagram and Twitter at @OCTATheatre.


The Drowsy Chaperone
Sept 7 – Sept 23, 2018
Music & Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison
Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar
Directed by Julie Ewing | Music Direction by Kevin Bogan

An epic “musical within a comedy”, this brilliantly funny Tony Award-winner is a celebration of the American musical that harkens back to the jazz age of the 1920s. When a loyal fan shares a rare recording of his favorite musical, the characters come to life in an exciting tale of love and delight that leaves audiences breathless. A wedding, gangsters disguised as pastry chefs, and a drunk chaperone are just a few of the ingredients in this delicious farcical treat that is fun for the whole family.

Sense and Sensibility
Nov 2 – Nov 18, 2018
An adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel

By Jon Jory
Directed by Jessica Franz

In this witty comedy of manners, two sisters who are alike only in their pursuit of happiness find themselves financially destitute and socially vulnerable after their father’s sudden death. Will Elinor’s common sense or Marianne’s impulsive passion offer up the key to living “happily ever after”? Expect the unexpected as this spirited tale of flirtation and folly bounds onto the OCTA stage in this boisterous adaptation of one of Austen’s beloved stories.

Sunday in the Park with George
Feb 8 – Feb 24, 2019
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim | Book by James Lapine
Directed by Tiffany Schweigert

A blank page or canvas. So many possibilities. A moving study of the enigmatic artist Georges Seurat and his famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, this stunning musical merges past and present into beautiful and poignant truths about life, love, and the creation of art. Winner of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for drama and nominated for an astounding ten Tony Awards, this masterpiece by the legendary team of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine will inspire you long after you leave the theatre.

Pass Over
Apr 5 – Apr 21, 2019
By Kansas City playwright Michelle Tyrene Johnson*
Directed by Teresa Leggard

The Washingtons, an African-American family, have lived next door to the Levy family in a Philadelphia neighborhood for a few generations. In the wake of the death of the Washington family matriarch, a brother and sister come together to bury their beloved grandmother. The finding of old stock, by the Washington family, in the Levy family business, triggers the revelation of secrets, tensions, and reckonings.

A Flea in Her Ear
May 31 – June 16, 2019
A new version of Georges Feydeau’s farce

By David Ives
Directed by David Martin

As Raymonde suspects her suddenly uninterested husband is having an affair, she cooks up a trap to catch him in the act. Hilarity ensues as everything inevitably goes horribly wrong triggering laughs galore. Touted as the “greatest of French farces”, this dazzling comedy, and winner of the 2006 Jefferson Award for best adaptation, David Ives’ version of Georges Feydeau’s masterpiece achieves levels of glorious ridiculousness only an absurdist of Ives’ caliber can bring.


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