|Barbara Bruno is the Chaperone, who is often drowsy from drink. |
The Chaperone is the favorite character of the Man in Chair (Edmond Guay)
PHOTO: Jan Cartwright
Acting is an interesting balance of fantasy and reality. Actors dress up and get to pretend to be someone else, often a character that possess qualities or powers that they can only dream of. And yet, the best actors’ performance draws from their own experience, keeping it real while living someone else’s life. Such is the juxtaposition facing Barbara Bruno, who plays the title role of the Chaperone in the Farmington Players production of The Drowsy Chaperone (April 26 – May 18 at the Barn Theater).
In the play, the Chaperone is often drowsy from too much drink. Barb describes her character as “this wonderful grande dame of the theater with a touch of the bar room bawd about her. It's great fun to play the sophisticate in one scene and then broad physical comedy in the next. What's challenging about the role is that she isn't written with a lot of ‘jokes’ in her lines. All of the comedy comes from what the actor chooses to do with it, what the actor brings to it.”
Drowsy is narrated by the Man in the Chair, who takes the audience on this ride. The Chaperone is the Man’s favorite character. As Barb says, “He loves her for how fabulous she is. The challenge is playing that in ways that are grounded in who you are - trying to find the most appealing things about yourself and bringing them to the fore. You simply can't copy what someone else has done with the role - it won't work.” Barb tries to balance being grounded in reality with exploring the fantasy world created by the show: “As actors, we are fortunate to be able to play in a fantasy world, complete with costumes and orchestrations! In truth, I spent most of my childhood re-enacting my favorite books and movies and embodying my alter ego, who was everything I was not: brave, strong, powerful. Fantasy is a way we can get in touch with those qualities we don't believe we possess. The funny thing, though, is that the very ability to imagine those qualities means that they are within you. The Chaperone is fun and confident, and I've noticed that these aspects have seeped into how I feel about myself. It's good to remember in those times when I'm feeling down on myself that there are wonderful things about ourselves that, once we imagine them, we can bring out into the light and into our lives.”
Barbara knows that audiences will relate to Drowsy’s themes of escape: “It's all about escape - and we all need that. Life can be unrelenting drudgery - the song As We Stumble Along summarizes the struggle that is just living life. There's always something else that needs to be done or some problem that needs to be solved. We all need an escape from it every once in a while. There's nothing so comforting as spending some time in a fantasy world where you are everything you ever hoped you could be in a world that is exactly as you think it should be.”
While Barbara has enjoyed her other Barn performances including Stepmother, Into the Woods; Sara Jane Moore,
Assassins; and Leta Encore, Ruthless, she considers the Drowsy cast to be “one of the most wonderful groups of people that I've ever seen assembled for a production. Everyone gets along famously and we're having a truly wonderful time. It's such an incredibly talented group. If folks have even a fraction of the fun we're having, they are going to have a marvelous time!”
The Drowsy Chaperone has 12 performances at the Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 26 – May 18. The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.