ECS musical photo

By Louisa Benatovich, ECS Student Reporter

Over the years, ECS has performed multitudes of musicals for the community. From Rodgers and Hammerstein’s smash hit “South Pacific” to the legendary Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” students captivate and astound time and time again. This year, the drama club is set to perform “The Drowsy Chaperone.” An insanely humorous parody of 1920s theatre, this “musical within a comedy” is a different foray into the arts for ECS Drama.

Unknown to all cast members before rehearsal began—a collective drowsy “what…?” was heard when the show was first mentioned—students have now fully embraced this musical sensation. So had, it turns out, East Aurora High School.

This provided the perfect opportunity: the chance to share ideas, cultivate friendships and truly appreciate the musical on a new level. On Feb. 11, ECS Drama Club went to see “The Drowsy Chaperone” performed by none other than East Aurora students.

As soon as the musical started, the audience was rapt. Every funny line, every zinger was delivered perfectly. Put best by Allison Calarco, an ECS cast member, “even though we knew how the show was going to go and all of the funny scenes, they made me feel that I was watching it for the first time.”

The entire ECS cast echoed the sentiment. “After seeing their show, I know that I have to make my character bolder,” said Emma Steffenhagen. “There is never such a thing as too much!”

While ECS director Jon Wilder and East Aurora director Chris Cummins decided which parts of the set and props Ellicottville would borrow for its own show, Ellicottville students mingled with the actors, stage crew, and student orchestra. Initially, they felt a little daunted after such an amazing performance, but East Aurora’s cast and crew was so friendly and happy to share ideas that ECS students were quickly put at ease.

Evan Quinn, a lead actor in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” was particularly affected by his experience. “I was pleasantly greeted with a wonderful performance and a just as wonderful cast. This cast was happy to help us by answering any questions we had about how to improve and make our show just as good, if not better. I hope they get to see the result of their advice when we perform in March.”

East Aurora, however, made one thing clear: it’s Ellicottville’s job to make the

play its own. To not do so would defeat the purpose of high school theatre, which is an opportunity to test your limits, showcase your own talents, and explore parts of yourself you didn’t know existed. The students from both schools got along so well that tentative plans were made for East Aurora to drive the hour to watch the ECS performance in March.

Wilder was very pleased with the success of the outing: “Our attending the East Aurora High School Drama Club’s performance of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ was a tremendous experience for our cast members in that it provided them with valuable insight into their character which they can use as inspiration in developing their own stage persona. While watching YouTube and DVD clips of the musical can be helpful, there truly is no other way to gain this insight than attending a live theatrical performance.”

On the Tuesday following East Aurora’s final performance, Cummins was happy to share his thoughts. “I am so pleased that the Ellicottville cast members spoke with the cast and crew of the East Aurora Drama Club following their final performance. The fact that they are continuing their correspondence in social media demonstrates the rapport and mutual respect which was immediately felt and established between the two casts.”

The whole experience was a beautiful example of how strangers can become friends over a single commonality. Ellicottville is lucky to have not only the helping hands and creative minds of its own district, but the set, props, and genuine support from their new friends at East Aurora.

Come and see Ellicottville’s take on “The Drowsy Chaperone” at 7 p.m. on March 15, 16 or 17 at ECS.