Abbie Copus takes on title role in ACTA Theatre’s ‘Drowsy Chaperone’

Abbie Copus takes center stage during a rehearsal for “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

When ACTA Theatre in Trussville opens the Tony Award-winning musical “The Drowsy Chaperone” on Thursday, taking on the title role will be Trussville’s Abbie Copus, who has been seen in a number of shows in the Birmingham area. A love letter to classic musicals, the show is a show-within-a-show as the tale of the drowsy chaperone comes to life as a character called “Man in Chair,” played by Howard Green, listens to its cast album.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” runs July 11-21. Copus took some time to answer some questions about the show and herself:

Tell me about you. Where do you live?

I live in Trussville with my husband and three sons. I’m a middle-school teacher. I’m a dog person.

What’s your first memory of being on stage?

Singing in church with my parents when I was around 4 years old.

Abbie Copus.

What’s your favorite role you’ve played or show you’ve been in?

Even though I was in high school at the time, it would probably be Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes.”

Who is your favorite composer?

There are so many wonderful ones! I love Sondheim, Schwartz, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Schonberg.

Do you have a favorite show?

Probably “Les Miserables,” if I had to choose just one.

Do you have a favorite song from a show?

It’s so hard to narrow them down! “One Day More” is my favorite song from “Les Mis.”

What’s a performance (on stage or screen) that sticks out to you as an audience member?

I recently saw “Merrily We Roll Along” on Broadway, and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Daniel Radcliffe blew me away, Jonathan Groff was spectacular as always, and Lindsay Mendez – I want to be best friends with her.

What is a role you wish you would like to play?

Ms. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” would be a blast, or one of the Schuyler sisters in “Hamilton!”

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

Not really. I just try to mentally review every entrance, costume change, props I need to set, etc. to make sure I’m prepared.

Tell me about a time something went wrong on stage.

I was playing the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz,” and I was very late for an entrance because I had forgotten my broom and went to grab it. I should have just gone on stage without the broom! I felt terrible, and I made a promise to myself I would never let that happen again! I try to be super-prepared and focused on what I need to have in hand, being in place early, etc., so I will not let my castmates down like that.

What about “The Drowsy Chaperone”? What can you tell me about it?

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a spoof of 1920s musicals. It is very funny and very silly at times. There are also some touching moments. It has been a really fun project! I’m playing the Drowsy Chaperone. She is responsible for making sure that Janet Van De Graaff doesn’t see her groom before her wedding. She is also a drunk, hence the title “drowsy.” This is a very interesting production in that it’s a “show within a show.” We are not just playing roles in a musical, but we are also playing actors who are playing roles in a musical. The “Man in Chair” narrates, and he talks about the life stories of the actors just as much as he talks about the actual musical itself. I’m not sure if that makes sense. The cast and crew are wonderful! I can’t say enough good things about everyone involved.

It’s a pretty ambitious production. Can you talk about the technical aspects of it?

We are in a very small space, so some things have been challenging, like pulling off the illusion that we are all on an airplane near the end of the show and building a functioning Murphy bed for the bridal suite.

What kind of music do you listen to when you’re not performing?

Oh gosh, I’m all over the place. Praise and worship, showtunes, ‘90s alternative, country.

What’s the last book you read?

I just finished “Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver. It was superb. I highly recommend it!

What podcasts do you listen to?

Mostly true crime!

What’s the last TV series you binged?

Season 3 of “Bridgerton.”

What’s next for you?

I will take a little break from theater as I get ready for school to start. My middle son will be moving away to college in August, and I’ll be starting my 11th year of teaching. It will be football season (War Eagle!) and soccer season for my youngest son, so I will have plenty to keep me busy!

“The Drowsy Chaperone,” at ACTA Theatre, 225 Parkway Drive, Trussville, July 11-21. Buy tickets here.

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