It’s a novel concept – a musical within a play.

And the fact that “The Drowsy Chaperone” offers plenty of laughs along with its unique concept is what drew Ann Lile to the material.

“I heard the cast album before I ever saw it,” she said. “I thought it was funny, the music was good, the lyrics were clever and the story extremely interesting and told in an interesting way. Plus, it’s just silly.”

Ross Bruns, junior vocal music major, rehearses a scene from “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Ross Bruns, junior vocal music major, rehearses a scene from “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Lile, an assistant professor of theater, will direct the production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” that will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, through Saturday, March 8, in Taylor Performing Arts Center.

Set in a New York apartment, the play begins as a man who’s not feeling up to decides to cheer himself up by listening to a recording of his favorite musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” As he listens, the fictional 1920s musical springs to life around him and tells the story of a Broadway starlet in search of true love.

“Because it’s a spoof on the 1920s, I did some research to find out the equivalent of who these characters might be,” said Lile.

One pair of characters, for instance, bears a striking resemblance to George Burns and Gracie Allen, she said.

The production had its origins as a something of a party gag by its creators. It evolved into a full musical production that made its Broadway debut in 2006 and went on to win several Tony Awards that year, including Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.

“When they did it on Broadway, there were huge, elaborate set changes,” said Lile. “We’re not doing that. The cast changes all of the scenery, and there are different pieces that come into the apartment – such as the salon, hallway and swimming pool. There are some things that I don’t want to give away, but you realize what’s happening.

“The musical within the play goes from morning to sunset, and we use lights to give that idea.”

The cast for “The Drowsy Chaperone” includes Devri Brock, Dyanne Lile, Kyle Newby, Jesse Pendergraft, Kyle Jacobs, Lauren Baker, Tori Mitchell, Mollie Sanders, James Zerkel, Forrest Bunter, Brooke Henry, Amanda Jones, Ross Bruns, Elaina Bottles, Zachary Pettit, Sean Botts, Trey Burkhart, Chris Clay, Jackie Webb and Cameron Lopez.

Tickets are $2 for Missouri Southern students, $3 for faculty and staff, $5 for adults and $4 for seniors and non-MSSU students. Box office hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. For reservations, call 417-625-3190 or purchase tickets online at http://www.mssu.edu/ticket-office.