Cashing in on nap time — UI’s Theatre Department revamps “Sleepy: A Musical”


The University of Idaho Theatre Department presents “Sleepy: A Musical,” a tale that accentuates the unceasing battle against an oppressive system.

UI’s annual One-Act Play Festival will feature the show at 7:30 p.m. May 5 at the Forge Theater. Tickets are $10 for the general public and free for UI students. 

The full-length show will take place, 8 p.m. May 11 through May 13 at the Forge Theatre. Tickets are $5 for the general public and free for UI students.

The show has developed and matured in the hands of the ensemble, said Maiya Corral a senior BFA candidate and the director. Corral said the play is based on a short story by Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov.

“I’d always wanted to direct a musical. I grew up acting in musicals and so I was really anxious to try out directing one,” Corral said.

Corral said the story was suggested by Dan Poppen after he discovered Corral’s interest in directing a musical. Poppen became Corral’s partner throughout the creation process. He also plays The Doctor and is one of the lead song-writers for the musical.

The story of “Sleepy: A Musical” is centered around a little girl named Varka, played by Paige Erbele, who was sold off by her mother, after the death of her father, Corral said.

Erbelle said Varka must care for a baby who would not stop crying, which deprived Varka of much needed sleep. The story ends with Varka killing the baby in desperation.

The musical takes place after that tragic event. Varka joins a theatre troupe, The Lost Children Band, who perform their own lost child story, Erbele said.

“These children in this band have their own personalized story of when they lost their innocence, and this is Varka’s story of when she lost her inner child, but these kids don’t want to perform anymore,” Erbele said.

Erbele said these children are under the control of a wild and crazy man called, The Doctor, who glorifies the children’s story for profit.

She said Varka soon realizes that they must fight against her oppressor, The Doctor, resulting in a revolution.

“The play itself becomes more about oppressive systems and how they keep us down, and how we kind of end up slave(s) to our own story, but that how we actually have the power through forgiveness of ourselves to change our outlook on life,” Corral said.

The songs featured in the play are self-written and self-composed by the cast members themselves. The cast had free-write sessions where they wrote what their respective characters were feeling, which was then made into lyrics by lead song-writers Poppen and Tyler Liams, who also plays The Mastur, Corral said.

“This play can be a little confusing coming from an outside standpoint and knowing nothing of the show, but I think that you’ll get what message we’re trying to convey,” Erbele said.

Erbele said the play has changed drastically since the start of the project. The cast contributes to the making of the show, and every rehearsal was them writing along as they go.

May Ng can be reached at


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