Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Eight O' Clock Theatre presents Tony Award-winning musical 'The Drowsy Chaperone'

A musical-theater fan, known only as “Man in Chair” (played by John Forgione), delights in the presence of starlet Janet (Margee Murray) during rehearsal of Eight O’Clock Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

A musical-theater fan, known only as “Man in Chair” (played by John Forgione), delights in the presence of starlet Janet (Margee Murray) during rehearsal of Eight O’Clock Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone.

Perhaps he's a little agoraphobic. Some might even describe him as obsessive. However, stick with the gentleman known only as "Man in Chair" and you'll be taken into a glamorous fantasy world filled with gorgeous dames, mobsters, comedic mishaps and song and dance tunes reminiscent of Broadway during the Prohibition era.

Through May 22, Eight O'Clock Theatre will present The Drowsy Chaperone at the Largo Cultural Center. The theater company will be the first community theater in Pinellas County to stage the musical comedy, which garnered several 2006 Tony Awards including Best Book and Best Score.

It was a little more than a year ago that Eight O'Clock's board of directors decided to include Chaperone as one of its offerings during the 2010-2011 season, said the theater company's business manager, Betsy Byrd.

"James (Grenelle, the director) told us he wanted to do The Drowsy Chaperone and we wanted to give him this opportunity," Byrd said. "It was about at that time that the rights for this first became available to amateur theaters like ours. So we got excited.''

The premise of the show is that the audience finds itself in the middle of an apartment belonging to the show's narrator, Man in Chair (John Forgione). Picture a depressed, Woody Allen kind of guy who yearns for Cole Porter and the Gershwin brothers, but when it comes to the Lion King and Elton John or Spider-Man and U2 … ehhh, not so much.

To lift his spirits, he plays a scratchy record album. It is the soundtrack of his favorite musical, The Drowsy Chaperone. In this made-up world, Chaperone made its Broadway debut in 1928.

The apartment swiftly turns into a magical, musical world with madcap characters. There is Janet Van De Graaf (Margee Murray), a pampered starlet who wants to give up showbiz to marry Robert Martin (Brian Chunn). We meet the Drowsy Chaperone (Stephanie Fox), who is actually more tipsy than drowsy and is given the assignment to care for the bride-to-be. There is also Mr. Feldzieg (Christopher Strong), a movie producer needing to sabotage the nuptials to keep two mobsters/pastry chefs (Cengiz Dokumaci and Elliot Alexander) happy. In order to save himself, Feldzieg enlists Aldolpho (Omar Montes), a bumbling Latin lothario, to seduce Janet.

Of course, things don't go as anyone has planned. Hilarious antics ensue, including a spoof on The King and I.

As Man in Chair, Forgione provides running commentary. He stops the LP to share gossipy tidbits on the stars of the show. He guides the audience through the silly and sweet songs while taking the time to point out his favorites. Forgione, a graduate of the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts in Manhattan, says portraying Man in Chair came naturally.

"I wanted this part,'' he said. "I am a Broadway fanatic. I am the Man in Chair. If people want to listen, I'll talk about the theater all night.''

The Drowsy Chaperone marks the sixth time the director, Grenelle, has teamed up with Emi Stefanov, the show's musical director. The pair worked together during the Largo Cultural Center's 2009 Broadway Series as well as three shows at the Francis Wilson Playhouse in Clearwater, A Grand Night for Singing, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Sweet Charity.

Grenelle knows he can rely on Stefanov's expertise, and on this show, the music at times can get very complicated. "In one song, for example, there is an 11-part harmony,'' Grenelle said.

Stefanov, a Belgrade native who holds a master's degree in piano performance from Southern Methodist University, agreed.

At times, the harmonies seem discordant,'' she said. "The person sitting right next to you might be singing a note that doesn't seem to harmonize well with yours, but it's correct.''

She also considers Grenelle serving as director a blessing. "He understands music, and that makes me so happy.''

>>If you go

The Drowsy Chaperone

Eight O'Clock Theatre presents The Drowsy Chaperone through May 22 at the Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25; $22.50 for groups of 10 or more; $12 for students younger than 19, plus applicable fees. For tickets or information, visit largoarts.com or call (727) 587-6793.

Eight O' Clock Theatre presents Tony Award-winning musical 'The Drowsy Chaperone' 05/05/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 6, 2011 2:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: UF shows how to preserve free speech

    Editorials

    The University of Florida was forced to navigate a treacherous terrain of constitutional concerns and public safety this week, all in a glaring public spotlight. In the end, Thursday's appearance by Richard Spencer was a success — as much as an unwelcome visit from a notorious white nationalist can be. The …

  2. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway

    Stage

    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.
  3. Editorial: When protest leads to understanding

    Editorials

    The protests against racial injustice by professional athletes across the country include examples of communities where it has not been handled well. And then there is the example set in Tampa Bay.

  4. Why it's too early to give up on the Bucs

    Bucs

    Don't panic. It's not too late for the Bucs.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) and wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrate after the defense recovered a fumble during the second half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  5. Backlog of immigration cases under Trump stymies immigrants in Florida

    Courts

    It was supposed to be a routine green card renewal for a Thai woman who has called Central Florida home for years.

    Immigration lawyers such as Gerald P. Seipp of Clearwater worry that their clients' circumstances will change with long delays in their immigration court appeals, hurting their chances of staying in the country. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]