Thursday, July 19, 2018
Stage

Family brings 'trouble' to Temple Terrace with 'The Music Man'

TEMPLE TERRACE — Well, ya got trouble, my friend, right here.

I say, trouble right here in … Temple Terrace.

The Music Man, Meredith Wilson's 1957 legendary Broadway hit show and winner of five Tony Awards, is coming to Florida College.

While the show will feature the same characters and classic songs from the original production, like Ya Got Trouble and Seventy-Six Trombones, preparations for the performances on July 22-23 are vastly different than those of more than a half-century ago and most others that have followed.

Produced by the nonprofit Chandler Family Corporation for the Fine Arts under the name of Broadway Comes to Camp, the unique presentation centers on the fact that the actors, costume creators, set designers and makeup artists have just 7 days to hone their crafts and put everything together prior to the play's first performance.

In its fifth year, the family-oriented, faith-based camp is led by Royce Chandler, a Florida College graduate and former director of admissions, and head of the school's drama department.

The production has no affiliation with the college itself. But the school does provide the venue for rehearsing, storing props and staging the production, plus the use of dorm rooms and its campus cafeteria to accommodate a total of about 90 local residents and out-of-towners involved in the show.

Some come from as far away as Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia, and their ages range from 6 to 76.

"We try to make it as wholesome as we can, and we try to provide a spiritual environment," said the 70-year-old Chandler, who noted he plans to continue the annual camps and productions for as long as he is able.

Matt Johnson, director of communications at Florida College, plays the lead role of con artist and traveling salesman Harold Hill in the show. Johnson, who earned his associate degree at the college and his bachelor's and doctorate degrees from the University of South Florida, played the role when he was 19. Moreover, he's acted in all five Broadway Comes to Camp productions.

"I do it because I get to do theater beyond community theater, and I love working with Royce," said the Temple Terrace resident.

"Plus, it's a great experience for my entire family," added Johnson, whose wife, Jessica, and children Tilly, 8, and Titus, 11, are in this year's play.

Emma Walker, who also attended Florida College and recently graduated with a bachelor's degree from USF, is cast in the show as Marian Paroo, the town librarian.

She's been singing since early childhood and has held lead roles in numerous musicals, including the camp's 2014 production of Oklahoma. But she is especially looking forward to her role in this play, which she described as one of her favorite musicals.

"The amazing thing about BBC is that we are all so passionate about the product ... and we are dedicated to making the final product as professional as possible," said Walker, alluding to her fellow actors' top-notch level of talent.

"The cherry on the top is Royce Chandler, the best director I've ever had the privilege of working with," she added.

Choreographer Marianne Moody, who also lives in Temple Terrace and joined the all-volunteer camp in 2013, said it takes a lot of organization to put all pieces together prior to everyone coming together. She admits her biggest challenge is coordinating scenes with children.

"But the work ethic among everyone is excellent, especially the parents, and it's just been a real blessing in my life," said Moody, who moved in the early 1990s from New York, where she was heavily involved in theater productions.

Costume mistress Celeste Bryant, a longtime seamstress, signed on with the camp in 2012, when it first formed. Every year she scours area thrift stores in search of clothing and accessories.

"I just put all my spare time hours into it, and now that I'm working, I will take a week's vacation during camp week to do this," Bryant said.

Melanie Chandler, a camp participant since its inception and the wife of Royce's son Luke, is aiding her father-in-law as assistant director this year. Her husband and three of the couple's five children will perform.

"I work very well with my father-in-law," Royce Chandler said. "None of us can fully appreciate what he does because the quality of people he brings together I don't think could be matched."

Contact Joyce McKenzie at [email protected]

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