Make us your home page
Instagram

Home-grown musical debuts in downtown New Port Richey

In Coupled, Diana Rogers, who wrote the musical comedy, plays middle school teacher Donna, longtime wife of computer geek Bill, played by Peter Clapsis. 

Courtesy of Jimmy Ferraro

In Coupled, Diana Rogers, who wrote the musical comedy, plays middle school teacher Donna, longtime wife of computer geek Bill, played by Peter Clapsis. 

For years, singer-actor Diana Rogers played Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables on Broadway and did that role and others in national touring companies. A few years ago, however, family circumstances brought her to Florida, where she became head of the award-winning drama department at River Ridge High School and directed and wrote plays and musicals for her students.

Now she's writing for grownups and will launch her first musical comedy at 7:30 p.m. today (July 18) at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre in downtown New Port Richey, where it will continue matinees and evenings through Aug. 10. She named the show Coupled, about three couples who have been together for a while.

"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change is about the beginning of relationships," Rogers said. "Menopause the Musical is about women. I wanted to do a musical about people who had been in a relationship for a while."

She talked with other women and realized that they shared many experiences in marriage; she talked to men "and found out what drives men crazy about women."

"I wanted to create a night out that men as well as women could go see comfortably — and leave the theater laughing," she said. Although there's no offensive language or situations in the show, Rogers said those in their 20s and older will probably enjoy it most, "especially those who have ever been in a relationship a while."

The plot revolves around three couples: Maggie (Dee Etta Rowe, Nine and The Most Happy Fella on Broadway), a hard-charging television anchorwoman, and Daniel (Brandon Mauro, television's CSI, Malcolm in the Middle), Maggie's "boy toy"; Jack (Rich Faurote, Jean Valjean in Les Miserables at Stage West), an aging attorney, and Lexi (Jessica Virginia, Velma in Chicago at Stage West), his young trophy wife; and the long-married Donna (Diana Rogers), a middle school music teacher, and her computer geek husband Bill (Peter Clapsis, Pastor in Church Basement Ladies). The six go off for a weekend together at a new luxury golf resort and get a genuine test of love, friendship and long-term relationships in a fast-changing world.

Rogers has written 22 original songs for the show, including Middle Age Lament, Bathroom Samba, Channel Surfing, Help Me, Oprah and many others. "I don't know how I did it," she said, though perhaps it's because the show has been percolating in her brain for years. Marvin Lovett did the music arrangements.

"This is a great show for baby boomers," said Jimmy Ferraro, co-owner of the theater with his wife of 25 years, Dee Etta Rowe, and also director of the show. "The music is reminiscent of tunes from the '50s, '60s and '70s."

Ferraro agrees that more-mature audiences would enjoy the show the most. "It's a fun look at adult life friendships, relationships and situations."

Rogers was still tweaking the show, even as opening night approached. "It's really hard to be in a show and listen to it at the same time," she said. Especially when it's one you've written.

She hopes the Studio Theatre debut is just the beginning for her creation. "I'd like to take it on the road with more big dance numbers, rear-screen projections, voiceovers, and bigger sets," she said. For its debut, however, she's happy in the smaller venue, concentrating on the characters and songs and getting them just right.

.if you go

Coupled

The musical comedy has matinee and evening performances Friday (July 18) through Aug. 10 at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre, 5732 Main St., New Port Richey. Tickets are $25, including tax, plus $2 service fee for credit card use. Call (727) 409-0293. Shows are at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Home-grown musical debuts in downtown New Port Richey 07/16/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 7:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 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.
  2. A scene from "Epiphany."
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 22

    Events

    Clearwater Jazz Holiday: The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers, with their blend of folk, bluegrass and rock, lead the lineup. 1:30 p.m., Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater. $16 per day, $45 reserved, $170 VIP. (727) 461-5200.

    AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15:  (L-R)  Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Seth Avett, and Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers pose for a portrait at the "May It Last: A Portrait Of The Avett Brothers" Premiere - 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 15, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 21

    Events

    Conor Oberst: The Bright Eyes mastermind will be joined by opener, the Felice Brothers. 8 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30.50-$36. (727) 791-7400.

    Handout photo of Conor Oberst, performing Oct. 21 at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Credit: Grandstand Media
  5. McDonald's soft serve in Florida is made with handshakes and happy cows

    Consumer

    Floridians licked nine million McDonald's vanilla cones last year.

    Calves play with a rubber toy at the Milking R Dairy in Okeechobee, FL. Owners Sutton Rucks, Jr., and his wife Kris Rucks sell their milk to SouthEast Dairies cooperative, Edward Coryn of Dairy Mix in St. Petersburg buys it, transforms it into soft-serve ice cream base, and sells it to all the McDonald's. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times