Wilbraham United Players readying for two musical productions
WILBRAHAM – The Wilbraham United Players
are gearing up for the second half of their 59th season with two musical productions – the first, a cabaret style musical all about love, and the second, a show within a show that celebrates the golden age of Broadway.
Deb Trimble, artistic director of the Wilbraham United Players, said the ensemble’s first production, “All About Love, Too,” will feature a plethora of songs musing on the multifaceted aspects of love in the form of Broadway musical show tunes, jazz standards, as well as other genres.
“It takes us through the trials and tribulations of relationships,” she added. “There’s negative influence on the relationships and then there’s some positive influence on the relationships and in the end we’ll have a happy ending.”
Trimble said “All About Love, Too” will take place the weekend before Valentine’s Day from Feb. 6 to. 8.
“We’ll be doing it cabaret style, which means our patrons will be able to sit at tables and be served refreshments during the performance,” she added.
The second musical is called “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which features the an agoraphobic Broadway fanatic known only as The Man in the Chair listening to his favorite LP – a fictional 1928 musical comedy called “The Drowsy Chaperone”, Trimble said.
Upon putting the needle on the record, the show comes to life in his apartment, she added.
The 90-minute plot of this story-within-a-story focuses on Janet Van De Graff, a showgirl planning to leave her career to marry oil tycoon Robert Martin. However, De Graaff is the star of “Feldzieg’s Follies,” and must see the show through to it its end.
Her producer, Feldzieg, is also being threatened with violence by two gangsters hired by his chief investor, who wants De Graff to remain in the show, according to www.mponstage.com
The Man in the Chair watches the scenes take place from his arm chair and as the show goes on the audience learns more and more about the mysterious main character. The show-within-a-show concept also comes until play when the old record skips, causing a song to be repeated until the Man in the Chair fixes his record player.
Trimble said the players are currently auditioning for two male parts in the production and rehearsals will begin in February. The Drowsy Chaperone will take place May 8 and 9, as well as 14 to 17. The cast consists of about 20 people.
“The Drowsy Chaperone” was written in 1997 by Bob Martin and Don McKeller as a spoof of 1920s to 1940s musicals as a stag party gift for Bob Martin and the real life Janet Van De Graaf, she said.
“It was kind of a gag gift,” Trimble added. “You know, here, ‘I’m going to write this little scenario, this musical,’ and so some of the names and the characters in it our [taken from people in real life.] Then it kind of grew from there. They took it and they built it up and then it opened on Broadway in 2006.”
The Wilbraham United Players was founded in 1957 and originally performed Victorian era musical theater productions by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, she said. Trimble has been with the players since 1982 and was the group’s musical director in the past and has been directing since 1993.
It’s been a community theatre for as long as I’ve been in it,” Trimble added. “I think they switched over [from a church theatre group] in the 1970s. My mother was in it before me. My father was in the second production the group ever did way back in the 1950s. We have family history in the group. My daughter’s now acting in productions.”