Friday, August 26, 2016

Fiscus on the Deep Blue of Hale's 'Drowsy Chaperone'


Tim Fiscus 
by Jennifer Haaland

"Man in the Chair is a lot like me in the ways we both obsess about trivialities," says Tim Fiscus who opens tonight in Hale Centre Theatre's  "fun" musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone.

The obsessive tendencies have served Fiscus well in his acting career.  Having returned to the States about a year ago from Germany where he was performing for military audiences stationed overseas, he has dozens of shows and accompanying awards under his robe.  Currently nominated for a Best Actor Zoni in a comedy last year, he has also won the equivalent of a Military Tony with the U.S. Army for his skill.

 "I research and absorb all that I can," he notes in comparison, "and like Man in the Chair, I'm also a talker."

With gregarious wit in easy conversation, he further demonstrates he's not an introverted shut-in like the self-described "blue" narrator he plays.

 "Man in the Chair doesn't like people much, but he has a vivid imagination.  As Man in the Chair starts to imagine his favorite musical as a whole staged show, it comes to life in my [his] apartment.  I can pause the action and comment, but all the characters in the show are oblivious to my existence."

Hale's 2016-17 season opener won Tony's for Best Musical Book and Score in 2006, and Fiscus guesses about a couple reasons the show-within-a show format that's set in the 1920's may have made such a big impression.

"It's a musical that targets lovers of musicals," he laughs.  "There's nods and winks about overplayed characters, familiar tropes... and lots of puns" that allude to and spoof many familiar Broadway shows.

Another draw is the larger¬ than¬ life characters of his imagination. They materialize in his living room in glitzy costumes exchanging clever repartee and singing flapper-era songs with sparkly music and clever lyrics.

This is actually Fiscus' second time sitting in the Drowsy narrator's chair.   He played a "much more risqué version" in Germany and says the "family friendli-ized" Hale production provides him a new way of looking at the role.

"They really know what they're doing at Hale," says Fiscus about his cast-mates and the creative team.

Fiscus received an ariZoni nomination for last year's Rumors
 at Desert Stages Theatre
photo: Wade Moran
From where he sits, Fiscus thinks Man in the Chair seems pretty unhappy about how life turned out, remarking, "He definitely uses the broad, overstated 'fun' characters as a contrast to his own drab existence."

Following that characterization, Fiscus leaves the conversation hanging as a lure of an invitation. Calling Drowsy Chaperone an homage to musical theatre, he says a "good production" as he describes Hale's, sells a deeper aspect.  He says the musical allows us to appreciate theatre and what its value can be.

"The audience will be taken on a silly journey filled with catchy tunes,"  Fiscus concludes.  Betting the depth will be evident, he adds,  "but it ends with a bittersweet melancholy. We've left it intentionally vague."


The Drowsy Chaperone runs August 26 through October 8 at Hale Centre Theatre in downtown Gilbert. CLICK HERE for more information

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