'The Drowsy Chaperone' - Musical parody of 1929s starts tonight

Published on Thursday, 10 July 2014 23:37 - Written by Alma Linda Manzanares amanzanares@tylerpaper.com

Lindale Community Theater presents “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a parody of 1920s American musical comedy, starting tonight for six shows.

Executive Director Tim Mitchiner described the show as “crazy fun.”

“It has no meaning,” he said. “The message it really has is the power of the theater in our lives but it’s a lot of big crazy musical numbers and lots of dancing for no reason.”

The show opens with a musical theater fanatic, “the Man in the Chair,” interacting with the audience and playing the record of his favorite musical, the fictional 1928 hit, “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

When the record begins, characters come to life and Man in the Chair comments throughout the show on the music, story and actors.

Mitchiner directs a cast of 14 and plays the character Underling, a savvy butler with an understated sense of humor.

“We have some of the best talent in the community theater,” he said. “It’s basically local people that have a burning desire to entertain. They can’t help themselves.”

Mitchiner comes from a theater background. At age 14, he sat in the freshman choir classroom when a theater teacher came looking for actors to play in the school’s musical, “Man of La Mancha.”

Although he shelved his theater passion for a career in construction for 25 years, the experience eventually led Mitchiner to the 100-year-old building in downtown Lindale that houses the community theater.

In 2006, after Mitchiner retired, he moved to Mineola with his wife, Cindy, and become involved at Mineola’s Lake County Playhouse. There, he revived his passion and dreamed of creating a community theater in Lindale.

“As soon as I could, I came back to it (theater),” he said.

In September 2009, Lindale Community Theater held its first show at the Holy Family Catholic Church Family Life Center. An arrangement between the theater and church was made where the theater would give 50 percent of ticket sales to the church to use the facility.

The theater company eventually bought space on Hubbard Street. Mitchiner and others worked tirelessly preparing the building the theater’s 2014 season’s first play, “Crimes of the Heart.”

Mitchiner recalled that rehearsals for the play were held for two to four hours, four times a week in December.

“There was no heat. We had one florescent light fixture sitting on the floor and the cast had to read their scripts by that one light,” he said. “They were saw cutting concrete, wielding, tearing out brick. It was a mess.”

Mitchiner acknowledged Ben Patrick, a theatre teacher from Gilmer, and Luis Ramirez, a retired theatre technical professor from Nacogdoches who designed the building, as volunteers who put in many hours.

With the help of private funds, over 50 donors and hundreds of hours of volunteer labor, the theater opened in January.

“It takes a village,” Mitchiner said. “Without everyone working together, there was absolutely no way. And I’m very proud of that. The hours we put in were through the labor of love for theater itself and the people that we serve.