Theatre South Playhouse lies outside the orbit of downtown Orlando’s arts scene, but it’s surviving — and thriving | Live Active Cultures | Orlando

Amid the endless parade of tightly scripted displays I attended at Disney’s Desired destination D23 convention very last November, a person of the couple of presenters on stage who slash via the company double-discuss and managed to audio like an true human remaining was reside entertainment imaginative director Tom Vazzana. So when I a short while ago had the prospect to interview him, I by natural means experienced dozens of thoughts I needed to question him about his 25-calendar year occupation directing exhibits for Walt Disney Planet, doing the job on anything from the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland to the approaching refresh of Fantasmic! But Vazzana humbly insisted that our conversation focus on Theatre South Playhouse, exactly where he is been volunteering his time directing the firm’s return to presenting experienced theater with this weekend’s opening of a musical he is had a long heritage with: Nunsense.

To be straightforward, Theatre South Playhouse has largely flown beneath my radar, as it truly is located in the Dr. Phillips Market purchasing plaza that lies outside the orbit of downtown Orlando’s arts scene. But the firm, which was established by government director Hillary Brook in 2009, opened its Antoinette David Theater in 2016, which it takes advantage of as each a skilled phase and educational conservatory. Vazzana lived in the Dr. Phillips neighborhood and remembers, “I was intrigued with how this minor theater that is [about] 100 seats was in a position to endure, when some others are battling.”

“I went to a demonstrate [and] I was really amazed by the whole point, but additional impressed that Hillary is ready to faucet into a neighborhood and provide educational courses, summer camps, many theater reveals for little ones and youthful older people, and establish an audience with what I saw as a faithful parental guidance technique,” Vazzana states.

Like most theaters, the COVID-19 pandemic place Theatre South Playhouse’s mainstage productions on pause, but when the time came to relight the footlights, Vazzana enthusiastically offered to helm the vintage Catholic comedy Nunsense, likely so considerably as to pitch the undertaking in character putting on comprehensive nun drag.

Vazzana arrived to Central Florida in 1995 after doing the job in New York City and on national tours, in which his credits involved assistant directing Evita below the legendary Harold Cost and performing in the unique opening night cast of Annie. In 1995, a musical director good friend made available him a phase administration gig on a new exhibit she was positive was “heading to tank.” As a substitute of likely on unemployment, Vazzana made a decision, “I appreciate a excellent bomb,” and finished up as aspect of the unique innovative workforce for writer-director Dan Goggin’s Nunsense: The Musical, which went on to around the globe acclaim. “I just remember ironing nuns’ routines on opening evening heading ‘What on earth have we got ourselves into?'” says Vazzana. “And then, poof: It was a hit!”

In the many years due to the fact, Nunsense has spawned a 50 %-dozen sequels and quite a few spinoffs, together with the all-male A-Males edition coming to Winter season Park Playhouse following January. But for Theatre South Playhouse’s manufacturing, Vazzana is returning to the show’s roots by re-creating Goggin’s and choreographer Felton Smith’s primary staging. In the method, he hopes to tap into the heart and soul beneath the recurring humor that created the unique incarnation so enduring.

“It won’t make a difference if they are nuns they are talking about them selves and an inspiration from their existence that made them develop into devoted to a little something,” Vazzana says about the script’s crucial emotional scenes. “These moments are so solid that the zaniness all around the farce is grounded in these moments. And these moments resonate with every person, mainly because I will not have to be a nun to convey to you about my biggest inspiration and how I am going to shift that ahead.”

For this creation of Nunsense, Vazzana has assembled a solid that includes Tay Anderson, Hillary Brook, Kristie Geng and Virginia Roebuck. Major the ensemble as Reverend Mother Regina is Orlando cabaret icon Andrea Canny, whom Vazzana has been accomplishing with for more than 25 several years. “Andrea Canny and I would get an accompanist, and we would go to one of all those empty rooms that there have been so quite a few of on Orange Avenue,” remembers Vazzana. “We would established up tables and we acquired wine, and we did $10 positive aspects for [the AIDS service organization] CENTAUR.”

When I spoke with Vazzana, the Omicron variant was even now raging, but Tom remained optimistic about theater’s long run inspite of the ailment. “There is certainly a worry button, and we need this pendulum to swing again, and we need to have the nuts all-around it to prevent,” states Vazzana. “When we prevent panicking will be when theater is ready to endure, and theater has often survived.”

In the meantime, Vazzana urges every person to attend Nunsense and assistance the “wonderful perform” Theatre South does “garnering, accumulating, educating and instilling enthusiasm in youthful folks” for the executing arts. “You will snicker and be moved and chortle again,” he guarantees. “And you just might walk absent marginally better.”

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