Meet Michael Ursua, the resident musical director at Boca Raton's Wick Theatre & Costume Museum, which has its official opening this evening with "The Sound of Music."
The hard-working Ursua, a self-described "theater geek," will not only be conducting all of the Wick's musical productions, but when the originally designated director of "Sound of Music" withdrew, he took over the director's seat as well.
Wait, there's more. At the nightly post-show cabaret in the Wick's elegant lobby, Ursua will be accompanying the performers on piano.
As he says of his multitasking career path, "I started out as a performer, then I went to musical direction when I was about 20, then I began dabbling in directing, picking up as many directing jobs as I could."
Ursua is new to South Florida, having moved here from Jacksonville where he held a similar resident musical directorship at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre. "To be on board with someone who is re-opening a theater, that so rarely happens anymore," he states. "There are so many theaters that are closing. So this is amazing, getting another resident position."
He will not be conducting the Wick's first two shows, however. In an effort to hold down costs and get the former Caldwell Theatre space re-opened as smoothly as possible, "The Sound of Music" and "White Christmas" will forgo a live orchestra in favor of pre- recorded tracks.
Surprisingly, the tracks were Ursua's idea. "For the first few shows, I suggested tracks knowing that they sounded extremely well," he explains. "It's a budget choice, but it's not going to be compromising the production."
Costume mogul Marilynn Wick, founder and CEO of her namesake theater, pledges that the lack of live musicians will only be for the first two shows. "You can't do everything in five months," she says, referring to the time from purchase of the building to opening night. "People need to understand that."
By the third show of the season, "42nd Street," Ursua will be at the piano onstage in a blend of live and recorded music. By the season finale, "Ain't Misbehavin' " -- which Ursua will direct -- there will be a live band.
Ursua is aware that most theatergoers are awfully familiar with "The Sound of Music," the story of governess Maria Rainer and the Von Trapp children she turns into a singing ensemble. "You're walking in thinking, 'I've seen it a million times.' If it's not clean, well-cast and well-rehearsed, it could be a disaster. But it won't, I can tell."
Nor does he plan to shake up the show for new impact. "I'm not re- inventing it, I'm not deconstructing it. I just want to pay respect to it."
Swit to guest star at the Wick ... She might have orchestrated a splashier announcement, but in a recent conversation with me, Marilynn Wick let slip that Loretta Swit ("Hot Lips" Houlihan of TV's "M*A*S*H") will be featured in the new Boca theater company's production of "42nd Street" (Jan. 8-Feb. 9). She will be playing fragile-boned diva Dorothy Brock.
"She really wants to help me, because I have gone on the road with her and dressed her," says Wick. "She has quite a nice following. And if I find other people who are good that way, we'll do it."
Dramaworks to host '24-Hour Project' ... One of the most enjoyable, and certainly the most hectic, theater events in South Florida is the annual "24-Hour Project." And this year, the exercise in speed writing, rehearsal and production will be held at Palm Beach Dramaworks, Oct. 27-28.
At 7 p.m. on Oct. 27, eight playwrights will meet at the Clematis Street playhouse and randomly select headshots of four actors and one director. Then they choose from a list of ridiculous play titles and work through the night to come up with a short script that then gets rehearsed beginning at dawn. On Oct. 28, all eight plays are performed.
So far, 45 area theater artists have signed on to participate, ranging alphabetically from Adalberto Acevedo to Gregg Weiner. Tickets range from $30-$50, with the proceeds benefiting Miami Shores' Naked Stage Co. For tickets -- available now -- call 561- 514-4042, ext. 2.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Where: Wick Theatre & Costume Museum, 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton
When: Tonight through Oct. 20
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