Q & A with musical writer/director, Paul Finocchiaro

Paul Finocchiaro is a 57 year old Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Tampa. He is currently directing a musical he wrote that will be performed in the Reeves Theatre on Nov. 6.

Paul Finocchiaro backstage at the Falk Theatre. Photo by Victoria Weaver.

Who/what inspired you to write this musical?

In an attempt to start my mother on a remembering journey, she’s 90, I wanted to talk to her about how she met my father and the story was so fascinating I just started writing down notes and that turned into a really interesting storyline for me.

Currently, it is just a school project, do you plan on doing anything more once it debuts?

I would love to, let’s say I were to do it, I would have to get the rights to all the music because we would be profiting off of it and all the dialogue is written specifically for these songs so they can’t be replaced.

What are some issues you’ve encountered in writing the show?

After the first read-through, I found there was a lot of repetitive verbiage and references that might alienate the audience. I made sure to highlight and fix those mistakes.

What is the purpose of performing it at this school?

I wanted to give students experience on stage and create more casting opportunities for the department. I also want to give them the experience of performing a live-reading which is an entirely different skill set.

How accurate is this story to real life?

It’s accurate in many ways but I did take some liberties to create a more interesting story.

What is the name of your piece? The significance?

It’s called “Welcome to the Fieldston Ballroom”, they had met there and at that ballroom in lowly Massachusetts performed people like Duke Ellington and the Dorsey Brothers which inspired the style for this musical.

How does your family feel about this show?

My mother is so excited about it, she’s very sentimental, my father isn’t so mushy.

What are you, personally, expecting to gain from all this?

after things didn’t really happen with my last show, I really felt like I couldn’t do it again, it just didn’t work. I now have a feeling of satisfaction that this one is working, I can feel it already. I also think my creative juices in writing really show in this and I’m proud of that.

Is there anything you’re scared about with this project?

I was scared it would bomb. I said to myself “look, it doesn’t have to be good it just has to be done.” as the sabbatical obligation goes, but I’m really glad that it’s good.

Do you think the final product is going to meet your expectations? Why or why not?

I’m going to say yes because I took my time, I have a great cast, and my first feedback session went really well.