Tim Evanicki talks naked people, bathhouses and cabaret as he waltzes back to the stage in Orlando

By : Billy Manes
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The last time we sat down with Tim Evanicki, the sort of everything-producer for Orlando Parliament House’s Footlight Theatre, there were some rather attractive bits of exposure nearby — attached to the recent run of Naked Boys Singing. Towels were everywhere.

But Evanicki, a graduate of Julliard and a classically trained singer, isn’t one to hide behind the scenes or a laugh. Having traveled the world and worked his stagecraft as one does, the multitalented musician, director and manager of Parliament House’s aesthetic leanings is ready to tell his story in song. We caught up with Evanicki in advance of his new season of dramatics, including a one-man cabaret about Tim Evanicki, My Turn on April 22. It’s his time to shine now.

He says he has “big shoes” to fill. We think his feet can handle it.

Tell me about My Turn. Tell me about the new cabaret and how that came about.

Ever since I took over, everyone’s been asking me when am I going to get on stage. I was sort of reluctant to do it, because I didn’t want me running this theater just to make it become a “Tim” show. So I put it off and it’s been over a year now since I took over. So the show that I’m doing is actually a cabaret show that I did a couple years ago before I took over the Footlight. I did a cabaret show called Cheaper Than Therapy that I did in a couple venues here in Orlando, but then I also went and did in New York City and traveled around with it. And it was just a cabaret show that I did in a time of my life when everything seemed to be changing, and it was scary and exciting. The performance art school where I was writing had just closed and I sort of backed out from just trying to figure out what to do next and the Footlight Theatre happened. I took over the Footlight Theatre and that took a different direction so this is just an update to that story.

Is there sort of a story arc to the whole thing? Obviously a continuation of the previous Cheaper than Therapy cabaret. Is there more of an uptick? Are you telling the story throughout?

Yeah, it’s a story about what got me where I am right now. With Cheaper Than Therapy, it sort of ended like “Well, here I am, I don’t really know what’s coming next but I’m gonna do it” and then this is where I ended up, and this is the direction my life is taking now. I’m in a good place and I’m proud of that.

I know your history from online, with you graduating from Juilliard in 2004, but how did you get engaged with musical theater?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been in shows, been on stage. I know it’s a cheesy answer, but it’s my answer. I took voice lessons in 10th grade and I took vocal lessons at school in Rochester, because that’s where I’m from. Once I started taking voice lessons, that teacher was an awesome teacher and she sort of drove me towards opera, and it was my audition for Juilliard and a couple other schools and that got me into their opera programs. It’s something that I did well; opera was something that I did well, but not something that I was passionate about. A couple of my classmates and I had an opportunity to do an opera at the Met. I was just in the chorus but we were singing onstage War & Peace at the Metropolitan Opera. I would just look at them and they were so, in their eyes, they were just so thrilled to be standing on that stage and singing this four-hour Russian opera and I was, like, making my grocery list in my head while I was standing on stage doing it. And that’s when I was like, alright, this is something that I do well but it’s not something that I want to do with my life. So as soon as I graduated, I got back into musical theater.

How were you approached to take the job at the Parliament House’s Footlight Theatre?

I was doing Bathhouse: the Musical there and David Lee was running the theater, and he wasn’t supposed to be a long-term position there, he was just doing it temporarily. Don and Susan (Granatstein) actually approached me while I was doing Bathhouse and asked me if I could take it over, so I did. Last time we had some really great successes and we had some really big shows. But of course we heavily regrouped after Pulse and I had to take some of my biggest shows down [because] our numbers just dropped off so drastically. But this year we sort of picked back up, and I actually announced the entire season.

And I feel like it marks the transition of the Footlight Theatre from being strictly sort of bawdy drag or just comedy. You brought an element of the theatrical construct to the organization. Would you agree with that?

Well, I’d like to think so, and I always knew that I had big shoes to fill. I mean, Michael Wanzie had a huge following. I couldn’t compete with that style of theater. That’s not me, that’s not what I could do. So I started with Naked Boys Singing and I knew that would be a big draw because of the nudity, and it’s just a great show. But we’re actually doing a couple of dramas this coming season. I’m just trying to bring new faces in, so I’m bringing new directors, trying to hire actors who have never been there before. Hopefully that will attract new audiences that have never been here before. I’m doing certain shows where people know the titles so they’ll come. We want to brand ourselves as the only LGBTQ theater in Central Florida. There’s no other group that strictly focuses on that so I want that to be us. So every show we do will have an LGBT character or an LGBT playwright with gay themes.

Are you excited to get back on stage and sing your heart out?

I am excited to do that. I try to do something a couple times a year just to get it out of me. And I’m producing a musical down in Ft. Lauderdale, so I’m going in a few different directions right now.

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