Left to right Mike Millar is "Underling", Valeree Pieper is "Mrs. Tottendale", Mark McGinn "Man In Chair", Erin Lounsberry "Drowsy Chaperone" and Jim Turilli is "Adolpho.

Contributed photo

After seeing a touring production of "The Drowsy Chaperone" at the Adler Theatre last year, Mark McGinn became interested in playing a character known only as "The Man in the Chair."

"But I thought it was out of my comfort level," he recalled. "As an actor, you want to push your comfort level, but you're never sure whether other people want you to do it."

He got his chance after auditions for the Quad-City Music Guild, which will open the Tony-winning musical comedy next weekend.

The action of the musical takes place in the apartment of McGinn's character. The agoraphobic Man in the Chair is describing his favorite musical, which then comes to life onstage.

"The action takes place in his apartment, but really a vision of his imagination. The audience is seeing what he imagines the show will be," McGinn said of the show within a show, which is set in 1928.

"It's used to wrap the man's own story. I end up telling my story through that story," he said.

Even though there is no intermission written into the show, Music Guild is adding one, McGinn said, and his character will urge audience members to go to the lobby and get refreshments while he cleans his "apartment."

He is on stage for all of the show, with the exception of 2 1/2 minutes in the second act, "on the premise that I have to pee," he said.

"And of course at my age, I do have to," the 58-year-old said with a laugh.

McGinn is a 40-year veteran of Music Guild, starting in the orchestra (he was an instrumental music major at the former Marycrest College in Davenport) before eventually moving onstage in "Jesus Christ Superstar" during the mid-1970s.

An associate professor of computer science at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, McGinn said he's had many favorite roles, primarily as the title character in "The Will Rogers Follies" for Music Guild during 1996.

"The whole show had a lot of wonderful people. In fact, a lot of them are in this show," he said, listing Melissa Anderson Clark, Kevin and Valeree Pieper, and Erin Lounsberry, who played his wife in "Will Rogers" and has the title role this time.