Stage Planner: ‘The Great Gatsby’ at Stageworks

GATSBY’S FLAME:LAUREN BUGLIOLI

In her early 20s, Lauren Buglioli stood on the threshold of a dream. A triple threat who had trained at the Lee Strasberg school and acted alongside Wesley Snipes in Unstoppable, as well as on British sitcoms, she was close to inking a contract with the soap opera Guiding Light. Instead of that next step, Buglioli found herself in a hospital bed with double pneumonia.

Between gaining and losing 70 pounds, she got other roles, but none of them felt right and some felt degrading, “like I was a commodity,” Buglioli said.

A year ago, Buglioli returned to Tampa, where she had once attended Berkeley Preparatory School.

“It felt very much like giving up,” said Buglioli, 29. She put her early childhood education degree to use with a teaching job, but a weakened immune system sidelined her after a year.

She now teaches cycling and is thrilled to have landed a lead role in The Great Gatsby, which opens this weekend at Stageworks Theatre. Buglioli is a longtime fan of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, even engaging Georgetown University literary critic Maureen Corrigan, a Gatsby expert, in ongoing dialogue about her role as Daisy Buchanan.

“I so want to do this story justice — why (Daisy) is immortalized, why she is celebrated,” Buglioli said. “Playing Daisy Buchanan is a dream come true.”

The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. It runs through Dec. 18 at Stageworks Theatre, 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $30. $40 opening night Friday. A preview starts at 8 p.m. Thursday and costs $15. (813) 374-2416. stageworkstheatre.org.