By Kevin Canessa Jr.
While West Hudson County hasn’t quite been noted for being a hotbed for the arts over the years, perhaps now it should be — and that’s all thanks to the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company — or W.H.A.T.
Last weekend the company produced “The Fantasticks: A Musical.” (The play can also be seen this weekend.)
And yet so much more has happened and is to come with W.H.A.T.
This season alone, W.H.A.T. has put on “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Cinderella,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Back to the ‘80s,” “The Cat in the Hat,” and “Steel Magnolias” in addition to “The Fantastics.”
The company bills itself as a “cultural resource that will enrich and invigorate the West Hudson community as a whole while embracing, educating and entertaining people of all ages, cultures and abilities.”
In many ways, it’s already doing that — and succeeding.
Gerald “Jerry” Ficeto, the company’s board president, says W.H.A.T. is much more than putting on plays and musicals.
“Besides the theater company, we run affordable classes for the children of our community,” Ficeto said. “(The classes include) dance, art, theater and music for all age groups.”
Bernadette Antonelli, of North Arlington, has long been a supporter of the arts.
Her son, Michael, stars in “The Fantastics.” She says W.H.A.T.’s presence in West Hudson has given Michael opportunities he might have had to wait years for otherwise.
‘I am happy to say “The Fantasticks’ is Michael’s ninth show with W.HA.T. Being that he is a theater student, it is a wonderful opportunity for him to be able to participate in productions on a local level,” Antonelli said. “They have done a wide variety of shows that not only help him grow as a performer, but have given him the opportunity to work with various directors, choreographers, etc. He has received a wealth of experience in a short time that may have otherwise taken him years to accomplish.
“Everyone involved in W.H.A.T is dedicated to bring live theater back to our community. I remember seeing productions at the Halfpenny Playhouse in Kearny when I was very young. It is a wonderful thing that W.H.A.T is bringing that opportunity back to the people in the West Hudson area.”
The cast of “The Fantasticks” includes: Dennis Oliveria, Kylie Marie Gonzalez, Michael Antonelli, Geoffrey Waumans, Jonathan Brandao, Dann Pryce, Jay Blau and Jack Haefner. It’s directed by Robert Strauch. It has a book by Tom Jones, music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, the story is loosely based on “Les Romanesques,” by Edmond Rostand.
Dinner show at San Carlo
A special “Dinner & A Show” performance of “The Fantasticks,” in conjunction with the Hudson County Community College Foundation for the benefit of its West Hudson Scholarship Committee will be held on June 11 at San Carlos, Lyndhurst. Tickets are $75 per person and include hospitality hour with hors d’ oeuvres and entertainment (cash bar), a four-course dinner and the show.
If you go…
What: ‘The Fantasticks: A Musical’
When: 7:30 p.m., June 14 and 15.
Where: W.H.A.T. Theatre, 131 Midland Ave., Kearny — the former St. Stephen’s School.
Get tickets: www.whatco.org, at the Angry Coffee Bean, 89 Ridge Road, North Arlington, or 30 minutes before the show at the door (cash or checks only at the door).
Cost: $15 ($16.52 with service fee) for students and senior citizens;$18 ($19.62 with service fee) for general seating.
More information: Visit www.whatco.org, send an email message to info@ whatco.org or call 201- 467-8624.