By Anthony J. Machcinski
Harrison High School will turn back the back the clocks a dozen years when the school’s Drama Club will present “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at the end of the month.
“It’s a hysterical comedy on topics that everyone can relate to,” said producer Matthew Boryszewski.
The idea for reviving the performance came from Boryszewski, who acted in it during his junior year at Harrison High in 2000. He played Senex.
“I’ve tried to do a revival since I was (hired as a staffer),” said Boryszewski, who is now a social studies teacher for the high school.
And even though the play’s an old chesnut in the club archives, it continues to generate excitement among the cast.
“I think everyone is very happy with it,” Boryszewski said. “The students have been having a ball since (rehearsals) started in the beginning of the year.”
The play’s central character is Pseudolus, a slave living in the house of Senex who hopes to buy, win, or steal his freedom.
Harrison High’s Pseudolus will be played by veteran student thespian William Ruff. Ruff, a four-year member of the HHS drama club, is starring in his fourth performance. In past years, he has played Pippin in “Pippin,” Horton in “Seussical,” and Johnny Casino in “Grease.”
“For this performance, I have to work harder and prepare and do whatever it takes to put on a great performance,” said Ruff, a recipient of the 2011 New Jersey Governor’s Award in Arts Education for Excellence in Acting.
Among the other actors involved in the performance is ninth-grader Heather Harris, who is playing Domina, the wife of Senex. “I was very excited to learn that I was being put up to the level that the upperclassmen were at,” Harris said. “It’s been such an honor to work with these people like (Ruff) who have been here for years.”
Boryszewski hopes that Ruff, Harris, and the rest of the cast will be able to learn from this experience.
“I just want them to have a deeper appreciation for musical theatre and to grow as individuals and as actors,” Boryszewski explained. “This is an excellent experience for a musical comedy.”
For Ruff, Boryszewski’s advice has resonated strongly with the young actor.
“This is another chance to show my talent and do what I do best on stage,” said Ruff, who will attend Montclair State next year where he hopes to major in musical theater.
The lesson has rubbed off on the young Harris as well.
“(The other cast members have) helped develop me as an actor,” said Harris, who hopes to build on this year’s experience during the balance of her high school tenure. “I’ve admired this program for such a long time.” The curtain will rise March 29 and 30 at 7 p.m. at the high school auditorium at 800 Hamilton St. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.
Rounding out the rest of the players: Michael Cruz as Hysterium, Johnathan Pinto as Miles Gloriosus, Carlos Montufar as Hero, Kaina Almonte as Philia, David Pineda as Senex, Lucia Fernandes as Lycus, Wence Morales as Erronius, Natalie Camargo as Tintinabula, Vanessa Valeiro as Panacea, Alessandra Gomez and Letizia Gomes as Geminae Twins, Cecelia Rodriguez as Vibrata, Kayla Middleton as Gymnasia, DJ Droz as Tiberia, Kiara Bermudez as Statue and Eduardo Velarde as Statue. The Proteans will be played by Pola Farinas, Patty Jackowska,,Zenaida Miranda, Breann Mobus, Thayjin Suquitana, Ana Teixeira, Liliana Valeiro, Luis Velez, Daniela Villalobos, and Gennesie Zuniga. Luisa Coppola is directing; Leonardo C. DaSilva is musical director; Mary Pat Shields is technical director; and Colin Shields is set designer.
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