By Anthony J. Machcinski
The revival of an old West Hudson tradition continues as the West Hudson Arts & Theatre Company (W.H.A.T.) presents “The Frog Princess” on April 21 and 22 at Washington Middle School in Harrison.
In what has become the first children-oriented show in W.H.A.T.’s short history,
“The Frog Princess” features a story that both children and their parents can enjoy.
“I think it’s a show that will appeal to all ages,” explained director Joseph Ferriero. “For kids, it’s an interactive show where they will get to talk to the actors and participate. For adults, there’s modern humor to keep them entertained. It’s going to be a lively experience.”
Ferriero, who was born and raised in Kearny and has now settled in Bloomfield, has provided W.H.A.T. with a dedicated and experienced director whose theatre resumé includes 10 years working in the industry, including Broadway shows.
Ferriero’s path to theatre comes from a childhood hobby that eventually turned into a prospering career.
“I started it as a hobby and now it’s become what I do,” said the former school teacher. “I minored in acting in college and thought I would give it a shot. As I did more, the more I fell in love with theatre and just the thought of getting it together.”
For Ferriero, seeing the finished product and the journey it took to get there provides the ultimate feeling of pride.
“For me, it’s been a great thing to see live theatre become what it is,” Ferriero explained. “Working for six months or a year and seeing the finished product, you get a real sense of pride for what you have accomplished.”
Bringing his experience to W.H.A.T., Ferriero and the cast will perform “The Frog Princess,” an age-old tale derived from a Russian fairy tale that was recently made into a Disney film.
“I went through quite a few shows and I like this show not only because of its name, but because of the story behind it,” Ferriero said. “It’s a story about the idea that beauty isn’t on the outside, that people have inner beauty. It’s also very, very funny and I really liked that.”
Just like any good performance, the cast involved has to have great chemistry. If that holds true, Ferriero believes that he will be directing a great show.
“We have such a great cast,” Ferriero explained, saying that while auditions didn’t bring out a lot of actors, he was able to put a cast together that cares deeply about the production. “We see actors here that aren’t just actors. They worry about costumes and things like that. This cast just works so well together.”
The building of the cast has not only formed a working relationship for the performance, but has also given the cast members the ability to meet others within their community.
“Everyone lives in surrounding towns so you really get to network in the community,” Ferriero explained. “It’s really nice to see that. The cast is already talking about doing more shows for the theatre as well.”
“The Frog Princess” will be performed by the West Hudson Arts & Theatre Company on Saturday, April 21, at 1:30 and 4 p.m., and on Sunday, April 22, at 1:30 p.m., at the Washington Middle School, 1 N. 5th St., in Harrison.
Tickets and other information is available on the W.H.A.T. website at www.whatco.org or by calling (201)-467-8624.
The cast includes: Narrator, Bernadette Obendorff; Queen Natasha, Francesca Stokes; Prince Boris. Joe Ferriero; Princess Ursula, Paula Reyes; Prince Casimir, Scott Burzynski; Princess Vassilissa, Laura Byrne Cristiano; Prince Sashaa, Tim Firth; Princess Natalia, Julie Padinha; Lady in Waiting/Tutor, Pattie Marsh.