It’s opening night and the weather couldn’t be more perfect. In fact, it goes with the theme. Peters Township Thespian Troupe #185 presents "Brighton Beach Memoirs" tonight through Saturday, a play for which the cast has been rigorously rehearsing.
A cast of seven Peters Township High School theater students will hit the stage performing Neil Simon’s highly acclaimed semi-autobiographical play—mainly a comedy with a glimpse of seriousness, according to director Kelly Barefoot.
Barefoot, also an English and theater teacher at PTHS, said the actors had a much shorter time than normal to rehearse because of the school musical, “Legally Blonde,” which ran at the end of March.
“We had auditions in February and rehearsals for 'Brighton Beach' didn’t start until after 'Legally Blonde' because many of the students were also involved in that production,” she said.
The ensemble cast, she said, showcases many veteran and upperclassman students.
The coming-of-age comedy is centered around the character Eugene Morris Jerome, a Polish-Jewish American teenager who experiences puberty, sexual awakening and a search for identity as he deals with his family; including his older brother Stanley; his parents Kate and Jack; Kate’s sister Blanche; and her two daughters Nora and Laurie, who come to live there after their father’s death.
The play, Barefoot said, is told from Eugene’s point of view, a character played by senior Cole Marks.
“He narrates the story,” she said. “It’s kind of unique—he talks directly to the audience, breaking that fourth wall. It’s a Ferris Bueller kind of character.”
Although Marks essentially acts as the main character, Barefoot said every cast member has a significant role.
“There isn’t really a definitive lead,” she said. “Everyone has a nice, big monologue or their own scene. Each character is pretty needy.”
Cast members include: Cole Marks as Eugene; Billy Kohne as Stanley; John McGovern as Jack; Carla Hoge as Kate; Sara Steffanson as Blanche; Meg Fitzgerald as Nora; and Julia Norton as Laurie.
Madi Estep is the show's assistant director and Alex Luketich is the stage manager. "Brighton Beach Memoirs" is set in the 1930s and costumes were important, Barefoot said.
“We pieced it together,” she said. “We outsourced to Opening Night Costumes based in Washington, PA. We also borrowed a lot of items from the Antique Loft at Trax Farms. Ladonna, the manager, helped us with period pieces and hats.”
The students rehearsed six days a week, three hours a day.
“It’s been delightful,” Barefoot said. “The kids do it justice—they do a great job. We’re ready for an audience.”
Tickets will be sold at the door—$10 for adults; $5 for students and senior citizens.