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Seneca Valley brings Bard to 'Jersey Shore'

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Ashley Williams, left, Rachel Noah, Bobby Vandrak, Kat Schulties and Olivia Spinelli practice a scene together.
Louis Raggiunti | Cranberry Journal
Ashley Williams, left, Rachel Noah, Bobby Vandrak, Kat Schulties and Olivia Spinelli practice a scene together.
Allison Miller works on her character at one of the rehearsals.
Louis Raggiunti | Cranberry Journal
Allison Miller works on her character at one of the rehearsals.

It's not always a bad thing if you can't get through a rehearsal scene, particularly for a comedic play.

The cast of Seneca Valley's spring play “Midsummer/Jersey” is trying to keep a straight face as it prepares for its May 21, 23 and 24 performances, but they've found it difficult.

“All of the scenes are tough to get through,” said Kaleigh Ruiz, who plays Mia, one of four teenagers entangled in a love square.

The other teenagers are played by Zachary Ratkus, Vinh Bright and Ellie Lahm.

The play is an adaptation by Ken Ludwig, a Broadway playwright, of a Shakespeare comedy, “Midsummer Night's Dream.”

“It's modernized Shakespeare in a Jersey Shore type of setting,” said Ruiz, 17, of Cranberry. “It is so over the top. Throw in the Jersey accent, and it makes it even harder to rehearse.”

The cast is still experimenting with the dialect of the show, and Amber Hugus, the director, has not decided whether they will perform with Jersey accents.

“They're working on it really hard, and we have three kids that can do it really well,” Hugus said. “We have others slipping in and out of Jersey accents and one who sounds almost British at times, so we're still figuring that out.”

A spider web of plots play out as Oberon, played by Zach Stoner, and his wife Tatiana, played by Alexis Hester, argue over what his birthday present will be. Oberon and Puck, played by Anna Schaede, then dabble in the love lives of four teenagers.

“I'm really trying to get back at my wife, but it all backfires,” said Stoner, 18, of Cranberry.

Stoner said a particular set of scenes that are tough to get through involve six beauticians, played by Rachel Carmella, Ashley Williams, Rachel Noah, Kat Schulties, Bobby Vandrak and Olivia Spinelli.

“They're all really good friends and a really rowdy bunch,” Stoner said. “If one of us loses it, everyone does.”

While the cast has not yet rehearsed any romantic scenes, Ruiz said that they will also be challenging.

“We have one kiss scene, a quick kiss, and one scene where he (Lyle, played Ratkus) wants to sleep with me, and I tell him I want to wait until marriage,” Ruiz said.

“He really tries to get with me, and I'm not having it. I'm not worried about it, but it will be hard in front of an audience.”

While most of the comedy occurs with characters playing off of each other, Stoner will perform several monologues that he is still getting comfortable with.

“I have very long scenes where I talk on my own, so I don't have anything to play off of,” Stoner. “It's straight memorization, so I have to be prepared for that.”

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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