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Serra cast rises to the challenge

| Monday, April 22, 2013, 3:36 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Sascha Rojtas as Aegean nervously awaits his death, monitored by Patrick Crossen as Sargeant, Frank Satira as Duke and Chris Laychak as the executioner.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Serra Catholic High School students wear tragedy masks during the opening scene of 'Boys From Syracuse.'
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Ben Ziegler as Dromioof is shocked by the demeanor of Shannon Piplica as Luce and the predictions of Zak Olyarnik as Sorceror.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Nicholas Hudak as Antipholus is conflicted between Shannon Kolenik as Adriana and Cassie Fedor as Luciana.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Courtesans, from left, are Alexis Schricker, Gina Rosso, Addie Crossen, Alex Stambolis and Meghan Fedor.

Serra Catholic High School students are up to the challenge of wowing audiences with the humor of an uncommon comedy of errors with their spring production of “The Boys From Syracuse.”

“We were tired of doing the same shows that play the high school circuit,” producer and director Diane Gambassi said. “We produced this show 25 years ago, and I can remember laughing through the first reading of the script all the way through the last performance.”

“The Boys of Syracuse” premiered on Broadway in 1938 as a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare's “Comedy of Errors.” The story surrounds two sets of twins in the ancient villages of Ephesus and Syracuse.

Identical twins Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse, played by senior Nick Hudak in the Serra production, were separated as young children during a shipwreck. Their servants — both named Dromio, played by senior Ben Ziegler — also are twins.

When the Syracuse boys travel to Ephesus, the town is consumed by a comedy of errors that includes many cases of mistaken identity, especially for the Ephesians' wives. “The show was a challenge for us, especially due to a smaller number of male actors than we usually have,” Gambassi said. “We solved the problem by casting one student as both Antipholus twins and another as both Dromios.”

Each character has completely different personalities, mannerisms and ways of speaking, the director explained.

“It is only in the final scene of the play, when all four characters are on the stage at the same time, do we use another set of boys.”

Gambassi said staff and students were interested in the show because it has a strong comedic plot and good music.

“This show has been amazing,” said sophomore Shannon Kolenik, who plays Adrianna, the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus. “It's what I look forward to every day.”

Because so much of the show is comedic, Shannon said, student actors are able to have fun on stage. She said the humor brings something special to the songs.

With “Falling in Love With Love” as its most recognizable number, “The Boys from Syracuse” will turn the audience into fans of songs they might not know.

“A lot of the songs are comedic, and the acting ties in with the songs,” Shannon said. “People will enjoy that.”

Sophomore Cassie Fedor, who plays Luciana, described the show's humor as bold.

“It's hilarious,” she said. “It's one of my favorites now.”

Nick, who is trying out the stage for the first time as Antipholus, said the experience is exciting.

Active in student government, the Future Business Leaders of America, Junior Achievement and the National Honor Society, Nick said he wanted to try something new his senior year.

“I'm so happy I joined,” he said. “We are a great cast, and everyone works so efficiently. We're enjoying ourselves while putting together a show for our community.”

Ben said the show will be a nice change for the regular Serra audiences.

“It's a different kind of story — a comedy, as opposed to the serious love story musicals we've done in the past,” he said. “It's fast and action-packed with hilarious comments going off every minute.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or