Go ‘Under the Sea’ as Stage Right kicks off new season | TribLIVE.com
Theater & Arts

Go ‘Under the Sea’ as Stage Right kicks off new season

Candy Williams
Danny Mayhak (from left), John Noble, Grace Rusnica and Matt Henderson are among the cast of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” Sept. 20-22 at The Palace Theatre, Greensburg.
Danny Mayhak plays Prince Eric and Grace Rusnica is Ariel in Stage Right’s season opening production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” Sept. 20-22 at The Palace Theatre, Greensburg.

At Stage Right Theatre Company, it’s show time and party time.

Stage Right is set to begin a new season after a whirlwind 20th anniversary year that featured an added performance location at Westmoreland County Community College, an ambitious undertaking to break a Guinness World Record and a full schedule of student and professional productions.

“It was incredibly satisfying and proved to our organization we can do pretty much anything we set our minds to – but it was a lot,” says artistic director Tony Marino. “We want year 21 to be a little more of a party to rejoice and celebrate with our favorite people,” which include the communities that support the theater company.

Opens with Ariel

The party begins with a popular family show, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” to be staged Sept. 20-22 at The Palace Theatre, Greensburg. An opening night reception will follow the Sept. 20 performance in the theater’s Megan Suite.

Grace Rusnica of Irwin plays Ariel, a mermaid who longs to give up her ocean home to live “where the people are” on dry land. Last season, she played another Disney princess, Snow White, in the Stage Right musical.

“I am so excited to have the amazing opportunity of playing Ariel,” Rusnica, a senior at Hempfield Area High School, says. “Ariel has always been one of my favorite princesses, so I know this will be one of my favorite roles. She is a curious and caring girl, and I think it will be a challenge to bring her energy and light onto the big stage.”

The musical, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale and the classic animated Disney film, also features Danny Mayhak as Prince Eric, Renata Marino as the villain Ursula and Nick Lenz as Sebastian, the red crab that is King Triton’s (John Noble) servant charged to look over his youngest daughter, Ariel.

“Playing Sebastian is an absolute blast,” Lenz says. “Bringing such an iconic Disney character to life on the stage is a dream come true.”

“One thing theatergoers may notice is that I will not be using Sebastian’s iconic Jamaican accent in our production out of respect for the Jamaican culture which I am not a part of,” he says. “Instead, I’ll be finding new and fun ways to bring this sassy crustacean to life on stage at The Palace Theatre.”

Lenz of Jeannette also has another Disney role — Lumiere in Stage Right’s “Beauty and the Beast” — among his stage credits.

21st season highlights

Following “The Little Mermaid” will be a Stage Right tradition, the Halloween season production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” Oct. 25-26 at The Lamp Theatre, Irwin, and Oct. 31- Nov. 1 at Greensburg Garden and Civic Center, including midnight shows at both locations.

Marino always gives a twist to the campy rock musical and this year is no exception.

“Rocky is back, and we’ve literally been waiting years to do the theme of Woodstock and the ‘60s” that celebrates the music festival’s 50th anniversary, he said. Jason Swauger and Layne Bailey will portray Brad and Janet, with Courtney Harkins as Magenta.

Next up Nov. 22-24 at The Palace Theatre will be a show new to Stage Right, Disney’s Broadway musical, “Newsies,” about Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy who rallies a band of fellow teenage “newsies” to strike against unfair conditions.

Stage Right alum Eric Phelps, a New York University graduate and professional actor, will return to take on the role of Kelly.

“‘Newsies’ is a fantastic piece of theater that we can’t wait to share with everyone,” Marino says.

Stage Right’s annual Heart of the Arts Gala honoring the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau will take place Nov. 16 at Rizzo’s Malabar Inn featuring the cast of “Newsies” and the Murphy Big Band.

In December, Stage Right brings back another tradition with performances of “A Christmas Story” Dec. 13-15 at The Lamp Theatre that Marino says is “like getting together with family around the holidays.”

The new year will bring performances of “Cabaret” Feb. 28-March 1 at The Lamp, and “Legally Blonde” April 17-19 at The Palace, starring Lara Hayhurst as Elle Woods in her first show with Stage Right, and Marino as Professor Callahan.

Also in 2020, Stage Right’s student company will perform Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” Feb. 1-2 at Westmoreland County Community College featuring a Cinderella Lunch Ball option for kids.

The 21st season also will include a March event featuring a new work from a local composer, and a “Late Night Library Show,” “where I take a mature classic and make it into one of our crazy library shows – imagine ‘50 Shades of Grey’ turned into a children’s musical,” Marino says.

Add some “incredibly cool new projection technology” that will enhance Stage Right productions and the director says it’s time to get this party started.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Categories: AandE | Theater Arts
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.