Stage Right’s ‘Snow White’ turns students into fairy tale royalty |
Theater & Arts

Stage Right’s ‘Snow White’ turns students into fairy tale royalty

Candy Williams
Stage Right student company will present “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs” Jan. 25-27 at the Lamp Theatre in Irwin and Feb. 2-3 at Westmoreland County Community College near Youngwood.
From left: Grace Rusnica and Anthony Marino will share the roles of Snow White and Prince Edward with other cast members in Stage Right’s student company production of “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.”

Area high school students are stepping into roles of fairy tale royalty in student company performances of Stage Right’s first full-length original musical, “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.”

Grace Rusnica of Irwin, a junior at Hempfield Area High School; Maura Rygg of Manor, a junior at Greensburg Central Catholic High School; and Jenna Salvatore of Greensburg, a senior at Hempfield Area High School will alternate as Snow White in six performances Jan. 25-Feb. 3 between The Lamp Theatre in Irwin and Westmoreland County Community College near Youngwood.

The production is a new staging of the musical written by Stage Right artistic director Anthony Marino, who directs the show, with original score by David Mahokey of Connellsville and Greg Kerestan of Greensburg.

Stage Right’s professional cast first performed “Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs” in 2012 at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg. Marino said he selected the musical — adding some rewrites “to make the show better” — as part of the theater company’s current 20th-anniversary season, because he felt it was important to feature an original production.

‘Tons of opportunities’

“In deciding on ‘Snow White,’ it was a show we hadn’t revisited since it was done in 2012, and it is a show we are really proud of,” he says. “It’s also a show that most of our students have no connection to, because of how long ago it was done. That’s cool because that makes it new to those students. Plus, we had a good group for this show, as it has multiple roles and tons of opportunities.”

The show is a musical re-telling of the Snow White story as created by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, about an orphaned princess whose stepmother the queen turns out to be an evil witch with a magic mirror. When the mirror tells the queen that when Snow White turns 18, she will displace her as “the fairest of them all,” the queen sets out to get rid of Snow White.

After fleeing into the forest where she meets the seven dwarfs, eating the queen’s poison apple and falling asleep, Snow White is finally awakened by a kiss from a handsome prince — and a happy ending takes place.

Selfless and courageous

“Snow White is my favorite princess of all time,” Rusnica says. “She is a selfless, beautiful and courageous girl and I admire her. It is a challenge to take the princess we all know from the classic movie and develop her character into something new.”

Srygg says the show “has some beautiful story lines that I love and could watch over and over. It is perfect for kids to come and watch a fun-filled and entertaining story, and for adults to revisit a classic fairy tale.”

For Salvatore, portraying Snow White is a dream come true.

“I finally get to play a princess role and that was something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl,” she says. “Since the musical is a Stage Right original, the music is something people have never heard before — and the songs are so catchy, they will be left in your head after the show.”

Other featured roles

The role of handsome Prince Edward is shared by Marino, Jordan Keenan and Ben Federico. Dividing up the Evil Queen duties are Dallys Clark, Gia Marino and Emma Kate Angelo. Snow White’s sister Rose Red is played by Natalie Estok, Ella Donovan and Aliya Pimental.

An additional 50 Stage Right student performers complete the cast.

Rusnica’s credits include Dorothy in Hempfield Area High School’s “The Wizard of Oz,” Johanna in Stage Right’s “Sweeney Todd” and Peter Pan in “Peter Pan.” Rygg has performed in Stage Right’s “Mamma Mia,” “Shrek the Musical” and “Sweeney Todd,” and Salvatore was Glinda in “The Wizard of Oz,” Teen Fiona in “Shrek” and Peter Pan in “Peter Pan.”

Marino says the theater company has plans in the second part of this season to launch Stage Right Theatricals and to begin to market the full-length and smaller original pieces that Stage Right has created — such as “Snow White” — across the country.

“Chris McAllister (Stage Right production manager/music director) is taking the lead on that; there’ll be more to come on that soon,” he says.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review
contributing writer.