LAUGHING MATTERS WHEN SAVING PRODUCTION COSTS

Slapstick comedy production helps Rossford boost coffers

Winter play sets the stage for spring musical

1/15/2013
BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Daniel Fox, 15, left, Andrew Sabovik, 15, center, and Brandon Goldsmith, 17, right, run through a dress rehearsal of ‘Scapino!’ at Rossford High School. The comedy brought in more than $2,000 in ticket sales.
Daniel Fox, 15, left, Andrew Sabovik, 15, center, and Brandon Goldsmith, 17, right, run through a dress rehearsal of ‘Scapino!’ at Rossford High School. The comedy brought in more than $2,000 in ticket sales.

Rossford High School’s winter play tends to be a production that doesn’t have to pay for royalty rights, in order to keep costs down so a big musical can be staged in the spring.

That wasn’t the case this year, however. Drama director Julie Zatko and her assistant, Ryan Mahaffey, decided to go with a comedy, Scapino!, that had a successful Broadway run in 1974-75.

Ms. Zatko said the rights were not expensive — $160 for four performances — and the play, which ran Thursday through Sunday, was too good to pass up. With strong attendance and ticket sales of more than $2,000, the high school is well positioned to do State Fair in April.

“It went very well. It was super,” Ms. Zatko said.

She said Scapino! cost about $1,000 to stage. The fall production of Almost, Maine cleared $2,000, which was used for financing.

Scapino! derives from a 1671 farce by Moliere, a French actor and playwright. Its title is translated as Scapino’s Deceits. Set outside a waterfront cafe in Naples in the 1950s, Scapino! is filled with slapstick and burlesque and features songs by Dean Martin and Rosemary Clooney.

“It’s fun to do because the stock characters are so recognizable,” Ms. Zatko, a 1991 Rossford High School graduate, said. “There are the lovers, the duped parents, the sidekick — the kids get all the jokes. Zany is the best description.”

Hannah Peterson, 16, left, and Nolan Duly, 16, rehearse. Hannah, a sophomore, played Signora Geronte. The role called for some  physical comedy when the character is thrown into a sack.
Hannah Peterson, 16, left, and Nolan Duly, 16, rehearse. Hannah, a sophomore, played Signora Geronte. The role called for some physical comedy when the character is thrown into a sack.

The title character Scapino is a a fast-thinking, mischievous valet who devises ways to help two pairs of young lovers overcome parental opposition. Scapino uses flattery, deceit, and manipulation to achieve his ends, and finds there isn’t so much opposition after all.

“What sets the play apart is the slapstick,” Ms. Zatko said, adding that the 17-member cast meant there were plenty of roles to go around. “It was a good opportunity for as many kids as possible to participate.”

The production saved money because costumes did not have to be rented. Instead, cast members ransacked closets at home and came up with the needed Borsalina hats and even credible apparel for a gondolier.

For 10th-grade student Hannah Peterson, the production was a rollicking good time. She played Signora Geronte who doesn't want her son, Leandro, to marry a Gypsy. Hannah said she was thrown into a sack.

“It was crazy,” she said. “I had to jump into it.”

Senior Rori Coyle played Giacinta, the love interest of Ottavio, whose father has arranged for him to marry Signora Geronte’s daughter. Her role, she said, didn’t involve much physical comedy.

“I did get to kiss Scapino by pulling his tie down. That’s as physical as I got,” she said.