Diana London, artistic director and producer, said that they were looking for a non-musical show that had a lot of humor in it.
"Scapino is a farce," she said. "It is really appropriate for families," she said.
London added that choosing a director can make or break productions. "One important thing when I decide what plays are being done is that I really have to marry a director to a play. Laurie Brongo, the director, had worked on Scapino previously, and loved it," London said. Traditionally, in the spring, the HTE performs musicals. However, the musical director took a sabbatical, so this year they have decided to replace a musical with a comedy.
"We always wanted to do a large cast farce," said Florence Pape, the ensemble's director of development. "Also, we've been fortunate enough to have a solid group of very good people. It's truly a labor of love."
In the lead
For Manhattan resident Sean M. Mammola, bringing the lead role of Scapino to life has been both fun and challenging. "[Scapino] is a wonderful man. I am really happy and grateful to recreate a role of one of the master's [Jim Dale] of live theater," Mammola said.
He said that playing Scapino is a test of physical endurance. His character is multi-faceted, combining physical behavior, dancing, accents, and clowning.
"The role is huge - it encompasses everything we go through in life. All Scapino wants to do is be accepted by his masters," Mammola said.
He also considers his role as Scapino a learning experience.
"I've learned about who I am from playing Scapino, and about how we deal with people in our everyday lives," said Mammola. "[Scapino] puts a positive spin on life, wanting to have the upper hand in a mischievous way." "Scapino" provides slapstick comedy to the life of everyday people.
"It's a delightful, fun, happy experience in a time when there's a lot of sadness. Scapino offers a chance to laugh at ourselves and appreciate the humanity of it," London said.
Originally, HTE was established in 1999 as a performance opportunity to do straight acting. Several years ago, HTE branched out to musicals and children's theater also. HTE brings the competitive acting world to a small local stage, and provides an intimate setting for both the actors and audience.
"One important person for our company is Sue Ellen Newman at the Hudson School, who allows us to use her performance space. There is a real shortage of intimate settings in Hoboken. Her doing theater for adults is really reaching out to the community," London said.
Pape added that the small stage at the Hudson School, 601 Park Ave., enhances the viewing of Scapino for the audience even more than the zany characters and plot.
"It makes for theater that is not just watching. The audience will become part of the show," Pape said. "Scapino is serving up a slice of Naples right in the heart of Hoboken. It is a fun-filled frolic for the entire family," Pape added.
HTE's production of Scapino will be shown at the Hudson School at 601 Park Ave. on June 2, 3, 9, 10 at 8 p.m.; June 4 at 3 p.m. and on June 11 at 7 p.m. For more information, check the Hudson Theatre Ensemble's Web site, www.hudsontheatreensemble.com.