BY DONNA MACKENZIE
Around 40 Honeoye Falls-Lima High School students will take to the stage this weekend to perform the musical comedy Irene for audiences.
Cast members are Katie Quigley (Irene O’Dare), Christine Halfmann (Mrs. O’Dare), Ryan Stansbury (Donald S. Marshall III), Riley Goold (Mrs. Marshall), Dominick Abraham (Ozzie Babson), Charles Tomaszewski (Madame Lucy), Sam Gilbert (Painter), Tony Ennis (Sign Man), Adam Santucci (Delivery Boy), Raelynn Bovenzi (Helen Burke), Sydney Picciotti (Jane McFudd), Brian Reinke (Phone Man), Alec Bhaskaran (Jimmy), Jack Graney (Clarkson), Megan Reinke (Arabella), Nevaeh Close (Debutante, Alice Blue Gown Quartet), Hanna Coria (Alice Blue Gown Quartet, 9th Avenue Neighbor), Gabby Patchett (Alice Blue Gown Quartet, 9th Avenue Neighbor), Leanna Bernier (9th Avenue Neighbor), Paige Brent (9th Avenue Neighbor), Shelby Briggs (9th Avenue Neighbor), Ayla Brongo (9th Avenue Neighbor), Allie Cleveland (9th Avenue Neighbor, Irish Dancer Soloist), Lauren Cody (Debutante), Brooke Erion (9th Avenue Neighbor), Asia Fedele (9th Avenue Neighbor), Taylor French (9th Avenue Neighbor), Hannah Harris (Debutante), Danielle Howard (Debutante), Evie Manchester (9th Avenue Neighbor), Audrey Natale (9th Avenue Neighbor), Allie Patterson (Debutante), Melissa Price (Debutante), Kari Roberts (9th Avenue Neighbor), Kimmy Salter (9th Avenue Neighbor), Shira Silverstein (9th Avenue Neighbor), Amanda Stott (9th Avenue Neighbor), Katie Tanner (Debutante) and Jael Vogt (9th Avenue Neighbor).
The musical tells the story of Irene O’Dare, a young Irish lass who runs a music shop with her mother in New York City and wants to be a successful businesswoman, a woman very much ahead of her time. She is hired by Donald Marshall III to tune pianos at his swanky Long Island mansion and the two fall for each other.
“She is a true feminist figure, but the most challenging part of the role was displaying her feminine side while also being strong,” said Quigley during an interview prior to a rehearsal last week.
“Irene is truly a woman but her determination to be a good businesswoman is also a feminist idea. She feels that there must be something bigger than 9th Avenue and wants that but she also will stick to her morals.”
For Halfmann, the most challenging parts of her role as Mrs. O’Dare were learning an Irish jig, developing her character and maintaining an Irish accent.
“She cares about her daughter but is set in her ways,” Halfmann said. “It’s nice to see how she mellows out, but she is a very strong woman, confident in herself and comfortable in her own skin.”
The show was first presented in 1919, then revived in 1973 but it is not as well-known as some shows.
“I tried to do some searching about the show but it’s been kind of lost and I could only find a couple of clips and a couple of photos,” Halfmann said. “That’s what I like about the show; we can bring it to life in our own fashion and make it our own. It’s not something like The Sound of Music or Fiddler on the Roof that everyone knows. It will be a new experience for our audience; I am happy we get to present it.”
Providing much of the comedy in the musical is the role of Madame Lucy, a supposedly famous French dressmaker who is actually a man trying to get his dress designs noticed. Tomaszewski, a junior, is performing in his third musical in high school but in this role he is infusing much of his own personality.
“I was drawn to the role because of his personality and larger-than-life character,” said Tomaszewski during a break in rehearsal last week. “It’s a challenging role because you need an impeccable sense of comedic timing. Vocally, it is also a challenge because the music includes some comedic timing. It’s been great learning new music though.”
For Quigley, two things drew her to the role of Irene.
“I like her perseverance,” Quigley said. “She’s also Irish and I am Irish on both my mother and my father’s side. I can’t wait for my paternal grandfather to see the show. I also interact with all the characters and have hilarious scenes with many of them. It’s a great role and I am lucky to end my senior year with it.”
HF-L will present Irene March 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and March 24 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the District Auditorium, 619 Quaker Meeting House Road. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students. You can purchase tickets online at www.seatyourself.biz/HFLCSD or email the box office at HFLBOXOFFICE@gmail.com or buy tickets at the door.