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Paw Prints

Fall Musical Interview with Mr. Ferriero

What was your inspiration behind twisting the Wizard of Oz?

 “I wanted to take a traditional story that people knew, but make it modern so that people can see that these kinds of stories are timeless. I want people to see the show and think, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a whole other side to these characters – they can be new, modern, and peppy.’ That was my goal; to take a show and put that spin on it. That’s why I like the word ‘twisted’ because you’re twisting the show.”


What is your favorite scene in Oz? Character? Song? Scene? 

My favorite scene in the show is when we finally meet the Lion, Tinman, and Scarecrow… My favorite song is without a doubt “On the Way Back,” performed by the Tinman and Scarecrow. It’s a gorgeous ballad where they both realize that they have a heart and brains and that there’s more to them… My favorite character… is Scarecrow. He has a lot of funny little one-liners, and he has a lot of moments that allow the audience to have fun. There’s a lot of other characters that are serious, but the Scarecrow has the opportunity to get the audience involved.”


Can you explain the process of preparing a school musical?

“We start the process very early… I sit down with Mr. Kelly, Mr. Kleinwolterink, and Ms. Dagen and we really start going song by song, scene by scene, trying to find what we want it to look like. Sketches are done. I’ve read the script at least four times, in this case, I wrote the script and revised it. By the time all of the actors come in, then it just becomes trial and error… We look at every single moment in the show and decide what to change and what could improve. There’s a lot of last-minute changes… and then we start to add lighting, props, and costumes. All of it is just one big process.”


How do you decide which musical to put on every year?

“Picking a musical is not the easiest thing to do, but I like to look at the students that I just worked with the previous year and see what their strengths are. This year I knew I wanted a musical that could be girl-heavy if it needed to be because we have a lot of talented women in this show that I’d love to give a chance to shine. My goal is to always pick a show that allows for a lot of parts, whether they’re big or small. Everybody deserves that opportunity, and sometimes I’ve seen high school shows where there are only four leads and everybody else randomly comes out. I never want that in our shows… Everybody needs their time to shine, and I need those moments as a director to see what our new actors are capable of.”


What is your favorite part of directing the school musical? 

“My favorite part is definitely rehearsals where it’s just me and a bunch of my cast; not just rehearsing but talking about the show and relating the show to other things, and just spending time together. Show nights are completely wacky and crazy, but the rehearsals can be a lot of fun. Last year’s show, Curtains, was the first time I was ever backstage during a performance, and I had so much fun. We had a great time. Just the bonding experience that you have during a show is really awesome. The final product is always great because you work hard at it, but the bonding is priceless.”


What is one piece of advice that you’d give to the musical members? 

“There’s an old saying that says, ‘There’s no such thing as a small part…’ When I was in high school, I thought that I was going to be Mr. Broadway. In my first couple of shows, I was in the ensemble, and I took that to heart. I went out there and I did amazing. Whatever job you do in the musical, even if you’re doing the lights; do it with passion… My biggest advice is if you like being in the musical, slay whatever part you have. I know people who decided to be in the ensemble for their profession, and they wouldn’t change it for the world: love every part you get.”


Why is it important for students to be in the musical? 

“Some students are athletic, some artistic, and some a mix of both. I think the musical is a great opportunity for a student no matter who you are. It makes people come together and try something new… I had a football player come in a few years back that was nervous but did a remarkable job. A baseball player who was the star of the team played in Aladdin one year. His dad gave him a hard time, but he did it anyway because he wanted to show people that there were more sides to him than meets the eye. Just seeing those moments from kids shows me that you can come into the musical and just have a good time, be someone else, and not worry about any kind of judgment. Everybody and anybody should feel free to join the musical, and in Morris, we work with you and we work with your schedule. The musical really is for everyone.”

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