Maiello's musical finale at WHS this weekend

Maiello's musical finale at WHS this weekend

Woonsocket High School's Arielle Abramek, Luis Andrade, and Patrick Melody, from left, whoop it up during a lighter scene Monday night in the school's rehearsal of "Crazy For You," being performed at WHS Thursday through Saturday nights at 7 p.m. The public is invited. (Valley Breeze photo by Tom Ward)

WOONSOCKET - Woonsocket High School theater arts instructor Jennifer Maiello will be directing her last large-scale musical this weekend, and she's found a somewhat unusual recruit to take on the lead role.

The students will perform "Crazy for You," a romantic musical comedy based in part on George and Ira Gershwin's 1930 musical "Girl Crazy," starting tonight, Thursday, and continuing through Saturday, at 7 p.m. each night.

"It's an old fashioned boy meets girl musical comedy," explained Maiello.

The show will include 27 students, along with two faculty members and one visiting alumnus, and will mark the last production of its kind for the longtime teacher.

Maiello will still teach theater and dance classes at the high school, and will put on both the school's annual benefit show and the spring dance showcase. But the large-scale musical numbers, like 2009's Chicago and 2006's Jesus Christ Superstar, may be a thing of the past.

"Between family and other obligations, I just can't commit to the massive musicals anymore," Maiello said. "It's a ton of after school hours."

Maiello herself is intimately familiar with the story line for this year's performance. In a former life, she spent a year and a half on a national Broadway tour of the musical with the Matunuck-based summer theater company, Theatre-by-the-Sea. That was before she landed the job as drama teacher for WHS some 16 years ago, and chose "Crazy for You" as the department's first major musical performance.

"It is a very special show to me, so I figured I would close off with it," she said.

But this time around, the teacher didn't have the appropriate leading man for the role in her class, and had to look to the general student population.

She asked around, and soon found herself courting senior Victor Hunt, Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt's son, whose claim to local fame has been on the football and baseball fields, rather than the stage.

"He's a complete athlete and he's done a ton of work to fit this role," Maiello said. "It's a role where he's singing, and dancing, and acting, and it's not easy."

In fact, Maiello said, the difficult character required Hunt to master two roles at once.

Hunt plays Bobby Childs, a New York banker who goes to Deadrock, Nevada to foreclose on a property and ends up falling in love with a cowgirl Polly Baker, played by senior Allison Pierel. To win her affections, "Bobby" disguises himself as "Bela Zangler," a character with a thick Hungarian accent who runs the Zangler Theatre in New York.

In Act 2, the real Bela Zangler shows up.

"That's where the comedy comes in," said Maiello.

The actors will be accompanied by a 14-piece orchestra, and local artist Ron Deziel has designed the sets.

Tickets for "Crazy for You" are on sale now and can be purchased at the WHS main office during school hours for $10 or at the door for $15.

Woonsocket High School's D'Andre Thomas, Elizabeth DiTomasso, Patrick Melody, and Colin Heroux, from left, perform during the school's rehearsal of "Crazy For You" Monday night. Three shows will be at WHS auditorium Thursday through Saturday nights at 7 p.m. The public is invited.
Woonsocket High School's Alison Pierel rehearses one of the Gershwin show tunes Monday night in the school's production of "Crazy For You" being performed at WHS Thursday through Saturday nights at 7 p.m. The public is invited. Advance tickets at the school are $10; $15 at the door.