Westchester's Hottest Producer Dishes on Heathers
Stephen Ferri, associate producer and production manager at The White Plains Performing Arts Center, gives the lowdown on the venue’s campy new production.
Stephen Ferri has had a hand in theater since well before he could even belly up to a bar. Now just 25 years old, Ferri has been involved in more than 130 productions both on and Off-Broadway, stretching as far back as middle school. From October 14 to 23, Ferri will be producing and directing the White Plains Performing Arts Center’s (WPPAC) new production of Heathers, a tongue-in-cheek play based upon the hit 1988 film about an intelligent teenage misfit who will stop at nothing to break into her high school’s most coveted clique. We caught up with Ferri, to get a better sense of this lighthearted musical that blends equal parts camp and cautionary tale.
In what capacity will you be contributing to the Heathers production?
I am doing everything from hiring most of the staff and selecting the designers to dealing with casting. Once we get the show up and running, I move over to being music director, and I’ll stay there and conduct the show and teach all the vocals. The older you get, I think you start to realize that you don’t have to worry as much about doing everything, and you can begin to delegate. All the folks at the WPPAC really know how to put together a stellar team.
What went into the decision to stage such an unlikely production?
If you look at the shows [WPPAC] has done in the past five or six years, you’ll see that we’re not your typical professional theater, in which you see Oklahoma, or The King and I. It’s just not really what our audience is and what any of us at the theater really think the community or the area needs. We’ve always been known to do edgier, more contemporary work, and Heathers came up mainly because I knew that it was a show that fit into our budget and was big enough—but not too big—and had this huge cult following.
How will WPPAC’s staging differ from, or do justice to, past productions of Heathers?
I think a lot of people know the show with regard to the cast album, but a lot of them missed actually seeing a production of it. I’m hoping that since this is the first time the show is being staged in the area, it really allows those people who kind of became obsessed with it or heard about it to come and see what they missed Off-Broadway. Here, you get the opportunity to see professional, almost Broadway-quality theater, in your backyard.