MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y.— Philip J. Cutrone is not just your ordinary Westlake High School Library media specialist and director of the school's plays, but he is presently on stage this holiday season in the New York regional premiere of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at the White Plains Performing Arts Center (WPPAC).
Originally Cutrone saw casting notices for the production, but he was directing Westlake High School's fall production of Neil Simon's "Fools" and thought that he had missed all of the audition dates.
"I saw a posting on Facebook where they were still looking for someone to portray Grimsby, and the requirements seemed to be a match so I went in and spoke with the director, Jeremy Quinn," said Cutrone.
Cutrone had seen many of the production's performers in other WPPAC presentations. This is not Cutrone's first time performing -- he appeared as Scrooge in " A Christmas Carol", and also was appointed the artistic director for "The Nak'd Stage."
"The Nak'd Stage" was a play-reading series where Tony winning plays were performed in raw form and paid tribute to the playwrights and the scripts via a reading for a live audience. For the "Nak'd Stage," Cutrone appeared in "All My Sons," "Death of a Salesman," and "Mister Roberts."
"Being part of this production is invigorating. The cast is amazing, they are so talented and such genuinely nice people. I could listen to Rodney Ingram, our Prince Eric, sing for hours on end and the same with Beth (Stafford Laird). Her voice is so beautiful and she is such an engaging actress and dancer," said Cutrone of his cast members.
"Working with John Tracey Egan is a hoot, he is a real chameleon and such a talented guy, a polished, professional and yet very down to earth and truly funny! Every night is incredibly exciting! The activity backstage is organized, but at this intensity that is great to be a part of. I feel like I am 22 years old again!" said Cutrone.
The part that Cutrone plays is Grimsby, who is in essence Prince Eric's father. Even though Grimsby is just Prince Eric's guardian, he has raised Eric and his whole life is devoted to Eric's well-being.
"I enjoy playing father characters as fatherhood is such a complex combination of emotions. In a musical it is even more challenging, because you often do things along with music so there is no time to take to emote or establish character. You have to do it in time with the music and do it well. A challenge, but a fun one," said Cutrone.
Quinn was very accommodating to Cutrone's schedule organizing Cutrone's rehearsals mostly on weekends.
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