'The Most Happy Fella' A Family Affair In Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville

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The Wright Family kids of Hawthorne, left, watch the grape stomping scene in "Most Happy Fella" that will run at Westlake High School beginning aug. 8
The Wright Family kids of Hawthorne, left, watch the grape stomping scene in "Most Happy Fella" that will run at Westlake High School beginning aug. 8 Photo Credit: Andrea Minoff
The Wright Family of performers in "Most Happy Fella".
The Wright Family of performers in "Most Happy Fella". Photo Credit: Andrea Minoff
The Thomas Family will perform together in the cast of "Most Happy Fella" at Westlake High school beginning Aug. 8.
The Thomas Family will perform together in the cast of "Most Happy Fella" at Westlake High school beginning Aug. 8. Photo Credit: Andrea Minoff

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- When the Mount Pleasant Community Theatre presents its production of "The Most Happy Fella" this week, much of the cast will bear uncanny likenesses as the Wright and Thomas families from Hawthorne fill the stage.

The Thomases and Wrights join Pleasantville couple Rich and Gabby Murden in the "family gathering" musical that runs Friday and Saturday Aug. 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. with a Sunday, Aug. 10 matinee at 2 p.m. at the John Whearty Theater at Westlake High School. The show continues its run August 15 and 16.

The Thomas family includes Dad Jon as Giuseppe, son Justin as Joey, daughter Niki in the ensemble and Mom Merry keeping the show moving as stage manager. Merry Thomas' parents, John and Joan Whearty are also major components of the group. Joan Whearty has been the lighting director for more than 30 years and hr husband has been involved in everything from refreshments, to raffles to organizational support.

"It's not so much the specific show but the opportunity to share the experience," Merry Thomas said of the family-centered show. "Sharing the stage as a family keeps us close and provides a positive and enjoyable experience. The fact that we all are blessed with the talent to perform makes it possible and that much more of a bonding opportunity."

John and Joan Whearty were original
founding members of the organization and Whearty, as the former principal and superintendent of Mount Pleasant schools, John Whearty was instrumental in making Westlake High School the home theater for the group.
 
The Wrights are represented by the second and third generation of participants –- children Taylor, Emily and John and Dad John, making his debut as Jake and Mom Timi who is doing tickets and stage crew. Timi Ann's husband John Wright was in the orchestra for many years.

"We have three generations involved in the show," Timi Wright said. "My dad did set construction and crew in the 80's and he helps out now wherever he is needed. My mom Camille is the assistant to the director. John and I met through Mount Pleasant Community Theatre."
 
Richie Murden of Pleasantville, who plays Pasquale in "Fella", also works in set construction and his wife Gabby is dance captain and an ensemble member.

"Gabby and I first fell for each other during the run of "Annie Get your Gun 2009"... we began dating right after the show ended, got engaged during "Curtains 2011" and Married Aug 10, 2012 after "The Wiz" closed," Murden said. "My parents (Ruth and Dave Murden) have been volunteering as props handlers, Ushers and any thing else asked by Rose since I started with the group in 1981."
 

"The Most Happy Fella" is a musical with book, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. The story, about a romance between an older man and a younger woman, ran for 676 performances when originally presented on Broadway, and has enjoyed several revivals.

And the gathering of families continues with Bob Beitscher of White Plains who was part of the group many years ago and returned last year after a long hiatus. Bob appears as Max and a cashier in the show, with his wife Maureen and daughter Jessica in the ensemble and son Matthew on stage crew.  

Julie Wendholt of Nyack, playing the female lead of Rosabella, also shares the stage with a family member, her daughter, Erin.

Westlake High is at 825 Westlake Drive in Thornwood.

Tickets can be ordered on-line at Mount Pleasant Theater Community Theatre website.

For further information, call 914-773-9171 or 914-769-0958

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