Interview with Patriot Productions


Emily Landolfi and Conner Keough

Patriot Productions is not just FTHS´ drama club, but a community of loving, accepting individuals who harbor exceptional talent. The cast and crew just performed their unique rendition of “CURTAINS: A Musical Comedy Whodunit,” a musical with humorous dialogue, impressive songs, and elaborate dance numbers that captivates audiences. With rehearsals running 5 to 6 days a week after school and on the weekends, these students dedicated their time to mastering the material and making it their own to ultimately put on four stellar performances. I talked with members of the club (one-on-one and iconic duos) and asked them questions relating to their part in the show, the creative aspects of their performance, and the family-like bond within the company.


Emily: What has been the best and hardest part about being the lead? 

JOE WICKE (FRANK CIOFFI): The best part is the sense of importance. You feel like you are really a part of everything and when you are in such a big part, it gives you that sort of sense which I like. The hardest part is all of the lines. I have 200 lines and, as you can imagine, that is kind of hard to do but I make it work!

Emily: What is your favorite part about being the understudy to the lead? 

DAN LODGES (RANDY DEXTER and understudy for FRANK CIOFFI): It’s a very different experience than all of the other shows that I’ve done here and it’s a lot of fun trying to work through everything. Getting to work with Joe Wicke is an honor.

Emily: What is the most intimidating part about playing the female lead? 

PAIGE WEHNER (NIKI HARRIS): Knowing that you could make or break the show with your performance. Like obviously just me being bad wouldn’t ruin the work of the rest of the cast, but if I mess up severely, people are going to remember that because I’m on stage a lot.

Emily: What is your favorite part of playing Niki Harris (female lead opposite of Cioffi)? Most difficult part? 

SHAIN STANLEY (understudy for NIKI HARRIS): My absolute favorite part is just getting to do it all. I love doing all the different things so being able to be in the ensemble doing what I want to do but also having this opportunity to be a lead for a little bit while working with one of my favorite people, Paige Wehner (Principal Niki Harris), is so much fun. The most difficult part is probably keeping up with everything because it’s a dance heavy, singer heavy show so having to know all the ensemble parts and then the different stuff for my lead is a bit challenging. 

Emily: How has it been one of the leads in the show?

NOAH ZALIKA (AARON FOX): It’s a lot of fun and I am so, so grateful that I got this opportunity. I will not lie; it can be a lot on me because I’m always here every single day, pretty much, whether that be blocking, dancing, or singing. But I love it. I really do love it and it’s really great to see my hard work pay off. I’m a junior and have had good parts before but this is my big break as Aaron. I have a solo and it’s just amazing. It’s tough but it’s so worth it and I am so glad I get to work with all these lovely people. I actually get to do all four shows and have all these moments and different relationships with different characters. Overall, I just get to see all my hard work from the past three years pay off.

Emily: Can you elaborate on your complex relationship with Aaron Fox in the show?

NATALIE MORADIAN (GEORGIA HENDRIX): We have our conflicts and go our separate ways in the show but as it goes on, we come together. Noah and I are best friends so the chemistry is always there because we are so close. We always hang out, run our lines during lunch and classes, and are two peas in a pod.

Emily: How is it being an understudy for two lead roles?

CONNER KEOUGH (HARV FREMONT, understudy for CHRIS BELLING, and AARON FOX): I am honored to have the opportunity to understudy two roles. Originally, I was just supposed to do Chris, which I thought was difficult enough learning to be British or something, but then I found out I also had to understudy Aaron. It is a lot of work and responsibility but I am honored that the club let me do this because that means they trust me.   

Emily: How has your character gotten you out of your comfort zone?

SYDNEY BRYANT (understudy for BAMBIE BERNET): I’m not really a dancer, so I’ve gotten to learn a lot more by being this character and have gained more confidence. I’ve been able to break out of my shell and my comfort zone but have been able to build a new comfort zone too. 

Emily: How do you get into your character?

AMANDA STORM (understudy for JOANIE): The first thing I did was search up the synopsis for my character and when I started studying the script, I took what I learned about her and put it all together. She is the leader, tells people what to do, and is the stage manager so she has some form of responsibility. I kind of just play off that and her lines and how she interacts with other people.

PAIGE WEHNER (NIKI HARRIS): It’s pretty easy for me to get into the mindset of Niki because I feel like we’re very similar people. I don’t really do anything to prepare to be her. 

CONNER KEOUGH (HARV FREMONT, understudy for CHRIS BELLING, and AARON FOX): For Chris, I recorded Mr. Giblin uses his upper-class accent because it is so good. I listen to it, hype up, drink some tea, and then I am in the mindset of a British guy. For Aaron, I honestly will listen to the duet a lot and sing “I Miss The Music” at home. It gets me into the mindset of being, you can say, a tortured writer. They are very different but both great characters! 

Emily: What is your favorite moment in the show for your character?

NATALIE MORADIAN (GEORGIA HENDRIX): My favorite moment in the show for Georgia is “Thataway” because it shows off everyone’s dancing and singing abilities. You have to have a lot of endurance and I think that’s the best part of a musical. 

Emily: What is your favorite part about going to rehearsals? 

SYDNEY BRYANT (understudy for BAMBIE BERNET): Seeing everybody because I find that I learn the most when I’m around other actors and actresses. It’s also just fun to make new friends! 

Emily: What was your reaction when you got your role? 

PIPER DOHERTY (CARMEN BERNSTEIN): I was at home waiting thinking the cast list would come out the next day, so I was chilling, and then I got two notifications from remind and google classroom. I went on and looked at the list and expected to get an understudy role but saw my name in the middle, first row under “Carmen.” I actually threw my phone across the room because I was so excited. I didn’t think I was going to get it [the role] but then I did, and it all worked out!

JOE WICKE (FRANK CIOFFI): “God, they chose me?” I was very surprised. I did not think I was going to be picked but I was very excited when I found out and it motivated me to do well in the show.  

Emily: What is your favorite line from the show? 

PIPER DOHERTY (CARMEN BERNSTEIN): Probably the one where I’m talking about Bambi’s boyfriends in her closet. I love that one but also my first line which is “Oh crap!” I think it really sets the mood for her character and I just think it’s really funny.

Emily: What is your favorite death scene? 

NOAH ZALIKA (AARON FOX): There are so many but I do love Sidney Berstein’s death. It’s very graphic but it’s really funny because of all the confusion. There is a lot of back and forth with his character and then he just shows up dead. And then, “You better make the Curtain close,” which is Cioffi’s line, and we’re all just shocked. It’s such a great finisher to Act 1 because you are just left in a state of shock. It’s very powerful even though it’s really scary but really does have a really cool effect on people. 

Emily: Who is your favorite person to watch on stage when you are the audience during rehearsals? 

AMANDA STORM (understudy for JOANIE HARMON): Piper Doherty. She has such an amazing stage presence and is naturally funny. It’s great to watch her and she’s one of my closest friends so I am always so proud of her when I see her on stage. She literally is Carmen. I cannot wait for the show because she’s going to be amazing!

Emily: What is your favorite element about being President of Patriot Productions? 

NAYA CRUZ (JOANIE HARMON): I think my favorite part about being President is that I have the power to include everyone else’s opinions and input with our plans for the club. It’s not just a President-Director thing.

Emily: Can you explain the community of Drama? 

DAN LODGES (RANDY DEXTER and understudy for FRANK CIOFFI): A lot of clubs say they are a family but it really is. We hang out everyday and I’m shocked we aren’t sick and tired of each other yet.   

Emily: What is your favorite aspect about the Drama Club?

SHAIN STANLEY (understudy for NIKI HARRIS): It is a cheesy answer but definitely the people. They are all such wonderful and talented people like the talent in the club is crazy. It’s a club that doesn’t get recognized as often as sports but they are just as talented as the varsity athletes and everyone else. The people in general are really impressive and great!

Emily: What is it like being a senior in drama?

NAYA CRUZ (JOANIE HARMON): It is very exciting but also very sad knowing I have to leave. Overall, it’s more exciting than anything because it’s our last show and big goodbye that we are so excited to do. After four years, it was nice building a family and relationships with everybody in the club including the directors and instrumentalists.



Emily: What is your favorite part about working together? 

JOE WICKE (FRANK CIOFFI): My favorite part is that we’re both able to have a lot of fun with the material we’re given. There’s a lot of little nuances we’ve put into how we interact with each other onstage and we’re able to play off each other well. Plus, it’s great to work with someone as talented and dedicated as Paige. 

PAIGE WEHNER (NIKI HARRIS): He’s really talented and hardworking.

DAN LODGES (RANDY DEXTER and understudy for FRANK CIOFFI): She knows what she is doing and helps me out with things since I don’t know what I am doing most of the time. It’s easy to have someone you can mess around with and that you know whatever happens, you are just going to have fun with it. It’s nice working with someone who understands you, is lenient, and willing to help you out at all moments. 

SHAIN STANLEY (understudy for NIKI HARRIS): My favorite part about working with Dan is that he is such a fun person to work with. Overall, we work well together and it’s really nice to be a scene partner with your best friend and someone you really like.  

Emily: How do you establish the chemistry between you two? 

JOE WICKE (FRANK CIOFFI): The best way we found to establish chemistry is to just practice each scene and set the tone. Once we’ve begun to feel comfortable with each other, we learn how to play to our best qualities and we can make each scene more natural and funny

PAIGE WEHNER (NIKI HARRIS): We talked to each other and worked out some of the parts in the show, but mostly I don’t think we really thought about it too much. We just both just acted out the lines and over time it got better and better.

Emily: What is your favorite scene between the two of you?

DAN LODGES (RANDY DEXTER and understudy for FRANK CIOFFI): The scene where Niki shoots at Cioffi with a gun. I think it’s absolutely hilarious because it just goes to show that she is very dumb an Cioffi is also stupid. Overall, it’s a very fun scene. 

SHAIN STANLEY (understudy for NIKI HARRIS): Their first introduction scene, Niki walks up the Cioffi with death threats but she does it so nonchalantly and he’s just so enamored by her that he is unfazed by what she is holding. It’s very awkward, very funny and throughout the show, that’s pretty much their relationship. She’s dumb and he’s stupid too so it’s not till the end until they’re like, “Oh! Maybe we can be dumb and stupid together!”  



Emily: How was it translating your friendship into a romantic relationship on the stage? 

NOAH ZALIKA (AARON FOX): It was a lot of fun because even though it was very awkward, especially the kiss, it was a very fun experience and we got through it together. The fighting part was easy and we did it so well. I didn’t have to try! 

NATALIE MORADIAN (GEORGIA HENDRIX): Quoting the show, “The feelings are reciprocal, I can assure you.” In all actuality, even though it might have been awkward at times, working with your best friend is something I would never give up. I would go back and do it again and again every single day. I enjoyed working with Noah.

Emily: What was your favorite part about working with each other?

NOAH ZALIKA (AARON FOX): It was easy for us to get along so we could just work on things. If I was working with someone I wasn’t that close to, I would have had to text them and be like “hey, you wanna practice?” and it would have been awkward. But with us, I feel like we got together every weekend to practice and we got it down and it was great! It’s just so natural and it was a building on a bond we already have.

NATALIE MORADIAN (GEORGIA HENDRIX): I think one of my favorite scenes to do on stage was 100% us arguing because it was the funniest thing ever. It’s something that we can just do because we argue all the time since that’s the relationship between best friends.  



Emily: You guys have a secret romantic relationship in the show. How is it like playing that out?

DAN LODGES (RANDY DEXTER and understudy for FRANK CIOFFI): It’s funny because people don’t know it is happening except for the people who do. 

CONNER KEOUGH (HARV FREMONT, understudy for CHRIS BELLING, and AARON FOX): It’s not that difficult. 

Emily: What is it like being the heart of the humor in the show? 

DAN LODGES (RANDY DEXTER and understudy for FRANK CIOFFI): We get to do a lot of accents. We needed another act for all of the random things that we did because we did subtle things like I jumped on his back and ran across the stage. It’s little things like that. If you’re not looking for it, you’ll probably miss a lot but if you are, you will most likely see us playing rock-paper-scissors on the stage.

CONNER KEOUGH (HARV FREMONT, understudy for CHRIS BELLING, and AARON FOX): We get to do funny accents like for the lines, “there ain’t no chance for romance when the dance is strictly square.” 

Thank you to everyone who came out and supported the drama club, and a huge congratulations to all those involved for putting on such a wonderful performance!

Synopsis: Set in Boston in 1959, the show starts as the cast of Robbin’ Hood is reaching their opening night bows only to find that their lead lady, Jessica Cranshaw (Grace Harrivan), has collapsed on stage. After the show producer Carmen Berstein (Piper Doherty) and director Chris Bellings (Liam Hubbard) decide to keep the show open, despite the horrible reviews, with the show’s lyricsts Georgia Hendricks (Natalie Moradian) in the late Jessica Cranshaw’s role. Georgia’s ex-husband, Aaron Fox (Noah Zalika), disapproves of her taking the role in the show and instead thinks Jessica’s understudy, Niki Harris (Paige Wehner), should get the part. After it was discovered that Jessica was murdered, the theatre is put on quarantine by Lieutenant Frank Cioffi (Joseph Wicke), a theatre fanatic, who is investigating the crime. Cioffi, who saw Robbin’ Hood in previews, becomes enamored with Niki and he takes her into his confidence regarding the investigation. Instead of solving the crime, Cioffi spends the majority of his time investigating how to improve the show. Lieutenant Cioffi uncovers many secrets about the cast and finds out the one that led someone to murder their castmate.  Everyone is a suspect in this murder mystery/comedy that will leave you guessing whodonit until the final curtain!


Principal Cast: 

Understudy Cast: 

Frank Cioffi: Joseph Wicke

Niki Harris: Paige Wehner 

Georgia Hendricks: Natalie Moradian

Aaron Fox: Noah Zalika

Carmen Bernstein: Piper Doherty

Christopher Belling: Liam Hubbard

Bobby Pepper: Joe Paderon

Bambi Bernet: Nicole LoBocchiaro 

Joanie Harmon: Naya Marie Cruz

Oscar Shaprio: AJ Tedeschi

Daryl Grady: Phillip Glenn

Sidney Bernstein: Andrew Parisi

Randy Dexter: Dan Loges

Harv Fremont: Conner Keough 

Jessica Cranshaw: Grace Harrivan

Sasha: Leona Gagalac

Frank Cioffi: Dan Loges

Niki Harris: Shain Stanley

Georgia Hendricks: Emily Landolfi

Aaron Fox: Noah Zalika 

Carmen Bernstein: Gianna Hopper

Christopher Belling: Conner Keough

Bobby Pepper: Joe Paderon

Bambi Bernet: Sidney Bryant

Joanie Harmon: Amanda Storm

Oscar Shaprio: AJ Tedeschi

Daryl Grady: Connor Orsmby

Sidney Bernstein: Andrew Parisi

Randy Dexter: Phillip Glenn

Harv Fremont: Burak Tazos

Jessica Cranshaw and Sasha: Leona Gagalac