You can learn plenty doing theater. Just ask Dobbs Ferry High School senior Eric Seti. Last year, Seti played Hugo the jealous boyfriend in “Bye Bye, Birdie” and he learned to throw a punch at Conrad Birdie. Before that, he played Avram the bookseller in “Fiddler on the Roof” and learned to sing “Tradition.”
As a freshman, he was in two Dobbs musicals – “Into the Woods” and “Meet Me in St. Louis” – where he learned to sing and dance.
This year, the senior Seti won’t be on the stage. He’ll be in front of it this weekend, playing guitar and banjo in the orchestra of “The Boyfriend.”
Before this musical, Seti had never picked up a banjo.
“I’ve gotten a lot of help from the music teachers in school and from a lot of folks. It’s been difficult, but it’s been a lot of fun,” Seti says.
“It’s more different than guitar than I thought,” he says. “On banjo there are just four strings, on guitar there are six, so there’s a learning curve. It’s more complicated than I thought it would be.”
He admits he misses “the adrenaline rush of being on stage, but it’s a lot of fun being in the pit, too.”
Next year, he’ll miss the people he has grown to know.
“Whether on stage or in the pit, there’s talented people all over this school,” he says. “The people I meet in college next year will be talented, too, but it’ll be different not being with people I’ve been with all these years.”
Other seniors shared what they’ve learned and what they’ll miss about what they learned on Broadway – in Dobbs Ferry:
â€¢ Tamara Mansfield, 18, plays Polly Browne: “I learned how to cooperate with a lot of different personalities, because there’s a lot of different people in the show, it’s really diverse, especially this year.”
What she’ll miss: “It’ll be a lot harder in college and other places outside our small community to feel comfortable doing this kind of stuff. I’ll miss it.”
â€¢ Zach Cohen, 18: “Theater helped me to learn how to work with others and how to be responsible for learning my lines. If you don’t know your lines, it’s your head, too.”
Next year, he plans to continue doing theater in college, but he’ll miss “the familiarity. It’s not going to be the same kids next year.”
â€¢ Scott Nieman, 17, plays Lord Brockhurst. “Everybody thinks of Dobbs Ferry as such a football-driven town, but the play shows that anybody can build a team. We’re all coming together and everybody has each other’s back and if we help each other, we get better productions. It’s good to be with all my friends.”
What he’ll miss: “Definitely the community coming out to support it. There’s a great feeling you get when you see your local restaurant owners and staff and your peers come out to support you. It’s great to see everyone come out and want to see you put on a great show.”
â€¢ Brandon Brailsford, 17, a standout on the Dobbs Ferry football team, finished basketball a couple of weeks ago and immediately joined the cast of “The Boyfriend,” his first show. He’s in the ensemble, in several dance numbers. “I learned three songs and three or four different dances in a week,” he says, adding with a smile: “I’m pretty good at the Charleston.”
â€¢ Gabriela Moore, 17, plays Fay, one of Polly’s best friends. She says she’s “learned how to ad-lib and feed off of other people, which is really good. I also learned to be more confident standing in front of other people and speaking publicly.”
What she’ll miss: “The sense of community, knowing everyone. When you try out for a play, you kind of know who you’re up against, but next year it’ll be all new experiences and I won’t know what the competition’s like.”
â€¢ Jocelyn Kressler, 17, plays Maisie. “Theater teaches people to be more outgoing and to work in groups,” she says. “I’m not a shy person, but it forces people who are shy to engage and come out of their shell.”
What she’ll miss: “Because our high school’s so small, it’s so fun to know everybody and see them in the hallways the next day after you’ve had play practice with them for eight hours. Learning dances with them and humming a tune in the hallways and they’re humming the same tune. That’s really special.”
â€¢ Jeremy Torres, 19, plays Pierre in his first Dobbs Ferry show. “Naturally, I’m out there and energetic. Theater lets me be myself.”
Photo by Dave Kennedy/The Journal News: Eric Seti, 17, will not be on stage this year but rather will be in the pit playing guitar and banjo.
Where: Dobbs Ferry High School, 505 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry.
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
Tickets: $10; $5 students; seniors free.
With: Tamara Mansfield, Jocelyn Kressler, Juliet Morris, Gabi Moore, Shontay Richardson, Tara Whitty, Katie Martin, Vera Stiefler Johnson, Yael Monselise, Naja Smith, Kristin Ritch, Caitlin Horsfield, Todd Ritch, Scott Nieman, Zach Cohen, Evan Seti, George Epstein, Jeremy Torres, Michael Gonzalez, Jackie Giuliani, Stella Lemel, Ashley Riefenhauser, Brandon Brailsford, Rob Alexander, Jaron Saunders, Derrell Mcleod, Trevor Saunders, Mark Oleszko, Paul Staffiero, Mike Leggerio, Mark Sudak, Mark Annicchiarico, Sarah Ray, Eddie Fattorini, Swapnil Pandya, Ryan Cullen, Gianna Leison, Elizabeth Cornell, Jacob Lowey, Taylor Sherman, Adrianne Fuller, Cassie Hackel, Tessa Leverone, Nick Lowe, Jeffrey Allen, Arthur Murray, Mark Oleszko, Eric Seti, Patrick Luckett, Ron Vincent, David King.