Last year, Ben DeMarco played the lovably joyful Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” a character who could be found in his Sopwith Camel, looking down on the fields below.
This year, the 16-year-old Rye High School junior is playing an animal of an entirely different stripe: The Beast in “Beauty and the Beast.” And, while he’s earthbound for most of the action, there’s a bit of a surprise in store for audiences this weekend.
(Performaces are at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 28 and 2 and 7:30 p.m., March 1. Tickets are $10, $5 students, seniors free; Call 914-967-6100.)
“I like playing him a lot,” says DeMarco. “He’s like no other character I’ve played before.”
He’s certainly nothing like Snoopy.
“When I speak, I have a high tone, so it’s been a lot of me trying to darken my timbre and try to make myself seem bigger than I normally would,” DeMarco said. “I have to up the intimidation in this role. It’s all anger and desperation. It’s going from pure joy of being a dog (last year) to having this horrible life that’s resulted in this sad and angry monster. It’s been hard, but I’ve had a lot of fun.”
This is a big show, with makeup, costumes and technical components that must be mastered.
Senior Alex Hufford, 17, is the stage manager, the man responsible for making sure all goes smoothly, in rehearsal and during performance.
“The hardest part is getting all the technical elements, from the scene changes to the sound effects and the lights to come together on time,” Hufford said. “Because there’s not a lot of stage (off-stage), and there’s a lot that has to be here. And there are about 40 cast members and 20 people on crew. It’s a huge challenge.”
While technical director John Gwardyak — Eastchester’s indefatigable man of the theater — will actually call the show from the booth, Hufford will be backstage running all the changes.
This very big show isn’t his first rodeo: “I think this is my 11th show here,” he said.