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Briarcliff Show Features Local Students, Puppets

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – More than 40 students from Briarcliff, Ossining, Pleasantville, Croton-on-Hudson and other surrounding communities are coming together this week with the hopes of delivering a theater production the likes of which Westchester County has never seen.

The Summercliff Players are set to present two performances of “Once On This Island” on Friday and Saturday at Briarcliff High School . The theater troupe is a cooperative effort of the Briarcliff Friends of the Performing Arts and the Briarcliff Manor Community Coalition. While the troupe performed the show six years ago, director Kathleen Donovan-Warren promises that this year’s production will be completely different.

“We’ve done this show before, but we haven’t done it like this,” she said, adding that the show features a variety of talent both onstage and behind the scenes.

“Our musical director, James Britt, is also a master puppeteer who has built these 10-foot puppets for our show that I think are going to amaze people.”

Donovan-Warren said it was “terrific to have this kind of talent available” through the mix of the backstage crews and the cast from all over Westchester.

The cast includes 17-year-old Rebecca Simpson-Wallack, a senior at Briarcliff Manor High School who has performed throughout Westchester and New York City.

“The cast is incredible. I can’t wrap my head around how great everyone is,” Simpson-Wallack said. “The show itself is one a lot of people are familiar with but the cast and the crew are doing so many different things that I think people are going to just fall in love with it.”

Costar Myosha “MeMe” Smith, 20, is more than familiar with the production as she performed in “Once On This Island” 10 years ago. Smith said it’s not often she gives out praise, but hopes audience members get a few things out of the show.

“I hope they get why we tell this story because it is sad but it’s also very beautiful and there are so many talented people involved in telling it,” Smith said. “I also think Rebecca is one of the most talented people I’ve seen in a while. I’m not one for praise but I’ve gotten chills listening to and seeing her and I think people are going to just love her.”

Tickets for the show are $15.50 and are available at . Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Briarcliff High School. For more information on the Summercliff Players, residents are asked to visit the troupe’s website .

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