“It’s fun. I love working with the kids and I love doing it everyday. And I think when it stops being fun, then I should stop doing it. Because if you’re not having fun and not enjoying what you’re doing then the kids aren’t either. They can feel it.”
Mary Leigh Filippone fell in love with theater at a very young age. She grew up in Springfield and started taking community theater classes when she was in the fourth grade. The first musical she ever saw was “Peter Pan” starring Mary Martin.
She has followed her dream and is one of the lucky ones to make a living at what she loves. She teaches theater arts at the Center for Performing and Fine Arts of the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School is West Chester, PA. She lives in Drexel Hill and has been involved with the Players Club in Swarthmore for many years, recently as a member of the Board of Directors.
NOT NEW TO THE PROGRAM
“The Dinosaur Musical” is the first Children’s Theater show she has directed at Upper Darby Summer Stage, but she is not new to the program. She’s been active for many years first as a participant and has developed life-long friendships here. During the past couple Summer Stage seasons she taught and directed within the Rising Star program.
As someone who is very organized, she is thrilled with the opportunity to work here during the summer months. “This place is the most organized place I’ve ever worked. Hands down,” says Mary. “It’s really nice to work for a place where everyone knows what their job is and what’s expected of them. And everyone DOES what’s expected of them. I don’t have to go find all the props or worry about the costume details. That’s why everything turns out so nicely.”
THE BAR HAS BEEN RAISED
“I love that the expectations are high, in every aspect of the production. It’s nice to be at a place where everyone wants everything to be excellent,” adds Mary.
The bar has been set very high when it comes to the Children’s Theater shows at Summer Stage. “I don’t like when people dismiss the idea of Children’s Theater. We produce high quality Children’s Theater and the shows aren’t just for children, but they’re accessible to children. That doesn’t make it below a teenager or adult. There are layers to Children’s Theater,” says Mary. “For the adults or teens that bring a child to see a show, they’re going to pick things up on a different level. It’s the same with children’s literature.”
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
In “The Dinosaur Musical,” Mary thinks there’s something in the show for everyone. “I think the show is hilarious. The script has a lot of messages and humor and there are a lot of references geared towards the adults. Not in an inappropriate way, but in a way adults can understand and appreciate.”
“There are a lot of songs throughout the show, high-energy numbers. It really moves. It’s a nice mix between group numbers and duets and smaller numbers. The choreography by Kevin Dietzler and assistant choreographer Terrance Calvert is very clever. We have a tap dance and I LOVE a tap dance! And I’m super excited about the costumes and what Julia Poiesz, the costume designer, did with them. They’re so bright and colorful!”
SUMMER STAGE = ACCEPTANCE
When it comes to working with the kids, Mary finds that Summer Stage provides the environment that is the basis for the message in “The Dinosaur Musical:” acceptance.
“It’s important for them to know they should feel free to be who you are. It’s nice to see that even if it’s someone is new to the program the other participants are very accepting. It’s nice to see how the kids treat one another here, and you see the respect – the way they treat adults and they way they treat one another. It’s a really nice environment to work in. We get a lot more done when you don’t have to deal with all the drama!”
When asked why she enjoys it here at Summer Stage, Mary is very straightforward. “It’s fun. I love working with the kids and I love doing it everyday. And I think when it stops being fun, then I should stop doing it. Because if you’re not having fun and not enjoying what you’re doing then the kids aren’t either. They can feel it.”