Compelling Actress Shani Ferry Finds Herself Getting ‘Lost in Yonkers’ at Western Reserve Playhouse

Compelling actress Shani Ferry is stepping back in time the next three weekends to portray the role of Bella in Neil Simon’s memory Lost in Yonkers. Western Reserve Playhouse is opening its 2018 season with the comedy-drama, which will run now through February 10.

Keith Stevens is directing the heartwarming comedy, which also features Robbie Rush, James Patrick, August Scarpelli, Beth Gaiser, Jay Hill and Harriet DeVeto. The venue is located at 3326 Everett Road in Bath. For tickets and more information, visit the WRP website at www.westernreserveplayhouse.org.

Shani has appeared on WRP’s stage before, as Olive Ostrovsky in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Most recently, she  appeared as Beatrice in Shakespeare at the Castle’s production of Much Ado About Nothing. Shani was a 12-year company member at Actors’ Summit where she appeared in several productions including Talley’s Folly, A Grand Night for Singing, Last Train to Nibroc, and Quilters.
James Patrick, Shani, and Robbie Rush in “Lost in Yonkers” – Photo Credit Chris Douglas

LandOfCleve: Describe yourself in 25 words or less. 

Shani: I would describe myself as a performing artist and a married mom of two daughters.

LandOfCleve: Where were you born, and where did you grow up? 
Shani: I was born in Laramie, Wyoming and I grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
LandOfCleve: Where do you live now, and where do you work? 
Shani: I live in Stow and I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools her younger daughter. My main job is driving my two daughters around to all of their rehearsals since they are performers too.
LandOfCleve: What are your other Northeast Ohio connections? 
Shani: I moved to Ohio to attend graduate school at Kent State University. I never intended to stay in Ohio, but then I met my husband here. He grew up in Ohio and most of his family is still here.
LandOfCleve: How did your background and education prepare you to work in the theatre? 

Shani: When I was a child, our family activity was performing at our local community theater in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Both my parents and my brother continue to be performers today. I pretty much grew up in the theater. Though I never got my degree in theater, I continued to perform all through college and I have never stopped.

Shane Ferry in “Much Ado About Nothing” at Shakespeare at the Castle
LandOfCleve: Tell us about a few of your favorite past stage experiences. 
Shani: Some of my favorite experiences include those at the former Actors’ Summit theater. I performed there as a company member for twelve years prior to their closing. My favorite recent experiences include Talley’s Folley at Actors’ Summit and Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare at the Castle.
LandOfCleve: What is your past history with Western Reserve Playhouse? 

Shani: Recently I performed in the 4X20 play festival. Prior to that, I played Olive Ostrovsky inThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Shani as Bella in “Lost in Yonkers”
LandOfCleve: Tell us about your role in Lost in Yonkers and how you can relate to the character. 
Shani: Bella is a child inside a woman’s body. She has some mental challenges and is rather naive about the world. She gets confused a lot and does some scatter-brained things. I can definitely relate to her scatter-brained character traits. I am constantly doing silly things.
LandOfCleve: What can audiences expect when they come to see the play? 

Shani: They can expect to see a wonderfully written play. This is Neil Simon at his best. The play contains many funny moments, but there are also some touching and dramatic moments. The entire play centers around one family and the struggles they go through.

Shani and Harriet DeVeto in “Lost in Yonkers”
LandOfCleve: How are the director, cast and crew collaborating to bring the play to life?
Shani: This has been a wonderful experience. Everyone involved gets along great, and we have worked well together to create our stage family.
LandOfCleve: What advice do you have for aspiring actors? 
Shani: If you are just starting out, audition as much as you can. Auditions are nerve-wracking. The more you audition, the less nervous you will get. Try to gain as much experience as you can and realize you can learn something from every experience on stage. Most importantly, enjoy the process!
LandOfCleve: Anything else you would like to add or promote? 
Shani: Take a look at all the wonderful things that are going at Western Reserve Playhouse. This is the first year for this theatre to present a year-round season of productions. I am thrilled to be performing in the first show of their new season.

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