Malvern theater’s ‘Cinderella’ has local ties

Tom Teti

For loc­al act­or Tom Teti, worry and a little bit of “what if” pre­ceded the work.

For a great deal of his life, Teti said he loved the idea of writ­ing and act­ing, but chose in­stead to ma­jor in his­tory in col­lege and be­come a teach­er. It was one of those “just in case” de­cisions.

And yet, some­where in­side Teti, the de­sire to write and act nev­er really left his thoughts. So a few years in­to his teach­ing ca­reer, Teti de­cided to go to Hedgerow Theat­er and there, two nights a week, en­roll in act­ing classes.

“As I got deep­er and deep­er in­to the classes, and as I got good feed­back and was in­vited to be in more and more shows, I found my­self get­ting totally im­mersed in the whole pro­cess after a couple of years.” Teti re­calls. “Even­tu­ally, I made the de­cision to leave teach­ing and be­come a full-time act­or.”

That de­cision ob­vi­ously paid off. Early on, Teti be­came a com­pany mem­ber of People’s Light and Theatre Com­pany, and spent the last sev­er­al dec­ades as an act­or, dir­ect­or and teach­er. He’s also per­formed in film and tele­vi­sion, re­cor­ded voice-overs ex­tens­ively for ra­dio, TV and au­dio stor­ies, and ap­peared in vari­ous ven­ues around the Phil­adelphia area.

Today, Teti, 64, takes the role of Oliv­er Opfind­er, the fath­er of Cinder­ella, in the People’s Light and Theatre Com­pany’s 10th Hol­i­day Panto titled Cinder­ella: A Mu­sic­al Panto, run­ning at the Mal­vern theat­er through Jan. 12.

The panto is a tra­di­tion bor­rowed from Eng­land where al­most every town has one dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. Pan­tos are a mix between a frac­tured fairy tale and a vari­ety show, us­ing fa­mil­i­ar stor­ies to form the basis of ex­ag­ger­a­tion, out­rageous jokes, and rol­lick­ing songs and dances. At People’s Light, they in­cor­por­ate tra­di­tion­al ele­ments in­clud­ing the “dame” (a man dressed as a wo­man), audi­ence par­ti­cip­a­tion (in the form of cheer­ing the her­oes and boo­ing the vil­lains), a “messy bit,” candy passed out to the audi­ence, and a “silly song” that in­spired an audi­ence sing-along.

“I’m the man who mar­ries the wo­man who be­comes the wicked step­moth­er,” Teti ex­plains. “And the whole pro­cess, which takes place in the 1920s, com­plete with the cloth­ing, the flap­pers and so on, is filled with song and dance.”

And for him, that’s the biggest chal­lenge of all.

“I didn’t train as a dan­cer. Oh, I can move but that’s about it. So for me, that’s the hard­est part of do­ing this play.”

But then there’s the best part, he adds, “The part where I get to make the audi­ence happy or move them in some way. Some­times, I won­der about what we do as act­ors. Is it purely en­ter­tain­ment? And then I meet someone who tells my how they’ve been moved by one of my per­form­ances, and then I know it’s much, much more.”

For times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 610-644-3500. ••

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