Young Alumni Collaborate on Animated TV Pilot

Harold Eric Theurer ’13 Daddydelphia poster

For some artists, the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic presented opportunities to stretch creative muscles. That was definitely the case for alumnus Harold Eric (Theurer) ’13.

When a live action TV pilot that he had signed on to do was placed on indefinite hold, Harold came across a short play he had written and thought it would “work well if adapted into an animated comedy.” As a result, he said, from June 2020 through March 2021, “Daddydelphia,” which he produced and directed, “developed from concept to fully produced pilot.”

Harold Eric Theurer ’13
Harold Eric (Theurer) ’13

Harold asked fellow Poly theater alumni Arlene Gambino ’14 and Briana Sky Riley ’16 to voice two principal characters in “Daddydelphia.” The show has been selected for approximately 40 festivals and won 12. The pilot is currently streaming on YouTube and Amazon Prime.

Since graduating, Harold, who starred in On the Town and West Side Story at Poly, has appeared on numerous television shows, including “Gotham” (FOX), two episodes of “Search Party” (HBO Max), and commercials.

With an animated project, Harold was able to schedule individual studio sessions with each cast member with no more than three people in the studio at any given time. “Given that ‘Daddydelphia’ is a comedy,” Harold said, “this led to plenty of laughter, improvisation, and vocal experimentation, much of which made it into the pilot. Arlene, in particular, improvised a full monologue that found its way into the episode.”

Arlene Gambino '14
Arlene Gambino ‘14

Arlene Gambino ‘14, who studied Writing for Film and Television at Emerson College, performed in A Chorus Line and West Side Story at Poly. In “Daddydelphia,” Arlene voiced the character Chloe. “She’s the party animal of the group who ends up getting herself and her friend group in their mess of a situation in the first place by rerouting their car,” she explained.

“Using only your voice to convey a character,” Arlene continued, “though challenging, is really an incredible experience. Working in the recording booth and doing multiple takes of lines and really being able to play with your inflection and tone until you find a take you really love is a blast. It was in the booth that Chloe really came to life! Seeing Harold and our sound engineer’s reactions to certain takes, I knew what direction to go in.”

Since graduating from Poly in 2014, Arlene has been working in television production and is currently working as a Production Associate at Law & Crime Productions.

Arlene Gambino '14 in West Side Story
Arlene Gambino ‘14 in West Side Story
Briana Sky Riley '16
Briana Sky Riley ‘16

Briana Sky Riley ‘16, who performed in shows including Les Miserables at Poly, earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre Performance from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, with an emphasis in VoiceOver and Solo Performance/Devised Theatre.

 “I’m having an absolute blast voicing the role of Sister Sally in ‘Daddydelphia!’” Briana Sky said. “Sister Sally is one of the younger and more devout cult followers in the strange and bizarre town of ‘Daddydelphia.’”

Arlene said Poly provided her with multiple opportunities to grow as a performer. “With Ms. [Sonya] Baehr’s Speech class,” she said, “we were able to learn how to use our voices to portray different emotions and deliver not only our ideas and essays, but also how to convince audiences that we really are the characters we’re portraying.”

“I have Poly to thank for nurturing and believing in my talent for 15 years,” Briana Sky said. “Poly constantly provided a safe place for me to grow, to play, to fail, to succeed, and to explore. This is all pivotal for an aspiring actor.”

Briana Sky Riley '16 in Les Miserables
Briana Sky Riley ‘16 in Les Miserables

“Poly is unique in its ability to allow students to explore and pursue their passions at such an early stage in their lives.”

Sonya Baehr was integral in encouraging my interest in acting,” Harold added. “and I am forever grateful for the roles she offered me in school productions throughout my high school career. In addition to musicals and plays, she granted me the opportunity to produce and direct You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 2013, which was my first chance to work in a capacity beyond acting. Likewise, Dan Doughty supported my entrepreneurial spirit when I approached him with a proposal to start the Poly Prep Blue Notes back in 2011. Poly is unique in its ability to allow students to explore and pursue their passions at such an early stage in their lives.”

Harold Eric Theurer ’13 in West Side Story
Harold Eric (Theurer) ’13 in West Side Story