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Stage Right!

School for the Performing Arts
 and Theatre Company Thrives

Stage Right began in 1998 as a school for the performing arts. Located across from the Westmoreland County Courthouse in downtown Greensburg, PA, Stage Right teaches young performers the arts of acting, voice, tap, jazz, ballet, and musical theatre. From 12 students six years ago, Stage Right has grown dramatically, today boasting an enrollment of over 180. Their eight week courses have proven popular, with classes divided into age groups of 4 to 7, 8 to 12, and 13 to 18.

One year after opening the school, Stage Right launched a theatre company. A complement to the school, Stage Right's theater productions are professional grade, featuring Equity actors, many of the same talented faces you would see at the Benedum, or on the CLO stage. Of course, Stage Right's up and coming young talents often find a place in these productions, with the best of the best first strutting their stuff on a Stage Right stage. Plays in 2004-2005 include Grease, Seussical the Musical, Cabaret, 42nd Street, and the Rocky Horror Show. You can enjoy Stage Right productions at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg and the Ferguson Theatre at the University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg.

The theatre company employs local, professional actors and hires from the Western Pennsylvania area exclusively, occasionally hiring New York actors with ties to the region. These actors also serve as guest instructors in the school for the performing arts. Through its school and its plays, Stage Right has become a powerful champion of the arts and creativity in Westmoreland county.

Stage Right is the dream of the brother and sister team of Christine Rizk and Anthony Marino. Children of a local musician, Angelo Marino, they grew up amid the joys of music and theater, with a love of performance instilled in them from their earliest days. After years working as a manager of medical practices, and at a time when she found herself out of work, Chris enrolled in a state funded program meant to train new entrepreneurs in the ins and outs of starting a business. Instead of going back to the medical world, Chris decided to start over and work with her brother Tony, whose extensive experience in theatre brought business planning and practical capability together. The end result was Stage Right.

Stage Right's School for the Performing Arts provides young performers with professional instruction from actors who make their living on the stage. There are no competitions, no performance fees, and students can change their classes every eight weeks, learning new facets of stage performance. All training is kept age appropriate, with students from the three different age groups working with their peers. The focus is on providing an instructive and comfortable learning environment, and classes are generally non-performance. The only exception is the musical theatre class, which rehearses a mini-musical every eight weeks.

Several community outreach programs from Stage Right have proven popular.

  • Stage Right Sensations. This audition group of 45 students performs all over the area, including Christmas parties, local events, and they have even appeared at Disney World.
     
  • Books Come Alive. In conjunction with the Greensburg Hempfield Library, Stage Right actors take best loved children's books and produce them with music, sets, and sounds. These popular 40 minute productions have been seen from New Kensington to New Florence.
     
  • Kids Take a Stand. This anti-bully program is offered to schools. Children in grades K through 3 can see the Bully Twins; superheroes who help kids overcome bullying behavior.

Some of Stage Right's first students can now be found working toward theater degrees at NYU, Penn State, Bucknell, and Point Park College. Stage Right students have been chosen to attend the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, and have been finalists and winners of the Pittsburgh Public Theatre's Shakespeare monologue contest.

"When we began the school," said Chris Rizk, "our hopes were to give our students a comfortable place to experience the beginnings of theatre. It would be worthwhile, we thought, if they became less self-conscious and fearful when giving presentations in front of others, or could participate more fully in school productions. We have been rewarded beyond our dreams with some of the talent we have seen from these young students." The future is likely to prove that the seeds of some impressive careers have been planted at Stage Right.

"What makes Stage Right unique," Chris continued, "is that it is a different level of instruction. We treat the children as professionals. When some fifty of our kids appeared in Seussical this year, there was no "recital" feel to the performance. The children were impressive by all measure. Every single one acted as a professional. They were fearless."

In order to foster even more creativity in the county, Stage Right has begun a program of working with young playwrights. The First annual Young Playwright's Festival is set for the Spring of 2005. In conjunction with the Greensburg Hempfield Area Library, Stage Right's Young Playwright's Festival features two categories: 8 to 12 year old and 13 to 18 year olds. Entries will be accepted starting in November 2004. The top three entries in each category will be given a public reading with the best entry in each category given a full performance in conjunction with the Stage Right Student Company in May 2005. Submitted entries must center around the theme of "Friends and School."

If you love the thrill of live performance, or have a child whose irrepressible talent deserves both an outlet and some professional guidance, you should give Stage Right! a try. Stage Right is located at 100 North Main Street, across from the Westmoreland County Court House, in the same block as the Palace Theatre.

Bringing affordable, high quality arts education and entertainment to Westmoreland County.

For more information call 724-832-7464,
or visit the website at www.stagerightgreensburg.com.

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