Rising stars on Long Island

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From the South Shore to the East End, Long Island's got talent. Here, we put the spotlight on locals who are making names for themselves in the entertainment world.

KATHERINE LAFOUNTAIN, 13, from Bayport

THE GIG She's a musical theater performer who
(Credit: Pasha Kalachev)

THE GIG She's a musical theater performer who has worked on Long Island and New York City stages.
HER STORY Katherine starting taking dance lessons when she was 2, and by age 7 she had her first role in the children's musical "Pinkalicious." She has since appeared in many productions at both Gateway Playhouse in Bellport and the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, including "Billy Elliot" and "Mary Poppins." "My favorite role was Jane Banks [in 'Mary Poppins'] because I was in the whole show and got to see a lot of character development." She also had roles on TV in "Boardwalk Empire" and appeared in a sketch with Paul Rudd on "Saturday Night Live." Katherine is also a trained ballet dancer who has studied with the American Ballet Theatre.
WHAT'S NEXT She'll play Zazu in "The Lion King Jr." at Gateway starting July 28, and she'll perform with American Ballet Studio in Bayport three times in August.

JAMES ALEXANDER, 34, from Central Islip

THE GIG He began a one-year tenure with
(Credit: Courtney Schubart)

THE GIG He began a one-year tenure with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in June.
HIS STORY Alexander studied theater at Suffolk Community College in Selden but followed the family tradition of joining the New York Police Department in January 2012. After getting injured and being confined to a desk job, he left the force in September 2013 to pursue acting. "I just knew I could be happier doing this and felt like it was a better way that I could reach people," he says. His love of Shakespeare led to roles in "Much Ado About Nothing" at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival and King Henry in "Henry IV -- Part One" at The Long Island Shakespeare Festival. For his first outing with the Cincinnati company, the trim Alexander plays Falstaff in "The Merry Wives of Windsor." "They have this big fat suit they put me in and it looks ridiculous, but the more ridiculous the better," he says.
WHAT'S NEXT On Aug. 5, he begins his run as Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet."

JOE GIARRATANO, 31, from Seaford

THE GIG This stand-up comic will be at

THE GIG This stand-up comic will be at Madison Theatre at Molloy College on Saturday night.
HIS STORY Giarratano, who now lives in Brooklyn, was "always the funny guy in my group of friends," and started doing comedy open-mic nights after college. He's since performed at many clubs on Long Island, including Governor's, and in New York City (Carolines), and also is part of the Long Island Comedy Festival. "My comedy speaks to the thoughts everyone has throughout the course of the day that are not socially acceptable to say out loud," he says. One example: He does a routine about tourists who fall in the subway because they don't know how to hold on to the grips. He's also worked with headliners like Rob Schneider, who gave him some key advice, Giarratano says: "He said you have to let the audience get to know you as a person, and then they'll like you."
WHAT'S NEXT He'll be at Greenwich Village Comedy Club on July 27 and at the Grisly Pear in Manhattan on Aug. 12.

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REBECCA LYNN GOLDFARB, 16, from Oceanside

THE GIG She's acted onstage, on television and
(Credit: Yolanda Perez Photography)

THE GIG She's acted onstage, on television and in film.
HER STORY Goldfarb has performed since she was 6. Her first job was a TV commercial for a plumbing company, and she then appeared in the musical "Children of Eden" as the storyteller. After taking acting and singing lessons, she landed roles in shows such as "White Christmas" at Gateway Playhouse in Bellport. She also was in the Broadway event "The Godspell Cast of 2032" and sang at the Apollo Theater. Portraying Nina in "In the Heights" at Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset last year was an especially rewarding experience. "I was playing a role older than me, but one I related to so much due to her emotion and that it was all about family," Goldfarb says.
WHAT'S NEXT Goldfarb was recommended by her school to attend a three-week acting program at Yale University this summer.

CLAUDE SOLNIK, 56, from Plainview

THE GIG His play
(Credit: Bob Giglione)

THE GIG His play "Nowhere Man" runs through June 18 at Theater for the New City in Manhattan.
HIS STORY Solnik, who also works as a reporter for a business publication, began developing an ear for dialogue by listening to conversations among locals while living in Paris after college. He turned his observations into playlets, which were performed as readings at Paris galleries. Since then, he's written six plays that have been performed in both New York City and on Long Island, including "Year of the Iguana," about Tennessee Williams. "Nowhere Man" tells the story of a man who was hired as a double for Paul McCartney during the height of The Beatles' success. "As a journalist, I see no reason to invent everything when the world is full of so many things going on," he says. "I'm painting from life, which is often more interesting than painting totally from imagination."
WHAT'S NEXT Solnik says he has several other plays he's working on.

STEPHANIE TORNS, 30, from Bohemia

THE GIG She plays doctor's wife Francine Pomatter
(Credit: Dirty Sugar)

THE GIG She plays doctor's wife Francine Pomatter in the Broadway musical "Waitress," and is star Sara Bareilles' understudy.
HER STORY Torns was a competitive dancer as a youngster and fell in love with musical theater after appearing -- as a male -- in her high school's production of "Oklahoma!" After graduating from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Torns joined the national tour and later the Broadway company of "Wicked" as an ensemble member and understudy for the part of Elphaba, a role she did get to play. She's also gone on for Bareilles in "Waitress," which she said was both thrilling and daunting. "You have to win the audience over," Torns says about being an understudy. "It's kind of a fun challenge, but it's also not an easy position." Torns adds that the camaraderie among the "Waitress" cast has been a job perk, even better than getting to indulge in pecan pie at each performance.
WHAT'S NEXT Torns hopes to "maybe dive into the TV world."

PARIS RAY, 21, from St. James

THE GIG This singer-songwriter just won Gold Coast
(Credit: Karen Rubin)

THE GIG This singer-songwriter just won Gold Coast Arts Center's "Your Big Break" competition.
HER STORY Ray began as an actress, who appeared with Kevin Kline in "King Lear" at the Public Theater in 2007 and on Nickelodeon's "iCarly" in 2009. In ninth grade, she began singing and writing her own songs. "My songs are like a musical diary," Ray says, "because they're so personal. Every song is directly about something that happened to me in my life." She performed two of those songs, "Astronomy" and "Get Well Soon," in the "Your Big Break" finale. Her prizes included the chance to record one of her songs, a feature by ReverbNation and an opening spot at The Paramount in Huntington. "As soon as I heard that, the first person that came to mind is Ingrid Michaelson," Ray says. "She's so cool, so talented, and her music is also very personal."
WHAT'S NEXT Ray will perform at the Montauk Music Festival, which runs May 18-21.

DOROTHY JAMES, 27, from Kings Park

THE GIG She's a puppeteer who worked in
(Credit: Corinne Louie)

THE GIG She's a puppeteer who worked in the Off-Broadway show "Made in China."
HER STORY James was an actress doing experimental theater a few years ago, including one show that had an element of puppetry. "It wasn't Muppet style, but very abstract. It was something new for me, and I really loved it," she says. James soon mastered both full-body and Bunraku-style, a Westernized version of the Japanese puppetry art involving a few people. "One is in charge of the feet, another does the pelvis with one hand and the head with the other hand," she says. Last year, James was a puppeteer in Radio City Music Hall's "New York Spectacular," where she gave life to stage versions of the New York Public Library lions and the Statue of Liberty. On the darkly comic puppet musical "Made in China," James was one of seven puppeteers who worked on 30 characters.
WHAT'S NEXT James will be performing "Before the Sun and Moon" with the Mettawee River Theatre Company throughout New England this summer.

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JORDAN TYSON, 19, from Lynbrook

THE GIG She plays the title role in
(Credit: Keith Sherman & Associates)

THE GIG She plays the title role in "Sweetee," a new musical at Ford Foundation Studio Theatre in Manhattan from May 21 to June 18.
HER STORY Tyson, a sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College, knew musical theater would be her career when she did "In the Heights" in 10th grade. "After that experience, I was so in awe of how this one piece of work could bring people together like a family," she says. In "Sweetee," Tyson plays a runaway in the Depression-era South who uses her singing voice to help a minister and a band of orphans. The biggest challenge, she says, "has been finding the balance between Sweetee's need for survival and her sweet and genuine and truthful and delicate side." For Tyson, who turns 20 on May 12, "Sweetee" has been "an amazing birthday gift."
WHAT'S NEXT Once the show ends, Tyson hopes to do more auditions. And maybe she'll land her dream role: George Washington in "Hamilton."

JOSHUA DE JESUS, 19, from Dix Hills

THE GIG He stars in
(Credit: Spin Cycle)

THE GIG He stars in "Wink" at Manhattan's Theater for the New City from April 13 to May 7.
HIS STORY De Jesus, who has always appeared in school productions, got serious about acting in high school. After a semester at SUNY Purchase, he decided to follow a different career route. Since then, he's had roles in the City Center Encores! production of "Runaways" and on TV's "Chicago Fire." "It was fun being on a set. Everything is so much more fast-paced than on stage, so I had to keep up with everything going on," he says. "The cast and crew were so helpful to me with my first on-screen job." In "Wink," De Jesus has his biggest role to date, the title character, whom he describes as "a homeless and androgynous, gender-fluid, nonbinary teenager who's adrift in L.A." 
WHAT'S NEXT He wants to continue developing his craft on stage and eventually transition to films.

ETHAN HUTCHISON, 6, from Middle Island

THE GIG He plays Blue Bordelon on the
(Credit: Eric Hutchison)

THE GIG He plays Blue Bordelon on the OWN series "Queen Sugar," which begins season 2 in June.
HIS STORY Ethan was 4 when he was cast in Hulu's "The Path" as a detective's son. His role on "Queen Sugar," as a newly released prisoner's son, is more demanding. "One really challenging scene was when Blue's birthday was going on. His Papa [grandfather] had died from a stroke. I had to cry and everybody was so happy with how I did it," says Ethan, who is in New Orleans filming the show, for which he's won Young Artist and Young Entertainers Awards. Another perk of the job has been meeting  Winfrey. "She's the best present giver," he says. In December, Ethan appeared in a sketch with Taraji P. Henson and Chris Rock on the "Empire" star's holiday special.
WHAT'S NEXT Ethan wants to break into movies. More immediate, while he's in New Orleans, he says, "I'm so waiting to try crawfish."

TOM LUCCA from Smithtown

THE GIG He plays John Utterson, Dr. Jekyll's
(Credit: Ronnie Nelson)

THE GIG He plays John Utterson, Dr. Jekyll's best friend, in "Jekyll & Hyde" at Northport's John W. Engeman Theater through April 30.
HIS STORY Lucca was working as an accountant when a co-worker suggested that he take voice lessons after hearing him sing in the men's room. Lucca's teacher encouraged him to pursue theater, and, after getting an agent, Lucca got cast as Jud in the national tour of "Oklahoma!" in 2004. "I went in initially for Curly and never saw myself as the darker nemesis," he says. Co-starring with Patina Miller in John Patrick Shanley's short-lived "Romantic Poetry" for Manhattan Theater Club in 2008 was another highlight. "We got reviewed well, but the show didn't," he says. "It was like 'Moonstruck' set to music." Lucca, who works as a physical therapist between acting gigs, played John Hancock in "1776" at Engeman last fall, and he's performed at Birdland in Manhattan.
WHAT'S NEXT He's hoping to reprise his role of Jud in Engeman's upcoming production of "Oklahoma!"

RAHUL RAI, 25, from Old Westbury

THE GIG He stars in
(Credit: Marc Cartwright)

THE GIG He stars in "Haram! Iran!" at TADA, 15 W. 28th St., through March 19.
HIS STORY Rai, who started as a dancer, was spotted by a film director who saw him in a high school talent show and cast Rai in the 2012 indie "When Harry Tries to Marry." "I was completely thrown into the deep end with lights, cameras, angles, acting," says Rai, who relished the experience. He's since appeared in a few more indies and played Happy Loman onstage in an all-Asian version of "Death of a Salesman." "Haram! Iran!" is directed by Rick Leidenfrost-Wilson of Baldwin, who taught at the Wheatley School, which Rai attended. "He had posted a casting notice on Facebook, and another teacher messaged me and said I should audition," says Rai, who was L.A.-bound at the time. The fact-based drama is about two Iranian teens who face death for being gay.
WHAT'S NEXT Rai is working with friends on a television project that they plan to pitch to a network. 

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KYLA CARTER, 10, from Sayville

THE GIG She just ended her run as
(Credit: David Kaptein)

THE GIG She just ended her run as one of the von Trapp children in the national tour of "The Sound of Music."
HER STORY Kyla joined the tour at 8 and got to play Gretl, Marta and Brigitta. "My favorite scene was singing 'The Lonely Goatherd,' and my favorite city was Knoxville, because there's a lot of friendly people there," she says. Kyla also has appeared on several television shows, including HBO's "The Leftovers," and she voiced Hattie the Witch on Nick Jr.'s "Wally Kazam!" Stage and TV each have their advantages, Kyla says: "Onstage you play with more emotions and perform in front of thousands of people, but on camera, you get to redo it if you mess up."
WHAT'S NEXT Kyla is taking classes and auditioning, and has a dream role in mind. " 'Frozen' could be coming to Broadway," she says. "I would love to play young Elsa."

BLAIR GOLDBERG, 27, from Plainview

THE GIG She's in the ensemble of the
(Credit: Justin Patterson)

THE GIG She's in the ensemble of the Broadway hit "Kinky Boots."
HER STORY Goldberg, who now lives in New York City, made her Broadway debut at 10 as an understudy for Annie Oakley's siblings in "Annie Get Your Gun" with Bernadette Peters. After studying voice in college, Goldberg got her first post-grad job in the ensemble of "Carrie: The Musical" in 2012. (She's heard on the original cast recording.) She also worked with Jerry Lewis when he directed a stage version of "The Nutty Professor" in Nashville and was in the national tour of "Sister Act." Her vocal abilities have been on full display in "Kinky Boots," which she joined last year. She also shows off her dance moves -- in heels -- in the final production number. "They custom-make our boots for us, so that they are basically molded to our feet," she says. "They're all one of a kind, so they're super-comfy."
WHAT'S NEXT Having understudied several performers, Goldberg aims to originate a lead Broadway role. 

MICHAEL VERRE, 26, from Wantagh

THE GIG He's a musical theater performer who
(Credit: Robert Mannis)

THE GIG He's a musical theater performer who recently appeared in "Mary Poppins" at John W. Engeman Theater in Northport.
HIS STORY Verre made his stage debut at age 5 in "Frosty the Snowman" and then took acting classes. Since graduating from Queens College, Verre has appeared in numerous productions, many at the Engeman, both in children's shows and main stage musicals, including "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "West Side Story." Last summer he appeared in "Zuccotti Park," a musical about the Occupy Wall Street movement, at the NYC Fringe Festival. Verre's tap-dancing skills can also be seen in a video he and two colleagues did to Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling."
WHAT'S NEXT He's auditioning and taking classes at the moment. His ultimate goal, he says, is to just be a working actor "and have that be a viable income as I get older."

JESSE RAY SHEPS, 11, from Plainview

THE GIG He voices Fluffy the hedgehog on
(Credit: Doug Gorenstein)

THE GIG He voices Fluffy the hedgehog on Nick Jr.'s "Zack & Quack."
HIS STORY Jesse started modeling at 4, then graduated to commercials and voice-overs. He landed the role of the sensitive Fluffy over about 500 kids because producers liked his voice and personality. "And they liked my gasp," says Jesse about how he reacted playing a scene at his audition. "Blue Bloods" fans saw him in the Jan. 20 episode as a boy abused by his father. "I got to wear a cast and I got to meet Donnie Wahlberg," he says. Though the role was much darker than Fluffy, Jesse had no trouble handling his scenes. "I always envision that what's happening to the character is really happening to me," he says. Jesse also enjoys singing, playing guitar and writing songs.
WHAT'S NEXT He'll be seen in new episodes of "Zack & Quack," the movie thriller "Devil's Five" and an episode of "Orange Is the New Black."

VERONICA KELLY, 21, from Holbrook

THE GIG She stars in

THE GIG She stars in "Dragon Slayer: The Musical" at Hudson Guild Theatre in Manhattan on Jan. 11, 14 and 21.
HER STORY Kelly, a senior at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, made her stage debut at age 6 as Molly in Bayway Arts Center's production of "Annie." She's also graced Long Island stages as Rapunzel in "Into the Woods" and Eponine in "Les Miserables." In "Dragon Slayer," which is part of the Winterfest Theater Festival, Kelly plays a waitress with designs on a playwright and getting the lead in his show. This is also the first time Kelly has gotten to create a character from scratch, which she's found very rewarding. "We're constantly changing things," she says. "As actors, our input and ideas are really valued by the director. We're getting to make little moments in the show that are special."
WHAT'S NEXT Kelly graduates from college in May and has her eye on Broadway.

MATTHEW MINIERO, 15, from Nassau County

THE GIG He's an actor who's appeared on
(Credit: Pasha Kalachev)

THE GIG He's an actor who's appeared on "The Blacklist" and is also a musician.
HIS STORY Miniero started acting three years ago to earn money for college. But after his first TV role, as a homeless youth in an episode of "Blue Bloods," Miniero knew he had found his career. "It was cool meeting all of the actors," he says. "The first two days I was nervous, but I got very comfortable after that." He also appeared in an episode of "The Blacklist," which was shot in Glen Cove, as a gangster's son being sold at an auction. Music is another of Miniero's talents, and he plays guitar at local spots.
WHAT'S NEXT Miniero will be seen in the indie movie "Yellow Fever" this spring and he'll perform the songs of Led Zeppelin at KJ Farrell's in Bellmore on Jan. 28 at 2:30 p.m.

 

WHITNEY ROSE PYNN, 27, from Sayville

THE GIG She was a regular on NBC's
(Credit: Sam Khan)

THE GIG She was a regular on NBC's summer series "Aquarius."
HER STORY Upon graduating in 2011 from the University of Maryland, Pynn moved to Los Angeles, where she landed an agent quickly. Her first TV gig was as a backup singer in a 2012 episode of Nickelodeon's "Victorious," and she's been on a roll since. Her breakout came playing a member of the Manson family in the '60s-set "Aquarius," starring David Duchovny. "I was supposed to be in one episode as a nonspeaking co-star and I was thrilled just for that experience," Pynn says. "All of a sudden they changed my character's name, and gave me lines and had me keep coming back." Her showstopping moment was when her character tripped on acid. "It felt like the writers and producers were saying, 'Let's see if this girl can actually act,' " she says.
WHAT'S NEXT She stars in the thrillers "Asomatous," which hits theaters in March, and the upcoming "Dear Diary, I Died."

AMANDA SWICKLE, 11, from Jericho

THE GIG She plays Pepper in the national
(Credit: Yolanda Perez)

THE GIG She plays Pepper in the national touring company of "Annie."
HER STORY Amanda began performing at age 8, and has played Jojo in "Seussical: The Musical" at A Class NY in Manhattan and Flounder in "The Little Mermaid" at Northport's John W. Engeman Theater. For "Annie," Amanda says, producers told her she was "really spunky and very natural" at the audition, which occurred just before her last birthday. "As a gift, my mom gave me a can of black pepper," Amanda says. "And I went, 'Black pepper?' Then everyone started laughing and she said, 'You got Pepper.' " Since November, the show has toured everywhere from Oklahoma to California, and Amanda is thrilled with the experience. "I love performing on all these amazing stages and getting to travel all over the country. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
WHAT'S NEXT "Annie" comes to Tilles Center in Old Brookville on Feb. 26 at 3 p.m.

BILLY LEWIS, 26, from Selden

THE GIG He stars in the rock musical
(Credit: DARR Publicity)

THE GIG He stars in the rock musical "The Portal" at Manhattan's Minetta Lane Theatre.
HIS STORY You may know Lewis from his appearances as Mason McCarthy, one of the cheerleading twins, during Season 6 of "Glee." "It was my first and only dive into film and television," says Lewis. "I got a quick crash course on how to be on camera. I learned how long it actually takes to film a three-minute scene." Before "Glee," Lewis mainly worked on stage, including as Cousin Kevin in "Tommy" with Revision Theater Company in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He plays the narrator in Off-Broadway's "The Portal," which he describes as "a trip inside a kaleidoscope," featuring original music inspired by rock, EDM and tribal sounds. "It has a lot of lights, crazy images and blips of a little story here and there," he says.
WHAT'S NEXT His original song "Landslide" is being geared up for release.

 

KARL GREGORY, 37, from Wantagh

THE GIG He plays Marcus, the flamboyant hair
(Credit: Dirty Sugar)

THE GIG He plays Marcus, the flamboyant hair and makeup man on Pop TV's comedy series "Nightcap."
HIS STORY Gregory started performing in second grade, and at 7 knew he wanted to make acting his career. He studied at Syracuse University and then became a resident actor with the Kitchen Theater Company in Ithaca. Gregory says he's "gotten close" to working on Broadway, but has appeared Off-Broadway. "Nightcap," about the backstage shenanigans at "a sixth-rated, late-night talk show," has given him his greatest audience exposure yet. "When we started, I asked producers, 'What kind of hair and makeup do you want for Marcus?' And they said, 'How do you want him to look?' " Gregory said. "So Marcus will have a completely different look for every episode. One week he'll go heavy on the makeup, another his hair will be 3 feet high."
WHAT'S NEXT More "Nightcap," which has been picked up for Season 2.

CHRISTOPHER D'AMATO, 8, from Floral Park

THE GIG He's acted in local theater productions
(Credit: Julian Peeples)

THE GIG He's acted in local theater productions and in television commercials.
HIS STORY Christopher started performing two years ago, after seeing his older sister in plays. He's played Iago in "Aladdin Jr." and Chip in "Beauty and the Beast" for Plaza Theatrical Productions, a local touring troupe. After a few shows, he told his mother he wanted to take his acting "to the next level," meaning films and television. Since then, he's appeared in several commercials, including one for a home remodeling company. Last month, he played Tiny Tim in a local production of "A Christmas Carol." His favorite part about that role: "Going up on people's shoulders."
WHAT'S NEXT Christopher hopes to appear in a musical production this spring. He also would like to have a role in a show on Nickelodeon.

ALEX AMMERMAN, 12, from Merrick

THE GIG He stars in the play
(Credit: Luke DeLalio)

THE GIG He stars in the play "Daddy Issues" at Theatre at St. Clement's in Manhattan.
HIS STORY Alex's first role was two years ago on Broadway in Terrence McNally's drama "Mothers and Sons." He understudied the role of Tyne Daly's grandson and got to perform in the show twice. "It was kind of intimidating, but it was also one of the funnest things I've done in my entire life," Alex says. He adds that Daly was inspiring and he treasures the handwritten note she gave to him at the end of the run. Since then he has played Ray Romano's son in HBO's "Vinyl" and did a voice for the animated toon "Super Wings." In "Daddy Issues," Alex pretends to be a gay neighbor's son to fool the man's parents. "It's kind of chaotic," Alex says of the show.
WHAT'S NEXT Alex plans to continue auditioning after the show's run ends.

 

TOM CIOCIARI, 56, from Coram

THE GIG He's a singer-songwriter who just released
(Credit: Jim Marchese)

THE GIG He's a singer-songwriter who just released his eighth album.
HIS STORY The Greenlawn-raised Ciociari has been performing with bands since high school. Afterward, he moved into New York City for a while and, with his guitar, became a fixture performing at various clubs on Bleecker Street and since 2007 has been singing with his band, Deerheart. "Someone called our music Americana pop, which is a neat phrase," he says. "We're somewhere between The Replacements and The Beatles." The group's new single, "Joey's Girl," was inspired by the time his wife got to meet rock legend Joey Ramone backstage. "He was just so sweet to her and even posed with her," he says. "At one point, she swiped a peach pit from the peach he had just been eating."
WHAT'S NEXT He and Deerheart will perform at the Crooked Rail in East Northport on Dec. 10.

KARA CORNELL from Smithtown

THE GIG She's a professional opera singer.HER STORY
(Credit: Alisa Milnthorp)

THE GIG She's a professional opera singer.
HER STORY Cornell began singing at Smithtown High School and studied vocal performance at Carnegie-Mellon University and at 18 made her professional debut as part of the chorus of the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. While working on her master's degree at Stony Brook University, she performed in operas at Staller Center and has since performed nationally in opera and musical theater. Earlier this month she played the title role in "Carmen" at Madison Theatre in Rockville Centre. "This was actually the seventh time I've done Carmen, which has sort of become my signature role," says Cornell, who moved to Pittsburgh two years ago. "I'm a Polish blond girl, and not sultry in real life. I have my own wig I travel with and my own castanets I play."
WHAT'S NEXT She'll don her wig again as Carmen for a production in St. Louis this winter.

SETH BLUM, 41, from Jericho

THE GIG He plays seven roles in “90210
(Credit: Seth Blum)

THE GIG He plays seven roles in “90210 the Musical” at Manhattan’s Theatre 80 St. Marks.

HIS STORY Blum got the acting bug at Jericho High School but ultimately embarked on a teaching career. In 2010, he decided to pursue acting and started working with a coach who taught him drama as well as how to audition. Her advice seemed to work: In the past six years, he’s appeared in 12 shows, including the “Saved by the Bell” parody “Bayside the Musical” as Mr. Belding and as Max. Among his roles in “90210” is Steve Sanders, the spoiled rich kid played by Ian Ziering on the series. “I also play a lamp,” Blum says. “I have a lampshade on my head and I’m singing along with the rest of the cast.” Blum is also developing a software program called Math Trip and performs with a band called Six Each.

WHAT’S NEXT Blum hopes to produce his own shows.

 

KALENE, 20, from Hicksville

THE GIG She’s a singer and actress.HER STORY
(Credit: Kalene)

THE GIG She’s a singer and actress.

HER STORY Kalene studied theater at Brooklyn College “technically” for a year, then left school to concentrate on her career. “I’m all about getting experience hands on,” Kalene says. She’s been getting plenty of experience lately: Her performance in the short film “Lou” earned her the breakout performance award at the Northeast Film Festival. She played a nun in “The Convent of St. Clare” at the Thespis Theatre Festival in Manhattan earlier this month and sang at the Amityville Music Hall last week. “My influence is Pat Benatar, so my music sounds like a little bit of a throwback,” Kalene says. “I write mostly pop songs, but structure them like country songs, so they tell a story.”

WHAT’S NEXT Kalene is working on her debut EP, and she’ll perform at Revolution Bar & Music Hall in Amityville on Nov. 9.

CHRISTOPHER RALPH, 29, from Hempstead

THE GIG He’s a dancer with the Manhattan-based
(Credit: Lloyd Stevie)

THE GIG He’s a dancer with the Manhattan-based Dash Ensemble.

HIS STORY At 5, Ralph accompanied his mother, a high school kick-line instructor, to her classes and proved to be her most adept pupil: He watched and learned all of the moves. At 11, he began taking lessons at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City, and then appeared in musicals while attending Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville. “When I didn’t have a big part or lead a role, I would always help choreograph, which I loved,” Ralph says. Since graduating from SUNY Purchase, he’s performed at Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, worked with renowned choreographer Aszure Barton and appeared in music videos. For the past six years, Ralph has been part of the seven-member Dash Ensemble. “I love the Dash because they mix different styles together — there are elements of hip-hop, contemporary, ballet,” he says.

WHAT’S NEXT He will perform with Loni Landon Dance Projects at the Joyce Theater in October.

 

MIKE O'GORMAN, 36, from Baldwin

THE GIG He’s on HBO’s “Vice Principals.”HIS STORY
(Credit: Jackson Davis)

THE GIG He’s on HBO’s “Vice Principals.”

HIS STORY Always the performer, O’Gorman remembers acting out scenes from “The Wizard of Oz” for his family as a kid. In high school, he joined a rock band, and after two years at Queens College, set forth on a career in music. Instead, he became part of an improv comedy group, which led to TV work, including spots on “Inside Amy Schumer.” “I’ve known Amy for years and years. She dated a friend of mine and I met her through him. She just has been super nice enough to ask me to do something each season,” he says. “Vice Principals,” in which O’Gorman plays “seedy and despicable” history teacher Bill Hayden, is his highest-profile gig yet. “They let us do a lot of improv. That was cool,” O’Gorman says.

WHAT’S NEXT He’ll return for a few episodes of season 2 of “Vice Principals,” and he’s developing his own series.

DEVIN BING, 31, from Mount Sinai

THE GIG The jazz vocalist-pianist released his EP
(Credit: Max Dworkin)

THE GIG The jazz vocalist-pianist released his EP “Shaken Not Stirred, Part 1.”

HIS STORY Bing started playing jazz piano at age 14, and by 17 he formed a jazz quartet that performed downstairs of Theatre Three. After graduating from the University of Miami, Bing began “climbing up the club ladder” in New York City, he says, starting with his debut at the Metropolitan Room. “For that show, I did jazz standards, but in a totally different context, more in a backbeat, soulful kind of way,” Bing says. He’s also performed at the Montauk Music Festival, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill and Club Bonafide, where he has a residency. In writing the songs for the full album, which is slated to come out by year’s end, Bing says he was inspired by the movies.

WHAT’S NEXT He’ll be back at Club Bonafide on Oct. 7, and he’ll headline at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center on Feb. 13.

KRISSY ROSS, 26, from West Islip

THE GIG She is a jazz vocalist.HER STORY
(Credit: Raya)

THE GIG She is a jazz vocalist.

HER STORY Ross honed her musical skills in school productions and doing open mics on Long Island. Four years ago, she was invited to sing at a friend’s birthday party at the Friars Club in Manhattan and has since been a regular at its Thursday cabaret nights. “I always felt like I was an old soul,” she says of her love for the standards. “That music speaks to me. I just want to bring that back, that class.” In July, she made her Manhattan nightclub debut at the Metropolitan Room, and she’s working on a jazz album with Broadway composer David Friedman and John Colianni, who was the pianist for Mel Torme and Lionel Hampton. Ross, whose father is a retired firefighter, plans to donate a portion of the album’s proceeds to the families of firefighters who were killed on 9/11.

WHAT’S NEXT She’ll perform at Don’t Tell Mama in Manhattan Sept. 3.

GINA NAOMI BAEZ, from Hewlett

THE GIG She played “the Singing Inmate” in

THE GIG She played “the Singing Inmate” in a season 4 episode of “Orange Is the New Black.”
HER STORY Baez, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 12, says performing was her outlet as she underwent treatment. “I knew from then on that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she says. Baez has since appeared in “A Christmas Carol” at Madison Square Garden and “In the Heights” at the Montclair Operetta Club in New Jersey. At her “Orange Is the New Black” audition, producers were impressed when she performed an entire song in Spanish. Baez says she may return next season.
WHAT’S NEXT She’ll play Nancy in “Oliver! Reinvented” Aug. 20 at the New Paradigm Theatre in Fairfield, Connecticut. In the fall, she’ll star in the 1950s-set Off-Broadway musical “A Taste of Things to Come,” about four friends in a cooking club at the start of the Women’s Rights Movement.

GREG PROSSER, 45, from Bayville

THE GIG He won the best actor award
(Credit: Joe Henson)

THE GIG He won the best actor award at the Nice International Film Festival in May.
HIS STORY Prosser, who is also an MRI technician in Brooklyn, got the acting bug in 2008, when he accompanied his daughter Samantha to an acting class. He studied at the T. Schreiber Studio in Manhattan, and has had TV roles on “White Collar,” “Power” and “The Americans.” “Almost every time I’m on television, I play a cop,” he says. “I’m Irish and I have the Brooklyn accent and it plays well.” “Second Chance,” a drama about a home invasion gone awry, turned out to be an apropos title: Prosser shot the movie shortly before having lifesaving brain surgery. His award-winning performance, screened at last week’s Long Island International Film Expo in Bellmore, continues to be on the festival circuit. “It’s been awesome,” he says of the experience.
WHAT’S NEXT The horror short “Wraith,” in which he stars, is being submitted to various film festivals.

JEANNIE POWERS, from Yaphank

THE GIG She hosts and writes the “Hollywood
(Credit: Adrienne Brand Photography)

THE GIG She hosts and writes the “Hollywood Hit Lists” radio segments.
HER STORY Powers, who also is a photographer, said she started writing a comedy blog about being half-Asian and growing up in the Philippines. Her humorous recollections caught the eyes of several local comics, and she ended up doing podcasts at Governor’s comedy club in Levittown. The success of that led to “Hollywood Hit Lists,” which is heard on several local stations — WRCN/103.9 FM; WPTY/105.3 FM (Suffolk) and 101.5 FM (Nassau), and WJVC/96.1 FM. “I report entertainment news, but I always try to add some jokes in there, especially with the Kardashians,” she says. Powers also has appeared on Madhouse TV on the web and made her stage debut last fall in the dark comedy “The Waiting Room” at Bare Bones Theater in Northport.
WHAT’S NEXT Powers’ dream is for her radio gig to be syndicated.

REGAN LUTZ, 12, from Levittown

THE GIG She voices Skip the squirrel in
(Credit: Mom2Boyz Photography/Stacey Broggy, Mom2Boyz Photography)

THE GIG She voices Skip the squirrel in the Nick Jr. series “Zack & Quack.”
HER STORY Regan began acting while in kindergarten and has appeared on television in “Sesame Street” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Voicing Skip, who is always trying to outdo her squirrel sibling, Hop, has been an enjoyable and challenging experience, Regan says. “With voice-overs, you don’t have to worry about facial expressions or hand movements,” Regan says. “The hardest part was getting the right sound for the character.” Regan is also passionate about animals and has been helping Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington. “When I was turning 7, I realized I didn’t need anything else for my birthday, so I asked my friends to bring gifts for the animals instead,” she says. Since then she’s raised more than $2,000 each year for the shelter.
WHAT’S NEXT Regan’s dream is to voice a character in an animated movie.

DAVE DIAMOND, from Port Washington

THE GIG He’s a singer and drummer with

THE GIG He’s a singer and drummer with a new album, “Trois.”
HIS STORY Diamond, who grew up in Bethpage, started playing drums when he was 4. “I started with my brother’s cheapie drum kits and kept breaking them,” he says. He began taking drum lessons at 9 and then also learned guitar. Diamond, who has played drums for several bands and has opened for Todd Rundgren, has a hard time classifying his eclectic musical sound. “I’d call it Americana funk. I can go country and then go James Brown funk on you,” he says. “Trois,” Diamond says, which features all his own material, is more funk-tinged than his previous album, the bluegrass-inspired “Revenge of the Slowpoke.” Diamond also plays drums for several other bands including Assembly of Dust.
WHAT’S NEXT He and his Dave Diamond Band will perform at K.J. Farrell’s in Bellmore at 8 p.m. June 29. Diamond also plans to record a live studio album with his band this year.

SEE, 21, from Centerport

THE GIG She’s an alt-rock/alt-pop singer whose EP
(Credit: Catie Laffoon)

THE GIG She’s an alt-rock/alt-pop singer whose EP “Ties” drops June 24.
HER STORY SEE taught herself to play drums at age 13, as well as guitar, bass, ukulele and piano. While in high school, she was a drummer and songwriter for The Red, an indie rock band. After the group broke up, she wanted to focus on singing and decided to forgo college to pursue a musical career. Last year she signed with Blue Elan Records, and on June 22 at 6 p.m. she’ll perform and sign copies of “Ties” at Looney Tunes in West Babylon. For the first single, “Potions,” she came up with the title first, then wrote the lyrics. “I grew up loving Harry Potter so much that I wanted to write a song called ‘Potions,’ ” she says. The song — about being entranced by another person — has nothing to do with the boy wizard.
WHAT’S NEXT She’ll perform at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan on Thursday nights in July.

MICHAEL DONATELLI, 10, from Huntington

THE GIG He’s making his screen debut in
(Credit: Jennifer Donatelli)

THE GIG He’s making his screen debut in “The Derby.”
HIS STORY Michael starting acting at age 5 when he attended Dream Makers Performing Arts School in East Northport. Since then, he’s had roles in many Off-Broadway musicals including Linus in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” John Darling in “Peter Pan” and his favorite — beanstalk-climbing Jack in “Into the Woods.” In the coming-of-age drama “The Derby,” which was filmed this spring in Greenlawn and Centerport, Michael plays a Cub Scout involved in the Pinewood Derby. When the filmmakers learned that Michael plays chess, they worked the game into the script. Though Michael says the movie was a terrific experience, he didn’t enjoy the long shoots. “It was a 12-hour day, and half the time I wasn’t doing anything,” he says.
WHAT’S NEXT He just landed a role in a New York City production of “The Wizard of Oz,” and aspires to appear on Broadway.

GARY FERRAR, 31, from Franklin Square

THE GIG He's performed magic for such VIPs
(Credit: Ah! Real Magic)

THE GIG He's performed magic for such VIPs as Robert De Niro and Michael Bloomberg.

HIS STORY Gary the Great, as Ferrar bills himself, began doing magic in grade school. Since graduating from Hofstra, where he studied performing arts, he's been up to tricks performing at pediatric hospitals, on Fox News Channel and, in 2012, on "America's Got Talent. "It was a good experience, but not what I expected," says Ferrar, who didn't get past the first cut. "It was a lot more heavily produced than you might think." Ferrar does mostly private events, many of which draw celebrities. "I was doing a parlor show and happened to pull someone from the back of the room," Ferrar says. "He had a cap on and a large beard. In the middle of the routine I realized I had called up Robert De Niro. We talked afterward, and he] had me do a trick for his daughter."

WHAT'S NEXT Prepare to be amazed when Ferrar performs at parks throughout Long Island this summer.

MARISSAANN RIZZITELLO, 19, from Ronkonkoma

THE GIG The season 3

THE GIG The season 3 "Voice" contestant just released her first single, "Then One Day."

HER STORY Rizzitello was 6 when her music teacher told her parents "your daughter has a voice like an angel" and should pursue music. Though she did school shows and sang the national anthem at a Ducks game, Rizzitello's real break came at age 15 in 2012 when she was on "The Voice" and landed a spot on Christina Aguilera's team. "That was the first time I took music so seriously," she says. "I was working every day with big industry people that I'd never had the opportunity to work with." After her elimination, Rizzitello performed at Manhattan's Apollo Theater and started writing songs. "Then One Day" was inspired by a friend whose family was affected by autism (proceeds from iTunes sales go to the Family Center for Autism in Garden City).

WHAT'S NEXT She's working hard at writing more songs.

ALANNA AND MIA AMOSCATO, 1, from Brookhaven

THE GIG The twins appear in several episodes
(Credit: Lilly Ann Portrait Studio)

THE GIG The twins appear in several episodes of TV Land's "The Jim Gaffigan Show"

THEIR STORY The siblings had their first job at 2 months in the movie "How to Be Single" after their mom, Donna, answered a casting notice on Facebook. Since then they've worked on TV's "Madam Secretary," "Blindspot" and Gaffigan's sitcom. "They can only work for a certain amount of hours," says Donna, an environmental scientist. "If one is acting up, they can take the other one in." She says the girls will keep working as long as they enjoy it, and suspects Mia is more likely to pursue acting as she gets older. "Mia is very hammy and likes when the camera is on her. Alanna is more serious," Donna says. "They're like my comedy and tragedy masks."

WHAT'S NEXT They'll be seen in two upcoming films: "Sully," starring Tom Hanks, and "The Girl on the Train," with Emily Blunt.

RORY MICHELLE, 29, from Plainview

THE GIG This singer-songwriter just released her third
(Credit: Laura Togut)

THE GIG This singer-songwriter just released her third CD, "The God Album."

HER STORY Michelle, who was raised in West Babylon, studied with sopranos in Vienna and at Harvard. In 2013, she put out her first album, "Turtledove," which was followed by "Inner Child" in 2014. "My idea is to do an album every year for six years," she says. "Originally I thought I could take 10 years to perfect one album, but if I took those same 10 years and put an album out every year, the product would improve so much more each time." "The God Album," which was inspired by Jewish text and folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, has richer production values than her previous releases and covers many different styles, including swing, folk and rock. She'll perform songs from the album Sunday at Congregation Tifereth Israel in Glen Cove.

WHAT'S NEXT Michelle is in the early stages of penning a musical about relationships.

RYAN DIBIASE, 21, from Commack and ANDREW MORALES, 22, from East Meadow

THE GIG The LIU-Post seniors' short film has
(Credit: Shuttersound)

THE GIG The LIU-Post seniors' short film has been accepted for the Cannes International Film Festival.

THEIR STORIES DiBiase and Morales, who have been friends since freshman year and have their own production company called Shuttersound, have meshed well creatively. Their Cannes entry, "The Stall" -- DiBiase wrote and directed, Morales shot and edited -- concerns two janitors who find a suicide in the girls' bathroom at a school and then have to figure out what to do. "It spawned from an event in high school," DiBiase says. "I walked into the boys' bathroom and found a kid unconscious in the stall." The movie is not in competition at Cannes, but DiBiase and Morales hope it will give them an opportunity to meet and network with other filmmakers.

WHAT'S NEXT After graduation, they plan to focus full time on Shuttersound with an eye toward making more shorts and, eventually, full-length features.

ASHLEY GERASIMOVICH, 12, from Garden City

THE GIG She plays the
(Credit: Emily Soto)

THE GIG She plays the "too cool for school" Delilah on the TBS sitcom "The Detour," which premieres April 11.

HER STORY Ashley made her acting debut playing the daughter of Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in the 2010 thriller "Fair Game" and has been on a roll since. She played Louis C.K.'s bratty daughter Jane on FX's "Louie" in 2010 and appeared in the 2011 film "We Need to Talk About Kevin" with Tilda Swinton. "She asked me what my favorite dog is and then gave me a life-size black stuffed poodle," Ashley says. In "The Detour," about a family whose road trip goes horribly wrong, she plays a girl who likes clothes and boys more than books. "She's like almost my exact opposite," Ashley says. "I love school and am obsessed with chemistry."

WHAT'S NEXT Ashley has a featured role in the movie "A Different Sun," about a Chinese family that moves to Germany.

JORDAN YOUNG, 37, from Syosset

THE GIG He is a television writer-producer. HIS
(Credit: Jordan Young)

THE GIG He is a television writer-producer.

HIS STORY Young, who graduated from Manhattan's School of Visual Arts, worked as an animator on "The Simpsons" for three years. "I thought I had achieved the right dream, then decided writing was where I wanted to spend my time so I could be responsible for the content and the comedy," he said. Young was then hired as a writer on Comedy Central's animated reality-show spoof "Drawn Together," which led to writing and producing for Fox's "Raising Hope" and two current series -- Netflix's "Bojack Horsemen" and Fox's summer series "Golan the Insatiable." "I only really do adult comedy," he said. "I'm not good with the kids stuff. Anything that's funny, I'm happy to work on."

WHAT'S NEXT He's on the production team of Fox's "Son of Zorn," a fall sitcom about a he-man trying to reconnect with his son that blends live action and animation.

ANTO GHARIBIAN, 20, from Patchgoue

THE GIG He directed the music video for
(Credit: Photographer: Garen Barsegian)

THE GIG He directed the music video for Oyster Bay musician Gianni Paci's "Time and Time Again."

HIS STORY Gharibian works as an associate producer for Whooden, a Manhattan-based broadcast and media production company, and he has his own production company called Antraniq. Though he's been involved in the production of Web-based commercial spots, "Time and Time Again" is his first music video, and he took the opportunity to make it play like a mini movie. He shot it at Laser Kingdom in Coram, and he created a love story about the captain of an all-male laser tag team who falls for the opposing female team's captain. "It was a learning curve for a lot of us," Gharibian says. "We had to learn how to animate from scratch, put in video effects. It took longer than expected, but it turned out great."

WHAT'S NEXTGharibian hopes to shoot more larger-scale music videos and short films.

NICK KIVLEN, 20, Glenwood Landing

THE GIG His band, Sunflower Bean, released its
(Credit: Getty Images/ LEON NEAL)

THE GIG His band, Sunflower Bean, released its first CD, "Human Ceremony."

HIS STORY Kivlen (center) and his drummer pal Jacob Faber from Glen Head formed Sunflower Bean three years ago while still at North Shore High School. "The name really doesn't mean anything," says Kivlen, who plays guitar and does vocals. "I was just thinking one day and the name popped into my head and it stuck." Once vocalist and bass player Julia Cumming came on board, Sunflower Bean took off and played more than 50 gigs in its first year, ultimately landing a spot at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, last year. After touring with Brit rockers The Vaccines, Kivlen and his bandmates headlined their own tour in England. In February they released their CD, which Kivlen says is reminiscent of '60s psychedelic rock.

WHAT'S NEXT A second album is in the works, and Sunflower Bean returns to SXSW March 17 and 19.

THOMAS J. BELLEZZA, 37, from Shirley

GIG He's a onetime rocker turned actor, writer
(Credit: Beatrice Sniper)

GIG He's a onetime rocker turned actor, writer and producer.

HIS STORY For 10 years, starting as a senior in high school, Bellezza was part of Tenebrae, a heavy-metal band. After leaving the group, he took a year off, then started doing stand-up comedy and soon after opened the Rose Theater in Holbrook. But he missed performing and sold the theater a few years later, moving to Brooklyn to pursue acting full time. Since then, he's had bits on many TV series, including "The Blacklist," but his favorite role was playing an assassin who doesn't use guns in the short film "The Course." On the '70s-set music-biz drama "Vinyl," which premieres Feb. 14 on HBO, he appears as a roadie in two episodes and a bouncer in a third.

WHAT'S NEXT "The Circle," about addicts and a man who is obsessed with them, was created by his production company. "It's me and a writing team creating this 12-episode Web series," in which he also stars.

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