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Rising stars on Long Island

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.

MIKE MILLAN, Bay Shore

Millan, who plays Jesus and "a hockey goon"
Photo Credit: Shani Hadjian

Millan, who plays Jesus and "a hockey goon" in "Escape to Margaritaville," started dancing as a kid after seeing "West Side Story" and telling his mom, "That's what I want to do." He studied musical theater at the University of Hartford's Hartt School and made his Off-Broadway debut in 2014 in the jukebox musical "Piece of My Heart," also serving as swing and dance captain. At his "Margaritaville" tryout, Millan says he felt confident when the choreographer told those auditioning to act like "you're all really stoned or drunk on the beach," he says. "I said, 'OK, I know exactly what you want.' From there I thought, let me just really ham it up. I could see her watching me the whole time and whispering to her assistant, 'Who's that?' "

ASHLEY HOD, Great Neck

At 4, Hod studied at the Great
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

 At 4, Hod studied at the Great Neck School of Dance and three years later entered New York City Ballet's School of Ballet. She joined the company in 2012, landing solo spots as Dewdrop and the Sugarplum Fairy in "The Nutcracker." In March, she won one of the Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists, which, she says, gave her "a little bit of reassurance and hope that I can make this dream of making it all the way to becoming a principal come true." Audiences can see Hod in action when the New York City Ballet kicks off its spring season April 24, which will include salutes to Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine.

GERRY FERRETTI, Lindenhurst

Ferretti had a desire to perform since he
Photo Credit: Lynneanne Daly

Ferretti had a desire to perform since he was 11 and sang with a church choir. He has acted at Long Island theaters, and he has also run a murder-mystery theater company. Writing has always been a passion for Ferretti and last year his original musical "Bridge the Gap," about garage band members who reunite decades later, premiered at South Shore Theatre Experience in Lindenhurst. With "The Mark," a film noir throwback/romance which premieres May 7 at Sayville Cinemas, he took on the entire project from writing to editing, acting and directing. The movie was filmed entirely on Long Island, at locations including St. Bernard's Church in Levittown, Great South Bay and Park Avenue Grill in Amityville.

JACK HATCHER, Commack

Jack has made his professional stage debut in
Photo Credit: Tracey Spero

Jack has made his professional stage debut in the Public Theater production "The Low Road," a comedy set in 18th century New England. Though he started performing when he was 4, Jack says he got "super-serious" about acting when he was 9 and began taking acting classes at Gateway Playhouse in Bellport. "I had some really good teachers at Gateway," Jack says. "Without them, I wouldn't be where I am now. They taught me basic acting skills and from there built up other skills within me." Jack gets to apply those skills in "The Low Road" playing the pivotal role of the lead character as a child.
 

STEVE O'BRIEN, Lake Grove

O'Brien started out as a TV news reporter
Photo Credit: Michael Cinquino

O'Brien started out as a TV news reporter before becoming a special-ed teacher in his late 20s. He started doing stand-up comedy on weekends and took acting and writing classes. After some roles off Off-Broadway, he joined The Actor's Green Room in Manhattan, where he began working in short films, including "The Cartographer," for which he won a best actor award at the 2017 Long Island International Film Expo for playing a bipolar man. Acting, he says, has helped him better understand himself and others. "You analyze characters and scripts to the point where you have to put yourself in their positions and have their point of view," he says. O'Brien, who now lives in Manhattan, also wrote the 2017 short film "Spilt Milk," based on his experience telling his parents that he's gay. He's creating a web series called "Love Your Life" about the first year he came out as gay.

TOM HUMBERT, Garden City

Humbert studied classical guitar at the Hartt School
Photo Credit: Laura Rose

Humbert studied classical guitar at the Hartt School in Hartford, Connecticut, and juggled his studies with performing in dinner theater. He's since performed at the Goodspeed Opera House and at the White House as part of the touring company of "Shining Time Station Live." He's the writer, director and star of a musical pilot called "Wholly Broken," which won the Best Feature Film USA Award at the 2017 International Film Festival Manhattan. The film combines his passions of music, acting, singing and faith. Among the cast members is Baldwin's Martha Wash of the Weather Girls, who performs Humbert's song "Come Into the Light -- Shine On." "Her role didn't call for a song, and I thought, if I'm going to cast Martha Wash, I need to write a song for her," Humbert says.

LILY TAMBURO, East Setauket & ANNABELLE DEANER, Melville

Lily Tamburo, left, began performing at 4 and
Photo Credit: Jacqueline Mihaley Photography (left); Steve Ayle

Lily Tamburo, left, began performing at 4 and has appeared in "Guys and Dolls" and "Seussical." AnnaBelle Deaner was 5 when she started doing theater and has done voice-over work, including a Korean animated series, "Magic Adventures: The Crystal of Dark." The two girls split the role of Ivonka in "Once," and the role of Molly in "Annie," which both ran at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport.

ALISON BERKE, Oceanside

Alison Berke got her start in Off-Broadway shows
Photo Credit: Rick Eberle Public Relations

Alison Berke got her start in Off-Broadway shows when she was younger, but has since begun going by Ali B and says she's been taking music seriously in the past three years. Since the summer of 2017, she played more than 30 club dates, including Amityville Music Hall and Revolution. She also performed "God Bless America" at Citi Field, released two singles, and set plans to produce an EP.

SAMMI RAE MURCIANO, Long Island

Singer-songwriter Sammi Rae Murciano started writing her own
Photo Credit: Lori Murciano

Singer-songwriter Sammi Rae Murciano started writing her own songs in 2016 and released her first EP in early 2018, "The Story." She says her ultimate goal is to be signed to a record label and tour throughout the world.

GIANNI CIARDIELLO, Albertson

After Gianni Ciardiello recovered from a serious back
Photo Credit: Constance Brukin

After Gianni Ciardiello recovered from a serious back injury in high school, he turned to acting. He began taking acting classing in June 2016 and got his start in commercials. He eventually landed a recurring role in Lifetime's "You," playing a younger version of Penn Badgley's character.

MEAGHAN McINNES, Huntington

Meaghan McInnes' love of musical theater started with
Photo Credit: Lenny Marks

Meaghan McInnes' love of musical theater started with roles in local productions, including Blue Bird in "Cinderella" and Zuzu in "It's a Wonderful Life." She appeared in several theatrical productions afterwards, however, her breakout role came when she played the lead in "Annie" at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport.

MACI AND MEADOW FERRIGNO, Babylon

Twins Maci and Meadow Ferrigno had their first
Photo Credit: NicPic Photography

Twins Maci and Meadow Ferrigno had their first role at just 9 months old as Uma Thurman's daughter on the short-lived NBC series "The Slap" in 2015. They then played Ruth Wilson's daughter in season 2 of Showtime's "The Affair" and Sebastian Arcelus' daughter on CBS' "Madam Secretary," their first role that required them to learn lines. "Every year they seem to get something," says mom Jennifer Ferrigno, who added that she feels "fortunate that they have this memory as children."

LIAM ATTRIDGE, Ronkonkoma

Liam Attridge began playing guitar at 12 years
Photo Credit: Getty Images for DCP / Tommaso Boddi

Liam Attridge began playing guitar at 12 years old and says he's "been singing since birth." He joined the boy band Forever in Your Mind in 2014, six months after it was created on TV's "The X Factor." The group has since played major venues including Citi Field and Jones Beach, where they were part of WBLI's Summer Jam in June 2017.

JENNIFER COLLESTER TULLY, East Northport

Jennifer Collester Tully, who grew up in Setauket
Photo Credit: John W. Engeman Theater

Jennifer Collester Tully, who grew up in Setauket and started appearing in musicals at 8 years old. She studied jazz performance in college but eventually went back to musical theater and played Nancy in "Oliver!" and Diana in "Next to Normal" at Theatre Three, John W. Engeman Theater, Take One and other venues. She also directed and performed in a production of "Gypsy" at Engeman.

JOSHUA SHUBART, West Islip

Joshua Schubart got his start as an actor
Photo Credit: Courtney Schubart

Joshua Schubart got his start as an actor in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat," in high school. However, his unusual talent for fencing landed him a regular gig doing combat scenes at the Metropolitan Opera, where he got to work with noted director Bartlett Sher. He has also appeared in numerous Shakespeare plays and short films. Schubert has also played a recurring villain on Amazon Prime's "The Tick" and holds a leading role on HBO's "High Maintenance."

KATHERINE LAFOUNTAIN, Bayport

Katherine Lafountain starting taking dance lessons when she
Photo Credit: Pasha Kalachev

Katherine Lafountain starting taking dance lessons when she was 2, and by age 7 she had her first role in the children's musical "Pinkalicious." She then appeared in many productions at both Gateway Playhouse in Bellport and the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, including "Billy Elliot" and "Mary Poppins." Lafountain also had roles on TV in "Boardwalk Empire" and appeared in a sketch with Paul Rudd on "Saturday Night Live."

JAMES ALEXANDER, Central Islip

James Alexander studied theater at Suffolk Community College
Photo Credit: Courtney Schubart

James Alexander studied theater at Suffolk Community College in Selden but followed the family tradition of joining the NYPD 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. Soon after, he began a one-year tenure with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in June 2017.

REBECCA LYNN GOLDFARB, Oceanside

Rebecca Lynn Goldfarb has performed since she was
Photo Credit: Yolanda Perez Photography

Rebecca Lynn Goldfarb has performed since she was 6, her first job being a TV commercial for a plumbing company and then the musical "Children of Eden." She started acting and singing lessons and eventually landed roles in "White Christmas" at Gateway Playhouse in Bellport and in the Broadway event "The Godspell Cast of 2032." Goldfarb has also performed at the Apollo Theater and portrayed Nina in "In The Heights" at Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset.

CLAUDE SOLNIK, Plainview

Claude Solnik began developing an ear for dialogue
Photo Credit: Bob Giglione

Claude Solnik 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. His play "Nowhere Man," which ran at the Theater for the New City in Manhattan during the summer of 2017, tells the story of a man who was hired as a double for Paul McCartney during the height of The Beatles' success.

STEPHANIE TORNS, Bohemia

Stephanie Torns was a competitive dancer as a
Photo Credit: Dirty Sugar

Stephanie 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. Torns eventually became a part of Sara Bareilles' Broadway adaptation of "Waitress," as Francine Pomatter and also served as Bareilles' understudy.

PARIS RAY, St. James

Paris Ray got her start as an actress
Photo Credit: Karen Rubin

Paris Ray got her start as an actress in "King Lear" at the Public Theater in 2007 and on Nickelodeon's "iCarly" in 2009. She became a singer and songwriter while in high school and performed two original songs, "Astronomy" and "Get Well Soon," in Gold Coast Arts Center's "Your Big Break" finale. She won the opportunity to record one of her own songs, was featured by ReverbNation and got an opening spot at The Paramount in Huntington.

DOROTHY JAMES, Kings Park

Dorothy James is a puppeteer who began her
Photo Credit: Corinne Louie

Dorothy James is a puppeteer who began her career as an actress doing experimental theater. She was introduced to puppetry during one experimental show which she said was "very abstract" but that she "really loved it." James soon mastered both full-body and Bunraku-style, a Westernized version of the Japanese puppetry art involving a few people. James was also 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 performed along side seven other puppeteers who worked on 30 characters.

JORDAN TYSON, Lynbrook

Jordan Tyson began her musical theater career when
Photo Credit: Keith Sherman & Associates

Jordan Tyson began her musical theater career when she did "In the Heights" in high school. "After that experience, I was so in awe of how this one piece of work could bring people together like a family," she said. She continued musical theater outside of school, eventually landing the title role in "Sweetee" at Ford Foundation Studio Theatre in Manhattan. In the production, she played a runaway in the Depression-era South who uses her singing voice to help a minister and a band of orphans.

JOSHUA DE JESUS, Dix Hills

Joshua De Jesus began his acting career in
Photo Credit: Spin Cycle

Joshua De Jesus began his acting career in high school and landed his first roles after a semester at SUNY Purchase in City Center Encores! production of "Runaways" and on TV's "Chicago Fire." His biggest role to date came at Manhattan's Theater for the New City where he played the title character in "Wink," whom he describes as "a homeless and androgynous, gender-fluid, nonbinary teenager who's adrift in L.A."

ETHAN HUTCHISON, Middle Island

Ethan Hutchison began his acting career at 4
Photo Credit: Eric Hutchison

Ethan Hutchison began his acting career at 4 when he was cast in Hulu's "The Path" as a detective's son. Afterwards, he moved on to play Blue Bordelon on the OWN series "Queen Sugar." Hutchison, who moved to New Orleans to film the show, says on perk of the job has been meeting Orpah Winfrey, whom he says is "the best present giver." he says. His role in the OWN show has won him Young Artist and Young Entertainers Awards and he also appeared in a sketch with Taraji P. Henson and Chris Rock on the "Empire" star's holiday special.

TOM LUCCA, Smithtown

Tom Lucca was working as an accountant when
Photo Credit: Ronnie Nelson

Tom 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. Soon after, he co-starred with Patina Miller in John Patrick Shanley's short-lived "Romantic Poetry" for Manhattan Theater Club. Lucca, who works as a physical therapist between acting gigs, also played John Hancock in "1776" at Northport's John W. Engeman Theater, has performed at Birdland in Manhattan, and played John Utterson, Dr. Jekyll's best friend, in "Jekyll & Hyde" at Engeman in 2017.

RAHUL RAI, Old Westbury

Rahul Rai, who started as a dancer, was
Photo Credit: Marc Cartwright

Rahul 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." In 2017, he also landed a role in "Haram! Iran!" at TADA, directed by Rick Leidenfrost-Wilson of Baldwin, a drama about two Iranian teens who face death for being gay.

KYLA CARTER, Sayville

Kyla Carter joined the national tour of
Photo Credit: David Kaptein

Kyla Carter joined the national tour of "The Sound of Music" at 8 years old, playing Gretl, Marta and Brigitta. Carter concluded the tour in 2017 but has appeared on several television shows, including HBO's "The Leftovers," and as the voice of Hattie the Witch on Nick Jr.'s "Wally Kazam!"

BLAIR GOLDBERG, Plainview

Blair Goldberg, who now lives in New York
Photo Credit: Justin Patterson

Blair 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, and was part of 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." In 2016, she joined the ensemble of Broadway's "Kinky Boots."

MICHAEL VERRE, Wantagh

Michael Verre, a musical theater performer who appeared
Photo Credit: Robert Mannis

Michael Verre, a musical theater performer who appeared in "Mary Poppins" at John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, 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." 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."

JESSE RAY SHEPS, Plainview

Jesse Ray Sheps, who voices Fluffy the hedgehog
Photo Credit: Doug Gorenstein

Jesse Ray Sheps, who voices Fluffy the hedgehog on Nick Jr.'s "Zack & Quack," 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 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. Sheps also appeared in the movie thriller "Devil's Five" and in an episode of "Orange Is the New Black." He also enjoys singing, playing guitar and writing songs.

VERONICA KELLY, Holbrook

Veronica Kelly, a senior at NYU Tisch School

Veronica 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: The Musical," Kelly played 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."

MATTHEW MINIERO, Nassau County

Matthew Miniero started acting to earn money for
Photo Credit: Pasha Kalachev

Matthew Miniero started acting 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. Miniero also appeared in indie movie "Yellow Fever" and has performed the songs of Led Zeppelin at KJ Farrell's in Bellmore.

WHITNEY ROSE PYNN, Sayville

Upon graduating in 2011 from the University of
Photo Credit: Sam Khan

Upon graduating in 2011 from the University of Maryland, Whitney Rose 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. She stars in the thrillers "Asomatous" and "Dear Diary, I Died."

AMANDA SWICKLE, Jericho

Amanda Swickle began performing at age 8, and
Photo Credit: Yolanda Perez

Amanda Swickle 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.

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