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Kings Park teens to perform on TV

Ashley Domenech, 17, Pam Rattinger, 16, and Gerard

Ashley Domenech, 17, Pam Rattinger, 16, and Gerard Johnston, 17, pose for the camera at Kings Park High School where they attend school. The three are among six Kings Park students who are appearing Talent Showcase, shot in East Hampton and runs on Public Access TV.

The trio of Kings Park High School friends can hardly contain their glee.

In April, Pam Rattinger, Ashley Domenech and Gerard Johnston will be performing in their annual high school musical. Pam will be playing The Grinch, and Ashley will be Mrs. Mayor in "Seussical the Musical," while Gerard will play saxophone in the pit band.

But first, the three will be on TV - appearing on "Talent Showcase with David Brandman," a half-hour variety show. They each auditioned in November, their episode was taped in December at a television studio in East Hampton, and it's due to air next month on public access stations on Long Island.

"It was such an amazing experience," Ashley, 17, a junior, says of taping her television debut. In separate appearances before a cheering studio audience of about 70, Ashley sang, Pam tap-danced, and Gerard played his sax. They also sat for interviews with Brandman, the show's host and producer.

TV is a change of pace for Ashley, who has been singing in the choir at St. Joseph's Church in Kings Park since third grade and now leads the hymns at Sunday morning Mass. She's also performed solos for the New York State School Music Association and appeared in last year's high school musical.

But on "Talent Showcase," when she sang "Someone Like You" from the Broadway musical "Jekyll & Hyde," she said, "the cameras were all focused in on me."

"Talent Showcase" is produced on a small budget paid out of pocket by Brandman, 48, a Kings Park resident and a partner in Micro Force, a computer consulting company in Huntington Station. The show has an all-volunteer crew that includes Brandman's wife, Chris, 46, and their sons, Josh, 18, a freshman at Stony Brook University, and Daniel, 15, a Kings Park High sophomore. Charlie McCaffery, a friend of Brandman's from a bowling league in Commack, is the program's co-host.

The show began six years ago - it has produced 55 episodes so far - featuring performers ages 8 to 60. Brandman recently narrowed the focus to high school students and moved into roomier quarters at the LTV Studio in East Hampton.

He switched the focus partly as a reaction to tabloid headlines.

"I wanted kids that were serious about performing to see there's a way to try to get yourself out there without going to all the sensationalism that you see," said Brandman. Headlines about misbehaving teen stars "give the wrong message to youth."

Other young people have used "Talent Showcase" as a springboard for learning TV skills. Terrence Washington, 20, an alto and tenor sax player and Amityville High School graduate, appeared on the show in October, playing "A Night in Tunisia." He has also performed at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Washington says he appreciates Brandman's efforts and the studio audience members were "people that actually like the arts. It's rare to see that today."

Brandman said he started the show because "there's a lot of people locally that you never get to see perform on TV."

He said he got into television after participating in a telethon for a public-access station. (Brandman's only other television experience had been visiting the set of "Love, Sidney," a 1980s sitcom for which his aunt, Irene Brafstein, was a studio teacher.)

"I thought: What if you tap into local talent and give them the opportunity to be on television?" he said. "We give people a chance to perform on TV and have their neighbors, friends and other Long Islanders see them."

For the Kings Park students, "Talent Showcase" was an opportunity to try something different - and challenging.

"All of our parents have been pushing us to have diversity in how we put our talents out there," said Gerard, 17, of Fort Salonga, a senior.

Pam's dad, John Rattinger, 49, said she "has aspirations of being an actress" and the show was "a fabulous experience." Pam, 16, a junior, combined classic and modern dance steps in a three-minute tap routine to Taylor Swift's "Better Than Revenge."

For the Kings Park girls, waiting to watch their television debut is turning out to be a bit of a nail-biter.

"I'm used to performing just for people that I know and never recorded anything before," Pam said. "It was a whole new experience having to deal with all the cameras."

Ashley looks forward to watching her show with family and friends, even as she concedes: "I'm a little nervous to see how it came out."

Where & When:

On Cablevision, Channel 20

 

Riverhead: March 6, 8 p.m.

Great Neck: March 6, 8:30 p.m.; March 11, 7:30 p.m. (also on FIOS channel 37)

Hauppauge/Brookhaven (Kings Park and points east): March 8, 7:30 p.m.

Woodbury (Commack and points west): March 8, 5:30 p.m.

East Hampton: March 8, 11:30 a.m.; March 11, 8 p.m.; March 14, 5 p.m.

 

The show repeats the following week.

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