Flush with success from still another production at the campus of what was formerly I.S. 192, the newly formed Local Celebrity Theatre is moving forward with plans for two new shows.
After two performances of Broadway Revue on Friday, September 24 and Saturday, September 25, the theatre company, which held a big debut in June 2010 and was founded by Pelham Gardens resident Chris Manetakis, is forging ahead with a new show that deals with a topic close to many of the players: community theater. That play is “Amateurs,” by Tom Griffin.
Rehearsals have begun on the play, which deals with a group of amateur actors, much like the Local Celebrity Theatre, who after an opening night party are confronted with the fact that a renowned theater reviewer has just panned their show. They are forced to look at themselves in what Manetakis describes as a bittersweet story in which the characters come to recognize just how much they need one another.
“I thought that it was funny and poignant because it deals with a community theatre, which is what we are, and pokes fun at the stereotype of what community theatre actors are,” Manetakis said.
“It is funny, it deals with egos, and it is bittersweet. They are trying to find acceptance from one another, but are awkward on their own.”
Connie Del Vecchio, an actor in the play, said that the ensemble cast of amateurs includes complex characters that are have their own background story. The characters have faced many of the same trials and tribulations that certain members of the audience will be able to relate to including divorce, ambition, and lost love.
“It shows that people in community theatre can be just as egotistical, if not more so, than even those acting in professional theatre,” said cast member Dennis DeLeo. “They are looking for acceptance.”
This is Manetakis’ and Local Celebrity Theatre’s fifth show since the group had a large debut with a night of Cabaret performances at the Vietnam Veterans Council of America post in Morris Park this past June.
Manetakis said that since June, the crowds have gotten bigger and he anticipates even larger crowds for the performances of “Amateurs,” which will take place at 650 Hollywood Avenue on Thursday, October 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 24 at 5:30 p.m.
In addition, the group is planning the production of an original play that was co-written by Manetakis and Steve Bendler called “Telethon For Santa,” with performances at Lehman High School on Friday, December 10, Saturday, December 11, and Sunday, December 12.
The show, which is heavily influenced by the Muppets, has around 60 cast members. Its plot centers around Santa’s elves deciding to hold a telethon for Santa to raise money because the recession has made it difficult for Santa to deliver expensive gadgets like mp3 players, cell phones, and video game systems.
As far as Local Celebrity Theater goes, Manetakis said that his goal is to put the “community” back into community theatre.
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