The Online Journal for Center Stage Playhouse
I have been fortunate to have shared life and the stage at Center Stage with my sister, my Dad, my brother-in-laws, and my husband. I speculate that my sister (Donna Bellone) and I developed our love of movies, music and theater from our parents. I had always wanted to be an actress from the time I was very young, I studied in New York for a few years. However after much contemplation and deciding to be totally honest with myself, decided I did not want to pursue the endless auditioning and “starving artist” route so I just stopped. When I discovered Center Stage, through Michael Sabatino, (who worked with my sister Donna after school in a supermarket), it was like finding an oasis in the desert! Michael and I became members of Center Stage and have been lifelong friends ever since. We were also the youngest members of the group at that time! Friendship: one of the great joys in life. Center Stage grew to be a community of friends sharing a love of theater and a common goal.
Our “advertising” for auditions was to hand out flyers at the local train station. My sister, Donna, handed out a flyer to Sal Longarino. Sal auditioned for a show entitled Broadway, was cast in a small part and then later was called upon to play the main character role as the lead actor had to drop out of the show. Two years and four shows together: Cabaret, A Flea in Her Ear, Sat, Sun, Monday, and Guys and Dolls, (his Nathan Detroit to my Adelaide), I became Ida Bellone Longarino. Yes, Center Stage was where I met my husband, my partner in life, and through that little joint venture called marriage, I became mother to two wonderful human beings: a daughter, Aryn, and a son, Darius. Who could ask for anything more?
I have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with my sister Donna in a few shows and we actually “played sisters,” Donna as Kate Jerome and myself as Blanch Morton in Brighton Beach Memoirs. Talk about finding the truth in your subtext! My brother-in-law, Ben, played Eugene Jerome and he was brilliant in the role. Joe, my other brother-in-law, did lights for Center Stage. Talk about it being a family affair; it really was.
One of my favorite and funny memories is from the suspenseful thriller, Night Watch, where I played Elaine Wheeler, who believes she sees a dead body in the window across the way from her apartment. My Dad played a detective who had to investigate this case (the body went missing) and he has a line which he says to me “that he never saw me in his life,” which being his daughter, struck me kind of funny and cracked me up. And as the giggles go, it became contagious and so everyone on stage began to laugh. These little break ups happened no more than three times and always in rehearsal, NEVER during a performance. We took the word “professional” to heart. Center Stage holds that crown of “professionalism” then and now.
There are so many memories, but it would take another 42 years to recount them all.
You could say Center Stage has given me everything in life I cherish. Center Stage has and always will live in my thoughts and in my heart.
Roles held at Center Stage Playhouse: Member, Actress, Director, President, Corresponding Secretary, Secretary, Sound Technician, House Committee and Box Office Manager and whatever was necessary to do on the day it needed done.