A star search for LI's most talented kids
Talented kids abound on Long Island, whether performing earnestly in the school play, singing their hearts out in the choir or balancing on their toes as they dance for adoring parents and fans. Maybe you even have a blossoming star in your family. Here are some of the many local children who eat, breathe and sleep the performing arts.
Do you know other talented children? Check out our photo gallery of aspiring singers, dancers, artists and more, and upload a picture and description of your own local favorite.
LARRY SAPERSTEIN, Islip
CURRENT ENDEAVOR Touring the West Coast as Tommy Mara Jr. in "Miracle on 34th Street"
Larry's first role was running onstage and into his father's arms during a community theater performance when he was 3. "We're kind of like 'the family that acts together, stays together,' " says Larry's dad, Scott, who owns an entertainment company. Larry's mom, Elissa, is an elementary school music teacher; Larry is an only child. When the family saw "42nd Street" on Broadway when Larry was 6, he was thrilled by the dancing and took up tap, jazz, ballet and modern dance. In second grade, Larry had his first meaty role: Christopher Robin in a local production of "Winnie the Pooh." He's since done three shows at the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport - "Oliver," "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Fiddler on the Roof." He's been cast in several films - a feature-length independent movie coming out in 2011 called "We Are the Hartmans" and two short, film festival flicks. He is scheduled to fly to Santa Barbara, Calif., today with his dad for a 12-day tour of "Miracle on 34th Street," a paid gig that includes performances in Santa Barbara, Spokane, Wash., and Vancouver, British Columbia. "I really love the process," Larry says. "I love learning the music, I love watching the people create the sets, I love bringing joy to the people in the audience."
ASHLEY VRANA, West Islip
CURRENT ENDEAVOR Just released a new single, titled "Rain on Me"
Vrana is a member of a club similar to "Glee" at West Islip High School, called Vocal Motion. Girls dressed in black and gold costumes and boys in black tuxedos sing and dance and have performed annually at Disney World, taking the
"Waterside" outdoor stage in the Magic Kingdom to perform four shows each February winter break from school. Ashley started singing lessons when she was 5, and she's done community musical theater, including "Evita" and "Ragtime." She loves the camaraderie of a theater production and the ability to express herself, she says. She recorded her new single - produced by Lindenhurst-based G-Rec's Entertainment - because she wanted to "put myself out there." You can hear it at reverbnation.com. Vrana has been accepted to Five Towns College, where she plans to study musical theater. Ashley has two older sisters, Jacklyn, 24, and Kelly, 22, but she is the lone performer of the siblings, she says.
AMANDA ROIT, Roslyn Heights
CURRENT ENDEAVOR Lead roles in two concurrent plays: "The Wizard of Oz" and "Annie"
On Saturday, Amanda will play the lead role of Dorothy at noon at the Cultural Arts Playhouse in Roslyn, and by 4 p.m. she'll be onstage as Annie at Cultural Arts Playhouse in Plainview. Saturday kicks off nine performances for Amanda over five days this month. Amanda started singing when she took classes at the Long Island Conservatory at age 7. She recently taped two YouTube videos, and after producers of the Italian version of "American Idol," called "Io Canto" ("I Sing"), saw her online, they invited her to Milan to audition for the next season. She and her mom, Stella, flew to Italy. Amanda was cast, but because she would have had to stay in Italy for the 11 weeks of taping, her parents decided she should instead try to make a guest appearance during one episode if the dates work out, says her dad, Alex. "I feel proud when I get up onstage," Amanda says. The hardest part of performing: learning a new song. "You keep struggling with it until you get it," she says. Amanda has an 8-year-old brother, Josh, and a 6-year-old sister, Ashley. Alex, a chiropractor, says he's seeking an agent for Amanda to expand to television and film roles because she wants to perform on Broadway or on the Disney Channel. "Amanda's basically my second full-time job," Alex says.