It all started with a dream. Robert De Persio, Jr. had been teaching music and theatre for a number of years and directing/performing in various theatres when he decided he wanted to try and run his own. Build it from the ground up. And, that WE did. He approached his wife (Dana) and his brother (Michael) about starting a new company and they brainstormed for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, we began the arduous task of incorporating and getting our not-for profit status. It was worth it. On April 12, 2004 POTR was founded.
We decided to reach out to friends and put together our first two productions of Nunsense and Nunsense A-Men! Same exact show one performed by all women and one performed by all men! Hysterical! We performed in a theatre out in Riverhead and thus began our traveling theatre company.
Music has always been the foundation of this company. We reached out to Carl Hottinger, a phenomenal pianist, to help us build the music piece of the company. Our next production was Footloose complete with a live pit orchestra. We are very proud to have kept that aspect in every teen and Mainstage production.
Simultaneously, we started our Triple Threat theatre program. Students who sign up for this program rotate through a music, singing and acting class in smaller groups and then a rehearsal process class with the entire cast that leads up to a full performance!
We decided, early on, that we wanted to be different from other theatres on Long Island. Almost like the farms to the major leagues in baseball. We focus our efforts on shows for students ages 5 – 21 and occasionally will do a production for adults.
We have continued to grow over the past 13 years adding to our phenomenal POTR Dream Team that creates all of the stage magic. We built around the incredible music aspect of POTR. Our set, costume, prop, light and sound aspect has grown exponentially thanks to the Herculean efforts of Karen Gomez, Erik Pearson, Bill Spitz, Trisha Pearson, Jim Marino, Billy Spitz and Elizabeth Fitzpatrick. POTR would not be possible without the amazing talents and time of many parents and community members.
Spring of 2016, we invited Robert’s high school friend Jeffrey Schecter to work with the cast of A Chorus Line. He starred in the revival cast of A Chorus Line on Broadway as Mike and has worked in film, TV and theatre for many years. He worked with the students once a week during the entire rehearsal process. These are the kinds of experiences that we want to provide at POTR.
Many of our former students are achieving their dreams. Ava Della Pietra has been performing in NYC and was just recently featured in School of Rock on Broadway. Anthony Arpino, our Jekyll & Hyde, photo doubled for Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street and True Story. He also worked on Boardwalk Empire and he performed for three years portraying the Genie for Disney Cruise Line aboard the Disney Dream.