PATAsphere to help celebrate F.M. Kirby Center’s 80th Anniversary with “Just A Penny”


DALLAS, Pa. — Local nonprofit organization PATAsphere is helping the F.M. Kirby Center celebrate 80 wonderful years of music, theater, and community with the stunning original musical, “Just A Penny,” on Sun., Dec. 9, 2018 at 4P.M. Tickets are on sale now and available here. Tickets range from $20—$25.

PATAsphere (PATA) recently performed “Just A Penny” at the 2018 Scranton Fringe Festival to rave reviews. One of the most well-attended shows at the Scranton Fringe Festival, “Just A Penny” tells the story of the Director and her theater company who are working tirelessly to prepare for opening night of their first original show. Vera, a big-time producer, is coming to see the show and determine whether or not it has promise. During this time, flashbacks tell the tale of how the Director met and recruited these top-notch backstage talents, each of whom has an inspiring backstory and an incredibly special connection to the Director.

“Just A Penny” was written by Orlando R. Barone and will be directed by Cari Tellis – a dynamic father-daughter duo. Barone, an Executive Leadership Coach at The Wharton School of Business at The University of Pennsylvania, is an accomplished writer and poet who has penned five original scripts. Tellis, PATAsphere’s founder and CEO, as well as a certified speech-language pathologist, voice specialist, and Professor at Misericordia University, has directed numerous musicals and plays throughout the past five years. West Pittston native Lauren Timek, a national award-winning choreographer and former New York Jets Cheerleader, will choreograph the production. In addition to her work behind the scenes, Timek will also perform in the show alongside many other local talents.

One noteworthy local performer, Elizabeth Guarnieri, recently graduated from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. with her Master of Fine Arts in Acting. Born and raised in Pittston, Pa., Guarnieri has returned to her hometown to star as the Director in “Just A Penny.” Her passion for her craft, as well as her undeniable talent, has taken her up and down the East Coast, starring in shows like “She Loves Me,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “The Seagull,” and “Hamlet.” Guarnieri recently made her debut on an international stage, starring in “The Servant of Two Masters” at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland. Guarnieri will perform in the show alongside her younger sister, Bridget Guarnieri.

In addition to the Guarnieri sisters, PATA is pleased to have assembled an incredible cast of both professional and pre-professional performers to the stage. Jahmeel Powers, born and raised in Michigan, also recently received his Master of Fine Arts in Acting from Regent University. An international performer, Powers has a love of comedy and improv, which comes to life in Mitchell, his character in “Just A Penny.”

Wilkes-Barre native Lorenzo Medico, born Lawrence Medico Jr., will play the role of Joe in “Just A Penny.” Lorenzo starred as the lead in “The National Tour of Beauty and the Beast” and performed in 32 cities across the country over six months. He made TV appearances on MTV, American Idol, Popstars 2, and has been involved in popular TV shows like X-Factor, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice. Michael Blaine, a Susquehanna University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Performance, will double as both Mrs. Creecher and Trent in this production. Michael has performed with local theater groups, and starred in many shows throughout his undergraduate and post- graduate training. Other beautifully talented cast members include Chantal Whiteduck starring as Dessa, D’manda Price as Rosalie, Shea Williams as Marcy, Sean Vitale as Rick, and Dana Jolley as Sam.

Many of the impressive individuals starring in “Just A Penny” are local young people, ages 9-17, who have received state-of-the-art training in the performing arts at PATA for a number of years. Watching the versatility, emotional maturity, and dedication of these young people unfold on the stage is a true highlight of this production. Young cast members include Jacob Thomas, 16; Sydney Tellis, 15; Hannah Matysik, 15; Sophia Tellis, 12; Lauren Finlay, 13; Nate Scullion, 14; Luke Tellis, 9; Samantha Chesman, 9; Kylie Hoffman, 15; Jack Barr, 13; Julia Chesman, 8; Annabelle Witkowski, 15; Juliette Witkowski, 13.

This beautiful script is paired with equally beautiful original music. The story is pushed forward by Barone’s poignant lyrics and the beautiful music composed by Katharine McElroy Manasco, Noah Sunday-Lefkowitz, and Ryan Burdick, the PATA Songwriting Team. Manasco is an accomplished musician and songwriter whose bands Snow Machine, 1945, and Three Finger Cowboy produced a total of five albums. Born and raised in Birmingham, Al., Manasco toured with Grammy Award-winning folk rock music legends, Indigo Girls. She also toured with Amy Ray and the Volunteers, and was featured on Amy Ray’s solo albums. Manasco has written rock hits, like ‘I Love This Moment,’ for “Just A Penny.” Sunday-Lefkowitz, a Dallas, Pa. native, is an up-and- coming performer who has been involved in the arts since early childhood. From countless lead roles on the stage and degrees in both Music and Theater from Muhlenberg College, to composing original music with his band, Band-ANA, and writing his own musical, Sunday-Lefkowitz is a born performer. His beautiful songs, like ‘Dad,’” will touch your heart. Burdick, an incredible jazz pianist, wrote his first songs for PATA a few years ago. Ever since, he has created catchy, powerful tunes, like ‘Take A Look At Us’ and ‘Lifeline,’ that will make you want to dance. Together, these songwriters create an eclectic, beautiful score that is a perfect blend of rock, musical theater, and jazz. “Just A Penny” exceeds expectations, encapsulates the magic of theater, and reminds us that all we really need is a little hope, each other, and just a penny.