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Alumni Spotlight

Joe Rammacca

1 . Who are you and what significant contributions have you made to the organization?

Joe Rammacca was an actor during his time with Chappell Players. He started being involved in Chappell Players during his junior year and stayed involved during his senior year. His first show was How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying Play. Joe graduated in 1982 with a psychology degree.

2. How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?

After St. John's, Joe went to Columbia Teachers College and graduated with a Master's in counseling and business psychology. He then moved down to Texas for a few years. He then moved to Baltimore to work for Johns Hopkins.

3. Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?

Being involved in Chappell Players is putting yourself out there. It provides you with self-confidence and the ability to perform. Being on stage is always anxiety-provoking. However, being in a play where you have to rehearse is preparation, which is a skill that you will always use in everyday life.

4. What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?

Joe's favorite memory from Chappell Players is his friends and relatives coming to support him. Friends were surprised that he would be on stage but found it cool. Another was being able to get out of his comfort zone. The people in Chappell Players were also kind and welcoming to new members

5. Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?

Joe's advice to those in college is to enjoy your time. It goes so quickly. Make sure to look back at fond memories. Stay in the moment and stay present.

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Josh Randhawa

1 . Who are you and what significant contributions have you made to the organization?

I’m Jon Randhawa.

As a freshman, I was prudently advised (and gratefully willing) to turn down my nomination for e-board VP to forgo the admin duties and focus on all the creative work I wanted to do; visual and conceptual elevation of the year’s programming… from publicity to production.
During the Age of the Desectors,(Designer-Directors) we had a double-stake between the performers and the production value of our shows, while teaching our underclassmen successors to also try to emphasize both.
I leveraged each new learning from my Advertising and Graphic Design degree to refresh the CPTG @ LT brand and partnered with student affairs, gaining the (literal) seal of approval to protect our print advertising from being taken down. We were able to strengthen our marketing efforts from guerilla chalk art and postcards to digital banners, finally appearing on the main page of the SJU web portal.
I introduced promotional “Free-atre” pricing and $3 Thursdays for students to fill the seats on opening nights.
After shows closed, I hosted house parties (and invited the cast) who got to socialize (and strategically network) with non-theatre kids… who ended up coming to see the next show.
My most notable contribution is the unfortunate legacy from naming my first and last alumni show… CABAROCK: The 11th Annual Cabaret for Charity (2009)

2. How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?

Real world was real rough bb. The Great Recession of 2009 led creative jobs to be cut across several companies.
I moved back in with my parents and waited tables in Chelsea to save up enough to move to Astoria. I took freelance design gigs … (for literally free) to keep my skills sharp and develop some post-grad portfolio work.
Actually, It was at that restaurant that I gave my resume to someone who would hire me to design and install the windows at Macy’s 34th Street in Herald Square. It launched my career in visual merchandising and retail design.

3. Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?

You know those post-grad freelance gigs? CPTG Alum Leeanne G-Bowley offered them to me. Those portfolio pieces? Photos of sets and collateral I designed for the Little Theatre. That “get it done” attitude, technical language and equipment etiquette? It made me fit right in with the artists and trades at Macy’s. CPTG Alum Bill Cusick taught that to us. Oh, and that apartment I moved into after waiting tables? It was with CPTG Alum Joe Cantalupo where APO Alums Brandon Collins and Nate Ashker were our neighbors. Later, Kenny Kruper would move in to the same place. The Chappell Players helped me build the net that would catch me after college and climb the rickety ladder to the rest of my life.

4. What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?

GRIMM.
More Specifically, GRIMM the Board Game.
( Vikki and Ashley remember — It was the week before tech week and we needed to run blocking, but couldn’t use the stage … so we huddled in the green room, drew the set on a piece of oak tag, cut out all the set pieces and props, played the music, and used our fingers to run the show. no. stops. )

5. Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?

I never wanted to pursue theatre “professionally” — I did, however, apply its complex skill-net to many an industry; creative discipline, process, execution, deadline, expectation... CPTG / APO / BFF Alum Olivia Hartle invited me to collaborate with her at BIG Theatre Company (see, we’re all really good at naming things) where I was her creative consultant and production designer.

7. Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?

Learn the rules and break the ones you can.
Hold each other accountable to a high set of standards.
Apply your learnings from the university to the work you are creating.
Hold onto your guts.
Overthink, and overdo; Someone will teach you to edit yourself later.
Keep making things. Everything is content.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the done.
Remember that execution is as important as ideation.

Find out what you’re good at and get better at it. Then find out what you’re bad at and make friends with the people that are great at it. Then get great at that too. Then impart to your friends what you know. This elevates your peers, increases the competition, and keeps you charged to constantly level up.

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Mike Wirsch

Who are you and what contributions have you made to the organization?

My name is Mike Wirsch, and I was involved with the Chappell Players Theatre Group throughout my four years at St. John’s. I performed in musicals, plays, cabarets, dance concerts, Bromidean projects, and opening week shows, and I have written and directed in the Little Theatre as well. From 2006–2007 I held the title of CPTG historian, which would explain the dearth of documentation from that season, and I was the Vice President of Alpha Psi Omega from 2008–2009. My class was the last to perform in the “old” Little Theatre before its renovation the summer of 2006, and I helped with the pre-renovation cleanup/tear-down. Back then, everything was so beige…

How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?

I graduated in 2009, which is referred to as “The Great Recession” by historians (good historians, not bad ones like me in 2006). I worked in a cafe at a contemporary art museum called Dia:Beacon for about a year, then I moved to South Korea to teach English on a gorgeous island called Jeju-do. I found the transition to living abroad more jarring than leaving college, but by leaving my comfort zone, I expanded my comfort zone.

Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?

The Chappell Players nurtures skills and sensibilities that can be parlayed into almost any facet of one’s life: stage presence, confidence, vocal projection, knowing what works in a performance, the ability to let go, having trust in the process, an appreciation for rehearsal and work ethic, social skills… you get the idea. As a teacher in South Korea, these skills helped me while standing in front of a room of thirty disinterested students. And they truly help everywhere.

Now for some schmaltz. Beyond practical skills, the relationships forged in the Little Theater might be more important. I met some of my best friends there. One in particular — Olivia Hartle — has been there for me since I met her eighteen years ago, and I am endlessly grateful for her friendship and help over the years.
Okay, schmaltz session over.

What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?

One that comes to mind is a scene in which I was supposed to threaten someone with a firearm. The prop gun was meant to be set under a couch, but when the time came for me to grab it, there was no gun. So we improvised the entire scene using a pillow instead of a pistol, with all the other actors being absolutely terrified of the “weapon” I brandished. The show was a comedy, so it worked — and the pillow was funnier!

Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?

Until the pandemic hit, yes! Living in New York affords ample opportunity to audition, take classes, and experience theater. And if there aren’t any shows you find interesting, you can create your own! I am an artistic associate of BIG Theater company, and we have been creating our own productions for over ten years now. The founders all met at St. John’s as Chappell Players — remember the schmaltzy thing about relationships built in the Little Theatre?

Now I am a father to a two-year-old, and have taken a small hiatus from performing. I am working on an animated short though, which scratches my artistic itch.

Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?

My advice is, if you want to work in theater, learn practical skills that extend beyond performance — stage managing, lighting design, sound design, etc. In the NYC theater scene, these are attractive skills, and people are more likely to pay for them. They open doors and can act as networking opportunities and on-ramps to productions, and while waiting tables is a fine way to pay rent, lighting a set or calling cues for a show might be closer to what a Chappell Player is looking for. I never learned to do any of that stuff, and looking back, I wish I had.

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Parker Young

-Who are you and what contributions have you made to the organization?

Hi there! My name is Parker Young and I was an active member Chappie from 2018 to 2020. During that time I acted in several shows, worked on multiple crews and served as the organization’s Treasurer for one year, followed by a year of being Chappell Players’ President.

- How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?

The transition into the “real world” was a unique one for me. Being apart of the class of 2020, the world was in a period of immense reform as we graduated school into the pandemic and as someone with a Film and TV degree, the industry wasn’t flooding with jobs to step into. However, I eventually secured a position in Los Angeles, moved and haven’t looked back! Life after graduation has been a wild rollercoaster of young adulthood, but it’s been incredible regardless.

- Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?

Yes! One of the major revelations about the work force is that most everything you do, is one giant group project. You inevitably will have to know how to work well with others, step up to the plate to troubleshoot problems that arise and ultimately pull your weight with whatever it is you’re working on. Chappell Player productions are a clear collaboration of many minds, but the high stress world of theater has made everything I’ve done outside of this realm seem like a cake walk.

- What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?

Though there are too many memories to list, I have to give a special mention to the cast of Boeing Boeing. The show was the straight play my freshman year and the very first show I ever did with Chappell Players. Wilbert Turner the third was generous enough to cast a total stranger and his really rough attempt at a southern accent. With a cast of only six, I got to be immersed in a show like never before and that show process solidified my path for the rest of my time at St. John’s. I knew then I was going to be a Chappie and make the most of every opportunity they provided. It would turn out to be a crucial moment in my college career and one that I will never forget.

- Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?

I am very happy to report I am still very much involved in theater. After a directorial debut during my senior year, I have gone on to direct musicals like Anything Goes and Something Rotten here in Southern California. However, I am most excited to have just cast a production of 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which happened to be the last show I ever performed in, at The Little Theater back in 2019. I am thrilled to be back at the bee!

- Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?

I think it is very easy to get bogged down by all of the things that life may throw at you, however it is important to not allow anything to dim your light. It is important to not only remind, but affirm oneself, that you are good, you are great, you are enough! It is so crucial to be kind to yourself and to others. The moment you start to lift up yourself and those around you, is when you’ll find karma starts to work in your favor more than before. Do not ever give up on yourself because your action packed, inspiring, one-of-kind journey has only just begun!

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Anna Fitzpatrick

- Who are you and what contributions have you made to the organization?

My name is Anna Fitzpatrick and I am an alumni of Chappell Players Theatre Group and Alpha Psi Omega! I graduated St. John’s in 2021 with my Bachelors Degree in Childhood Education with a Concentration in Psychology, and then again in 2022 with my Masters Degree in Special Education (thank you 5-year program!). Over my time at SJU, I have been lucky enough to be in 15 MainStage CPTG productions (and be involved in over 30 shows at SJU!). In 2018-2019, I also served on E-Board as Chappell Players’ Public Relations Officer! I am currently in my second year of teaching at a Queens Public Elementary School. I teach Self-Contained Special Education, in a 12:1 Bridge Class, grades 4 and 5.

- How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?

I feel like my transition to the “real-world” was kind of gradual, as I was still involved in the CPTG Musical Legally Blonde during my 5th year, due to the pandemic. Being in Grad School while Student Teaching during the day was challenging, but I still had friends involved in Theatre here, so I was happy to continue being in our shows. Upon graduating with my Masters, I was lucky enough to be hired for a full-time teaching position on the last day of the school year! I kind of had the summer to prepare myself mentally and let it sink in that I was really going to start “adulting”, especially since my job requires being in charge of many children for a majority of the year! This was daunting, but super exciting since it is something I’ve always wanted to do. My first year was very challenging, as I was teaching 3 grades at a time in a Self-Contained class, without a paraprofessional, co-teacher, or any sort of assistance. With all that I was able to accomplish last year, I realized that if I was able to do that- I feel like I can do anything! Despite how busy I was after the school day- staying late at work to set up and decorate my classroom to make it special and comforting for my students, and then coming home to do hours of lesson-planning, I knew that I did not want to give up on my passion of performing. I decided to audition for Cabaret and APO’s Dance Concert- two shows that I’ve loved being a part of each year since my Freshman Year. Everyone thought that I was crazy, that there simply wasn’t any room on my plate or time in my day for any other commitments. And despite the monthly breakdown I would have from exhaustion, I was able to do it, and I have zero regrets! It’s something I explain to my students, you should never give up on your dreams. If there is something that you love in life, you will be able to make time for it no matter what, and that goes for many things! I believe I’ve inspired them with my determination and passion both inside and outside of work, and I will continue to do so for as long as I am able! This year I have an amazing group of students, and I feel like I’m really getting into the groove of things as far as lesson planning and time management, so I feel a lot more comfortable. Teaching is definitely my calling, and despite the challenges that come with the job, I feel so lucky to be in such a rewarding and meaningful profession. I’m proud of the transition I was able to make.

- Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?

Chappell Players has definitely taught me a lot of skills that I take with me in my daily life! Teaching is almost like performing, in the sense that you are always “on”. I need to have constant energy to get up in front of a room and teach the most engaging lesson possible, every day, no matter what is going on in the school or my personal life. You also have to juggle a million things going on, and going WRONG at once- it kind of feels like every week is Tech Week, haha! WHEN something doesn’t go as planned, you need to be quick on your feet to adjust and make the best of your situation, which is definitely a skill I’ve learned from being on stage. Chappell Players’ E-board also taught me a lot about planning/coordination and cooperation. It helped me learn to work well and problem solve with my peers, and now my fellow teachers, because at the end of the day, we put in all this work towards something we love, whether that be Theatre or my students. I also think that having to balance a crazy rehearsal schedule with my college courses taught me invaluable time management skills, and I still thrive on being “go, go, go!” all the time, to this day! Thanks CPTG!

- What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?

I think I have too many incredible memories to count with every amazing friend I’ve made here over the years; Chappell Players is the reason that College was the best time of my life! As far as Performances, I have to shout-out the role that started it all my Freshman year- Pugsley in The Addams Family! I think that was the best show and cast the Little Theatre has seen, and if only I knew the crazy whirlwind that was about to follow afterwards, thanks to one little audition! I also loved getting to be ridiculously silly and put on a crazy accent while playing Smee in Peter and the StarCatcher. And who wouldn’t dream of being in Legally Blonde!? Margot was another incredible role I was lucky enough to experience; each cast and show is so special and holds a place in my heart.

- Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?

This year I was actually hired to Direct my Elementary School’s Musical, Moana Jr. , alongside our school Drama Teacher! I have never directed a production before, but it is something that I am so excited to put all of my theatre experience and advice towards helping young children find a passion for this field! Rehearsals have begun and we have an adorably talented cast who is eager to perform this coming April! It is so rewarding to get to see the students I work with on a daily basis find their passion, and really let loose while finding themselves and building that self-confidence after school. Although it is going to be a lot of work, it makes me so happy to still be involved in Theatre in some way(and for once, get paid for it, haha!) And like I said, since I love having a busy schedule, I’m lucky enough to be cast in 10 dances in the upcoming 2024 APO Dance Concert!! I’m so grateful to still get opportunities to perform at St. John’s, because it really is what I love to do and live for! I was able to stay involved with singing at SJU too, as I was hired to sing the National Anthem at several Red Storm Basketball games, as well as many Graduation Ceremonies, so that was an incredible honor! As far as Musical Theatre, I really miss getting to be part of a musical myself, so I plan on auditioning for some sort of Community Theatre while I have my summers off from work (let me know if anyone has any recommendations, haha!) There truly is nothing like the rush of getting up there and pouring your heart out to an audience who gets to relax and forget about life for 2 hours. It is truly an incredible feeling that I hope to find ways to keep experiencing in my life so, fingers crossed!

- Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?

My advice is to be grateful, and be as involved as possible! You don’t want to regret not having put yourself out there or tried enough new experiences. Time goes faster than you’d think when you’re having fun, and these can be some of the best years if you appreciate what and who is right in front of you! I just recently had to talk a little girl out of quitting our production because she didn’t get the lead role. Been there! Like I said to her, there are no small parts, only small actors. True talent will allow you to shine wherever you are on the stage, so even if you are Tree #2 from the left, you make the best of it! Opportunities are always around the corner for those who work hard and everything happens for a reason, so try out for that show! The friendships you make alone, are worth always being involved. I couldn’t be more grateful to be in such a wonderful organization that allowed me to bloom and flourish throughout College, as well as meet the greatest friend group in the world, and the absolute love of my life! Thanks for the Memories, and Break a Leg Y’all, it’s showtime!

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Michael Carrick

As featured in the December 2023 newsletter

Who are you and what contributions have you made to the organization?​
My name is Michael Carrick and I graduated from St. John's in 2017 with a degree in Advertising Communications, B.S.. I was a 4-year member of the Chappell Players where I was a self-taught lighting designer. I always felt most comfortable behind-the-scenes and I was happiest hanging fixture high atop a ladder or programming the light board. I spent countless hours in the Little Theatre during my time at St. John's and contributed as a designer or assistant designer in 10+ CPTG shows (plus a few Dance Concerts for APO).

- How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?
Fortunately, the student to real world transition was pretty seamless for me. I stepped into an advertising position at Horizon Media in NYC right after graduation and I still work there today.

- Did being involved in Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?
It did! While I didn't pursue theatre as a career, being a Chappell Player helped me with time-management and organizational skills. Tech Week for any show will definitely teach you the importance of deadlines.


- What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?
In the fall semester of my sophomore year, I was the assistant Lighting designer and light board operator during CPTG's presentation of In the Heights. the run of this show was extra special for me because I was introduced to the freshman assistant sound designer named Brooke Fruth. Brooke and I have been inseparable since the run of that show over 9 years ago. We got married in 2022 and she's Brooke Carrick now! We may have never met if we weren't Chappell Players. I have made amazing lifelong connections because of this group. CPTG has always has the best folks join.

- Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?
Theatre was always a hobby for me; I knew I wasn't going to pursue it as a career. That said, I keep myself involved by supporting local theatre and admiring the work that goes into productions of any size. I do hope I get the opportunity to get behind a light board again at some point.

- Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?
Remember that everyone's path is different. Chase success at your own pace and don't compare your timeline to anybody else's.

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Danielle Urban

As featured in the November 2023 newsletter

- Who are you and what contributions have you made to the organization?
My name is Danielle Urban and I graduated from St. John’s University in 2022. I am currently the marketing coordinator for an ad sales company in New York City. I served on the executive board for Alpha Psi Omega in 2020-2021 as Induction Chair and 2021-2022 as Vice President. I was involved in many productions between both organizations, most notably being the Assistant Director of Peter and the Starcatcher, CabaCircus, and Legally Blonde, writing and directing four shows for Alpha Psi Omega’s Evening of One Acts, and acting in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors and King Lear.


- How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?
The transition from college to the real world wasn’t simple. There were a lot of moving parts after graduation both in the professional world, in my social life, and my personal life. I got a job as a national campaign manager right out of college, and I started a week after graduating from St. John’s. So, I didn’t really give myself a break between the hectic energy of college and trying to learn how to be a full-time working adult at the same time. I think if my work transition had been harder it would have been worse, but I am very grateful to have been put on a wonderful team with people a little bit older than me where we were all just trying to figure out life. It made me feel less alone as I was trying to navigate and gave me another perspective as my coworkers all had various backgrounds and ideas. I, also, left college with three things I wanted to do for myself outside of work which was to still build on my relationships with friends and family while also learning to be okay with doing things alone, have a consistent workout routine that I enjoy, and travel more. I am very happy to say I was able to accomplish and am still working towards all of those. I am always working to improve myself and my relationships, I was able to find a routine I love that involves working out regularly, and I was able to travel 3 times in 2023, and I hope to travel at least 2-3 times in 2024 as well.


- Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?
Being involved in Chappell Players prepared me for life after college. It taught me a lot about how to work with different people, especially people who have different work styles than I do. Also, it taught me how to work under pressure and think on my toes as well. There’s a lot of moving parts in theatre and at any minute one of them can go wrong, so being able to pivot has really helped me in my job today. I cover a lot of different tasks that are all very different so being able to smoothly switch from doing one task to another is something I really learned from theatre. I think Chappell Players also taught me how to combine the technical and creative side of things, I was fortunate enough to learn from multiple different areas in the theatre, and I think it definitely helps me today where I spend a lot of time working out the “what do we want to do?” and “okay, how do we do this with what we’re given?” It’s something I have to do a lot at my job, and I’m grateful that I was able to hone that skill before I was in the professional world.


- What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?
My favorite CPTG memory is assistant directing Peter and the Starcatcher. I was really nervous to even try my hand on the director’s side of things, but I was super excited for a new experience. Parker Young was the director of the show and he was a great leader in being able to bring his vision for the show to life while also listening to input from myself and other members of production. The cast were all so amazingly talented and had so much fun, that it made the show that much more magical. It was also the last show that was put on by Chappell Players before COVID sent us home that year, so it holds a special place in my heart, as like the start of me wanting to get more into directing.


- Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?
I have been able to remain in the theatre world, but more so from a viewer. I was able to be a part of Alpha Psi Omega’s production of King Lear in December 2022, which was an amazing experience to be involved in for me. Outside of that, my involvement in theatre has been a combination of seeing Broadway shows and supporting my friends when I can come back to see CPTG and APO shows. My office is in Times Square so when I can see shows after work I will usually enter some Broadway lotteries and see if I can get lucky enough to win, or I’ll make plans with a friend or two to see a show on a certain day.


- Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?
Some advice I have for Chappell Players going through college is to remember that you are a student first, go to your classes, do your homework, sometimes half the battle is just showing up. I know balancing everything you have to do as students is hard, but we all are at college to get our degree, and that is what is important. On another note, my other piece of advice is to still have fun and be yourself, there will always be drama and different things going around so stick to who you are, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, but don’t let the pressure of what’s going on get too in your head because it is not that deep 90% of the time.

My advice for those who have recently graduated is to go explore whatever and wherever you want to, try new things because this is the time to do it. I have been told over and over again by my older coworkers that they wish they did more when they were in their 20s, so even if it feels like it’s not the time, and even if it’s the little things first, try the things you want to. I promise you that time never slows down and if you're not trying or preparing to do something different or new, time will eventually get the better of you. So, do what you have to do to get by, but also don't let life pass you by.

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Laura-Jean (LJ) Noel

As featured in the October 2023 newsletter

- Who are you and what contributions have you made to the organization?
Hi! My name is currently Laura-Jean (L.J.) Noel. My maiden name was Laura-Jean (L.J.) Kearney. I attended SJU from 1981 through 1985. I was a Chappell Player from 1982 to 1985, and served as the Historian on the Board in 1985. I participated in many main stage productions as a Chappell Player (GIRL CRAZY, THE SCARECROW, 13 RUE DE L'AMOUR, THE BUTLER DID IT, THE MIRACLE WORKER, CARNIVAL, and BARNUM) as well as the One Act Festivals and cabaret nights at the Rathskeller (former on campus bar that no longer exists). I was also one of the first honorees for the Hall of Fame for Chappell Players in 2015 (as L.J. Stevens).

- How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?
Honestly, the transition was tough as my mother passed away suddenly just one month after graduation. I will always cherish the memory of seeing how proud she was at my graduation ceremony. It took some time to gain my footing after that. I would advise anyone who just graduated or will be graduating soon to give yourself some grace. Don't pressure yourself with regard to who you think you should be right after graduation.

- Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?
Yes! Actually, it prepared me in many ways. My vast experience includes working as a professional Talent Agent and Casting director in the film, television and voice-over industry for many years. After that I was tapped by the City of Moorpark (in California, where I have lived since 1991) to start a Cultural Arts Center as the first General Manager and Artistic Director of the High Street Arts Center for 5 years. My experience with Chappell Players taught me a great deal about the cooperative nature of theatre, how to market and grow an audience, budgeting skills, how to put together a killer team (production or otherwise), and most importantly how to lead with grace and efficiency. These skills have followed me into many different industries throughout my life.

- What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?
I was very blessed to perform many times with my brother, John C. Kearney (class of '87), and any performance with him continues to be my favourite! I especially loved working on BARNUM. We circus trained for months, learning from a former Barnum and Bailey certified clown. We learned great skills skills such as juggling, tight pipe walking, magic tricks, stilt walking, beaver runs and gymnastic stunts (2 man tumbling and how to stand on someone's shoulder while juggling!). We created our own magical world with a great deal of hard work and saw that work pay off. I loved that production so much that BARNUM was the first show I produced at the High Street Arts Center!
My most favourite memory as a Chappell Player has to be what I call "the missing pants" incident during 13 RUE DE L'AMOUR. I played Marie, the French maid who brings on and takes off all the major props for the show. This show is a funny bedroom farce filled with slamming doors, mistaken identities and husband/wives/lovers trying to catch each other. Well, someone moved the most important prop of the show: the pants that had a most incriminating love letter in the pocket. I was forced to enter the stage without the all important pants! The look of panic on the actor's face when he asked me for the pants, and I had to admit (in my little French accent) that I could not find them. Brilliantly, the actor playing the husband "fired" me on the spot and told me to find the pants before I leave. In character I burst into wails and ran off stage. I finally found the pants (never touch another person's props!) and returned to stage simpering with them. The actor took the pants from me and I began to wail again as I exited. Throughout the rest of the play my character could be heard whimpering and crying at appropriate intervals, while the action would stop and the actors all looked offstage in the direction I exited. I loved that we all carried that bit throughout the rest of the show, and I actually got a standing ovation for it!

- Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?
I have indeed! I have been on the Board of Directors for many local theatre companies in and around Southern California. I have been involved with many wonderful theaters such as the Geffen Playhouse and Pasadena Playhouse. I still get a chance to perform as well! My latest role was as Marina Timofeevna at the Santa Paula Theater Center directed by the incomparable David Ralphe (formerly of Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Valley, PA).

- Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?
Stay in touch with each other. I am blessed that I continue to enjoy 40 years of friendships with several former Chappell Players. These are the most formative years, and wherever the future takes you these are the people and relationships that you will never forget, that you will cherish, and that will remind you of who you truly are. The work you will or have done as a Chappell Player will teach you so much about leadership, teamwork, public speaking, and out of the box thinking. These skills will be worth their weight in gold as you make your way in the world. It's not about being a "star"... it's about being part of a team. I have lived my life with "yes, and..." as my mantra. And that has made all the difference.

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​Dr. Peter Pantina

As featured in the September 2023 newsletter

- Who are you and what significant contributions have you made to the organization?
I am Dr. Peter Pantina, an Adjunct Professor in St. John’s College. This fall, I am teaching the First Year Seminar in Theatre for incoming students. I have been teaching at St. John’s for a little over 20 years, and have taught Discover New York Theatre, Public Speaking, Global Literature, and several other courses. Prior to my teaching at St. John’s, I was a high school administrator, English teacher, drama teacher, and play director.
Of course, I was a student several decades ago. In my years at St. John’s, I acted in every one of our productions. We did serious plays in the old days—Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Brecht’s Mother Courage, to name a few. Since returning to the university as a professor, I have attended many Chappell Players’ productions, especially to support my students who acted in them or worked backstage. One year, several of my students were officers. They invited me to the CP dinner, and we had a great time!

- How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?
Immediately after college, I was fortunate to secure a wonderful teaching job at Carle Place High School, teaching Drama, English, and Public Speaking. In my time there, I directed 30 plays and musicals. Some examples are: The Crucible, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Twelfth Night (plays) and Pippin, Oklahoma, and Cabaret (musicals).

- Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?
Without a doubt, my involvement in Chappell Players was the single most important influence in my teaching life. It gave me the confidence to direct plays and musicals, which was to me, the most significant aspect of my work with high school kids! It also gave me the courage to explore work in professional theatre, working on production teams of award shows (such as the TONY Awards) and other events, as well as doing background work in film and TV. I am a proud SAG member!

- What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?
My favorite Chappell Player role was that of Feste in Twelfth Night! I loved the Shakespearean dialogue, the ensemble acting, and the wonderful feeling of accomplishment. By the way, in those days, beards were not permitted on campus, so to grow a beard for the play, I had to get a “beard pass” from the dean to show to security!

- Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?
I don’t think it’s possible to be too involved in theatre. Nevertheless, I have been able to be a background artist as a SAG member. I have appeared in Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock, Rescue Me, and other shows.. I've worked on production teams of many, many award shows. I've been a theatre teacher and director, and even a playwright. I have written and produced several plays including Frank and Franklin, a Presidential Comedy, and a musical Evangeline, both at Adelphi. At the present time, I am working on two plays which I hope to produce in the next year. My play A Day in Moscow/A Night in Ukraine centers on a Russian soldier’s experience in the Ukraine war.

- Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?
My advice to Chappell Players and recent alum is: no matter what you do in life, keep theatre in your heart and find time for theatre! Also, there are innumerable opportunities in New York stage, TV, and film. Find the confidence and courage to work in theatre

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Karen Giovanniello

As featured in the August 2023 newsletter

- Who are you and what significant contributions have you made to the organization?
My name is Karen Giovanniello and I was a member of the Chappell Players from Spring 1999 through 2002. I was a cast member in Little Shop of Horrors (one of the three singing narrators), Grease (Patty Simcox), Arsenic and Old Lace (Abby Brewster), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Helena), as well as being involved in other student productions and charity events.

- How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?
St. John's has prepared me well for the real world. I have years of experience working in the mortgage banking industry, went to graduate school and earned my MBA in Finance, and am currently working at St. John's University as Senior Grants Analyst in the Office of Grants and Sponsored Research.

- Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?
Being involved in the Chappell Players definitely influenced my life. I met my husband through my involvement in Chappell Players. I was performing in Little Shop of Horrors and my husband was an audience member to cheer on his friend Don. My husband and I were married in 2005 and we have a 13-year-old son. Being involved enhances so many skills such as time management, organization, teamwork, and communication. It builds courage and confidence and gives you the chance to meet many amazing people.

- What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?
I love them all but my favorite is Little Shop of Horrors. I love the feeling of an entire audience bursting out in laughter as a result of a line delivery. I think it is one of the best feelings in the world.

- Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?
I love living close to NYC and I try to take my son to as many Broadway shows and St. John's Chappell Players shows that we can get to.

- Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?
Definitely take advantage of the chances to be involved in Chappell Players, Mixed Chorus, and all of the other great organizations at St. John's. You meet so many amazing people, increase your skills, and make great memories!

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​Allyssa DiNetta

As featured in the July 2023 newsletter

- Who are you and what significant contributions have you made to the organization?
I am Allyssa DiNetta and I was involved with Chappell Players from 2013 to 2017. I performed in their staged reading Man of all seasons and a couple of other shows. I also helped to do sound, spotlight and assistant choreographer for a production.

- How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?
It was fine. I did gig work as a freelance videographer for a while. I changed what I wanted to do and now I am back in school getting my MBA with a concentration in Healthcare administration.

- Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?
I learned how to work with a team to achieve something great.

- What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?
I think my favorite show was Miscast annual 17th Cabaret for Charity. The premise was the cast all switched bodies but did the same performance. So, boys sang the girl's songs and girls sang the boy's songs. I played the angry stage manager and it was a lot of fun. My favorite part was singing back up to I Put A Spell On You from Hocus Pocus. I got to have a lot of fun witch cackling in that.

- Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?
Yes, I have leaned toward more nontraditional routes such as doing rocky horror, performing in Renascence fair, and aerial hoop performance. I even did a paid gig called last fall called Revisionist. It is like a walking play and I've been asked back so I plan to do it again. I am also appearing in one soon in July.

- Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?
You never know where life will take you and it’s best to never be too rigid because you never know what might happen. Also, do what makes you happy.

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Nicole Petrick

As featured in the June 2023 newsletter

- Who are you and what significant contributions have you made to the organization?
I am a proud alumnus from the Class of 2022, a former Chappell Player, and a member of Alpha Psi Omega's Tree of Power. While a member of Chappell Players, I served on the Executive Board for 3 years in the positions of Secretary, President, and E-Board Assistant; I was also an avid Stage Manager and Lighting Team Member. During my time, I was the only SM to have Stage Managed, at one point or another, each of our season's 4 shows (Children's Show, Cabaret, Straight Show, and the Musical). I also earned the "Best Stage Manager Award" every year I was eligible.
I would say my most significant contributions were from my time on E-Board. My sophomore year, we did a massive overhaul of the constitution and collectively made 15 + changes to more accurately reflect how our organization ran *Shoutout to Parker Young, Angelica Cieslak, Kristin Camacho, Sheila Kiernan, and Ben Davis* We also started the "Class Representatives" initiative and I was the first Junior Representative. Aside from that, we created the Strike Policy which I believe is still in use. The following year, I led the group through COVID and an all-remote season. The year after I led them out of COVID. Overall, I did a lot of behind-the-scenes work to facilitate a smoother-running organization... but I won't bore you with all that.

- How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation? Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?
After graduating, I began working full-time as a Corporate Security Analyst for First Republic Bank. There was certainly some adjusting I had to do when entering the real world. I soon realized that my free time became almost nonexistent. I had to make a conscious effort to seek out and keep in my life the activities that inspire and excite me. I learned that it takes a lot more effort to keep up with your friends when you aren't seeing them every day. It's difficult transitioning from living on-campus with all your buddies to living a state away and only seeing them on weekends.
With that being said, Chappell Players did a lot to prepare me for my current job and life after college. For one thing, it taught me how to work with people and, as a security professional in the private sector, I work in the people industry. Theater made me a skillful communicator and collaborator. After years of working with many big personalities both on and off the stage, it was easy for me to navigate the many personalities found in my office. In the real world, it is important to be able to work with whoever walks through the door. Every day, I utilize my E-Board skills on the job to refine enterprise-wide policies & procedures, create forms & templates, and voice my ideas to higher-ups. The soft skills you learn here will get you very far. In fact, during the interview for my current position, I drew upon CPTG experiences to discuss examples of multitasking in high-pressure circumstances and calmly handling escalated situations.

- What is your favorite CPTG memory or performance?
My favorite Chappell Players memory occurred my freshmen year. During Spelling Bee, I was ALD under the creative genius of Joe Cantalupo. Anthony Starvaggi was the stage manager. I remember sitting behind Joe and Anthony who were seated at the tech table. Coming from a background in stage management, I remember watching Anthony and thinking 'Wow I want to do that one day'. Fast forward 6 months and it's the Children's Show, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now, *I* am seated at the tech table with Joe Cantalupo next to me and Anthony Starvaggi is behind us as ALD. It was a very full circle moment even though my time with CPTG had only just begun.
Since its hard picking just one memory, here are my honorable mentions:
Producing Peter and the Starcatcher. The show was absolutely enchanting!
The Laramie Project (2020). Although it was a very difficult process for everyone since it occurred during COVID, I am extremely proud of the content we produced. We essentially made a full-length movie in less than 2 months... and boy did it turn out well!
Last but not least, every time I've had to go dumpster diving during strike has been a uniquely memorable and jovial experience. My first time was during Spelling Bee (2018) when we threw everything in the wrong dumpster...

- Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?
Yes, I am as involved in theater as I had wanted to be but not in the way I would have most liked. I have dabbled in Set Design for AfterWorkTheater, a community theater based in the East Village and I currently work as an Administrative Assistant for Vanguard Theater Company, a professional theater based in Montclair, NJ. While I do enjoy Arts Administration, I would love to start stage managing again. Unfortunately, that is a very demanding role and I haven't found a way to fit it back into my schedule - however, I do have hope!


- Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have recently graduated?
My advice is:
Never make it awkward to walk into a room where someone else is present. If your actions are going to make it awkward for you to work with someone later, think twice before doing it. The theater community is small and there's no point in burning bridges without a good reason. In many cases, you'll be around the same people for the next 3 or 4 years.
Give yourself and others grace. No one is perfect.
While you are in school, learn to compartmentalize your relationships. You can be friends with someone both personally and professionally. Being able to separate the two relationships is a valuable skill. Don't take personally what they did professionally.
The effort you put into the organization is what you will get out of it. If you want to learn more, ask.
Don't burn yourself out. There will always be another show. If you need a break, take one. You'll enjoy the next show so much more if you recharge.

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