The Scranton Cultural Center and the Broadway Theatre League of NEPA gave season ticket holders a chance to take their seat for a test drive last week.
The Cultural Center hosted "Test Drive Your Seat" on Monday, Sept. 10. Patrons had the chance to walk through the theater, see where their seats were going to be for the 2012-13 season and take a tour of the building.
Broadway Theatre League staff members were on hand to answer any questions on the season, as was West Scranton High School graduate, and one of the stars of the Broadway Theatre League's opening show, "West Side Story," Theo Lencicki.
Lencicki, who plays Riff, the leader of the Jets, in the play that runs from Nov. 2 through 4, had a few days off before rehearsals begin for "West Side Story" and was asked by the Theatre League to be a part of the open house.
"We thought it would be nice for people to come and meet him, add a little spice to the afternoon," said Tony Nicosia, executive director of the Broadway Theatre League of NEPA.
Lencicki said he jumped at the chance to help promote the upcoming season, as it gave him an excuse to come back to his hometown.
"I love coming back home. If I'm not in the city or doing a show, it's always nice to come back and see the old friends and stay at my house, and help out and promote anything. Clearly I love the hometown crowd. It's great to come back," said Lencicki.
A graduate of Penn State University, where he studied theater and dance, Lencicki currently resides in New York City, when he's not on the road traveling with a show.
"I never thought I would travel as much as I have," said Lencicki. "Last summer I was in Japan with the international tour of ‘A Chorus Line,' so I've been to South America, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Alaska, all over the place."
"The first thing I did actually, when I graduated, was dance on a cruise ship in South America for seven, eight months. It was sort of crazy that that was the first experience. I went to one of my first New York auditions, and they said, ‘Do you want to go to South America?' and I said, ‘Sure, when?' It was a great experience to have, but I didn't even have a passport. I didn't have anything…but when an opportunity like that comes, you can't pass it up."
Lencicki gives some of the credit, with his even having a shot at these opportunities, to a strong group of educators who helped foster and nurture his talent and a love for musical theater.
"(West Scranton High School's) Annette Palutis… the first musical I ever did was ‘South Pacific' my freshman year, and that just sort of opened my eyes to the whole world of musical theater. And, from there, when I went to the Arts Alive program as a student it was Dr. Catherine Richmond-Cullen from the NEIU, who runs that program, as well as Joanne Arduino, Nancy Hasty…all those women have really opened my eyes to the opportunities that can lead from being in the performing arts," said Lencicki.
Understanding what having a group of good teachers did for him is making Lencicki think about a possible career change somewhere down the road, so he can do for students what those women did for him.
"I think, ultimately, I've been involved with the Arts Alive program here in Scranton, and was able to teach, and teaching to me is the ultimate goal," said Lencicki. "I like to promote the arts and bring the arts to kids who may not normally have that opportunity, and it just gives me that high that I don't find from anywhere else, aside from being on the stage.
"I think ultimately, after a couple years of performing…I definitely want to go back to grad school for directing and choreography and either be at a university level or even a high school level just promoting the arts and being an insight into the business to a younger generation."
While it is an admirable goal, fans of Lencicki's can rest easy in knowing that it's a few years down the road, and it definitely won't happen until after he opens The Broadway Theatre League's season in "West Side Story."
"My dad always says, ‘It's perfect. You're from West Side and it's the ‘West Side Story.' It's great, it's a great homecoming,' And, yeah it is," said Lencicki.
Lencicki has had the opportunity to perform at the Scranton Cultural Center before, coming home twice, once in 2010 with "Hairspray" and again last season with "Young Frankenstein." And, while it might not be as exotic as some of the other locations he has been to, he said he's always more than happy to take the stage in Scranton.
"It's crazy, especially with the media of today like Facebook… email and texting, I feel like (once) somebody finds out the show is coming through, the outpouring of support from everybody who used to know me through school or church is great, it's just great… the support that the people show is awesome."
The Broadway Theatre League actually booked the show prior to Lencicki even auditioning; when they found out he had earned a spot in the cast, it made the opening night show that much more special.
"It's always good to have a local boy in the show in a touring company. It makes it all the more exciting," said Nicosia.
Other shows on the schedule for this year include, "The Adams Family," "The Midtown Men," "Peter Pan," "Dreamgirls," "Stomp" and "Hair.'
For more information on this year's season or to purchase tickets, call 342.7784 or visit www.broadwayscranton.com.