Sensations return to Disney World

By Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

First impressions mean a lot and it's good to be remembered. That's what got the Stage Right Sensations their second booking at Walt Disney World, in Florida, where on Monday they performed at Epcot Center for the theme park's Magical Music Day.

Two years ago, the Greensburg-based performing arts company got the gig the first time they tried. This year when they applied, that memory lingered on.

"The people at Disney said they were so impressed last time that they're looking forward to us coming back," Stage Right artistic director Tony Marino said before they left for Florida. "They are very selective about who they pick because they have to be of high quality and live up to the standards of Disney entertainment."

Stage Right was founded about seven years ago, and the theater company and the Sensations were created two years later. The Sensations includes 45 performers from 8 to 18 years old, with 12 teens in the Select Sensations.

"This is one of the biggest groups to ever perform at Disney World," Marino said. "They usually have groups of about 20 to 25."

The Sensations performed a medley of Disney songs and then have the remaining days, until their return on Thursday, to have fun at the park and to attend a one-day workshop.

"Last time, we did a choreography and vocal workshop and the kids were so wonderful that we were asked if they could tape them in this workshop to use as a promotional," Marino said.

Members of the Sensations raised money to pay for their trip, and John Noble, of Greensburg, who has children in Stage Right, sponsored Atilla Yuessel, a foreign exchange student who studied with Stage Right and was in the recent production of "Les Miserables." He is returning to Germany next week.

"The kids just loved Atilla, and he's going along with us as a roadie so he can have the experience at Disney World," Marino said.

The trip also included a number of parents, musical director Hazel Braun, and Marino's wife Renata, who is the company's choreographer.

The Stage Right Sensations appear at many local events, including church festivals, the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival at Twin Lakes Park, at St. Clair Park in Greensburg, and at Idlewild Park, near Ligonier.

Four members of the group have graduated from high school and will study theater arts in college. Annie Brady is in the theater program at Seton Hill University, Brian Karcher is in Clarion University's theater and communications program and Jaimie Gensamer will study theater at Kent State. "Tara Geisler is one of only eight girls selected from the entire country for Penn State's musical theater program, which is a pretty big deal," Marino said. "This trip to Disney World is a really neat way for the four of them to sign off, and it's a tremendous outreach for all the members' talent. This will be a really great summer for everyone."