Shortly after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, and learning that one of our own former students at Gardiners Avenue Elementary School in Levittown, NY, Jack Merkouris, had lost his dad on the horrible morning, we had to reach out to let him and his family know that we were there for them. Although there was very little we could do to make anything better, the children in our school were determined to “something”. Together, with over fifty of our students and two very special teachers and great friends of mine, Jennifer O’Connell and Maureen Eagle, we decided that our third, fourth, and fifth graders would present to them the best musical production imaginable, and, upon its conclusion, present to them all the proceeds. It goes without saying, that there was no amount of money to make up for the tragedy that destroyed their world but we wanted them to know that they were in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers.
As the following September rolled around, we decided that we would make our musical production into an annual event, where each years proceeds would go to a charity of our school’s choice. By year number four, we had to limit our cast members to only fourth and forth graders, as we were well over one hundred and thirty kids wishing to participate.
I continued producing and directing these musical productions, when I transferred to Northside School (Also in Levittown), in 2008. In wasn’t until 2013 that I was informed that our musical productions had to cease operations. This was due to amount of time needed to test prep our students before and after school. Needless to say, I was extremely disheartened that the children in our school would no longer be able to “perform” in front of a live audience. Thankfully that all changed in the Spring of 2014, when the then PTA President, and very dear friend of mine, Susan Massoni, found a storefront on Center Lane in Levittown that would be a perfect spot to open up an acting studio. That was how Neighborhood Entertainment Arts & Theatre, Inc (AKA- NEAT Studio…Now NEAT KIDZ), was born!
Although the reason I started to put on Musical Productions and plays came from such a tragic event, so many amazing things have taken place in the lives of so many of the children in and around our community.
We are proud that NEAT KIDZ is a place that KIDS CAN SHINE!
With Sincere Gratitude,