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Eastchester Teens Present Cinderella

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. -- Eastchester resident Dana Celestino, 19, will be living her dream next weekend.

"Every little girl dreams about being Cinderella," Celestino said. "I just can't wait to see my costume."

Celestino will play the title role in the Eastchester Summer Theatre production of Cinderella.

The play will be part of an evening of theater and dinner held in the Crystal Room at Lake Isle on August 12 and 13. There are still tickets left for both performances which begin at 5 p.m.

Tuckahoe High School student, Chris Ushay,16, will play Prince Charming.

"It's my first year doing summer theatre," he said. But Ushay said he has grown in around musical theater and can't wait to get on stage.

"It feels good to make the transition from the audience to the stage," he said.

Celestino is a seven year veteran of the program and played the lead in Music Man last summer.

Celestino said she can't wait to embrace her character.

"I really want to make her a person not just a cartoon," she said.

Celestino and Ushay are two of about 85 kids who will be actors, chorus members, orchestra and technical staff for the production

But to Bunny Rappaport who has been running the theatre program since it began in 1985, they are all just "her kids."

Rappaport said the program all began with a cocktail party back in the early 1980s. "I was at this party and I was asked what I thought the town needed," she recalled. "I responded that I thought the town needed a program for teens."

Before she knew it, Rappaport became part of a committee to explore and create activites for teens.

"I wound up giving up my interior design shop, "Lapin Interiors," which was right near the Eastchester Diner, went back to school to get a degree in adolescent psychology and got a job working of the town, running a recreation program for teens.

Rappaport said in her early years, she tried different programs, but it was the theater group that blossomed.

"Our first year, we had 25 kids, our second year we had 60 kids now we have an average of 85 kids, but no one ever gets turned away," she said. "We find a room and a place for everyone who wants to be with us."

The program is six weeks long, and there is no fee for any of the participants. Those involved must live in Eastchester, Tuckahoe or Bronxville and be between the ages of 13 and 22.

"I get to keep them through college," Rappaport said.

Rappaport said that she would not be able to do what she does without the help of her daughter Susan, and a whole host of staff who help her put the show together.

"It's a labor of love, but one I love doing every summer," she said.

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