By Michael Tessler
What is a community without theatre? Theatre brings us comfort, joy, a sense of wonder, togetherness, and an appreciation for life. For children, especially those lucky enough to find themselves on stage, it is a great escape and a wonderful place to learn about humanity and its many expressions. It is a safe way to learn and explore. For theatre kids like me, it is a home away from home and the place you can truly feel most like yourself.
For so many children in our community, the Performing Arts Studio (PAS) of New York at 224 East Main Street in Port Jefferson is the beating heart of our hometown. Mayor Margot Garant has called it a “hidden gem.” Right now, this incredible staple of our village is in need of our help.
For 25 years, a dynamic trio who has brought music, laughter, tears, and every imaginable expression of the arts to a small but magical theatre in Port Jefferson. They are a gift to this community. Deborah and Michael Livering and Terri Morrissey were some of the first people to ever believe in me. They are true professionals. Class acts who have impeccable talent and have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping young performers find themselves and immerse themselves in all the wonder and adventure theatre has to offer.
This small studio is unique. Its black box stage is cozy but limitless. Countless children have spent their days after school and summer breaks discovering themselves and the magic of the arts. This is a place where lifelong friends are made. I would know; even two decades later and my old cast members still feel like family.
Times Beacon Record News Media has been the beneficiary of PAS’ great talent as well; our paper’s first original film One Life to Give and its sequel, Traitor, featured several veteran actors trained at PAS including Dave Morrissey, Jr. and Max Golub.
A veteran of Broadway, Deborah Livering has taken her remarkable voice and talent and used it to uplift a new generation of performers. Her husband Michael is a master of the keyboard and Miss Terri is the most beautiful and pure soul you’ll ever meet — the lessons she’s taught me and countless other children have guided us through life and endure long after curtain call.
PAS has been closed due to COVID-19 since March of 2020 and forced to downsize. The show must go on and our friends at PAS need our help. They’ve launched a GoFundMe with plans to reopen in September and the community has already been pouring in with words of encouragement and much needed donations.
Theatre isn’t just great entertainment. It is the embodiment of community — countless individuals coming together to make something truly magical. Let’s help make sure live theatre makes a roaring comeback in Port Jefferson. You can support PAS by donating at https://gofund.me/89cc325e.
I’d also strongly encourage you to visit my dear friend Jeffrey Sanzel and the amazing folks at Theatre Three as they return to live shows. How blessed we are as a community to have stages filled with so much love and endless talent. Tickets are on sale now!
Michael Tessler is a film and television producer living in Los Angeles. He previously served as Director of Media Productions for TBR News Media and is a proud PAS alum.