When people imagine their ideal home, it might be a cottage at the seashore, a cabin in the mountains or perhaps a well-appointed apartment in a favorite city.
The founder and artistic director of Lighthouse Youth Theatre always had something very different in mind, though.
Leading an informal tour through Standing Ovation Studios in Armonk on a recent morning, John Fanelli clearly delights in showing off the features that fill his theatrical company’s new home, from the acting studio that replicates a cozy theater to the memorabilia-accented music and vocal rehearsal rooms to the light-filled, 1,800-square-foot dance studio complete with the requisite piano and wall of mirrors.
“This has always been my dream,” he says.
Fanelli, a professional in the arts for nearly 20 years, trains students in theater, music and dance. For the past seven years, his award-winning Lighthouse Youth Theatre was based in Thornwood. Now, he is building on that program’s success by expanding its scope as it settles into the state-of-the-art studios.
Like any “homeowner,” Fanelli has experienced the pains of outgrowing his original space, searching for something new – and then spearheading renovations, more than once.
Lighthouse’s first home in Thornwood was a basic space of 3,000 square feet.
“I went in and painted the walls,” Fanelli says of the quick settling in. “We outgrew that space in a year.”
So he moved the company to a space twice as big, after a bit of sprucing up. That was five years ago and when the lease was up, Fanelli decided it was time for a major move.
“We wanted to find a new space and build it,” he says. “This is it. This is home.”
The raw space was ideal for Fanelli’s designs.
“It was an old manufacturer, warehouse-type thing. We ripped everything out.”
One might not notice, but the Armonk space is actually not as large as Thornwood.
“It’s smaller – 4,700 square feet,” Fanelli says with a smile. “But every inch is designed for its purpose.”
That means the acting studio (“really my favorite room, because it’s my room,” he adds with a laugh) is complete with theater-style seating and the latest in lighting and video capabilities.
It’s a place where students can run scenes or do monologues, learn about lighting – and how to audition and critique, as they are encouraged to “give notes” to fellow students.
Cameras throughout the spaces allow parents to monitor their children’s classes as well.
Read more via WAG Magazine