Little Chester County theater gets big star-powered boost

Tina Fey
Tina Fey
Posted: October 04, 2012

A fledgling theater group in Chester County has landed a bit of big-time help from showbiz dynamo Tina Fey.

The Upper Darby High grad turned TV and film star filmed a surprise unpaid pitch for Facetime Community Theatre, a Phoenixville nonprofit that offered its first program this summer - a theater camp for children.

"Hi, I'm domestic television personality Tina Fey, coming to you from here, the set of 30 Rock in New York City," the former Saturday Night Live star begins.

After reminiscing about her own youthful summers taking part in Upper Darby Summer Stage, Fey says, "Theater programs like Facetime are not only so great for the kids that are participating in them, they're a gift to the community at large, because they're wholesome family entertainment at a reasonable price that everyone . . . can enjoy."

She jokes about her motivation: "I'm told that if I did this video that my nephew can have a lead part. He wants to play Mame in Auntie Mame. This video is not usable unless I'm guaranteed that he can play Mame. No, I was kidding."

There really is a nephew, sixth grader Alex Fey, who played a role in the actress' making the promotion.

Phoenixville tax attorney Lisa Starczewski explains that Facetime Community Theatre grew from her passion for acting that began as a child and led to her marriage - she and her husband met taking part in a high school production - and teaching stagecraft to children. Starczewski directed plays at Phoenixville High for eight years and, in 2008, began teaching at Facetime Performing Arts Studio, a separate business.

Alex - son of Tina Fey's brother, Peter, and his wife, Dee - has been a Studio student for four years and was part of the ensemble of Oliver!

After seeing a tape of one of Alex's performances and getting some nudging from her brother and sister-in-law, Tina decided to film the pitch.

No scripting was necessary, said Starczewski. "She's very creative, and she didn't need any direction."

The timing was serendipitous, with Facetime's annual fund-raising concert scheduled for Friday night at Franklin Commons in Phoenixville. (No, there won't be an appearance by the former SNL writer/newsbabe, Sarah Palin impersonator, and Date Night movie star.)

How much money is raised will determine how many of Facetime's dreams can be fulfilled.

Eventually, Starczewski hopes, Facetime will have its own permanent performing space, with shows year-round for grown-ups as well as programs for children.

Because schools keep cutting arts funding, programs like Facetime are becoming more important, Tina Fey says on the tape, adding that gifts aren't limited to Pennsylvanians. "If you're coming from Delaware, they'll take your money, too. Jersey money, that's good, too," she says. "We'll take it as far north as Connecticut."


Watch Tina Fey's pitch for Facetime Community Theatre at www.philly.com/ tinafey


For more information, visit www.facetimecommunitytheatre.org.

Contact Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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