Colleen Shea Children’s Foundation steps up

Last updated: May 13. 2014 11:26PM - 2751 Views
By - smocarsky@civitasmedia.com

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The KISS Theatre Company Board of Directors has removed Christa Manning from her position as producing artistic director and appointed David Parmelee as interim director.

Parmelee acknowledged the board sent a letter to everyone on the theater company’s contact list that has done work with the theater when asked about a letter informing parents that Manning had allegedly misappropriated funds from a series of planned Broadway bus trips, but he declined to confirm the authenticity of the copy obtained by The Times Leader or confirm any details.

“We’re not going to discuss that with the press. It’s a private matter between Christa Manning and the board,” Parmelee said.

The letter states the bus trips were organized by Manning and not affiliated with the KISS Theatre Company, but many families involved in the theater purchased tickets.

Parmelee did say the theater’s books are “clean and straight, and no money is missing from the theater.”

Manning could not be reached for comment.

Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis did not immediately return a message asking if there was an investigation involving Manning or if any charges would be filed.

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — KISS Theatre Company took a sizable step toward a new performance venue thanks to a generous donation from a local children’s foundation, the company has announced.

The Colleen Shea Children’s Foundation is donating $25,000 toward the company’s goal of raising $150,000 to retrofit its new home at East End Centre, the shopping plaza on Kidder Street being revitalized by Joe Amato Properties.

KISS Theatre Company has been named the primary beneficiary of the foundation’s 11th Annual Spring Fling, scheduled for May 16 at the Fox Hill Country Club. The donation is dependent on the fundraiser, but officials are confident it will raise enough money based on past success.

“We are so honored to receive this donation,” David Parmelee, interim artistic director for KISS Theatre, said in a news release. “It represents a big step forward toward the construction of a performance space that will benefit over 500 young actors in our program. We are proud to name the theatre hall after Colleen Shea, a young woman who loved working with children.”

The Colleen Shea Children’s Foundation was established in 2001 after the death of Colleen Shea, a 28-year-old Pittston woman, in an automobile accident in October of that year. The foundation’s mission is “to help serve the needs of children through charitable fundraising and community service.”

“We felt an immediate synergy with KISS Theatre Company,” said Elaine Zambetti, a member of the foundation’s board of directors. “Their focus is completely on the needs of children, and how to develop their talents, education and confidence through the performing arts. It is a great fit.”

The donation gives a major boost to KISS Theatre’s “Race for the Space” fundraising campaign. The theatre company recently lost its lease at the Wyoming Valley Mall, and Joe Amato offered space at the plaza to the children’s theater company.

Donations to the “Race for the Space” campaign can be made through a secure donation link on the KISS Theatre website, www.kisstheatre.org.

The “KISS” in KISS Theatre Company is an acronym for “Kids Innovating Stage and Sound.” The company is a nonprofit performing arts organization whose mission is to educate, entertain and enrich the lives of young people through the arts of theater, dance and song.

The company offers various programs that immerse the students in the acting process. Workshops include improvisation, technical theater, movement, makeup and wardrobe management, monologue, comedy, musicianship, ensemble building and the audition process.

The Colleen Shea Children’s Foundation has been helping area children’s causes for more than a decade.

Previous grant recipients include a Pediatric Clinic, the “Camp Sight” summer camps for the blind and a speech pathology lab at Misericordia University. The foundation also built a playground at the Pittston Area Primary Center, purchased a van for a Ronald McDonald House and sponsored a nutrition program known as “Dinner for Kids.”

To learn more about the foundation, visit www.colleensheafoundation.com.

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