S: EAST END KIDS 20th REUNION, November 27, 2010
FC: To Larry, with Love, Respect and Admiration I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me. I'd like to be the help that you've been always glad to be. I'd like to mean as much to you each minute of the day As you have meant old friend of mine to me along the way.
1: Hi Larry! I wanted to thank you for the eight wonderful years that I was in an East End Kid! To this day if someone would ask me to perform the dance piece of my very first audition to any dance number from the eighteen seasons I was in, I would be able to get up on stage and perform it with no problem! The music, songs and dances I have done throughout the years as an East End Kid are forever embedded in my mind, heart and soul. It was a huge part of who I was and what I loved to do growing up and I cherish every moment of it. I will never forget you or any of my fellow EEKers I have met and grew up with along the way. From rehearsals to EEK camps, to parties and summer vacations, I have made so many memories that I will remember for the rest of my life. When I take out the scrap book I made of all the vacations we went on, I think about everyone and my experiences and how much I have learned from being in such a fabulous group with a fantastic group of people. Thanks again for everything you have shown me over the years. It’s more than you will ever know! Love, Jackie Aubele | Larry, It’s amazing to think of all the kids whose talent has been cultivated because of your work and influence. I was never destined for the stage the way that some of your EEKers were. But you pushed me and treated me the same as those who you can proudly say are performing professionally today. I credit you with one of my greatest accomplishments in life (even today!) and that is being chosen for Gateway’s “Guys & Dolls” my senior year. It’s hard to believe that a high school musical could mean so much to one person but after three years of heartbreakingly watching my friends perform on stage, you can’t imagine what it meant to me. And it was because you told me to “get some private voice lessons, have two good songs to perform” and “take ballet with Nancylee.” Both were well worth it. I am proud to say that I know you, I worked with you and that you were truly a mentor to me. The confidence that I built in being an East End Kid has continued to have a positive influence on my life today as I consider myself another “professional performer” though one in a much more corporate setting. Thank you for all you have done and all you continue to do. Love, Lindsey Braem
2: Hi Larry, Congratulations on 20 fantastic years. East End Kids is a one-of-a- kind group where young kids/adults have the opportunity to be them- selves and share their love to perform. You have a special way of helping young adults believe in themselves and continue working toward their passions. My experiences with the group are irreplaceable. Whether it was a summer trip, learning a dance or simply sitting around and listening to stories, we all seem to have memories that we can still laugh about now. Thank you for those memories and for always welcoming me and encouraging me to allow my talents to blossom and be proud of who I am. I wish you continued success with this family and hope that you have countless years of successful seasons and new members who you have the opportunity to touch and influence in the way that you did me. Best Wishes, Joe Frollo | Dear Larry, While you may not remember me as more than another singer/dancer in another few seasons of shows, as I certainly wasn't a standout, the work ethic that was already instilled in me was nurtured by your constant push. You taught us to strive to be better performers and taught us how to put on a show, not just sing a song or dance a number. The opportunity that you have provided me to perform on so many different stages has been one of the most influential aspects of my career. Your passion for teaching the performing arts led me into teaching, and I have experienced my greatest joys from watching my students grow. Thank you for what you have given to the performing arts community of Pittsburgh, and, ultimately, to the world, as the circle of teaching never ends. Krista Lynn Peckyno J.D. Candidate, Seton Hall Law 2011 President, Entertainment and Sports Law Society Marketing Associate, Axiom Sports and Entertainment
3: Larry, I don't know if you're aware of what you have done to impact my life, but you have helped shape me into the person that I am. We both know that I was not the best singer or dancer, but put me on a stage and I would light up. I loved performing and loved the stage and you made that happen for me. When my father became ill my senior year and I had no way of paying for my dance classes, you didn't even hesitate offering me a scholarship. You showed me what it is to be charitable. And if it wasn't for your kindness I might not have Joey and Mallory in my life. You have been a true friend over the years and I will continue to sing your praises. Thank you for all that you've given me over the years and someday I'll return the favor, Jessica Kocak | Dear Larry, When I was 12 years old I was cast in your production of “Oliver!” While I had always had a love for theater and performing, the experience I had working on that production totally took my love for theater to another level. Your passion and talent for what you did fueled all of us young children. I have such vivid memories of late night rehearsals with you and never wanting the time to end. You taught me so much about not only being a better performer, but also about commitment, integrity and what it is to be a man. I was devastated when we had our last performance, but thankfully I was able to continue to train with you at your school and in your first incarnation of the East End Kids. I cannot tell you how much those years have meant to me and how they’ve continued to shape my life even to this day. I looked up to you so much and was so thankful to have you as a stabilizing figure in my life when there wasn’t a lot of stability. The legacy you’ve created and the lives you’ve touched from your school and the East End Kids is immeasurable. I am so proud to know you and to have been a small part of your life and work. With love to you always, Chris Burkett
4: Dear Larry, I was only in EEK for a short period of time. But I knew you way before I put on that sparkled Santa dress. My mother loves to tell me a story about when your school was still located in The Factory, where my mother coached with Gymkhana. I was a performed even at 3 and completely tone deaf (which was still pretty much the case when I came to EEK). I made you sit down as I belted out "A Whole New World" horribly off key. While my mother apologized profusely for her obnoxious child, you said "she's gonna be a star" to which my mother responded "Didn't you hear her?" And you just smiled and walked away. Now I don't know about the "star" part, but you knew that I was going to end up doing this, this crazy theater thing. I grew up knowing Larry Cervi, who directed my father in the plays at Churchill High School, thought I would be a star. I may have only been a part of East End Kids for one season, but I was one of Larry's Kids my entire life. Thank you so much for all you do. Love, Cassidy Adkins | Larry, I heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason. Bringing something we must learn and we are led to those that help us most to grow. It all started the summer after my freshman year at high school. I told my mom that I wanted to do a musical theatre camp so she looked up some and found two that I could go to that summer. One of them was the CLO musical theatre camp and the other was yours. I not knowing much about either just decided to pick the one that was closer which just so happened to be yours. It is amazing to look back on that decision and how a choice I made so nonchalantly would have one of the biggest impacts on my life so far. I didn’t realize that this Larry Cervi would become one of my best friends. The three years I spent at your school and as a member of the East End Kids helped me in so many ways, not only in the theatrical arts, but also taught me many valuable things. Everything that I learned and gained from East End Kids can all be attributed to you. Not only were you my director, mentor, and teacher you were also one of my best friends. I could tell you anything and you would help give me advice and I really value the friendship we have. Love, Brendon Farrell | Dear Larry, Few people make a lasting impact in our lives as we grow. You were one of those people who made such an impact in mine. My greatest memories from high school were from the musicals and I loved every minute of them! Having the opportunity to be "Dolly" was such a joy. Even though my career choices took me a route that did not include pursuing my love of theater and music, I always appreciated the guidance and encouragement you provided along the way to my making that decision. You are an amazing director and an amazing man. I will never forget you. Colleen Hoolahan-Hall | Many thanks, Larry, for helping to light the spark! Jaron Frand
5: Larry, Thank you for all the time, energy, encouragement, and belief you invested in me. The training I received at your dance studio and in East End Kids helped me to pursue my high school dreams of participating in musicals and performing groups. So much more than my high school dreams though, you helped me to develop self confidence and leadership skills, both of which I rely heavily on in my career and life pursuits today. My dream now is leading others in worshiping God through singing and music, and I know that the vocal and theater training you provided me with has helped me and will continue to help me as I grow in this area. Thank you for taking in a rather inexperienced middle school child and providing the opportunity for her to learn and grow! Thank you also for allowing my mother and father to be so involved in East End Kids during my seasons there. Those times are some of my fondest childhood memories. Love, Kara [Blackall] Hood | I am Kara's Dad. I was the primary sound system operator for about three years when my daughter (now Kara Hood) performed with EEK. I produced and edited rehearsal and show music CD's, and made sure the music was right and the KIDS were heard during shows. I traveled with EEK to Disneyland, California and Canada and all over Pennsylvania. [Side note: At $.35/ mile, I figure EEK owes me $100,000 in gas—especially pulling that trailer around—ha ha.] I live in Irwin with Shirley, and sing with the Irwin Male Chorus. I have been a Regional Independent Sales Manager for Schulmerich Bells for 10 years. I also work with about 5,000 customers with hand bells and carillons in PA, NY, NJ and neighboring areas. Any 'ringers' out there?? Mr. Cervi will live in the hearts and minds of 100’s, possibly 1,000’s of young people for many, many years. His example and influence will positively touch many areas of their adult lives. He was demanding, and he knew how to listen to, respect, and lead young people who had strong egos and pride, and how to bring confidence to those who maybe had a little stage fright. Larry’s consistency is his legacy. The Kids could always count on him, and they knew where he stood. Being part of EEK was “big time” for the kids. Performing with and being congratulated by Larry was bigger. I just want to see him spin that baton. It was a pleasure to work with Larry, and he influenced this adult also. Love ya, Larry, Brian Blackall | East End Kids ROADIE
6: Dear Larry, I don’t even know where to begin a letter like this. To put into words how much you have meant to me and influenced me in my life seems like an impossible task. From the moment I had my very first summer musical theatre camp with you, you became one of the most important figures in my life. You never failed to make me feel special, talented and as though there was nothing I wasn’t capable of. As a director, choreographer and teacher, I’ve based much of my professional career on examples you’ve set for me. My goal is always to maintain the balance of tough love and supportive encouragement that I feel you’ve always managed to maintain. You were always able to assess a young performer’s strengths and lead them in the right direction. Always challenging us and keeping us on our toes, you cultivated confident, ambitious young people who were able to apply the lessons they learned from being an East End Kid to any chosen field and find success. My years as an East End Kid were some of the best I’ve ever had. I looked forward to those all day rehearsals every Sunday just as much as I did the many, many performances we had. I knew I would be able to spend the day doing what I love with people that I loved and I have you to thank for that. It’s an organization with an unbelievable legacy and the power to bring people together. Now, as someone who sits on the other side of the table, I get extremely excited to see “East End Kids” on a resume. Anyone auditioning or working with me that is a former EEK will be treated to a reminiscing session, maybe a little jazz square and sharing fond memories of you and all you’ve done for us. So thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t say it enough. You and the EEK family played a pivotal role in my performing arts education and I can never find a way to repay you enough for that. I formed lifelong friendships, became a solid and versatile performer and learned my first lessons in directing and choreographing, a field that I am proud to still be in now. All I can try to do is emulate the man who set me on the path of becoming the person I am today. Love Always! Erin Shrader
7: Dear Larry, I wanted to say thank you very much for everything you do. You are a great man. With my season in the East End Kids, I have learned so much from you. You have been so helpful and loving to everyone. I hope that I will stick with you for a long time, and so far I have had an unbelievable experience with the East End Kids! Sincerely, Logan Smith | Dear Larry, Thanks for all the amazing opportunities, your wonderful knowledge, and for always believing in me. -Collin McNamee
8: Larry, Thank you for providing me with so many opportunities. You are like our grandfather; kind, caring and compassionate. You see talent in each performer and push us to improve and reach our full potential. You have been an inspiration to me and I will never forget you or your kindness. I am honored to have been a member in your East End Kids. Much love and respect, David Kiss | Larry!!! Simply put...I am an actor today due to the fact that you saw something in a chubby little kid. You gave me every opportunity you possibly could. At the age of 10, you cast me in “The Music Man”. My first time on stage! I became addicted. Then your invitation to join the East End Kids came. Tap classes when my parents could not afford them. Four years of high school musicals with you at the helm. Thanks for seeing something in me. You made me feel special. And you will always hold a very special place in my heart! ALWAYS KEEP STARS IN YOUR EYES- dennis clougherty, jr. | Dear Larry, Thank you so much for everything that you have done for me. Being part of the Ease End Kids did wonders for my self confidence. Without that experience, I am sure that I would have never found my current career as a theatrical sound designer/engineer in New York City. EEK will always be in my heart and a wonderful memory to look back on. Love Ashley Hanson
9: You know you've been an East End Kid when . . . “Blue sparkly” is your favorite color Your most comfortable pair of shoes are your tan character shoes You can correctly name four of the past vocal directors You only know Broadway show tunes in conjunction with other Broadway show tunes not from the same show You know that “Nickelodeon” is not just a television network Your favorite song is one that you discovered while doing an EEK show You can actually do a Larry-ball-change sequence You have at one time or another broken a chandelier or witnessed one being broken You know that spandex is not exactly the best choice for winter outerwear You have changed into “street clothes” in public and not cared Your lips are permanently stained Mary Kay crimson You have given your “regards to Broadway” too many times to count You can correctly retell Larry’s entire life story You have a favorite nursing home audience When told to relax, you stand in a modified third position with your hands behind your back You can say nearly anything through a smile You know more than one dance routine involving either a candy cane or an umbrella You have ever had to sing a solo that was intended for someone of the opposite sex You think jazz shoes are acceptable to wear with shorts You can correctly distinguish between basket, knee and hip lifts, and could explain them to someone if need be Your most prominent summer tan line is from your EEK costume You have ever fallen off of a stage or witnessed someone falling off a stage You remember The Factory You have ever worn a long sleeved oxford shirt with a bow tie in ninety degree weather You know what the word “schlep” means, and could use it in a sentence You have shared a stage with live farm animals You have been heckled by senior citizens You have a “fan” over the age of eighty You know the best place to change in every shopping mall in the greater Pittsburgh area You have ever had to “flip the set” You can do the dances from any EEK show in your sleep You can predict Larry’s choreography before it happens You can watch any high school musical and know at least two people in the cast You have visited and performed at more than one Disney theme park You have actually met someone from Larry’s stories You remember someone either throwing up or passing out at a show who continued the performance You have been in a show where Larry stopped the performance and restarted it from the beginning You know everyone else’s part but your own You know the first refrain of just about every Broadway show tune, but could not necessarily name the show it comes from You have ever mistaken a nude leotard for a nude body You made the transition from junior to senior, or were ever an intermediate You became a student director without any prior knowledge Larry has mispronounced your name at the end of a show You ever spent your birthday at an EEK function You’ve ever been “flying” and smacked your head off a ceiling You think that each year only has two seasons: holiday and summer By Jackie Aubele & Jessica Ott | I BRAKE FOR AUDITIONS!
10: Dear Larry, I don't even know where to begin. It seems like yesterday I was walking into your studio at age 14 to take my first musical theater class. Now I'm 21 and in college, trying to make my way in the world. I may not be involved in the arts as much as I used to be, but I still attribute a lot of who I am today from you. You taught me the meaning of a hard day’s work, with great attention to detail. Every day I look at myself in the mirror and say "Just look at him now, he's getting better." I want to thank you for those lessons, those stories, for helping me believe in myself, and for continuing East End Kids today and teaching those same lessons now. My time as an East End Kid was some of the best of my life, with memories I will absolutely never forget. I hope that you continue this for as long as you can, the world could use more people like you in it. Lots of love and God bless, Matt Pleczkowski | Dear Larry, Congratulations on your East End Kids 20th reunion!! We are so happy to be able to be a part of your East End Kids family! You are certainly a very special person to us all. We will always thank you for being there as a mentor and guide for Matthew, especially when Bob was deployed. Even after he returned home – you were someone who Matt could go to for advice on any number of topics. On top of all that, you were absolutely a critical influence in his high school musical career. He truly learned SO much from you and all those associated with EEK. Not only did being a member of the East End Kids help Matt as a performer – but the East End Kids became a second family to him throughout high school. We, too, met some of the nicest people in the world during these years. Larry – the world needs more people like you. Your dedication to kids goes above and beyond that of the ordinary human being. We know that Matt is a better person for having you in his life. Love, Bob and Mary Lynn Pleczkowski | Dear Larry, When I think of how I became a performer, the memory will always include you. I learned the basics of the performing world from you. I learned about what I should wear at auditions, and the appropriate way to act. I learned how to push myself to the front so that people would recognize me. I remember that sometimes you may have doubted me but it only made me work harder to prove you wrong and perform even better. In addition, many times you believed in me and had confidence in my singing ability and that meant a lot to me because I often doubted myself. You helped me build the confidence that I have taken with me to help me try new and more challenging endeavors in the opera community. I fell in love with the stage while performing as an East End Kid and have never stopped. People have said to me, “you belong up there” and I would never for a second forget that you had a part in making me that person. Aubree Smeltz
11: Dear Larry, Congratulations on the 20th Anniversary of the East End Kids organization. It has been a joy to watch my daughter, Kim Clifton, as well as all of the young people grow in their singing and dancing abilities. They have also become poised, confident, professional performers and young adults under your guidance and expertise. Thank you so very much for your comittment to East End Kids and youth performers over the past 20 years. Best wishes for continued success in the years to come and may God bless you always! With appreciation, Amy & Dick Haessler | Dear Larry, ‘Thanks for the memories!’ as the song explains. And there have been so many. You have provided me and all of us with a love of the performing arts that’s second to none. We can see your passion and love for performing and we hope that we have made you happy and proud of us and we owe it all to you. Your desire to have a teen song & dance ensemble in the area has been a great idea and it has brought together so many teens that would never have met one another. Because of this group we are all one big extended family and that it so nice. Just to let you know I have had so much fun being in this group as well. I have made so many friends which I hope will remain my friends for a long time to come. Hope you’ll never forget us and be assured we’ll never forget you and all our fun together in the East End Kids. My mom and dad have loved every minute of this group as well and will miss it very much when my senior year comes to an end. They love musical theatre, etc. and this group has been so much fun for them. They’ve made many friends from EEK and hope to remain in touch with them after I’m done performing. So to sum it up ‘gracias’ and ‘you’ll be in my heart’ as I go out into life and take all these good memories with me! Love, Allie D. P.S. Hope to get together with you and Donna long after Allie’s year is over. We all know how you feel about Kevin! And if it’s okay, I’ll tag along too! Love, Paula and Kevin
12: Dear Larry, When I was asked to be the next president of East End Kids, I was very apprehensive and fearful. Not knowing if I could handle the position was very intimidating to me. But I have to tell you now that my “reign” has almost come to an end, I feel somewhat sad. I absolutely love the East End Kids organization, and that is largely because of you. I have thoroughly enjoyed and cherished every moment I have spent with you over the past year, from our lunch meetings to the numerous phone calls going over all those minute details. Sure it was a lot of work at times, but you made it fun for me, and I enjoyed being able to help you with anything that could make your life a little easier. I really admire how much you truly care about each and every one of those kids, and how much of your own personal time you have sacrificed for the sake of others. You are an inspiration to me, and I am thankful that I spent this year working with you and getting to know what an awesome man you are. I am blessed to call you my friend! Love & God Bless! Kim Sarandis | Dear Larry, Now that I’m in my 11th season as an East End Kid, I can’t believe how quickly the seasons have come and gone, and how much I have learned from you over the past five years. You have inspired me to do things I never would have attempted before. The opportunities that you have given me have helped tremendously with all aspects of my life, and I am thankful for that. In having the privilege of being a student director, I truly value all of your hard work and effort you put towards the well-being of the group. I appreciate you putting your faith in me by giving me the opportunity to choreograph, which is something I have never done before and have grown to love. You have pushed me to be a better dancer and performer and given me the strength to even audition for college. Now that I’m a senior, the realization has come over me that this will all come to an end soon, and I will definitely miss the group and especially miss seeing you every week. You are inspiration to everyone you teach, and I am grateful that I got the opportunity to be one of your students. Love, Samantha Sarandis
13: Dear Larry, Sorry that I could not make it to the reunion, but I wanted to write you a letter of thanks. You gave me a chance when no one else believed in me. During a very difficult time in my life, you took me under your wing and helped me to fly. I will always remember your kindness and look back fondly on my times working with you. One of the things that I have always respected about you most is that, despite your success, you have remained so down-to-earth, caring and generous. You have worked hard to earn your success, but have never forgotten where you came from. You are truly a fine man, and I am honored to know you and to have had the privilege to work with you. May God bless you. P.S. Let’s do Carousel again. I’ll be Nettie!!! Love, Megan L. McCormick | Dear Larry, I'm so lucky to have been a part of East End Kids for so many years. I was so grateful to be part of EEK when we traveled around the country and even to Europe! I will never forget those experiences and the wonderful lifelong friends that I made. Thank you so much for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of EEK. I always look back fondly on my time with the group! Warm wishes, Katie Russo | Larry, Congratulations on 20 years of wonderful musical theater in the Pittsburgh area through the East End Kids. You and your groups have developed musical and social skills that continue well past East End Kids. My family all took part in EEK or your dance studio and it had an impact on our lives. My sister, Sharon, continued dance and danced on the US hip-hop team and other national competitions. She is now a senior at Penn State studying Early Education. My brother, Lucas, lives in the Pittsburgh area and owns his own home remodeling company (BE Construction). I live in Buffalo where I am a football coach at the University of Buffalo. I am married and have a four-month old son, Bryce. Thank you for your part in continuing the cultural and social development of Western Pennsylvania. May God Bless you with great health and continued success with the East End Kids! Sincerely, Marty Spieler East End Kids ’93-‘94 | Dear Larry, I look back to my EEK days as some of my favorite times of high school. Being mainly a singer and not much of a dancer, I appreciated having a chance to work on both. Congratulations on 20 years! I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with you. I hope the group has many more years to come! Sincerely, Rebecca Weiss
14: Dear Mr. Cervi, Honestly, I had a really difficult time writing this letter. Not because I couldn’t think of anything to say, but because I had so much that I needed to say and so much that words simply did not fully express. So please take all that I say below as the merely the tip of the iceberg of my gratitude. When I first walked into my East End Kids audition, I was a meek, passive, overly serious academic. When I said goodbye to the group for the final time, I had completely transformed. I became confident, happy, even semi-adventurous, and I had discovered a joy that enabled me to escape the stresses of academics and life. I cannot thank you enough for the growth I experienced by being a part of the East End Kids and benefitting from your never-ending support. In three wonderful years, I learned confidence in myself and my abilities. I discovered that there is more to life than the letters on a report card. For the first time, I felt that I was truly welcomed into a group, not just accepted because I just happened to be there. That family-type atmosphere gave me the scaffold I needed to step outside of my timid walls and gain the confidence to be assertive. By performing again and again, I found myself becoming increasingly comfortable with the stage, whether I was on it to sing, to act, or to give a speech. Near the end of my senior year, I ran into my eighth-grade guidance counselor. After chatting for a few minutes, she remarked how much I had changed from the last time she had seen me (around the beginning of my sophomore year). She could not believe how much happier and more assertive I seemed, even from just a few minutes of conversation! I owe that change entirely to you and to the East End Kids. Being an East End Kid has given me the skills and experiences to succeed anywhere in life. I have the confidence to live assertively and joyfully, uplifted by memories, connections, and lessons learned from this fantastic experience. So far in my life, I’ve received more labels than I can count. The one that is more precious to me than any other is “East End Kid.” Thank you, Kelly Guerrieri | Dear Birthday Buddy, This page does not have enough space for me to express how much I owe you. You were my driving force to pursue this profession. I remember the first time I met you at my audition and you told me not to be nervous and to just be myself. Then I had to dance, and you told me that I should be a little worried. After that day you opened my eyes to the world of which I always wanted to be a part. You have continued to see my shows and talk to me about life, theatre, and well, just about anything else. It is a real honor for me to call you friend. Thank you so much for giving your gifts to everyone one of us. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart and I love you very much. Matt Lamb
15: Dear Larry, Thank you so much for being a strong male figure in my life. I've looked up to you ever since I was a little girl sitting outside of the studio doors, watching you teach at the Factory. You and your studio have been such an important part of my childhood and I'm truly blessed to have such great memories from your efforts. Whether knowingly or not, you've helped instill many characteristics such as self-confidence and determination in me, that have ultimately helped inside and out of my performance career. You've positively influenced so many people throughout your lifetime and I can't imagine how many other peoples' lives you have yet to touch. Katie Kelly | Larry, Words cannot express how much I appreciate meeting you and having you being part of my life all these years. You know you have been like a father to me, and we have shared stories that I have never shared with anyone else. Your wisdom, kindness, and witty attitude made you a unique and great person all rolled into one. I know I can never give back to you the experience and words you have given me throughout the years...but I can say that for the rest of my life you can rest assured that our memories and talks will forever be embedded in [almost ;) ] all of my actions, artistic creations, and views on the world. Thank you, and I look forward to many many more memories and more of your wisdom. Chadly | With John Dzuriak
18: Dear Larry, For such a long time now, I have been struggling to find just the right words to tell you how much you mean to me. As strange as it may sound, the reason it’s taken so long is because I have too many things to say, but somehow I’m always at a loss for words. It seems impossible to put down on paper all of the things you have taught me and done for me over the years. Right now I am writing this letter while sitting in my college dorm, and I can’t help but feel so incredibly blessed to be here, and so incredibly grateful to you for getting me here. Larry, I hardly know where to begin, to thank you for the things you’ve taught me. I do know that the most important things I’ve learned can’t be learned from a textbook or in a classroom. You’ve taught me so much about life and the kind of person and performer I want to be. Thank you so much for your guidance and for always being there to encourage me. Thank you for providing me with incredible opportunities to learn and grow. And most of all thank you for always being honest with me. Knowing that you are there and always looking out for me means more than you will ever know. You are part grandfather and part guardian angel to me, and even at difficult times I know that everything has come from a place of love. You have such a big heart Larry, and that is so obvious to anyone who truly knows you. You care so much about your students and watching them succeed. Anytime I have good news you are the first person I want to share it with after calling my parents, because your opinion is so important to me. I don't think I could ever repay you for everything you have done, but what I do know is that I will do everything I can to make you proud. Love you Larry! Always and Forever, Carly
20: Larry, How can I begin to thank you for all of the wonderful experiences that you gave me through East End Kids? East End Kids will always be one of the fondest memories of my middle school and high school career, and I miss performing with the group more than I can say. I can remember being incredibly nervous singing in front of you for my first EEK audition (and actually, still being nervous about singing when I finally auditioned for a solo my senior year and performed as Suzy Snowflake), and how excited I was to get the phone call that I had been selected for the group. And after that, the rest is history. I spent almost every week looking forward to Sunday rehearsals to see my EEK friends, and I loved the busy December show schedule. I remember dancing the "Mistletoe" dance, hanging out with friends at the weekend-long camp, and goofing off during breaks at rehearsals. I remember crying at my last show, when the boys all sang "Once in Love with Amy" to me. What I didn't realize then was how much being an East End Kid really affected my life and shaped me into who I am today. East End Kids taught me some of the most important lessons about etiquette, showmanship, grace, leadership, relationships, and friendship, and I will never forget what a great impact that you personally have had on my life. Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to East End Kids. I know that your influence has meant a lot to so many people, including myself. Love, Amy Kerschner | Dear Larry, I would like to thank you for everything you have done for me. Not only did you provide me with amazing opportunities being in East End Kids, but also all the performing experience from being in your summer musicals. Most importantly, your personal advice has changed my career path in life. When you asked me if playing viola would make me happy, I realized that I was hiding what my heart desired. Singing is my true passion. I want to live life without regrets; Singing provides me with a satisfaction that nothing else from this world can provide. Viola would never have allowed me to freely express myself the way musical theatre has. You made me realize that I need to take chances to get what I want out of life. I’ve always considered you family, and I feel very honored and privileged to have you in my life. Love, Alex | Larry – They sure don't make too many like you! Once I asked you if you had any idea how many young people's lives you had touched. It would be too difficult to count! Our memories of our times with East End Kids are treasures. Larry, not only are your shows top notch, but everyone wants to work with you because you are truly a good person. We met many good friends during our time in East End Kids, and that's because you made the group that way! I remember a show that we were doing at Asbury. The parking was difficult and I believe you were illegally parked. I saw the police officer walking toward you and I predicted the rest! You schmoozed him and within minutes you had your arm around him like you were long lost friends! Larry, what a nut you are! Who gives up all their Sunday afternoons to work with 20 or 30 teens? We love ya! Thanks! The Kerschner Family | SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE?
21: Dear Larry, How do I even begin to thank you for all you have done for me? I remember my first audition for you as well as if it were yesterday. I was nine years old and I sang "Colors of the Wind" from Disney's Pocahontas. You pulled me aside, holding a half of a jelly donut in one hand and my sheet music in the other, and talked to me about confidence. It wasn't until the second time I auditioned for the group that I could finally call myself an East End Kid. You showed me the meaning of auditioning by showing me that failure is the first step to success. No one ever "arrives" here in the wide world of song and dance and theatre -- it is all about how hard you work, and how gracefully you get back up once you fall. Well I worked hard and am still working hard, and please know that I could never have done it without you. The commitment that you have taught me to value, as well as the teamwork that we were all engaged in, allowed so much reinforcement in the power of an ensemble. I still think about the skills I attained as an East End Kid when confronted with the challenges of putting on a show, and I think about how amazing it was that we could give such a gift to an audience any day of the week. There are so many things I could say -- so many memories I have that are fond. It would take me days and days and pages and pages to mention all of the wonderful lessons and truths, and joy and tears, and songs and solos. My life would not be the same without you. My drive and passion for the stage began with you, as a student at your school and with my experience as an East End Kid. And I can never forget that. A million times thank you, from the deepest places of my heart. This is truly "What I Did for Love." ~Tara | Larry, When I think about East End Kids, so many memories come to my mind. When I first started, you and I didn't get along. As years went on I grew to respect you so much! I loved performing at the IC Light Amphitheater. I think we did five shows there in three months! I loved being Suzy Snowflake in the Christmas show, but nothing was more entertaining that watching Dennis as Frosty and The Little Old Lady from Pasadena!!!!! I really appreciated your support when Sarah, Emily and I left to start our own group, The Satin Dolls. You opinion meant so much to us. I remember little things you said here and there that make so much sense to me now that I'm older. I really hope all is well with you. Thank you for everything you have done for me. Take care! Lots of love, Autumn Zankey
22: Dear Larry, I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to thank you. If I had not signed up to take a Musical Theater class at your school, I never would have come home that same day and said, "Mom, I have an audition for East End Kids on Sunday at 2pm. You're taking me there." Being a part of East End Kids was a wonderful experience and full of opportunity, and I am very grateful for it. I still have my EEK jacket, and I use my EEK garmet bag when I travel. I was also reunite with Dennis Clougherty right outside of my job in Manhattan. We stared at each other for a while with the same expression of, "I know you." Finally, he approached me and said, "I think I know you. Are you from Pittsburgh, were you an EEK?" So funny. Thank you for everything, EEKS, your school, your encouragement, and your blunt honesty I am sure helped mold me into the performer I am today. All of my love, Liza Marie | Larry, You welcomed me into the life of a performer and at the same time prepared me for what a tough world it would be. I'll never forget when you asked me why I wanted to be a performer and I boldly replied, "Because I want to be on Broadway!" You laughed and said, "Yeah, you and 5,000 other people!" I never knew how true that would be until now, but you helped teach me to never give up and to reach for the stars. No matter how many times I messed up the steps or the words, you always gave me a second chance because you knew I had what it takes. Larry, I just want to say congrats on 20 years of EEK and thank you for all you have taught me! You truly gave me my wings and now I'm ready to fly! I'm living in New York City now and about to take the world by storm!! :) All my love and endless thanks, Jeremy Earhart | Dear Larry, You are a wonderful teacher and have inspired me in many ways. The East End Kid group is a wonderful place for learning how to perform, be a member of team, and the reward of seeing a audience that has been entertained. Being involved with the East End Kid group and your school of performing arts has helped me discover my voice and self confidence when performing in front of all kinds of audiences. You really are a teacher of life lessons. I know better the value of hard work, how to present myself, and how to work with others. These are gifts that you have given to me and I will carry with me throughout life. I am grateful for having had you as a teacher and role model, thank-you. Good wishes, always! Caitlin Pezze
23: Dear Larry, It has been a long road. You have seen me at my highest highs and my lowest lows. You even knew when I was upset before I did. I've cried to you, we've laughed together, I'll never forget the joke I made while cleaning up the old studio. I don't think you'll ever let me forget it. Larry, I don't need to list all of the things you have done for me, honestly I don't think there's enough space here. But I know I wouldn't be who I am now if it weren't for you. Larry, I truly care about you—if I had a nickel for every time I thought of you I would be a very rich man. Your advice—whether I wanted it or not—was always given and always needed. You always told me not to mind-#*%# myself and Larry I'll never forget that. I love you Larry. Thank you for everything. Love, Anthony | Dear Larry, The excellence in Musical Theatre that you showed me at Churchill Area High School stirred my passion and has kept me dancing for 50 years. I have hopefully passed that love on to my children and many others. Thank you. I love you and am proud to be your partner. I am looking forward to our next 20 years. Kim | Larry and His Girls Cruise ~ 2006 | Larry: Though we’ve only been involved with the Larry Cervi School of Performing Arts for a little over a year, we would like to thank you for sharing your love of the arts with our daughter Emily. You have helped us to channel our efforts to bring out and encourage Emily’s desire to pursue the performing arts. Through your efforts and those of your great support staff, you have been instrumental in broadening and enhancing her talents while making it a very fun and enjoyable experience. We look forward to working with you and the East End Kids group for many years to come. Sincerely, Tim, Mary Pat, and Emily Matisko
24: November 27, 2010 Dear Larry, This 20th year reunion of the East End Kids is such a wonderful celebration of your accomplishments. You have spent your entire career and beyond educating the young, while providing people of all ages, and all walks of life, with an appreciation for the arts. In sharing your passion, you inspire others to see the bigger picture. By influencing the children, you pique the interest of the parents, encouraging them to develop an appreciation for the arts as a way of supporting their children’s efforts. You draw them in and you fill them with pride as you showcase the talents of these kids to their friends, family and the community. You make everyone feel as though they are a part of something greater, but in doing so; you teach them about personal responsibility, commitment, pride and performance. | Throughout your career you have always had a way of seeing in others talents they don’t even realize they possess. You encourage them, making them feel secure enough to step out of their comfort zone and into the “spotlight.” As such, they develop confidence, self-esteem, leadership and communication skills that forever change their lives and enhance their careers, regardless of their chosen profession. Larry, you may not have set out on a mission to achieve these goals, but your accomplishments perfectly illustrate the impact that one life, lived with passion and purpose, can have on so many others. Each new life is like a pebble on the beach of humanity, warmed by the rising sun and brought to life by the hand of God. He picks us up and tosses us out across the gentle breeze of free will. Just before we hit the sea of life, we make a choice to skim the surface creating the ripples of a life well lived, or sink to the bottom with minimal impact. Your life, my dear friend, is creating innumerable ripples ripples that will last forever. Even as you enter your sunset years, you continue to educate and inspire the many lives that you touch, which is why those who know you remain life-long friends. People are naturally drawn to you Larry, and love spending time in your company. As you continue to enjoy life and vitality, you can take pride in knowing that you are filling the sky with stars that will forever shine in your honor. Know that you are loved, always and forever, Jeff, Sandy and Carly
26: Larry Cervi, Thank you for the East End Kids. I still remember being nervous waiting for my first EEK audition in your Monroeville studio. My mom had shown me the newspaper article about the kids' singing and dancing troupe that had just returned from performing at Euro Disney and I remember feeling so jealous and wanting to be a part of that! I prepared “Gary, Indiana” to sing and felt ready but had no idea before I got there that I’d be asked to learn a combination and dance? I don’t remember how my first shot at dancing went, but I was thrilled to find out I got accepted into this group, that maybe I did have some talent. I practiced jazz squares and chasses in my living room between rehearsals at the Factory and learned how to dance and I got a solo in the summer EEK performing camp production of Godspell! The amount that I was able to learn that I had never been introduced to in that first year was amazing. My confidence grew with every solo I was encouraged to audition for or featured dance I was chosen to do. I was working with such truly talented people and couldn’t imagine my luck to be partnered with them! Some of them went on to become steady working actor/singer/dancers. I think there may even be more performing related successes from East End Kids alumni than from my college graduating class! East End Kids gave me an amazing foundation that has benefited my entire life. I was the best male dancer (only male dancer) in any of the high school musicals at Plum, I would not have been prepared for college auditions in Music Theater, and I would not have been as quick and capable in my tech work, my touring or my teaching as an professional performer if not for the constant restaging and last minute choreography when we saw the next stage and who could make it there. You introduced me to the unique and chaotic world of professional theater and I couldn’t wait to see where else it would take me. With EEK, I saw the Greater Pittsburgh Area, Canada, NYC, Disney World AND Disneyland and have since performed over 100 characters in over 30 states and, combined, have countless amazing stories. I am now becoming an accountant and taking “family-leave” from the arts for a bit but I cannot imagine how dull and uneventful my life would have been by comparison had I pursued a desk job a decade earlier. I can’t imagine what I would have done if EEK wasn’t there for me, what I would have studied, where I would have traveled, or where I might have settled. Thank you so much for the arts, the education, the experience, and everything. - Tom Powers | Dear Larry, You are one of the most inspirational people who I have had the honor of knowing and working closely with in my life. From your willingness to pursue your dreams and do what you love, to your ability to captivate an audience of people in any environment, you are the perfect example for how we should all live our lives. You are one of the most important mentors I have ever had. Your support and lessons were incredibly important to me, and I sought your praise and approval as if you were a parent. You are the consummate director, a caring teacher and a lifelong friend. Thank you for everything you have done for me, individually, and everything you continue to do for those fortunate enough to be a part of your life. With respect and admiration, --Kevin Zukerman | If it's not Opening Night, it's too early to worry
27: Like truly great teachers and educators, Larry Cervi has had a very profound affect on my life. While sports were always my first love and priority, Mr. Cervi opened my eyes to a whole new world. The theater is now something that I love and cherish. Mr. Cervi recruited me to serve as an usher for Churchill High School's production of The Music Man when I was a sophomore. The show was absolutely incredible. Wearing a tux and helping people to their seats was fun but being an usher just wasn't going to be enough from that point forward. Being a part of such wonderful shows like My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Damn Yankees and Our Town served as life-changing experiences. Like most people that get a taste of the applause and the satisfaction of being a small part of something great, I was hooked. My friends and I went to two or three shows a week all over Pittsburgh my senior year and wrote reviews for Mr. Cervi's Drama III class. He chartered a bus to New York where we saw five Broadway Shows in four unbelievable days. At that point, I desperately wanted to be one of the many that Larry Cervi had sent into the business. There were some roles in dinner theater but there was also the reality that I just wasn't nearly talented enough. That part doesn't matter in the least. The experiences I had and the appreciation I have gained for the performing arts is a very big part of my life and none of that happens without Mr. Cervi. He had and continues to have an unbelievable influence on young people’s lives. The amazing thing for me is that now some 30 years later, Mr. Cervi is having the same affect on my daughters’ lives and thankfully that keeps me in touch and close to one of my favorite people in the entire world. One of the only reasons I really wanted to graduate from high school was that as graduate, I could attend the legendary Cervi Christmas Eve gathering. I can't begin to quantify how my high school and life experiences have been dramatically enlightened by Mr. Cervi. There will never be another one like him and like so many others, I consider myself unbelievably lucky to have been exposed to his passion and pursuit of greatness. In this world where everyone gets a trophy regardless of performance, thank God that Larry Cervi is still around to tell you how you really did. I guess I'm most thankful that my kids get to experience something that no one could ever put a price tag on. I just cherish every show and every moment I get to be around a true mentor and friend that I love dearly. Sincerely, Paul Alexander Churchill High School Class of 1979 | Larry, You are so much a part of my family's life. I can not thank you enough for the life experiences and wonderful gifts you have given to us. I have treasured these last few years watching my daughters perform and grow. Thank You! Susan Alexander | Dear Larry, I can't begin to tell you how much you mean to me. Thank you for all that you have taught me through EEK and dance and especially through Gateway musical. Thank you for the opportunity to play Cosette and Adelaide. I can't wait for this year’s production! Taylor Alexander | I love coming to EEK rehearsals and shows! Love, Sammy | "So if you're a redhead, a blonde or brunette ..."
28: LareBear! When I was eight, my Grandma Flo wanted me to see the East End Kids perform at the St. John Fisher Festival because she knew I loved to sing. After seeing the show, I decided to audition, but it didn’t go very well. I looked around and there were a lot of older kids who knew exactly what they were doing. I don’t think I even knew what a dance combination was! Needless to say, you told me that I needed to seriously work on my dancing ability and to try again another time. About four years later I auditioned again, and again you told me that I really needed to work on dancing and to enroll in jazz and ballet classes, but this time I was “in”. I really didn’t have much confidence about learning to dance, and I really didn’t even like the dance classes. But since that was the only way I could be an East End Kid, I kept going. During my first season, I knew I was in way over my head and I could hardly do any of the steps. There were many tears, but also many smiles as I began to make new friends and really start to soak in the experience. Soon enough, I really started to enjoy everything about EEK and it became a kind of | I Love You Lare Bear! Chelsea | family to me, enabling me to spend time with people who loved the same things that I loved. I had no idea that this group would change my life the way that it has. The next five years whizzed by, and I made friendships along the way that will last a lifetime. Being an East End Kid has had an enormous impact on me, and I am grateful for the experience, especially for opportunity to learn what it means to be a leader. As a student director, I learned how difficult leadership can be, especially when dealing with your peers, but that experience will serve me well as I move through life. I appreciate your constant direction, guidance, and encouragement, and I thank you for making time to see me perform outside of the group as well (like you do for all of “your kids”). I am proud to have been one of Larry Cervi’s East End Kids! Thank you, Larry, for sharing your love of the arts with countless kids like me who started out with two left feet, and left with lots of new skills and most importantly, self-confidence.
30: Dear Larry, I am so glad you are being celebrated! I would like to thank you for what you have personally given to the youth surrounding Pittsburgh for all these years. You have made a difference in my life and in the lives of so many. I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked with you in all of my High school musicals at West Allegheny and and for the chance to perform and grow in confidence as a young lady with East End Kids! You cheerfully put up with so much and gave of your time and your talents to make a difference in us and give us the opportunity to use our talents in such a special way!! For that I am so grateful. I have nothing but fond memories of my time in the East End Kids performing all over Pittsburgh and some parts of the world. The trip to England and France was very special. I am still singing and now sharing my love of music and dancing with the families in the South Hills of Pittsburgh teaching Kindermusik classes! I think of you often and am so glad to have the opportunity to say Thank You! I love you Larry! Blessings, Holly Devlin (Burns) | Larry, A lengthy letter reminiscing about our past doesn’t seem fitting when our extraordinary relationship still continues to grow even when I am many miles away. Will I ever be able to thank you enough for what seemed like the simplest of acts; an acceptance into East End Kids? You have watched me make the journey from awkward little boy to a confidant young man with a burning passion for musical theatre that could trump our suns flames. You have been with me every step of the way; through my failures and tears, but more importantly my success, which with your support, continues to grow. And look! I’ve been without East End Kids for a year and a half. We are still are frequently in touch, laughing, gossiping, and sharing our lives apart from each other. Could we have guessed nine years ago when we met that you would be trekking through the Pennsylvania mountains to see me perform in a dog costume at Penn State? You are so much more than a former teacher. You are a mentor and one of my dearest friends. Your simple little acceptance letter has made my life what it is today. Here’s to the many more experiences we have to share and memories we will make! (Perhaps an opening night on Broadway?) Much love, Sal
31: Dear Larry, I’d like to thank you for all that you’ve done for me. Although my parents weren’t unsupportive of me, they never could have provided the experiences that you have. I can’t say enough about how much it means to me that you would take me under your wing the way you have. Writing letters isn’t really my idea of something to do on a Saturday night, but, for you Larry, I’ll press on. All that said, I can see why everyone in my family loves you, you are an all-around fantastic man (I would have said great guy but it seemed a touch cliché). Now I don’t mean to drag this into an overly emotional Emily Dickinson style letter, but, I do mean all of that. Being in the East End Kids has not only helped me be more comfortable on stage and doing just about anything, but, it was a lot of fun, by my counts I’ve only got two shows left now, but, it was fun while it lasted, and I have no intentions of staying away from you or the group for too long. It’s my understanding that a lot of friends one makes in high school drift away after a while, I can only hope that you’re not one of them. I can’t really thank you enough and I’m glad that we became friends over this short time, I suppose this is where the letter ought to end so . . . Sincerely, Shane Conley | Dear Larry, It is hard to convey in a letter everything you do for the kids that you teach and mentor and guide and discipline and love. Some things are very obvious. But others are more subtle. It’s the subtle things that are difficult to put into words. You give them the opportunity and confidence to bloom, to learn what they can do with their talents. And while you are teaching them how to use their gifts to make the world smile, you build up a smile inside them. When they leave you, they have skills to tackle the world, regardless of the career path they take. Know how to prepare for something under time constraints? Yes. Know how to compete with some social restraint? Yes, worked on that. Know how to show respect? Check. What? They’re changing the whole format of the project with only a week until the deadline? Been there, done that. Know how to strive for excellence, how to sell yourself, how to win people over? Learned that. Life is sometimes not fair? So true, dealt with that early on. Speaking in front of a group? No sweat. Eye contact? Definitely. Pride in your accomplishments? You bet. Yes, they learn a lot of stuff at school, and they get a lot of love at home. But that big smile inside? That comes from you Larry, and we never forget that. Thank you for being a part of our family over the years. We couldn’t have done it without you. Love and best wishes to you and Donna, Jacque, Jim, and Chris Jenko | Larry, What can I really say? You helped shape my musical and performance life through my most formative years. From EEK to Bye Bye Birdie and culminating in Fame you helped me break out of the shy shell and take chances I normally wouldn't take. I certainly wasn't getting a lead at Kiski (mostly due to politicking and my own self-doubts) but you gave me opportunities and memories for a lifetime. I'm also holding you personally responsible for meeting Steff Cryor. Yes, it is all your fault that we are still friends after 12 years. So thank you Larry for the memories, the friendships, and the lessons in life. Nick
32: We feel privileged to know Larry and to have him as a mentor and support for our son, Joshua. It was Larry’s invitation to join East End Kids that gave Josh the spark he needed to pursue musical theater for his vocation. When Larry asked Josh to join East End Kids, it confirmed for Josh that maybe he did have some talent in this arena and that vote of confidence launched Josh on a journey that continues today. Larry has been inspiring youth and young adults for many years. Larry’s own struggles against stereotypes and prejudices as a baton twirler during childhood to become an outstanding Pitt drum major speaks volumes about his strength of character and perseverance. These challenges would have overwhelmed a weaker person, but Larry met them head on and we believe that fueled his drive toward excellence. To survive the taunts and bullying Larry had to be great—it was the only thing that eventually silenced his critics. Some people might describe Larry as stubborn and headstrong—and they would be right, but they are simply a reflection of Larry’s laser-like focus on quality and meeting high standards. He expects that of himself and he expects no less from his pupils. Larry gives generously of himself in so many ways. He’s been known to be generous with his “feedback” as in, “What kind of a performance was that? Don’t any of you know how to smile? Can you please remember what to do with your hands and feet?” But Larry is equally generous in his praise when EEK pulled off a great performance. We remember how happy Larry was for Josh after Josh’s performance in My Favorite Year and how much Larry’s approval meant to Josh. We’ve seen Larry give similar praise to other EEK performers. This brings us to another way that Larry is generous. Year after year, Larry faithfully sees all the performances of all of his EEK performers, even ones who are no longer in EEK. He’s done this when he is directing other shows and has missed rehearsals and even performances of his shows in order to be present and support his “EEK kids.” Not many people would make this level of effort, but Larry does this without a thought. | Larry also gives generously of his time to EEK performers outside of EEK. Larry’s coaching of Josh was critical to Josh’s success in getting into Governor’s School and Governor’s School sealed the deal in Josh’s mind that he was indeed an actor and performer. It gave him a professional identity. Larry has also given Josh the infamous “notes” when Josh was performing in non-EEK venues. He didn’t have to, but Larry cares about his students. Larry wrote a letter of reference to help Josh get into Penn State. We know Larry has been a tremendous help and influence for his many other students over the decades, including his dozens of East End Kids. Finally, Larry is generous with his friendship and long-term support. He builds connections and maintains relationships with people over the long haul and continues to take an interest in his students long after they are gone. Whenever we see Larry, we also get to catch up on all the other kids who were in EEK with Josh because Larry stays in touch with so many people. And they stay in touch with him----Larry’s commitment and support mean so much that he has a loyal following of people he has influenced over the years. Larry is truly one of a kind and for that we are fortunate. While he has lost a number of his peers in recent years, Larry remains vital, energetic, enthusiastic and as opinionated as ever. No one will ever accuse him of being shy about his opinions and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you, Larry, for being such a wonderful mentor, teacher and friend to so many children for so many years. Their lives—and the lives of their families- are truly enriched because of their experience with you. We would be remiss if we didn’t also mentioned Larry’s wife, Donna. Donna is a great supporter of Larry and East End Kids. Donna is often at the numerous performances, rehearsals and visits to see former students perform. Donna is also delightful and provides a great balance to Larry. EEK is blessed to have her also! Fondly, Mike and Mary Phan-Gruber | Tribute to Larry Cervi | memories
34: Dear Larry, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for everything I learned and experienced during my time with EEK. I can still remember my first audition like it was yesterday. I was so nervous because, while I had many years of experience with singing and performing, I had not danced in a looooong time and was so intimidated by the dance skills of the kids around me. I really thought after the dance part that I was not going to make it. After days of watching the mail, my acceptance letter came and I was THRILLED! Not only did I find a group of kids that loved to perform as much as I did, but I got to learn from the best teachers and perform in venues that I could only have dreamed about--including Kennywood and Las Vegas. Dance continued to be a bit of a struggle for me (which you so delicately pointed out one rehearsal by saying "you're a great singer, but your dancing is terrible" haha!!), but I found my niche with the vocal solos and loved every second of holding that microphone and being in the spotlight--a spotlight that you put me in. Additionally, I got to have experiences with you outside of EEK at the Boyce Community Theatre and I still carry lessons from those times with me today. I remember I wanted a lead in Little Shop of Horrors so badly, but you said, "Well, you don't look the part. But I'll give you a chance." And you did. You gave me my chance, but not a lead role (haha). The lesson I learned from that experience that applies to my life still today is that there are things in life that you are going to want and not get, no matter how hard you try or how badly you want them. I still had a great time being a bag lady in that production though. The next season, however, you did give me my lead in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and I have to say that was my favorite show I've ever been in, to this day. I particularly remember after hearing I got this role that I just wanted to nail it so badly to show you what I could do on stage. You always had a way of motivating me to do my very best. My mom still has the newspaper articles talking about "Adrienne Genovese holding her own on stage with a veteran actress." Larry, you were always very up front with us as performers and students about our strengths and our limitations, which was sometimes a hard dose to swallow, but it's the only way to learn in life. You kept things very real for a girl whose head was in the clouds thinking about Broadway and Los Angeles coming into EEK. I left EEK and Boyce with a stronger sense of self and a much more realistic view of the world of performing arts and my role in it. I did end up doing a lot of singing during my undergraduate studies at Allegheny College. I was in three choirs, spent four years training in opera and was also the jazz ensemble vocalist. I took every chance given to me to get up on that stage and belt out a few tunes with confidence and pizzazz-- things I really learned a lot about with you as my teacher. Now that I'm a young professional working in the medical field, I think it's so cool that there are shows like “Glee” that demonstrate the value of performing arts beyond the stage. These shows are teaching kids things that I got to learn because of you. (For the record, you made singing and dancing cool way before “Glee” did, haha.) Thank you so much for your guidance. Your passion fueled my passion and really made me the best I could be. Your lessons have carried on way past my high school years, and I am truly a more well-rounded, strong, confident and hard working person because of you. Adrienne Genovese | Larry, It is with greatest admiration that I congratulate you in all your success. Not only can it be measured in the numerous accolades on stage and screen that your students have achieved, but also in the countless individuals that have succeeded in becoming better people because of your charity and grace. There is no match for your generosity. Thank you for all you have given, your support and your passion. Best, Chris Saunders | Dear Larry, I guess it was fate that after directing my father in High School you would end up directing not only me, but my mother as well. You have taught me many valuable lessons along the way and I am so appreciative to have been a member of EEK. I look forward to the future and any possibilities it holds for working with you again. Love, Mallory Hayden Mousseau
35: Larry, I know you are probably reading my bio and thinking that it can’t really be for the person it says it is. When I was in East End Kids I could barely do a pivot and am now a dance major in college, hard to believe right? I just want to say thank you for always pushing me. I remember being a little kid and not being able to do any of the dance steps in the show, but somehow you always seemed to get me to by show time. It is situations like these that have inspired me and driven me to be the dancer that I am today. I am forever grateful for the experience I gained from this group, and directly from you. Sincerely, Brett Hahalyak | ONE Singular Sensation
36: LARRY: This is Garrick’s response to the letter of recommendation you wrote for him: November 27, 2010 To Whom It May Concern: L.C. are Larry Cervi’s initials or could stand for “Loose Cannon.” You want your children yelled and sworn at, call Larry. You need entertainment for a dinner party, call Larry. You want to subjugate an entire minority in their own temple, call Larry. If the above seems too much for one man, believe me, Larry has proven himself to be an indispensable contributor towards our culture and values. When I first met Larry many years ago, he urged me to take up a boy’s jazz class on Wednesdays. Instead of accepting the fact that I had “Jewish” religious school Wednesday afternoons, Larry told me that his dance class was much more important. Over six years later, after innumerable episodes with him, he still tells me weekly that I need dance. Other men would have given up or tried to move on. Still, others would try to take my money and throw me into a place I didn’t belong. What makes Larry special is that it was never about the money. He offered several times to give me a full scholarship to take a class. Finally I realized he wants this for me and not himself. He goes to work almost every day in an effort to help the community and those young spirits who so desperately want to make it to Broadway or at least, their High School Musical. How many adults over fifty really know what life is like for a modern day teenager? Yeah, everyone had generic problems like sex, drugs, and alcohol but Larry can relate to so much more. Larry knows all about our relationships and personal struggles. He knows all of our “hip young lingo”. He never hesitates to express his opinion when it comes to boys wearing earrings or “gay looking” striped leg warmers. Finally, Larry knows each of us on a personal level. He makes each of us feel like we are the most important person in the world. Whether it’s making hilarious speeches about his hair or his “bro-mances”, or talking for an hour to thank everyone for watching a forty-five minute show, Larry is always the center of attention. In conclusion, I believe that with all of Larry’s charisma and personality, he will continue to be our “Loose Cannon”. And that’s why we love him. | Larry, This experience of being an East End Kid has meant a great deal to me. My passion and love for performing has increased greatly thanks to you. I am so glad I had the opportunity to perform so much this young in life. East End Kids has helped me grow as a singer, dancer, performer, and as a person. Like you have always said, more can be taken from this group than just dancing and singing. I have learned to be patient, understanding and most of all to be a leader. I will keep these life lessons with me for the rest of my life. Your encouragement has helped me to try my hardest and to never give up. Thanks for being such an encouraging and influencing person in my life. Sabrina Tishko | Dear Larry, It's been an absolute pleasure being associated with you and the "East End Kids" for the past several years. Thank you so much for all you do and for showing our daughter, Sabrina, (and us) that hard work and dedication really do lead to success. You've been an excellent role-model and teacher and we appreciate your influence. We wish many more years of success & happiness to you, Donna, and your entire family. Jeff & Elaine Tishko | Sincerely, Garrick L. Servello (G.S.)
37: Dear Chief, Congratulations on 20 years of East End Kids! Chelsea asked me recently how she would go about instilling in her own kids one day the kind of self-confidence that she has gained for herself. At the time, I didn't know how to answer her question. I found the answer while going through all of her photographs and video clips to put together her senior slide show ... and here is what I told her: "Your self-confidence comes from two things. First, the tremendous love and support of your family, many of whom were always in the audience cheering you on since your first stage appearance at age three. And second, from performing in literally 200+ shows as an East End Kid, whether the audience was small, up close and personal at retirement homes or veterans' facilities, or before hundreds at Disney World, aboard Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas, or at the McKeesport International Festival. I have shed tears over nearly every letter contained in this memento album since I had the privilege of receiving them in advance. While each one may have its own personal slant, each also has one common thread: the self-confidence gained through the experience of being an East End Kid! Throughout your life you have given all that you are to kids, and a very small sampling of the impact you have had and continue to have on them is represented in the messages contained in these pages. Thank you, Larry, for nurturing the Performing Arts in Pittsburgh, and more importantly, for loving and nurturing the thousands of kids whose lives you have greatly and positively impacted in a wide variety of ways, as director, mentor, friend, colleague, father-figure, mediator, and travel guide. And thank you for letting me be a very small part of it for a while. A big thank you also to Donna for sharing you with all of us ~ she is a Saint! With much love and respect, Rona