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Mission Statement

Founded in 2009 to fill a void in children’s theatre workshop programs,

South Shore Theatre Experience is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization comprised of volunteers that strive to bring the joy and love of theatre to everyone through theatre classes & workshops, magic shows and our professional adult theatre company. We perform Broadway & Off-Broadway classics, as well as original works from local writers, for the community, both young and old. We are ardent in our desire to develop and foster learning workshops for children. We are committed to helping charities and organizations in our community with our programs, as our organization believes in

"Paying it Forward". We try to do that in everything we do.

Life is Good!

~Debbie & Ted Plezia

Board of Directors

Patrick M. Finn ~ Artistic Director

Steven Prendergast ~ Executive Producer

Thaddeus C. Plezia ~ Theatre Coordinator

Deborah Cascio Plezia ~ Founder, Trustee

Ted Plezia ~ Founder, Trustee

Leslie Ippolito ~ Resident Musical Director

Martin Knapp ~ Associate Director

Katie Schrader ~ Director of Community Outreach

Patrick M. Finn ~ Artistic Director

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Patrick has been performing in Long Island theatre for 30 years. A graduate of Hofstra University and Saint John’s University School of Law, he was born and raised in South Farmingdale, and currently resides in the village of Farmingdale with his husband Steven Prendergast. He has previously served as counsel for several Long Island theatres. Though an attorney by profession, his first love is acting and the theatre. Among his favorite roles he has played are Luther Billis in South Pacific, Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly!, Goldberg in The Birthday Party, the Common Man in A Man For All Seasons, Dodge in Buried Child, the Porter in Macbeth, Carmichael in A Behanding In Spokane, Prospero in The Tempest, and Mark Rothko in Red. Patrick has also sat in the director’s chair, helming productions of Frost/Nixon, Red Scare On Sunset, Phillip Glass Buys A Loaf of Bread, Our Leading Lady, The Violet Hour, The Weir, The Pavilion, and Times Square Angel. Patrick also serves as co-host of the podcast Grumpy Old Gay Men And Their Dogs. In their spare time, he and his husband take ballroom dance lessons and dote on Abigale, their cairn terrier.

Steven Prendergast ~ Executive Producer


Steven has been working in Long Island Theater for over 20 years both as an actor, stage manager and board member.  He has been working with South Shore Theatre Experience for the past few years both on and off stage.  Steven currently works with The Knot World Wide as The Manager of Online Advertising, Global Media Solutions. 

Thaddeus C. Plezia - Theatre Coordinator

Thaddeus C. Plezia has been studying Shakespeare for the last 6 years. Credits: Jacques (As You Like It), Brutus (The Tragedy of Julius Caesar), Valentine (Two Gentlemen of Verona), Chiron (Titus Andronicus), and Sganarelle (The Forced Marriage by Molière). Directorial credits: The Tempest, Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Follow him on Twitch: ChiefThad, and Socials: Twitter (@ChiefThad) Instagram (chief_thad) 

Deborah Cascio Plezia - Founder, Trustee

Deborah is the founder and previous Artistic Director of SSTE. She has been involved in theatre for over 45 years and has designed, painted and built sets, run lighting & sound boards, managed props, stage managed, written for theatre, produced, directed, acted and has costumed at most theatres on Long Island. She has performed regionally and Off-Broadway and has starred in the world premieres of many shows as well as the Long Island premieres of such shows as "Breaking Legs" (Angie), "Spiked Heels" (Georgie), "Catholic School Girls" (Maria Theresa), "The Convertible Girl" (Christine), "Four Dogs and a Bone" (Brenda), "Love, Loss & What I Wore". "Wicked Sisters" (Meridee) and "Sylvia" in the title role to name a few. Favorite roles include "It Had to Be You" (Theda),  "I Ought To Be in Pictures" (Steffie)  and "The Pavilion" (Keri), Born Yesterday (Billie) and "Steel Magnolias" (M'Lynn) ... She has also worked in TV, commercial print ads and narrated the Channel 21 Emmy award winning documentary "Let's Talk About Sex" hosted Gabrielle Cartaris. Besides teaching classes here at SSTE, she has worked as drama advisor/ director/ costumer in many area schools and was the Drama Advisor for West Babylon Junior High School and East Islip Middle School. She also started and ran a 5th grade theatre program within the school district that raised money for Senior Scholarships for over 8 years. Deborah also volunteered for many years with the Scholarship Committee for a local community theatre group and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts as a counselor/ mentor. Deborah has studied acting with HB Studios, Stella Adler and Suffolk Community College. She also studied at The School of Visual Arts, NYC; Phil Black Dance, NYC; and Eglevsky Ballet. She is currently filming a feature film to be completed in 2024 and has a recurring role on the new hit series, The Fontanas. Deborah currently resides in West Babylon with her husband and pups, Bella & Bruno and has three grown children.  Life is good! <3

Ted Plezia - Founder, Trustee

Ted is the former Executive Producer and a founder of SSTE. He has been involved in magic and theatre for over 40 years. He, also, has stage managed, designed sets, has written and produced for Long Island Theatre. He has starred in the Long Island premieres of "Greetings" (Mickey) and "Ragtime" (Willy Conklin) as well as world premiere plays such as Cruise to Switzerland.  His "Storytime Magic" and "The Magic of Thaddeus" has been featured in Fios 1 , LI Parenting and Good Times magazines and he builds many of the illusions you see in his shows. He has performed to sell out crowds for years at the Dix Hills Performing Arts Center with his family oriented original magic shows. He was a founding member of The Parlor of Mystery, Long Island's ONLY ongoing magic show for adults that  new shows every month and performed with them regularly. He recently finished a very successful run of his new parlour show, Life's Little Mysteries. With Deborah, they operated "Partners in Crime", their own murder mystery company for private events and restaurants in the tri-state area and still offer this service to fundraising for local organizations.

Martin Knapp - Associate Director

Martin is graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (NYC '95) A trained stage actor who seamlessly worked his way into directing. Some of his directing credits here at SSTE are 'Five Women Wearing the Same Dress', 'Walter's Wish', 'Dog Sees God' ,'Charming, Darling, Deadly' and most recently 'Sexual Perversity in Chicago'. A few of his favorite roles on stage have been Jake - A Lie of the Mind, Jake - Jake's Women, Scrooge - Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge , himself in 'Completely Hollywood' and Cal Porter - 'Mothers and Sons'. Martin also teaches Acting for Adults. 

Leslie Ippolito - Resident Musical Director

For the past 25 years, Leslie has been teaching private vocal and piano lessons to children and adults of all ages. Her style is a laid back one focusing on the needs and personal style of the student. Leslie has prepared many of her students for all levels of NYSSMA, auditions that they may have, helps them prepare for their parts in any performances that they may be in, and accompanies them for open mic performances if that's what they like to do. She was the children's musical director for the past 7 years and is musical director for our adult productions.

Katie Schrader - Director of Community Outreach


Katie brings to the SSTE Board years of experience serving on non-profit boards, and a life-long upbringing in, and love for, community theater and the arts. Performing from a young age, Katie has gone from the children’s chorus, to teen featured dancer, to young ingénue, to leading lady, and has done everything in between.  She has appeared in classic musicals & plays, original works, one-act festivals, and several independent films.  Katie has also choreographed a wide variety of shows, co-directed, and worked on many lighting, sound, prop, costume, makeup, house management, and stage crews.  In the past, Katie has served as Co-President of the James Street Players, and Chair of the Babylon United Methodist Church Council.  Presently, and since their inception, she is the Program Director of the New York Long Island Film Festival, and the Secretary of the Lindenhurst St. Patrick’s Parade Committee.  Katie lives and works in Lindenhurst as the Village Clerk, and is the proud mother of two “theater kids” – Meredith, a Theater major at Suffolk County Community College, and David, a current high-school senior, who plans to study Music Production/Industry in college.  Katie believes in the “magic” of what Debbie & Ted have created with SSTE.  She is proud to be serving on the Board, and to be a part of continuing, nurturing, and developing SSTE’s future, for students, actors, and audiences alike.

Christopher Hackert - Playwright in Residence

Chris has been a part of the Long Island theater scene for more than a dozen years. He began his theater career as a contributing playwright for Middle Class American Productions. After having several of his one act comedies produced by MCAP, Chris was offered an acting role by the troupe's leader John Blenn. Chris accepted the role and has been hooked on acting ever since. He went on to appear in many MCAP productions and continued writing for the troupe's American Dating Catastrophes series for many years. Chris' MCAP experiences opened the door for him to write and act in other venues as well. He later joined the SEE Saw Comedy Improv troupe and quickly became a featured actor and head writer for the company, appearing all over Long Island and New York City. Chris continued to write, act, and direct in several Long Island play festivals and took home best actor, best director, and funniest play awards in two Northport based One Act Play Festivals. Chris currently works with the Northport based Bare Bones Theater Company where he attended several acting classes and workshops. He appeared in the lead role in two of Bare Bones shows, The Pavilion and Scapino! and received great praise for his work in each of those. Most recently, Chris' one act play., "Don't Forget to Write" was accepted for production and Chris was asked to direct the 30 minute comedy as well. Chris is also thrilled to call South Shore Theater Experience his other home, having worked with Deb and Ted Plezia at MCAP. Chris has appeared in many SSTE plays, including the hilarious Completely Hollywood. His full length play "Til My Dying Day" was staged by SSTE in March 2013 as well as numerous one act plays over the years. Hiw play Walter's Wish (which world premiered here) won Best Play for Chris is the owner of the East Meadow Florist in East Meadow. He is also an active volunteer in the East Meadow community having served as President of both the East Meadow Kiwanis Club and the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce.

RJ Woodward - Director of Children's Theatre Program

Heather Neumar - Children's Theatre Instructor


RJ has been involved in theatre for over 9 years. He has built and painted sets, designed lights and sounds, directed a variety of musicals and plays, and performed during that time. Recently, he starred as SpongeBob in “SpongeBob the Musical,” Danny in “Grease,” Charlie Brown in “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown,” Man in the Chair in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and Jesus in “Godspell.” RJ is currently studying music education at LIU Post. He loves helping other actors perform to their greatest potential. a paragraph.


Heather has been involved in theatre for over 11 years, both inside and outside of SSTE. She has helped build and paint sets, worked lighting, been involved with stage crew, stage managed, and has played countless roles over the years, including most recently, “Gemini” (Herschel), “She Kills Monsters” (Agnes), “Seussical” (Cat in the Hat), “I Ought To Be in Pictures” (Libby), “The Wolves” (#46), “Chicago” (Velma/Hunyak), “Heathers” (Heather Chandler), and “Afflicted” (Abigail Williams). A Broadway World Award nominee multiple years in a row, she sees theatre as a permanent part of her life and loves to help others get involved as well.

Laura Rosenfeld - Assistant Children's Theatre Instructor


Laura is thrilled to be back working in Long Island theatre!  She's been acting for about 18 years.  Laura is so honored to be part of South Shore Theatre Experience.  Most recently, she acted in SSTE's one act play festival, and a is a member of their murder mystery company.  Laura is a certified special and general education teacher.  She looks forward to seeing the students grow as actors!  

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