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Southmoreland student cast in Pittsburgh CLO show

| Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 3:16 p.m.
Blake Altman

This weekend, a local teen will take the stage at the Benedum Center in the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's production of “Gypsy.”

Blake Altman, 15, of East Huntington is one of 16 Pittsburgh CLO Academy students cast in the ensemble of the show, which opens tomorrow and runs through July 19.

While this is Altman's first time performing in a Pittsburgh CLO production, he started performing at a very young age.

“At 4 years old I started my first workshop, ‘Mary Poppins,' at Stage Right,” Altman said.

Since then, he has appeared in about a dozen of Stage Right's professional productions at the Palace Theater in Greensburg, as well as many of their student productions at the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center.

He also has appeared in three shows at the Geyer Performing Arts Center and performs in high schools all over the region in Prime Stage Theater Co.'s touring production of “You Belong to Me,” a teen dating violence awareness program. He also made his movie debut this year as a featured orphan in “Gore Orphanage.”

In addition to dancing and competing for Abby Lee Dance Co., Altman said he takes Acting for TV and Film, along with a musical theater workshop class at the Pittsburgh CLO Academy.

Patty Malone, Pittsburgh CLO Academy principal, said she is impressed with Altman for being willing to step out of his comfort zone and try doing things at different places.

“I applaud his maturity for doing that,” Maloney said. “He's a focused young man. His eyes are wide open and he takes it all in and he's a hard worker and when he is here, he is here to learn.”

Altman, who is entering his sophomore year at Southmoreland High School, said being cast in “Gypsy” took his breath away.

“The tap dancing and the opportunity to work at the Benedum is a dream come true,” Altman said.

Based on the real-life memoirs of burlesque megastar Gypsy Rose Lee, “Gypsy” tells the story of the mother behind the curtain, Mama Rose. Blinded by her own ambition, Rose pushes her two daughters to stardom on vaudeville's legendary circuit.

The production features memorable songs such as “Everything's Coming Up Roses” “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” and “Let Me Entertain You.”

Altman said he is excited about working with such experienced professional cast members and crew.

Altman is the son of Heather Altman. His grandmother, Jackie Altman of East Huntington, said she is excited to see her grandson perform at the Benedum and that he will not only gain valuable experience, but also get to work with one of her favorite soap opera actresses, Kim Zimmer. Zimmer, who played Reva on “The Guiding Light,” will portray Mama Rose.

“I was so excited to hear Blake got a role in “Gypsy” because that was one of my favorite films when I was a young girl. ... I have a few dream roles for Blake and Tulsa is one of them because I love that dance scene ‘All I Need is the Girl,'” Jackie Altman said.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.