Valley Export: Krista Lynn Peckyno
Growing up in North Belle Vernon, Krista Lynn Peckyno knew she wanted to be involved in the entertainment business in some fashion.
What she could not have guessed, however, was that those aspirations would lead her to law school, a career behind the stage and ultimately into the souvenir cup business.
Peckyno lived in the Mid-Mon Valley until her family moved to Bethel Park when she was a high school freshman.
She is the daughter of Karen and Tim Peckyno of Bethel Park.
After graduating from Bethel Park High School in 2003, she attended Central Florida University, earning a bachelor of science degree in pre-law, focusing on sports and entertainment contracts.
While in college, she began operating a nonprofit entertainment studio.
That influenced her collegiate studies.
"There were a lot of talented kids going to New York or Los Angeles and I was not able to represent them because I was not a certified agent," Peckyno said.
She explained that certified agents must hold a bachelor's degree and be registered to be an agent.
Peckyno earned a master's degree from Central Florida in nonprofit management, focusing on the arts and related fields "because my nonprofit was taking off."
The nonprofit centered on children and youth performers - teaching them piano, voice, dance and acting lessons. Their lessons culminated in a two-week musical production.
For example, when "High School Musical" came out, a lottery was held because many production companies wanted a shot at producing the show.
"We were one of the first companies to put on 'High School Musical,'" Peckyno said.
They also put on such favorites as "Grease" and "The Lion King."
Although based in Orlando, her studio was not affiliated with Walt Disney World.
"There's a really big performing arts community in Orlando," Peckyno said. "There's a lot of opportunity there."
Peckyno's love for entertaining was realized early.
"I grew up on almost every stage in the Mon Valley," Peckyno said. "I always was a performer. In high school, I got involved in directing."
She got her start working in the child entertainment business one night seemingly by accident when she was 18.
She was working at Max and Erma's in Peters Township when she met a 6-year-old girl. She asked the girl what she wanted to do and the girl said, "I'm going to be an entertainer" before standing on a stool and belting out a rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow."
That girl would become her first vocal student.
"That was my moment," Peckyno said. "I discovered I liked being on the other side of the stage, coaching and teaching. There's an enjoyment from watching someone realize their dreams."
Peckyno is currently shuffling between Orlando, Pittsburgh and New York. She spends much of her time in New York, where she has a studio and the bulk of her current students. She does her booking work out of her homes in Orlando and Pittsburgh.
She actually ventured to New York in 2008 for the first time "on a challenge," Peckyno said. She attended Seton Hall there, earning her law degree in May. Her concentration was in entertainment law.
"I did not go to law school to be a lawyer," Peckyno said. "I wanted to use my law degree in the entertainment field."
In January 2010, while still in law school, she was named director of business and legal affairs for Theater Refreshment Company. The firm handles concessions for 20 of the 34 Broadway theaters. She drafts contracts for any companies which seek to sell products the Broadway theaters.
With her law degree, Peckyno is focusing on booking contracts and securing auditions for her clients - everything from community productions to tours.
"I still haven't had a student land on Broadway, but I've had a few come close," Peckyno said.
Her work with Theater Refreshment Company took Peckyno in a different, unique entertainment business venture - Lika Cup Co.
The Broadway Theaters were selling souvenir cups with logos from the various productions, like Beauty and the Beast and Phantom of the Opera, for example. There was just one company worldwide making these cups, Peckyno said.
"I had the idea that we should do this ourselves," Peckyno said.
So with financial packing from the owner of Theater Refreshment Company, Peckyno recruited good friend and 2003 Belle Vernon Area High School graduate Krystina Robinson to join her new venture.
Robinson is a freelance graphic designer who has done work for Disney among other companies. Robinson designs the cups, which Peckyno sells.
That business is booming and she is using her legal experience to write contracts for Lika Cups products, noting, "that's were the legal training meets the practical side."
"This week, I was working with the Benedum and the Meadows," Peckyno said. "We're expanding beyond Broadway. There's a lot of room in our business."
She has traveled around the world, from China, where the cups are produced, to London and Las Vegas for sales.
"The cup business would never have happened without the theater business."
Peckyno said her business is her pleasure. She gets to attend Broadway shows or casinos to oversee her business ventures.
"Everything I do is a lot of fun," Peckyno said. "I always wanted to be in the entertainment business. I never thought it would be this way."