Chris Orosz, founding executive director emeritus of Stage Right, dies July 4
A lot of people have bucket lists, of places they want to visit and things they want to do in their lifetime.
Chris Orosz's bucket list was quite unique – but then, her friends and family would say that was fitting because she was a unique and special person.
The founding executive director emeritus of Stage Right Professional Theater Company and School for the Performing Arts in Greensburg passed away on July 4, after major health issues in the past two years ultimately led to her renal and heart failure.
When her doctors told her she didn't have much time left, Orosz decided she wanted to celebrate her life instead of thinking about what was ahead.
Her first request was to hear the original Stage Right Sensations, the ambassador student performing group of Stage Right, sing the Disney Medley they sang when they performed at Disney World 15 years ago.
She crossed that item off her list on July 1, when she had a Sunday afternoon visit at her Irwin home by 12 members of the original Stage Right Sensations.
Celebration of life
“We had a nice talk,” she told the Tribune-Review the next day. “I just told them I needed to hear them and see them, and remember everything they do. They were my kids. They made me smile – and I haven't smiled a lot lately.”
Her brother, Tony Marino, artistic director of Stage Right, was helping to facilitate his sister's bucket list wishes.
“We FaceTimed from The Lamp Theatre in Irwin last weekend so she could watch Stage Right's summer camp production of ‘The Little Mermaid.' I filmed from the seat where she always sat in the theater,” Marino says.
She also wished to sit on the porch of the restaurant at Kennywood Park and watch the current Sensations perform one more time. Marino had planned to FaceTime with her when the singers and dancers performed at Kennywood this weekend.
Unfortunately, time ran out too soon for the woman that her brother said was the driving force behind the performing arts school, which has grown from a dozen students when it opened in 1998 in an old furniture store building on Main Street in Greensburg, to its current enrollment of more than 200 students year-round.
On July 4, Marino sent out a message to his Facebook friends:
“This morning my sister, the founder of Stage Right, the woman who decided our motto would be ‘Where Dreams Begin,' and who was the person who started me down my life's path, passed away peacefully.”
He said her last days were a celebration of the things she believed in most, and filled with moments of joy and hope. He thanked everyone who called, texted, visited and sang and danced for her in her final days.
Marino said the success of Stage Right is all a testament to Chris, who first proposed starting the theater company around the family dining room table at their home in Ligonier and their mother came up with the Stage Right name.
“It didn't matter how hard things got along the way, Chris persevered,” her brother said. “The most bittersweet thing about all of this is that now, in our 20th year, we are the strongest we have ever been, and this is what happens.”
Surrounded by love
Beginning in July, Stage Right will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a special event each month. Tony said the memory of Chris will be honored throughout the year and a performing arts scholarship will be established in her name.
Orosz managed the business from its start until she became ill, but the part of her job that she said she would miss the most is costuming.
And with all of her family members, her dear friends and all of the students who have gone on to careers as performers or in arts-related professions, she said the day before she passed, “I'm surrounded by love.”
Orosz leaves three children, Tarek, Stephanie and Alia, and eight grandchildren.
Lives she touched
Her son Tarek reflected on his mother's support and dedication and said that he and his family were fortunate to share her with so many others whose lives she touched.
“This includes students from Stage Right, co-workers from her time running medical practices, colleagues from school and an evolving cast of friends from her book group, her reunion committee, Rotary Club and so many other connections,” he said.
“She wanted to know you, to help you, to let you know she believed in you. She wanted to offer a hand, share a laugh and do a little something extra.”
He said that “a couple different times during her illness, she told me, ‘You're a good son.' It struck me that I wanted to be a good son because she had been such a good mom.”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.