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Murrysville resident and FR grad take part in summer run of Civic Light Opera shows

Patrick Varine
| Thursday, July 19, 2018, 12:42 p.m.
Joseph Domencic and Jessica Ice are part of the Civic Light Opera's summer run of shows.
Submitted photos
Joseph Domencic and Jessica Ice are part of the Civic Light Opera's summer run of shows.

Actors from New York City know the Benedum Center.

“Even in New York, it’s a big theater gig,” said actress and Murrysville native Jessica Ice. “People come from New York to audition there.”

Those people include Ice as well as Joseph Domencic, who both grew up in western Pennsylvania, spent time in the New York City theater scene and have returned for a summer run of shows at the Civic Light Opera .

“I was here last year and did ‘Mamma Mia’ at CLO, and this year I was lucky enough to do four big shows,” said Ice, a 2010 Franklin Regional graduate and alum of the Abby Lee Dance Company in Penn Hills.

Ice was part of CLO productions of “The Full Monty” and “Brigadoon,” and will be part of the “Beauty and the Beast” show opening July 27 as well as an Aug. 7-12 run of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

“Performing at the Benedum is amazing,” Ice said. “It’s really nice to see familiar faces.”

Domencic grew up Edgewood and Ben Avon, and moved to Murrysville two years ago after a stint in the Big Apple. Performing in “The Full Monty” and “Brigadoon” has brought his career full circle.

“My first professional job when I was 19 was in the CLO’s production of ‘A Christmas Carol,’” said Domencic, 45. “Now my wife and I are writing a show for their children’s touring group, Gallery of Heroes.”

The Gallery of Heroes troupe performs short educational musicals throughout western Pennsylvania. Domencic and his wife are writing one titled “Beyond the Moon,” about a girl whose dream is to be the first person to set foot on Mars.

Domencic has written other shows for the troupe, and he and his wife met while working on one of them.

“CLO has been an integral part of my career and life,” he said. “They have given me wonderful opportunities as an actor and as a writer.”

Both Ice and Domencic said that while the New York City theater scene is obviously larger than Pittsburgh’s, there is no shortage of talent among Steel City actors.

“I’m blown away by the people I get to work with,” Domencic said.

Ice said she loves walking through Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

“Those theaters bring in a lot of New York performers who have been on Broadway and trained in New York City,” she said.

Ice still lives in the Big Apple, and is staying at a friend’s apartment in Pittsburgh during this run of shows.

Domencic has returned to the area full-time, working for the past five years as a theater professor at Seton Hill University in Greensburg.

“(Teaching) became a big passion for me over the years, and in a way it almost eclipsed my desire to perform,” he said.

Almost, but not quite: Domencic said he plans to continue acting, especially if it is with the CLO.

“I get to be around the people I love, and I get to be close to my family in a city I love,” he said.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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