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Little thespians from Bethel Park school land sweet acting gig

| Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009

About two dozen Abraham Lincoln Elementary School students got a shot at stardom last week when a Minneapolis-based company filmed a series of commercials for Turkey Hill Ice Cream.

The four commercials, set to air in the spring, are based around a "school play" and were filmed in the auditorium of Neil Armstrong Middle School over two days, said Bethel Park School District spokeswoman Vicki Flotta.

One commercial features two pint-sized thespians, dressed as popcorn and caramel, engaging in a mock battle over who tastes better until a third student, dressed as a spoon, intercedes. The props and costumes were kept simple, Flotta said.

The commercial's tagline, extolling the virtue of Turkey Hill's new ice cream flavors, went to the enthusiastic and pigtailed Ruth Rubican, 7, a first-grader whose performance in Lincoln's Christmas play caught the attention of director Jerry Pope and his brother Greg, the commercials' producer.

"Sometimes I have a little bit of stage fright," Ruth said after four or five takes of belting out her lines on-camera. "So sometimes I just have to take a big breath and I'm OK."

Her family plans to save a recording of the commercial, she said.

A few "professional" child actors were brought in for the commercials. Armstrong Middle teacher Trish Quinque landed a role when the Popes saw her directing a choir practice. The Popes looked at each other and knew that Quinque would outperform the actress being considered for the part, Flotta said.

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