Teen TV star
Cassie Corsaro, of Greensburg, is about to make her second appearance on television, and she had a doggone good time filming the latest show.
The 14-year-old freshman at Greensburg Salem High School recently returned from Los Angeles where she attended a three-week session of LA KidsAct, a school and summer camp for aspiring young actors. When that ended, she spent another week working on "A Dog's Life," a pilot show about pampered canines that's hosted by Pittsburgh native Trisha Simmons.
Part of the show will be previewed on Sept. 2 on "Pittsburgh Today," which airs at 9 a.m on KDKA-TV. Simmons, who will be a guest, will talk about "A Dog's Life" and her return to her hometown to film a new movie.
"Los Angeles is breathtaking, and I saw Hollywood and Beverly Hills," Corsaro said. "The whole experience was a lot of fun and I learned a lot of new things."
The daughter of Edna Crosby and Danny Corsaro, of Greensburg, is no stranger to performing.
"Back at the age of 3, she would do the karaoke thing and she was always messing around with the video camera at home," Crosby said.
At the end of fifth grade, Corsaro enrolled in Stage Right School for the Performing Arts in Greensburg, and studied voice, acting and dance. She has since appeared there in numerous musical productions, including playing Tiger Lily in "Peter Pan," Sour Kangaroo in "Seussical," and Mrs. Peterson and Harvey Johnson in "Bye Bye Birdie."
"Cassie always had a unique ability to do more than what's on the page," Stage Right artistic director Tony Marino said. "In monologues and scene work in acting class, she instinctively understood that she had to do more and she was always fearless in doing so. She has a really active imagination and a wonderful sense of humor."
That trait led to her first television appearance in 2002 as one of "The Funniest Kids in America," a contest affiliated with "All That" on the Nickelodeon channel.
Corsaro downloaded the entry script from the show's Web site and acted it out in front of a video camera.
"They had to laugh and cry and do every emotion on cue," Crosby said. "We taped it and sent it in, and that was in February. Then we pretty much forgot about it until they called in May to congratulate her as one of the top 50 finalists."
Corsaro then recorded six skits, which were aired in July 2002. Since then, she has received a number of calls for auditions and studied comedy improvisation and comedy skit writing with Donna Belajac Casting in Pittsburgh. That's where she met Simmons, who instructed one of the classes.
Simmons, a native of Pittsburgh, has been in a number of movies and television shows, including "West Wing," "ER," "Third Rock From the Sun" and "Desperate Housewives."
She was so impressed with Corsaro's talent that she offered her a scholarship to LA KidsAct, which she founded.
Crosby, a friend, Corsaro and her sister, Leanne Crosby, spent July in Los Angeles while Corsaro studied with Simmons.
When the classes were over, Corsaro spent a week with Simmons, working on "A Dog's Life," which Simmons is trying to market as a series.
On the first day, at a park, the kids learned how to use various filming equipment. The next day, they were assigned to find a person with a dog.
"I got one that looked like a Yorkie, and then I went into a suitcase (of costumes) and picked out an outfit for her," Corsaro said. "I dressed the dog in a bathing suit that was like a Hawaiian floral design, and I know that the dog liked getting dressed up because she was smiling and panting. Then I interviewed the owner. This was a very pampered dog that gets massages and goes to the spa and everything, a real little Beverly Hills dog."
On another day, the young actors interviewed people who make dog fashions and specialty toys. The shooting ended with a red-carpet party that included "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul, Christy Carlson Romano (from "Even Steven") and Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner.
Corsaro wants to have a career in the entertainment industry and would like to attend Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, which has a recognized drama and film program.
"I have my eye on Hollywood and some day I'm going to land something, I just know it," she said.
Marino agreed. "Cassie is one of those kids who I know for sure something is going to happen for them," he said. "She just has that thing."