Thea Belle Flanzer along with Avery Allen, Keira Ballan and Madison Beehner are selling face coverings to help support the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport. Interviewing Flanzer is a most pleasant experience because she is truly an extraordinary seventeen-year-old. Her story is compelling and inspiring and she has a certain special quality that draws one into her narrative about overcoming medical obstacles only to glow with excitement of her future.
The face coverings are 1 for $30 and 2 for $50. (Photo: Instagram.com)
"Around this time last year I started a charity called 'The Artist Alignment,' because I had a spinal surgery in October of 2018, and I wanted to find a way to give back to the hospital and surgeons who totally changed my life. So we put on a huge cabaret fundraiser in Riverhead that was a huge hit," she explained. "The Gateway Playhouse helped out so much and we did our theater rehearsals there. We raised $8,000 for the hospital and everyone said what are you going to do next? So we did a raffle fundraiser for World Central Kitchen to help raise money for the relief efforts of Hurricane Dorian down in the Bahamas."
It's as if Flanzer was born for the bright light of the stage and the lenses of all things entertainment. She has acted, danced, sang, and whatever else one can do in amateur show business before they are 17. Now she wants to give back to a Bellport professional musical theater that played a sweet role in her charities' success. Due to the Coronavirus, Gateway Playhouse is experiencing severe cash flow shortages and thus financial difficulties. Flanzer said, "I just want to help by selling these masks!"
"We [The Artist Alignment] were all set to do our second Cabaret fundraiser for Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, where I had my surgery, but then the world shut down, so that couldn't happen. I was trying to figure out what to do...we decided to pivot because everyone at The Artist Alignment has been a student at Gateway since we were little kids. I started taking classes at The Gateway when I was five-years-old! It really was a second home to everyone in the charity. The day Gateway announced the cancellation of the 2020 season was like a punch in the gut to everyone. We knew Gateway would be taking a financial hit, all theaters are involved in a difficult industry and difficult business...so we decided to help."
Keira Ballan just finished her freshman year at Bellport High School and Avery Allen just finished her sophomore year at Westhampton High School. (Courtesy Photos)
The virtual world of education is not a new thing to Flanzer who graduated from the prestigious online Laurel Springs High School based out of Los Angeles, California even though she lives in Quogue and lived in the Center Moriches area before that. Flanzer said, "Laurel Springs has lots of children who are actors and are in show business and sports. It's amazing some of the classmates I have around the world."
In the last year Flanzer was recuperating from scoliosis surgery to fix an abnormal curve in her spine. Now, almost fully recovered, she is heading to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. to pursue acting - along with selling face coverings to help Gateway Playhouse.
The face covering are one for $30 and two for $50. 100 percent of proceeds supports The Gateway Playhouse's "Gateway to the Future" fund. To inquire about purchasing a face covering, email firstname.lastname@example.org