Girl’s love of drama inspires scholarship

WELLSBURG – The many friends and family members of the late Angela Casinelli have put together, with the help of many others, an event that will offer a little something for everyone and raise money for a scholarship in her name.

A 2013 graduate of Brooke High School, Casinelli was active in the school’s drama club and preparing to study theater arts at West Liberty University when she died from an embolism.

Nathan Marshall, Brooke’s drama instructor, said Casinelli’s unexpected death, at the age of 18, has had a profound effect on her classmates. He said he’s hopeful the variety of entertainment at the Be Festival, set for 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at the Brooke High School softball field, will help to raise the spirits of all affected by her loss.

Marshall said the event got its name because “Be great” has been the drama club’s motto while Angela’s own philosophy was “Be yourself.”

The event also will carry on her love of theater by raising money for a scholarship to be given in her name to a Brooke graduate interested in theater.

Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for students to the event, which will feature entertainment and presentations ranging from rock bands to comedians to professional wrestlers.

John Casinelli, Angela’s father, said he is amazed by the number and variety of performers Marshall and others have managed to book in a short amount of time. He noted many are friends and acquaintances of Marshall, whose own resume includes standup comedy, singing and songwriting, among other talents.

Among the many slated to appear are: Jim Avett, a country singer from North Carolina; comedian David Michael of Cleveland, mentalist Michael Mykita of Pittsburgh, Essential Machine, a Pittsburgh duo with a folk pop style; country rock band The Sparrows of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh rock band Partly Sunny, local band 40 Plus; and members of the Black Diamond independent wrestling group of Wheeling.

Representatives of the Carnegie Science Center Science on the Road program also will be on hand from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. while visitors from the Oglebay Zoo to You program will be there from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

There also will be the Josh and Gab Show, a duo that uses music and comedy to address bullying; the balloon artists of JMS Balloons, Burghman, Pittsburgh’s superhero; food for sale, cornhole and volleyball tournaments and a Chinese auction with a variety of items up for bid.

John Casinelli, who also has been involved with his family, said he’s gratified by the effort that has been put into the event.

“We’ve had a very dedicated group of students and parents who have really stepped forward and the businesses have been extremely giving,” he said.

John added Brooke County school officials have been very supportive, allowing Angela’s classmates to miss school to attend her funeral and even arranging transportation for those who needed it.

Asked about criteria for the scholarship, John said though his daughter was an honors student, “Angela always used to say the straight A students always get the scholarships, but the B plus students need help, too.”

He said an effort will be made to find a student who may not be the best but has a high aptitude for college. Like Angela, that person should have an interest in theater and have experience in community service.

John noted Angela began volunteering at an early age, helping him and other members of the Follansbee Volunteer Fire Department with door-to-door canned good collections. Her many community service projects as a teen have included staging a carnival at the Wyngate Senior Living Community.

Marshall said many will remember Angela for the special person she was.

He recalled that to audition for his advanced theater class, she played a gruff agent with the Internal Revenue Service, opposite her own demeanor, in a comic piece, which was her forte.

He said in addition to her involvement in school plays, most recently “You Can’t Take It With You,” she displayed a talent for improvisonational comedy in the school’s yearly Improv Night.

“She was really funny in that,” he said.

“She was just a really good person, always jovial,” Marshall said.

The schedule for the Be Festival includes the following groups:

1 p.m. – Frontroom

1:30 p.m. – Twin Compasses

2:10 p.m. – The Weathered Road

3:10 p.m. Partly Sunny

3 p.m.- 5 p.m. Mentalist Michael Mykita

4 p.m. The Sparrows

5 p.m. Xavier in the Doghouse

5:30 p.m. 40 Plus

6:20 p.m. Jim Platt’s Rhythm Innovation and Anthony Horner

6:50 p.m. The Josh & Gab Show

7:15 p.m. Professor Style’s Miracle Elixir Medicine Show

7:40 p.m. Party or Die

8 p.m.-9 p.m. Black Diamond Wrestling

8:20 p.m. Essential Machine

9:10 p.m. Jim Avett

10 p.m. Fireworks

(Scott can be contacted at