Hempfield grad Stana finds niche in world of corporate entertainment – Tribune

Ryan Stana has always been happiest in the spotlight.

As a child growing up in Hempfield, his parents drove him into Pittsburgh six days a week to take lessons in voice and dance. He dreamed of being a Broadway star.

Eventually he realized he could be just as happy working with the “business� side of “show business.� Now he is the owner of RWS and Associates, a New York City firm that establishes and organizes stage shows around the world.

“I love what I do. There’s not a day in my life that I’ve ever felt like I’ve worked,â€? he said.

One of his early mentors was John Noble, Greensburg lawyer and theater lover.

When Noble organized his first “Westmoreland Night of the Stars,� a theater production staged by students from high school all over the county, Stana was one of his first performers.

“He was just like any other high school kid,� Noble said of that 1997 production. “He had a lot of ambition and a lot of talent.�

Stana played the role of “Curly� in the play “Oklahoma.�

“You could always tell there was something special about him,â€? Noble said. “He didn’t have the confidence he did now, I’ll tell you that.â€?

One of Stana’s first jobs after school was with a corporate entertainment firm that designs and organizes shows for companies, theme parks and cruise ships.

He found he had a knack for corporate entertainment. He still loved being on stage, but the job showed him a whole new side of show business.

“I really enjoyed that whole behind-the-scenes aspect of things,� he said.

Stana decided to start his own production company. RWS and Associates began in his New York City apartment in 2003, with just Stana and a collection of office supplies.

The next year he moved to an office in Times Square and hired a single employee. Now he has more than 40 people working for him and produces shows all over the world.

“Every day, we’ll have a show running, in London, Peru, California,â€? he said.

The company’s clients include Macy’s, Six Flags and Jennifer Lopez.

He visits Western Pennsylvania regularly. Several years ago he created the Esther M. Kocevar Scholarship, in memory of his grandmother, to reward Westmoreland County students studying the arts.

If Stana gets his way, RWS and Associates won’t stop growing until it becomes synonymous with corporate entertainment.

“I want to be the Kleenex of the corporate entertainment industry. You don’t say give me a tissue. You say give me a Kleenex,â€? he said.

Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or [email protected]