Entertaining Pioneer: Lara Hope

Most people are busy working a few jobs in the current economic climate. This is especially true for recently graduated college students. For one SUNY New Paltz alumni, busyness is an afterthought. Lara Hope is more concerned with entertaining, while also helping people along the way.

Lara Hope, 25, a 2006 SUNY New Paltz graduate with a Bachelors in communications and media, now a Rosendale resident, is constantly on the move. Of all the things she does, perhaps it is her day job that is the least interesting. By day, Lara Hope is an entertainer at the Rocking Horse Ranch in New Paltz where she is known as Lara Hope-A-Long. But by night she is the front woman for two bands, the host of several different open-mic nights in the area, a children’s guitar instructor, the organizer of the Zombie festival in Rosendale, the music-booking agent for Cab’s in New Paltz, and can even be found on the pages of this month’s Ulster magazine. It’s a long list of responsibilities, but as Hope puts it, “I don’t like to be bored.”

One other thing that she does is probably the most important, and meaningful. A few years ago, after starring in the SUNY New Paltz production of The Vagina Monologues, Hope decided that she wanted to direct the play herself. It wasn’t long before the bar formerly known as The Basement in Kingston allowed her to stage her play in 2010. Two years later, in February, Hope was at it again, and this time it was for a better cause.   In two consecutive weekends, Hope and her crew raised $5,700 for the Family of Woodstock Domestic Violence Services and Vagina Day.

Because of Hope’s great aversion to boredom, her other endeavors are equally as consuming. Her two bands, Tigriss, and Lara Hope and the Champtones are beginning to receive a lot of attention. Tigriss, formerly known as Tiger Piss, is her rock band that was started in New Paltz five years ago and has done 10 national tours. They have released three albums, which consist of two EP’s and one full-length record. The band members went into “hiding” for a few months, but are now gearing up for a tour with the Coney Island Rock ‘n Roll Show, which isn’t a band really, but as Lara put’s it, “they’re more of a troupe.”

Lara Hope and the Champtones are her pride and joy.  Although the rockabilly band has only been in existence for half of the life of Tigriss, she refers to her experience with the Champtones as “the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.” She blames the sentiment on how well they have been received. Dressing up, making money and music videos help, too, but who can tell what is next for her? After being asked if she was only in two bands she responded, “maybe three or four in the next few minutes. I’m kind of serious about that.”

Theater isn’t out of the picture just yet, either. In a few weeks Hope is bringing The Vagina Monologues to Oneonta for some more fundraising and entertainment. She also plans on putting on a production of Cry-Baby the musical in the next nine months to a year.

Whether she is singing on stage to fill the silence of an empty bar on open-mic night, or singing in front of a crowd of hundreds – Lara Hope is a performer at heart. It’s great to know that her passion can also provide thousands of dollars to community organizations that need it.

JP Aponte

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