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Region's high school thespians staging 'Animal Farm' to 'The Addams Family'

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
The Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild is currently in rehearsal for its staging of “Animal Farm.” Freshmen Noah Staranko (left) and Kyle Dynys rehearse a scene.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
The Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild is currently in rehearsal for its staging of “Animal Farm.” Freshmen Noah Staranko (left) and Kyle Dynys rehearse a scene.

The political significance of staging a story like George Orwell's “Animal Farm” is not lost on junior Jeffrey Backus.

“Especially in the era we're in now, this play really represents the fallacies of power,” said Backus, 16, who will play the lead character Napoleon, a pig who rises to power after a group of domesticated animals takes over an English farm after driving the farmer away.

“Showing something as dramatic as the Russian Revolution is really amazing,” Backus said.

The Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild will stage the show, based on Orwell's 1945 allegorical novella, next month. It's one of several production being mounted in the next month at area high schools.

“It fits in so well with today,” said senior Abby Lanzelotti, who will play Clover, a horse who becomes wary of the pigs' scheming as they begin to exhibit human traits and subjugate their fellow farm animals.

Junior Angel Morante, 17, will portray Napoleon's partner and eventual enemy, a young pig named Snowball, and will also choreograph the show.

“It's not your average chip off the block,” Morante said of the play. “It's meant to scare your audience and send a message about abusing power.”

For director Tom Bekavac, it was about finding a way to get the most stage time for the 30 members of the cast.

“It's hard to find a play that utilizes a lot of people,” he said. “This is really an ensemble show. Everyone's onstage for most of the play.”

One thing the student actors will not have to is worry about spending hours in the makeup chair transforming into the farm animals.

“There have been productions that did full-on horse costumes,” Bekavac said. “I wanted to tell more of the story. I wanted to have the kids use their bodies to convey animal traits rather than doing masks.”

Curtain call

Here are some of the fall productions happening at high schools throughout the region.

Burrell: “The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe,” by Adrian Mitchell based on the C.S. Lewis novel. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16-18; Admission: $6 for side aisles and $8 for center seats. 1021 Puckety Church Road, Lower Burrell

Deer Lakes: “Murder Can Be Habit-Forming,” by Billy St. John. 7 p.m. Nov. 16-18; 2 p.m. Nov. 19. Admission: $8 at the door. 19 East Union Road, Cheswick

Fox Chapel: “Radium Girls” by D.W. Gregory. 7 p.m. Nov. 9-11, $8 at the door. Free 3:45 p.m. performance on Nov. 8 for seniors age 60 and older. 611 Field Club Road, O'Hara

Hempfield Area: “The Odd Couple,” by Neil Simon. Female version 7 p.m. Nov. 9-11 and 2 p.m. Nov. 11; male version, 7 p.m. Nov. 16-18 and 2 p.m. Nov. 18. $5, $3 for students. 4345 State Route 136, Hempfield

Ligonier Valley: “The Great All-American Musical Disaster,” by Tim Kelly. 7 p.m. Nov. 3-4. $5 at the door. 40 Springer Road, Ligonier Township

Mars: “Twelve Angry Jurors,” by Reginald Rose and Sherman Sergel. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17-18. $5 at the door. 520 Route 288 in Adams Township

Mt. Pleasant Area: “See How They Run,” by Philip King. 7 p.m. Nov. 2 and 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 4. $5, $3 for students. 265 State St., Mt. Pleasant Township

North Hills: “Pride and Prejudice,” adapted by Jon Jory from the Jane Austen novel. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9-11; 1:30 p.m. Nov. 11 as a senior citizen matinee, to RSVP call 412-318-1438. $6, $4 for students and seniors at the door. 53 Rochester Road, Ross

Norwin: “The Addams Family,” by Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. 7 p.m. Oct. 26-28, 2 p.m. Oct. 29. $12, $10 for students and seniors, available at NHSTheatreCompany.com. 251 McMahon Drive, Irwin

Penn-Trafford: “Animal Farm,” adapted by Ian Woolridge from the George Orwell novella. 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 11, and 2 p.m. Nov. 12. $5 at the door. 3381 Route 130, Harrison City

Pine-Richland: “Alice in Wonderland,” adapted by Eva LaGallienne and Florida Friebus from the Lewis Carroll novels. 4 p.m. Nov. 16, 7 p.m. Nov. 17-18, 1 p.m. Nov. 18. $7 available online at Pinerichland.org/Domain/952. 700 Warrendale Road, Pine

Valley: “Almost, Maine,” by John Cariani. 6 p.m. Nov. 3-4. $5, available online at VHSdrama.org/boxoffice. 703 Stevenson Blvd., New Kensington

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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