Alle-Kiski Valley students begin musical season

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 6:25 p.m.

A strong musical production might begin with the book and the music, but it's the performers who bring the show to life. So says Jen Bronder, director of Knoch High School's production of “Crazy for You.”

“I think our actors have really embraced this show and can't wait to share it with an audience,” she says.

They don't have to wait much longer, as curtains go up tonight at 7:30 p.m. for a show that runs through Saturday.

The high-school musical season's first performances also include Leechburg, performing “Into the Woods” beginning Friday and running through March 3; Highlands, with a run of “Fame” slated for March 8 to 10; and Kiski Area, with a production of “Annie” running March 13 to 16.

Christian Kovacs, a Highlands senior who plays acting teacher Mr. Myers in the school's production of “Fame,” sees that sense of bringing shows to life as something that allows cast and audience to connect.

“What I enjoy most about the musicals is definitely how everyone comes together to make this ‘magic' that is referenced in Fame,” he says.

“When it comes to life, it is truly spectacular and a wonderful feeling to be onstage.”

Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

Knoch ‘Crazy for You'

“Crazy for You” tells the tale of a wannabe tap dancer, Bobby Child.

Sent by his wealthy banking family to foreclose on a theater in Deadrock, Nevada, he falls in love with the theater owner's daughter, Polly Baker. This leads to an attempt to try to save the theater by taking on the disguise of a famous Hungarian producer, Bela Zangler, as well as the light-hearted chaos that ensues.

“This is certainly a show filled with drama and chaos; one that has energetic, upbeat music and lots of dancing,” says Knoch senior Chloe Knappenberger, who plays Polly.

For director Jen Bronder, the show has all the elements an audience could want in a musical — from love at first sight to mistaken identity to a dastardly villain with his sights set on stopping the show. Cast members agree.

“The duality of the characters, blended with a heavy romantic undertone, is what makes this musical so memorable,” says senior Liam Neigh, who plays the real Bela Zangler.

Senior Josh Burd, who plays Bobby, says the George Gershwin music of the show is wonderful.

“There are several big production numbers that feature tap dancing and Gershwin tunes that audiences love like, ‘I've Got Rhythm,” ‘Nice Work if You Can Get It,' ‘Naughty Baby' and ‘They Can't Take That Away From Me.'”

7:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday. Admission: $10. Knoch Junior-Senior High School auditorium, 345 Knoch Road, Jefferson. Details: 724-352-1700, ext. 4564;

Leechburg ‘Into the Woods'

Leechburg's performance of “Into the Woods” offers a different twist on high-school musicals, according to Anne Sorisio, a freshman who plays Cinderella.

“I would tell people that this production is unique,” she says. “It is very different from the traditional shows that high schools put on. ‘Into The Woods' is a mix of many of the popular fairy tales that we all grew up with as kids.”

The show tells the tale of numerous well-known fairy-tale characters and what happens after their happily-ever-after.

“‘Into the Woods' is a fantastic show that keeps grabbing your attention all the way to the end,” senior Clay Kalmar says.

For director Emily King, the show is one with characters everyone can relate to.

“There is something there for every level — children can relate to the child-parent relationships, adults can tap into the emotions of raising a family, living within a community, and realizing or losing dreams,” she says.

Senior Patrick Carlson is the production's Narrator. He says the show is a great time for everyone no matter what age and will keep audience members on the edge of their seats. But that's not all.

“Personally, my favorite part is all of the music,” he says. “It is fantastic, and each song is just as enjoyable as the last.”

7:30 Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. $8. Leechburg Area High School, 215 First St., Leechburg. Details: 724-842-0571, ext. 357; email:

Highlands ‘Fame'

Highlands' musical production of ‘Fame' is high energy and relatable, with its characters bringing the experience of those at a performing arts school to the stage.

“They fall in love, have dreams and some even deal with weight issues,” says Jade Palermo, a Highlands junior.

“I like that this production is so realistic. Sure, not everyone bursts out in songs at random times throughout the day, but we all go through the troubles the actors are going through. Everyone can relate to this high-school experience somehow.”

Many who grew up in the 1980s should be able to relate to the show's setting, according to ninth-grader Josh Gentile, who plays the sarcastic Goodman King.

“I believe audiences will enjoy the production because it's a story of where hard determination and passion will get you, along with the average teenage life; romance, dreams, friends and future plans.”

“Fame” is the first show for senior Nathan Henkle, who plays the outspoken Joe Vegas, a Spanish student from the South Bronx. The way Henkle describes the dedication of the cast sounds similar to the devotion of the characters they portray.

“The students involved in making this musical really come to life have worked tirelessly for the last few months and put in everything they've got,” he says. “Not only that, but we're being directed by a man (Michael Zeiler) who really knows what he's doing and is determined to make this production fantastic.”

7 p.m. March 8 and 9; 2 p.m. March 10. Admission: $8 for orchestra reserved; $7 for mezzanine; $6 for balcony. Highlands High School, 1500 Pacific Ave., Natrona Heights. Details: 724-226-1000 or

Kiski Area ‘Annie'

Kiski Area director Robert Capanna says the school's production of “Annie” has a story line that will connect with all.

“I think the idea of optimism even in the face of great adversity is a message that resonates with everyone,” he says.

In addition, the show, he says, has everything, “an adorable protagonist, big group numbers, exciting plot twists, timeless music and a real live dog.”

The popular musical tells the story of a lovable, Depression-era orphan.

For Kiski, the timing was just right.

“I knew it was time for Kiski to produce a big, well-known family show” Capanna says, “and Annie fit our current group of students like a glove.”

Kiski Area senior Matthew Emanuelson plays Oliver (Daddy) Warbucks. He likes the show's optimistic message, which is meant for all.

“Annie is about a little orphan girl who gets invited to stay with one of the wealthiest men in the country, Oliver Warbucks, for Christmas,” he says.

“Although a bit hesitant at first, Mr. Warbucks starts to warm up to Annie and eventually wants to adopt her. Although it seems lovely, there is a lot that Annie and Mr. Warbucks have to deal with first, including trying to find Annie's real parents and, of course, the rotten orphanage director Miss Hannigan.”

Junior Erin Bruce, who plays Miss Hannigan, notes the show's broad appeal.

“It is the perfect production to bring your children to,” she says, “and adults will thoroughly enjoy it, as well, because it is filled with humor and a grand musical selection that perfectly portrays the Depression-wrought people of the 1930s.”

Junior Maddy Costanza, plays Annie.

“Even though she is an orphan, she keeps her hopes high in returning to her parents,” Costanza says. “She always finds the best things out of a situation.”

Costanza anticipates that audiences will be excited to see another production of the well-loved musical.

“What I like most about the show is that it is uplifting and focuses on the positive. Also, how it shows that if you set your mind to something, anything is possible.”

7 p.m. March 13-16. $6, general admission March 13; $8, reserved seating, March 14-16. Kiski Area High School, 200 Poplar St., Allegheny Township. Details: 724-845-8181, ext. 5140;

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.


Show commenting policy