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North Hills

'Twilight Night' in Allison Park highlights high school musicals

| Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, 9:00 p.m.

A preview of this year's upcoming high school musicals will be performed for the public during “Twilight Night” at Memorial Park Church on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. Admission is a free-will donation to North Hills Community Outreach, a Hampton-based nonprofit that assists northern Allegheny County families experiencing crisis, hardship and poverty.

The evening will feature musical cast soloists from at least eight local high schools, including Avonworth, Fox Chapel Area, Hampton, North Allegheny, Northgate, Pine-Richland, Shaler Area and Eden Christian Academy.

Each school will present one solo or duet from their upcoming production, plus a brief introduction of their show. All performers will be dressed in black and accompanied by a piano. There will be no costumes, no scenery and no pit orchestra.

“We're striving to keep it simple, but there will be a lot of energy and excitement,” said Jim Lueers, Minister of Worship and Arts at Memorial Park Church. “You'll have a full house of people who love musicals and come to cheer on their comrades. You'll have students and teachers and families who love to see the kids perform. There are church members who will bring their friends for a good time. And we have a funny master of ceremonies who will provide interesting facts and make people laugh.”

Lueers named the event “Twilight Night” because twilight is when stars first start appearing.

Hampton High School will present George Gershwin's “S'Wonderful” from their upcoming production, “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”

“It's a gorgeous duet between the leads, Jimmy and Billie, and it marks the moment when they realize that they are made for each other. We chose it not only because our leads bring a level of beauty and skill to the song, but because it will be a song that everyone in the audience can recognize and, we hope, that they will leave humming,” said the show's director and producer, Daniel Franklin.

Eden Christian Academy will present the duet “Impossible” from their spring musical, “Cinderella.”

“It's somewhat the theme of the musical, a fun song that features Cinderella and her godmother,” said Jana Snavely, the director.

Curt Powell, 65, of Hampton Township, was stunned by the caliber of talent at last year's “Twilight Night” event, and is eagerly anticipating this year's show.

“Remember your high school musical?” Powell said. “Multiply it by 100. That's what these kids are doing these days. These are some of the most talented people you'll ever see.”

Powell will serve as the event's master of ceremonies.

Sarah McGraw-Krushinski, the stage/artistic director for Pine-Richland High School's musical, loves the idea of schools and students being involved in an event like “Twilight Night.”

“It makes you want to go out and see all the different shows in the area if you weren't already considering it. It builds camaraderie amongst the students, as well,” she said.

Fox Chapel Area producer and vocal director, Ben Murray, agrees.

“What I like most about ‘Twilight Night' is the opportunity for students from many different schools to see what's happening in other programs. The musical theater community in this area is incredibly supportive of each other. It's wonderful to see high school students cheering each other on and supporting one another.”

Last year, about 600 people attended “Twilight Night,” and $4,000 was collected for NHCO.

“Four thousand dollars can be used in so many ways. Some examples would include emergency rent for six families facing eviction, heating bill credits of $100 for 40 families, or gas cards for 80 to 150 people trying to get to work,” explained Jennifer Kessel, director of communications at NHCO, which served 3,692 families in nearly 50 communities throughout northern Allegheny County last year.

Laurie Rees is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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