Chartiers Valley students put in extra time to perform '9 to 5'
It won't be “West Side Story,” but two local school districts will stage dueling versions of the same musical this spring.
Chartiers Valley High School's production of “9 to 5: The Musical” opened Wednesday night and will run through Saturday at the high school, located at 50 Thoms Run Road in Collier. Carlynton, located just about 5 miles away from Chartiers Valley, will present the same musical from April 11-14.
“It's funny, because I think it was about the same week we announced what show we were doing,” Carlynton director Rob James said. “It just kind of happened that way.”
It isn't uncommon to see different high schools in Western Pennsylvania perform the same musical each year, but stars of the local productions said they hadn't seen anything quite like this before.
“(It's different because) they're practically in our district,” said Carlynton senior Seve Rodriguez, who plays Franklin M. Hart Jr. “I think it invokes more of a friendly competition because a lot of us know each other.”
Expect the competition to stay friendly, too.
“It's not a rivalry — it's really just supportive,” said Megan Henderson, who plays Doralee Rhodes in Chartiers Valley's production. “You want to see other people do as well as your school does.”
Because of the closeness of the two school districts, students in both productions have friends in the other cast.
Both casts will be showing support for their counterparts as well. Carlynton is advertising its production in Chartiers Valley's program, as well as getting a group together to attend the show this weekend.
Chartiers Valley plans to return the favor in a month, when Carlynton's run begins.
“I think it's cool because you get to go see it and see what they did with it,” said Ranae McIntyre, who portrays Judy Bernly in Chartiers Valley's production. “There's always different things the directors do. There's different sets, different acting, different vocals. So it's cool to see how they interpret it and how they put it on, comparing it to yours.”
James said seeing the full show can help his cast as well because they haven't run through the full production yet.
Actors in both shows said they typically go see other schools' musicals, especially when those schools are performing the same musical. Students from Carlynton attended Kiski Area's production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” in 2012.
Members of both casts said they will be interested to see their counterparts' interpretation of the roles in the show, which centers around three women who work for a “selfish, egotistical, sexist bigot of a boss” at a 1970s-era corporation.
“I'm going to be watching their Hart the whole time,” Rodriguez said. “I'm not going to be able to take my eyes off him because I want to see how he portrays it.”
While the actors said the competition will stay friendly, they expect to get some extra motivation from the fact that a school district so close is doing the same show.
“Whenever you go out and do a musical, you want to hit them as hard as you can as a high school production,” said Matthew Guery, who is portraying Hart in Chartiers Valley's production. “Knowing that somebody else is doing the same show – yeah, it might not be a competition, but it does really motivate you and makes you want to strut your stuff.”
The two schools won't be competing against each other for the yearly Gene Kelly Awards, which could make staying friendly easier.
The month-long span between the show also helps.
“Maybe if it were the same week, we'd be competing for theater-goers because people would be like: ‘Oh, I already saw this show yesterday,'” said Carlynton senior Lana Meyer, who portrays Violet Newstead. “But they're a month apart.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.