For Shaler students, this year's musical departure from norm
By Bethany Hofstetter
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 7:48 p.m.
Shaler Area High School students are challenging themselves and taking audiences on a jungle adventure in this year's spring musical “Tarzan.”
“I think Shaler was ready for a change,” said Kristin Demsey, musical director of this year's musical. “I think the kids were ready for a change. I think the community was ready for a change.”
“It (is) completely different from what we've been doing. There are very few humans in this musical.”
“Tarzan” is based on Disney's 1999 film about a boy who is raised by a family of gorillas but eventually discovers he is human and that there is a human world he hadn't known existed.
Students have worked since January to research the story and gorilla behaviors to present more convincing performances.
“It's that you have to get on stage and convince the audience you're a gorilla, and I'm probably the most ungorilla,” said Collin Ziegler, a senior who plays Tarzan's best gorilla friend, Terk. “I think that's the biggest risk we're taking.”
Students also are working to master a more complex musical score by Phil Collins with challenging chord progressions and variations and a variety of instruments.
“The style is completely different,” said Mike Laux, a senior who performs in the musical's percussion section. “We have very little mallet instruments. There were no hand drums last year, this year there's a lot; djembe, junjun, sekkere, bongo, congo, and a bunch of shakers.”
Close to 140 students are involved in this year's musical including the cast, stage crew and orchestra pit. And in addition to mastering the vocally and physically demanding musical, Demsey also is challenging the students with more dancing and acrobatic stunts, and she is incorporating vine swinging.
“This one is a lot harder because it needs a lot of energy and physical activity to do this,” said Alexa Boehler, a junior who plays Kala, Tarzan's gorilla mother.
For the full ensemble numbers, directors also are incorporating actors into the aisles of the auditorium to bring the cast's energy into the audience's seats.
“It adds that audience and cast connection, which is really important especially in a musical because it's so interactive,” said Emily Pirt, a senior who is in the ensemble and working as the blocking apprentice. “Because the cast feeds off of what the audience is feeling, it will boost the audience up energy-wise and the actors as well.”
High school sophomore Jordan Schreiber takes the stage as Tarzan and said the entire experience has been “like a dream come true.”
“A lot of people have stepped up to the challenge,” Schreiber said of the musical. “I think people should come to see this production if they want to see something different. It's not your classic ‘Singin' in the Rain' musical. It's more intense.”
A special senior citizens dress rehearsal performance will be held at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28.
A special meet and greet session for children will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. before the Sunday, March 3, performance.
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- La Roche archivist aims to shed light on Pittsburgh during World War I
- Cuts in food stamps leave more people turning to pantries
- North Hills board undergoes overhaul
- North Pittsburgh Quilters Guild helps stitch together memories
- Upcoming Pine fundraiser offers ‘Flashes of Hope’ to children
- McCandless couple’s charity helps out ‘Just for Kicks’
- Shaler Area board welcomes 4 new members
- Garden project earns Shaler Area teacher national honor
- Arbitration meeting near to determine Shaler teacher salaries
- North Park project expected to generate short-term inconveniences, long-term benefits
- Pine-Richland welcomes new board member