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Romantic comedy to hit Shaler stage

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Louis Raggiunti | Shaler Journal
Dan Bittner works on a scene during rehearsals.
Louis Raggiunti | Shaler Journal
Jess Dorow has been hard at work during rehearsals as Shaler Area prepares for the musical 'Crazy About You.'
Louis Raggiunti | Shaler Journal
Students have been working hard to bring the musical 'Crazy For You' to the Shaler Area stage.
Louis Raggiunti | Shaler Journal
Shaler Area students have been putting in some long hours to prepare for the musical.

Shaler Area High School students will travel from the bright lights of the New York stage to the wild west in the musical adventure “Crazy for You.”

The romantic comedy incorporates many songs written by Ira and George Gershwin and follows Bobby Child, played by freshman Dan Bittner, as he travels from New York to Deadrock, Nev., after being rejected by Bela Zangler, a famous producer of the Zangler Follies at the Zangler Theater, for the opportunity to dance with the show.

In Deadrock, Bobby Child meets Polly, played by senior Jess Dorow, who is the only woman left in the distressed mining town, and he falls in love.

In an attempt to save Polly's family's theater, which his banking family sent him to foreclose on, Bobby Child impersonates Zangler and, along with the help of the Follies dancers, sets out to put on a show to pay off the theater's mortgage.

The misadventures continue when the real Zangler, played by junior Jordan Schreiber, comes into town and Polly discovers the ruse.

Senior Alexa Boehler, who plays Tess, the dance director for Zangler Follies and Zangler's love interest, said each character has his or her own subplot.

“I think it gives it more depth because there are many stories in the story line,” she said.

Director Kristin Demsey said she tries to alternate between modern and classic musicals each year and “Crazy for You” will be a significant deviation from last year's production of “Tarzan.”

“It's a lot of technical elements we're piecing together,” Demsey said. “There's difficult pit music and putting that with the vocals and full cast numbers and all the tapping, we're pushing it.”

The large cast of 101 students is working closely with the 35 musicians providing the music and 30 students on stage crew to put together all of the show's elements.

“We have a pretty new and young cast,” said Jess Dorow, who plays Polly. “There are seniors … but also a lot of newer faces who are bringing a lot to the table.”

One of the new additions is Bittner, a freshman, who joins the cast as the lead character.

“I've never worked with such talent before,” Bittner said. “It's nice to work with people who love what they do.”

Many of the student actors are discovering new talents by learning to tap dance for this year's production, from choreographer Cassie Dudley. Meanwhile the musicians are faced with their own challenge of performing Gershwin's technical score.

“It's a lot of jazz and ragtime,” said Anthony Imhof, a senior who plays trumpet in the orchestra pit. “It's really loud and pulls the audience into all the dances. And it's difficult, so the pit has to work really hard this year.”

Roslyn Mizgorski, a junior, has been working with the cast, director, assistant director and choreographer as the blocking apprentice to stage the actors so each student is featured on stage. This became challenging with the large cast numbers, a mirrored scene between Bobby portraying Zangler and the real Zangler, and even a gun fight between the Deadrock cowboys.

“Like all other Shaler shows, I think it displays our talent really well,” Mizgorski said. “Between the comedy, there is a love story blossoming between Polly and Bobby — there is something for everybody.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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