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Parent volunteers share unique skills to add to success of Pine-Richland Middle School musical

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:33 p.m.
Rachel Farkas | Pine Creek Journal
Parent volunteers Laura Bogacz and Sabrina George attach an over-size piece of flatware to seventh-grader Devyn McLaughlin’s back in preparation for the Pine-Richland Middle School Drama Club’s final performance of “Disney's Beauty and the Beast JR.”
Rachel Farkas | Pine Creek Journal
Musical co-director Noreen Daniello gives eighth-grader Michael McNamara, playing Gaston, some last-minute direction before the Pine-Richland Middle School Drama Club’s final performance of “Disney's Beauty and the Beast JR.” on May 1.

Behind the talented young performers of the Pine-Richland Middle School Drama Club stands an army of parent volunteers who help ensure their production goes off without a hitch.

The club's spring musical production of “Disney's Beauty and the Beast JR.,” the largest production the middle school group has ever put together, called for dozens of parents to lend their professional and personal expertise in the areas of set design, costuming, props and choreography.

“When the kids were interested in doing this, I was all for it,” said Chris Martin, father of two and catch-all prop guy for the show. “This has been very time-consuming, but it's fun. The kids are so fun to watch.”

Martin's son, Jack, and daughter, Paige, are on the stage crew and take after their father who spent 10 years in film doing makeup effects, puppetry and mechanical props. He said when work in the film industry would get slow, he would take prop jobs with local theater companies, so it was a natural transition to help with the middle school production.

Parent volunteer and co-director Noreen Daniello used her background in musical theater to block and choreograph the production. Prior to becoming a mother of four, she performed in professional and semiprofessional musical-theater shows, and also directed shows at the high school and middle school levels.

This was her first time directing a show after a 10-year hiatus, but, she said, it all came back quickly.

“It's second nature, and when you have a passion, it's really freeing,” said Daniello, whose son, Seamus, played Cogsworth. “It's just enjoyable to be able to share that passion with the kids.”

Sewing also is second nature to volunteer Sabrina George, who learned the skill from her mother as a little girl. George, whose daughter, Abigail, performed in the ensemble, created many of the costumes for the musical, including four teacup costumes that each took between six and eight hours to create.

It was a challenge to create a costume that would hold the round bulbous shape of a teacup but still be easy for the girls to dance and move around in, she said. The final product came together with a white bed sheet, drapery panel, a hoop and a foam pool noodle.

“When you're sewing at home, you're usually following a pattern, but when you're doing costumes, there is no pattern,” George said. “It's just trial and error.”

The parent volunteers say they love the opportunity to express their creativity just as much as the kids do, but even more, they love watching their children take over the show and make it their own.

“When the show runs, it's running on kid power,” Martin said.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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