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Thomas Jefferson performers piece together a fairy tale

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The South Hills Record
Thomas Jefferson High School junior Erin Lazar, 16, as Rapunzel chats with McClellan Elementary School first-grader Alyssa Linn, 6, during lunch while practicing for the high school's upcoming performance.
Randy Jarosz | For The South Hills Record
Forest Witch, played by freshman Emily Zohoranacky, 14, jokes with McClellan Elementary School first-graders Victoria Onder, 6, and James Hausman, 7, during lunch while practicing for the high school's upcoming performance of 'The Princess Who Had No Name.'
Forest Witch, played by freshman Emily Zohoranacky, 14, visits with McClellan Elementary School first-graders during lunch while practicing for the high school's up coming performance of 'The Princess Who Had No Name.'

That first hug was just — well, awkward.

The prince and the princess performing in the fractured fairy tale on the Thomas Jefferson High School stage barely knew each other off stage, and that made things a bit uncomfortable as they rehearsed romantic scenes.

“It was awful. I'd hug him, and I'd go home, and go, ‘Oh my gosh I need to figure this out,” said high school senior Allie Saltzman, 17, who plays the Princess in the school's fall play, “The Princess Who Had No Name.”

Two months — and many hours of rehearsals later — the 48 cast member all have become a big family, Saltzman said.

“I'll pass through a hall and see other kids that I'd never even known their name, and now, I stop and ask how their day is going. It's like we're family — like sisters and brothers,” she said.

The unity among cast members shows on stage, students and directors said. The fall play will be performed on Nov. 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium, with a preshow starting at 6:30 p.m.

The show follows a princess who loses her way and identity in the woods and meets fairy tale characters, such as Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin and Goldilocks on her journey to discover herself.

“It's going to be something that people of all ages can enjoy. You're going to have the little kids see the characters that they love dressed up like princesses and princes, with sword fights and all the rest. You're going to hear the humor and the twist on the characters that the parents will appreciate and the teenagers will find funny,” Saltzman said.

Thomas Jefferson English teacher and fall-play director Logan Dillinger said she selected the play because of its appeal to children. To her surprise, some of the high school students, though, didn't even know some of the fairy tale characters in the show, she said.

Because the show is a fractured fairy tale, many of the characters differ from their original portrayals. Snow White is a princess, but she's southern.

That made playing some of the characters, such Cinderella, easier for the cast members.

“You kind of get to put your own twist on it. Because it is a fractured fairy tale, the characters aren't the same as they were when you were a kid,” said junior Liz Mason, 16, who plays Goldilocks. “Cinderella is sassy.”

Yet, shaking that stereotype of the princess was difficult for Saltzman, she said.

“It was a huge struggle for me to get out of the usual princess voice and find a normal voice on stage,” she said.

The show took students back to their childhoods, they said, remembering what it was like to be a child watching “Snow White,” “Beauty and Beast” and “The Lion King” on television.

At least that was true for the girls.

“I feel like I'm the odd man out,” said senior Chris Serrao, 18, who plays Prince Reveille. “They say, ‘Be like Gaston,' or do this from a certain fairy tale, and I'll say, ‘What is that exactly?'”

And while the show has all of the frills of a typical fairy tale, it also includes humor and a message for the adults.

“Growing up, you'd always want to be the pretty princess and, like, that's always good and fun to pretend like you're royal for a day, but I really like the kind of gritty and more down-to-earth comedy of it,” Mason said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or

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