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Baldwin alumni go behind the scenes to help with musicals

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Senior Kalee George as the Wicked Witch (left), junior Chris Luffy as Wolf and Julie Lang as Ugly Duckling perform during rehearsal of Baldwin High School's production of 'Shrek the Musical.'

One year after Connor Doran stared in his final high school musical, he continues to perfect vocal performances inside the Baldwin High School performing arts center.

Only now, he's helping younger generations of Highlanders excel on the stage where he once did.

“The experience that I had and the opportunities that it gave me were incredible,” said Doran, 18, a 2013 Baldwin graduate who attends Duquesne University with a major in music education. “I paid my dues. Now I feel like I get to help others and hold their hands while they're going through it.”

Familiar faces are returning to the performing arts center to assist behind the scenes with the school's spring show, “Shrek the Musical,” as Baldwin alumni help with the sets, choreography and vocal performances. The show debuted last night and will run tonight through Saturday with 7 p.m. performances in the school's auditorium.

“I think it's really great that we all went through this program. We helped build this program and we're continuing to help the program,” said Joshua Zietak, 20, a 2012 Baldwin High School graduate, who now works as the auditorium manager at the school and helped to build the sets, hang lighting and manage the area for this year's show.

Other Baldwin alumni working on Shrek include Renee Jasczesko, a choreographer, and Doran, who serves as the vocal director.

Having graduated from Baldwin, everyone knows their faces and they know the equipment and students, which comes in handy, Zietak said.

As a high school freshman, Zietak was interested in technology and sound and “fell in love” with working on the stage crew.

After graduating, he attended Point Park University with a major in lighting design and returned to Baldwin last year to assist with the spring musical, “Hairspray,” working as a lighting intern. Shortly after, he was offered a job in Baldwin-Whitehall as auditorium coordinator, where he started last June.

Zietak works whenever the auditorium is booked, operating the equipment and teaching the students how to use it. Zietak, who is taking a year off from college, is working full time with Hear Corp as a lighting designer and master electrician.

Doran, who served as the student music director and a performer all four years as a Baldwin student, found his calling.

“It's been such a blessing just to be a part of the whole process,” he said.

Now, Doran helps teach the music to the ensemble, leads and works with the orchestra director. Also, he trains the students on healthy singing habits.

Some alumni have found careers in musical theater.

“It really shows the program had an effect on us,” Zietak said.

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

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