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College singer with city roots to perform at Connellsville Canteen

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 1:41 a.m.
Submitted photo Singer Kristin Leigh Markitell will be the first performer for the Connellsville Canteen's Dinner Theater series where audience can enjoy a dinner and watch a performance or a lecture. While Markitell's show is sold out, the Connellsville Canteen will over a series of upcoming shows listed on their website.

Evenings of dinners and shows will kick off this week at one of Connellsville's newest venues.

College student Kristin Leigh Markitell, will be the first in a series of talented singers and musicians to perform at the Connellsville Canteen's “Dinner Theater.”Markitell's performance is set for 6 p.m. Friday at the Crawford Avenue Connellsville Canteen.

Markitell, a singer and a college student in Pittsburgh, has been singing mainly jazz and swing music as a hobby for the past three years, crediting a high-school teacher for unlocking her talent.

“I never really sang until my music teacher from Valley School of Ligonier gave me my first solo in ‘Godspell' when I was in eighth grade,” Markitell said. That led her in the lead role as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Along with jazz and swing, Markitell also performs music from the 1950s and 1960s.

“I think the best part of performing my music in particular is that it reaches out to people in a way other music genres can't,” Markitell said. She likes to see the smiles on the faces of her audience as the music and the visuals take them down memory lane. “They should expect to see a flash in the past. Not only do I like to sound like the old artists, but I also love dressing like them as well.”

Friday will actually mark the second time that Markitell has performed in Connellsville. She sang during June's Art on the Yough.

“I was proud to perform in Fayette County since that's where my mother's family was originally from,” Markitell said. “I'm so thrilled, and I plan on giving them a wonderful experience.”

Markitell is currently studying biology at Mercyhurst University with a minor in fashion merchandising. She said she will continue to sing and perform on the side as a hobby.

“This is an exciting time for Connellsville and the surrounding area as we are able to give the musicians the whole experience not only to perform in front of a crowd, but also getting them professionally photographed by one of our local photographers, Jackie Lynn's Photography,” said Daniel Cocks of the Connellsville Canteen.

Markitell's performance is the first of many.

Other performers scheduled include local film writer/director/actor Jeff Monahan on Sept. 9 to discuss his experience in the film industry and his current projects, music performed by Katelyn Ritenour and Tyler Hough on Oct. 18, and a blue grass dinner show staring Barry Hall and George Kenney on Nov. 14. There is also a Christmas program on Dec. 13 with Talbot and Maddox Maruca.

“Barry is actually the opening act for Willie Nelson at the Benedum Center in September, so we were glad to be able to have him play in Connellsville,” Cocks said.

The Fayette County Cultural Trust is currently putting together more shows and lecture series events for the remainder of this year and into next year. Officials are currently looking for more regional talent to be put on display.

For more information and to view a current listing of shows, visit www.connellsvillecanteen.org.

The events are sponsored by the Fayette County Cultural Trust and The Three Rivers Community Foundation and the dinners are catered by Miller's Catering.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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