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3 high school feature classic musicals

| Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three stories, each classics in their own right, make for a busy weekend of high school musicals.

Fox Chapel Area opens Cole Porter's songbook for "Anything Goes," Thursday through Sunday.

Leechburg Area gives Louisa May Alcott's story some melody with "Little Women," Friday through Sunday.

And Deer Lakes intends to make a familiar tale fresh again with "Cinderella," also Friday through Sunday.

Fox Chapel Area

Craig Cannon, director of "Anything Goes," says the time was right for Fox Chapel Area to revisit this musical comedy with several romances intertwined. "I have a large number of female cast members that I knew I could showcase beautifully with this show," he says. "There is so much talent in the upperclassmen ladies that I knew I could not pass up this opportunity."

It will resonate with audiences, he believes, because it makes people laugh. "It's as simple as that," he says.

Fox Chapel Area last presented it in 2002 and 1986. The two female leads from '02 -- Anisha Nagarajan (as Reno) and Kirsten Bracken Scott (as Hope) -- went on to Broadway careers.

"These talented young ladies really set the bar high for our 2011 cast," Cannon says. "Everyone in the cast is anxious to do justice to this production. This cast is extremely talented. I have no doubt that our production will be exciting."

Senior Jenna Hayes, who plays Hope Harcourt, the debutante engaged to Lord Oakleigh, but who has feelings for Billy Crocker, promises to do her part. "I am preparing by fully committing to being overdramatic," she jokes. "My character is definitely a drama queen."

Hayes has been in musicals since middle school. "I love every aspect. I find it intriguing that everyone can come together to successfully put on a full-fledged production."

The combination of "hilarious" dialogue and "great" music is a powerful one, says Alex Fownes. She portrays Bonnie, Moonface's partner in crime.

This is the senior's last high school musical.

"The friends I have made during musicals are the best in the world," she says. "I couldn't have asked for a better musical experience in high school."

There's just something about these productions that brings a group of people together, says senior Nicholas Rangos, who plays the ship's captain. "Every character is so fully developed, and they all just play off each other and are so funny. We've been working on the show since Jan. 1, so we are very well prepared."

Deer Lakes

Making her directorial debut at Deer Lakes with "Cinderella," Noelle Yochum sought cast members willing to do considerably more than just act.

"The main thing I look for in a cast member is a willingness to help outside of just acting, and working as a team member," she says. "If a cast member isn't a team player, then they can be more of a harm than a help, no matter how spectacular of an actor or actress he or she is."

Everyone in this show has had a hand in painting, props, choreography, tech and other duties, she says. "There isn't one person in the whole cast that just acts. It is so wonderful to have students that are willing to help in all aspects of putting on a production."

Yochum is enjoying her first experience directing. "I am bound to make mistakes, but we all learn and grow together as a group," she says. This is the first year in a long time that the school band has performed for the musical, she says. "We are excited about incorporating the band in all future musicals and continuing to improve and grow the program," she says.

She believes "Princess" is a solid beginning.

"We have taken a pretty classic approach to this story that everyone knows well and loves. We just hope everyone will leave the theater feeling light-hearted and a little closer with their family," she says. "I don't think there's a female that can say they never wanted to be a princess at one point in their childhood."

Sophomore Morgan McCrimmon gets to be one now. "I would describe my character as pleasantly naive. I am preparing for the role of Cinderella by just being myself, seeing as my true personality fits the character of Cinderella," she says.

McCrimmon has been an extra in two of her previous musicals. "Going from an extra to the lead was a huge deal for me personally," she says. "This production of 'Cinderella' is unique, and I couldn't be happier to be part of such a fantastic show."

Senior Tyler Smith, who plays King Maximilian, finds this show "extremely unique. I like that it is very much an ensemble piece that truly thrives on all eight main characters," he says.

It showcases all of the characters in their own way, says senior Carley Kelly, who has the role of Joy, one of the stepsisters.

"I love the people involved in musicals," she says, "and I love being able to transform my world for a few hours while I'm onstage."

Leechburg Area

Louisa May Alcott probably never anticipated that her words would be put to music. "Little Women" translates very well to the musical stage, Emily King says.

The Leechburg Area director was looking for a show that had a number of female leads. "A colleague had done it a few years back and recommended it. I read it and loved it," she says.

King appreciates that although it was written about family life in the Civil War era, the March family's experiences are the same as ones every family goes through today. "They both deal with separation from a family member, love, loss, marriage and sibling rivalry," King says.

"Little Women," billed as a "timeless tale about the power of family, friendship and romance," follows the adventures of sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March. "I love that the sisters are about the correct ages for high school students," she says. "That really lets the students connect with their characters. They like that the problems or situations their characters face are and might be problems they face in everyday life."

It is a great family show, "definitely a musical to see," says junior Jessica Smith, who plays heroine Jo, whom Alcott was said to have based on herself. "Jo is very passionate about the books she writes and about her sister," Smith says.

Seventh-grader Anne Sorisio, who plays Beth ("She is very sweet and caring to others") believes those familiar with the story will enjoy it even more with music. "I love the music, singing, playing and dancing," Sorisio says.

Senior Maura Pasko, who plays oldest sister Meg, enjoys the wide range of personalities. "Everyone will be able to relate to at least one of the characters," she says.

"This production is going to be great. It really brings out every emotion," predicts senior Justin Koleny, who has the role of the German professor. "I like that people can connect to the story on some level whether it's love, sadness, failing and trying again, or even jealousy. I like seeing the audience's reaction when something happens and making people laugh and be happy."

Burrell High School

What: "Pippin"

When: 7:30 p.m. March 31; April 1-2

Where: Burrell High School, 1021 Puckety Church Road, Lower Burrell

Admission: $6 and $8

Details: 724-334-1403

Cheswick Christian

What: "Rat Muldoon"

When: 7 p.m. May 19-20

Where: Penn State, New Kensington, Upper Burrell

Admission: $5

Details: 724-274-4846; and search "Rat Muldoon"

Deer Lakes High School

What: "Cinderella"

When: 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Deer Lakes Senior High School, East Union Road, West Deer

Admission: $8

Details: 724-265-5300, ext. 2623

Evangel Heights Christian Academy

What: "Music Man Jr."

When: 7 p.m. May 19-20

Where: Evangel Heights Assembly of God, Buffalo Township

Admission: $8 advance; $10, at door

Details: 724-295-9199

Ford City High School

What: "Singing in the Rain"

When: 7:30 p.m. April 7-9

Where: Ford City High School, 1100 Fourth Ave., Ford City

Admission: $10

Details: 724-859-1580

Fox Chapel Area High School

What: "Anything Goes"

When: 7 p.m. today-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Fox Chapel Area High School, 611 Field Club Road, Fox Chapel

Admission: $13

Details: 412-967-2500;

Kiski Area High School

What: "Godspell"

When: 7:30 p.m. March 30-April 2

Where: Kiski Area High School, 200 Poplar St., Allegheny Township

Admission: $6-$8

Details: 724-845-8181, ext. 5140;

Kittanning High School

What: "42nd Street"

When: 7 p.m. March 31 and April 1-2

Where: Kittanning High School Performing Arts Center, 1200 Orr Ave., Kittanning

Admission: $10; $8 senior citizens

Details: 724-543-1591

Leechburg Area High School

What: "Little Women"

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Leechburg Area High School, 215 First St., Leechburg

Admission: $7

Details: 724-842-0571, ext. 357; or email:

Plum High School

What: "Footloose"

When: 7 p.m. March 31 and April 1-2

Where: Plum High School, 900 Elicker Road, Plum

Admission: $8

Details: 412-795-4880, ext. 8155;

Riverview Junior/Senior High School

What: Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"

When: 7:30 p.m. April 1-2 and 8-9; 2 p.m. April 3

Where: Tenth Street Elementary School, 10th Street at Pennsylvania Avenue, Oakmont

Admission: $10 adults; $8, senior citizens and students

Details: 412-828-1800, ext. 1038, beginning March 14

St. Joseph High School

What: "Beauty and the Beast"

When: 7:30 p.m. April 14-16; 2 p.m. April 16

Where: Penn State, New Kensington, Upper Burrell

Admission: $10 reserved; $7 general admission

Details: 724-224-5552

Valley High School

What: "Seussical: The Musical"

When: 8 p.m. April 14-16; 2 p.m. April 17

Where: Valley High School, Stevenson Boulevard, New Kensington

Admission: $8; $7, students and senior citizens

Details: 724-337-4536; email:

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