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A-K high schools switch on stage lights for spring musicals

| Thursday, March 3, 2005

Spring's soundtrack will play its first notes tonight.

Between today and April 17, hundreds of students from Alle-Kiski Valley high schools and thousands of residents of all ages who comprise the collective audience, will stage and watch the annual creative rite of the season: the spring musical.

The hours of preparation rival, and in some cases surpass, that logged by school sports teams. Variety, always a star, is especially so this year. Unlike some years, no two schools will present the same show.

Today, the spotlight will shine on musicals whose curtains will rise through March 19.

It's all about fun tonight through Saturday at Knoch High School, which is offering "Copacabana." "It's a fun show, very upbeat, with a lot of show appeal," producer/vocal director Tiffany Powell says. The music and choreography are as integral to the story line as the dialogue, she adds. "We want to give the students and the audience something new and different as well as challenge ourselves artistically," Powell says.

Highlands High School sought a show that is a standard in musical theater. It's difficult to go wrong with Meredith Willson's "The Music Man," director Amy Young says. The show will be presented Friday through Sunday.

"Each song is so memorable," she says. "It showcases the fabulous singing, dancing and acting abilities of our students in ninth through 12th grade."

Kiski High School's "Kiss Me Kate" is another vehicle that has stood the test of time. It will run March 9 through 12.

"I like to try to do the "classics" with the kids, choral director Ellen Rupert says. The music is some of Cole Porter's best, she says, and it fluctuates in styles.

It also can accommodate a large cast. This show-within-a-show, which also incorporates Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," has about 80 students.

"Thirty are boys. It's a real positive aspect to have high school guys who like to sing and dance. I think it helps that I have a highly competitive show choir at Kiski, and so the guys have a good grasp of dance before they are in the musicals," Rupert says.

More than 50 students auditioned for the roles as Von Trapp family members for Apollo-Ridge's "The Sound of Music," March 10 through 12. Participation was open to elementary through high school students. "We all agreed that a show that recruited younger children would be a good program-builder," director Carolyn Ferrence says. "There is a lot of talent in the elementary grades, so we wanted to grab their interest early. It was an added plus that this show is so well known."

New director Kristen Kress says selecting "Bye Bye Birdie" for Springdale High School March 17 through 19 was not difficult. "The students needed a high-energy show they could really have fun with, while at the same time, a show large enough to accommodate the growing student interest in the theatrical arts," Kress says. " 'Birdie' satisfies both needs while being humorous and appropriate for any age," she says.

Fox Chapel's "Seussical," March 16 to 19, is the newest to take the stage. The rights for the amateur performance were just released in 2004-'05. "So this is the first time it was available for us, or any school to prepare it," musical director Craig Cannon says. "We are trying to make it in the image of Dr. Seuss: creative, almost cartoon-like and imaginative. The kids are enjoying it."

Additional Information:

Spring musicals

Upcoming musicals at local high schools.

Apollo-Ridge High School

What: 'The Sound of Music.'

When: 7:30 p.m. March 10 through 12.

Where: Apollo-Ridge High School Auditorium, Route 56 East, Kiski Township.

Tickets: $5; $8 reserved.

Details: 724-478-6000.

Burrell High School

What: 'Guys and Dolls.'

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

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

Tickets: $5 and $6.

Details: 724-334-1403.

Deer Lakes Junior-Senior High School

What: 'The Pajama Game.'

When: 7:30 p.m. March 31 through April 2; 2 p.m. April 3.

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

Tickets: $5.

Details: 724-265-5320;

Ford City High School

What: 'Hello, Dolly!'

When: 7:30 p.m. March 31 through April 2.

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

Tickets: $7.

Details: 724-763-5289.

Fox Chapel Area High School

What: 'Seussical.'

When: 7:30 p.m. March 16 through 19.

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

Tickets: $10.

Details: 412-967-2500.

Freeport Area Senior High School

What: 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.'

When: 7:30 p.m. March 31 through April 2.

Where: Freeport Area Senior High School, 625 S. Pike Road, Buffalo Township.

Tickets: $7.

Details: 724-295-5143.

Highlands Senior High School

What: 'The Music Man.'

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

Where: Highlands Senior High School, 1500 Pacific Ave., Harrison.

Tickets: $5 and $7.50 (gold-card members free general admission; $2.50 reserved).

Details: 724-226-1000.

Kiski Area Senior High School

What: 'Kiss Me Kate.'

When: March 9 through 12.

Where: Kiski Area Senior High School, 240 Hyde Park Road, Allegheny Township.

Tickets: March 9 and 10, all general admission, $6; $3 for students; March 11 and 12, $6 general admission; $9 reserved.

Details: 724-845-8181.

Kittanning Senior High School

What: '100 Years of Broadway -- A Broadway Review.'

When: 7:30 p.m. April 1 and 2.

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

Tickets: $5 Reserved; $3 for gold-card members.

Details: 724-543-1591, Ext. 230 and Ext. 236.

Knoch Junior-Senior High School

What: 'Copacabana.'

When: 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Knoch Junior-Senior High School, Dinnerbell Road, Jefferson.

Tickets: $8; $7 for ages 60 and older and ages 12 and younger.

Details: 724-352-1700.

Leechburg Area High School

What: 'Footloose.'

When: 7:30 p.m. April 8 and 9; 2 p.m. April 10.

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

Tickets: $5.

Details: 724-842-0571.

Plum Senior High School

What: 'Annie.'

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

Where: Plum Senior High School, 900 Elicker Road, Plum.

Tickets: $6.

Details: 412-795-4880, Ext. 8155.

Riverview Senior High School

What: 'Oklahoma.'

When: 8 p.m. April 1, 2, 8, 9; 2 p.m. April 3.

Where: Tenth Street Elementary School, Tenth Street at Pennsylvania Avenue, Oakmont.

Tickets: $8; 6 for students and senior citizens.

Details: 412-828-1800, Ext. 1038.

St. Joseph High School

What: 'Man of La Mancha.'

When: 7:30 p.m. April 8 and 9, and April 14 to 16; 3 p.m. April 10 and 17.

Where: St. Joseph Little Theatre, basement of St Ladislaus Worship Site, 48 Spruce St., Natrona.

Tickets: $8.

Details: 724-224-5552;

Shady Side Academy

What: 'Oliver!'

When: 7:30 p.m. March 10 through 14.

Where: Richard E. Rauh Theater, Senior School campus, Shady Side Academy, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel.

Tickets: $8; $5 for students.

Details: 412-968-3040;

Springdale Junior-Senior High School

What: 'Bye Bye Birdie.'

When: 7:30 p.m. March 17 through 19; 2 p.m. March 19.

Where: Marshall Auditorium, Springdale Junior-Senior High School, 501 Butler Road, Springdale.

Tickets: $5; $3 for students through grade 12.

Details: 724-274-8100.

Valley High School

What: 'Camelot.'

When: 8 p.m. April 7 through 9; 2 p.m. April 10.

Where: Valley High School, Stevenson Boulevard (Route 56 bypass), New Kensington.

Tickets: $7; $6 for senior citizens, students and children.

Details: 724-334-1289.

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