The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


February 11, 2014

Noteworthy events | Take in a high school musical or play

JOHNSTOWN — Spring is on the way – or at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves.

Despite the cold temperatures that seem to have been constant companions this winter, there are some sure signs that warmer weather is around the corner.

One of our favorite ways to tell that winter is nearing an end is when we see local high schools begin promoting their spring musicals and plays. Tom Lavis and Ruth Rice, features writers for The Tribune-Democrat, took a look in Sunday’s newspaper at two dozen local schools that are preparing for productions in the coming months.

Blacklick Valley and Richland are actually beating Mother Nature to the punch with pre-spring productions. Blacklick Valley will stage “Mirror Image: A Real Enchanted Musical” beginning Feb. 21 while Richland will debut “Bye Bye Birdy” on the same date.

Bishop McCort Catholic will offer one of the final dates of the local high school theater scene when it closes the curtain on “Thoroughly Modern Millie” on April 27.

It’s not just the dates that are spread out for local schools. The list of productions provide a wide range of choices – from soaring musical numbers to murder mysteries.

From age-old favorites like “The Wizard of Oz” (Penn Cambria and Somerset Area) and “Hello, Dolly!” (Purchase Line) to more recently written pieces like “Disney’s High School Musical On Stage!” (Chestnut Ridge) and “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” (Greater Johnstown), options abound. The theater productions also are set in an array of time periods, from the biblical era of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (Cambria Heights) to 1905 Russia in “Fiddler on the Roof” (Conemaugh Township Area) to “Up the Down Staircase,” which Forest Hills chose to update from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Geographically speaking, our local theater groups can take you around the globe, from Rome in “The Last Gladiator” (United) to London in “The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes” (Ferndale Area) to the island paradise of “South Pacific” (Westmont Hilltop). From the campy humor of “Little Shop of Horrors” (Bishop Carroll Catholic) to the irresistible silliness of “Seussical” (Berlin Brothersvalley) to the murder mystery of “Till Death Do Us Part” (Portage Area), the talented young people of our region offer something for everyone.

We urge readers to support these local efforts. We’d love to see entire towns get behind these young guys and dolls just like they do the athletes that so often draw community support. Much like athletics, participation in theater – whether musical, dramatic or comedic – requires dedication, commitment and the ability to work with others. It also takes a tremendous amount of courage to get up in front of an audience and pour your heart and soul into a performance.

So, to parents, grandparents, friends and relatives, theater lovers and newcomers alike – it doesn’t matter if you know upstage from downstage or can tell Gilbert and Sullivan from Rodgers and Hammerstein – please, take in a high school production. It’s inexpensive family entertainment and your

presence, along with a few hundred others’, will mean the world to the cast members.

And to the actors and actresses, stagehands and musicians, dancers and directors: Break a leg.

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