The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Features

February 10, 2013

Curtains rising | Students in region rehearsing for high school musicals, plays

(Continued)

Chestnut Ridge

“When in Rome”

Peasant thieves Gladius (J.D. Weyant), Minimus (Tom Sims) and Julia (Renae Guenther) sneak into the royal palace disguised as handmaidens. Gladius is smitten with the beautiful princess (Theresa Mitchell) and simply must catch another glimpse of her. They are promptly caught in a hilarious scene, almost becoming lion food until the princess gets an idea. She must marry soon, but almost all the senators and other men of the city, except the repulsive Senator Altilis (Dustin Heller), are away at war.  If she can’t find a suitable match, her father The Emperor (Marcus Grisetti) has decreed she must marry the last gladiator standing in the upcoming games. That’s the last thing this intelligent but headstrong feminist leader wants.  And Senator Altilis is plotting to get her out of the empire’s affairs by moving the date of the gladiator games up, thus burdening the princess with having to plan her dreaded wedding. This is where Gladius comes in. The princess schemes to train Gladius to compete in the games so she can avoid marrying Brudis (Kyle Winegardner), the brainless brute favored to win. The only hitch –  Gladius has to win. That’s easier said than done, as the princess realizes once the training begins.

“We are really excited to be working with another talented group of students. The show is coming together quickly and we are pleased. There are many comedic moments in this show that will keep the audience laughing. As usual, we will have some crowd participation to keep the audience on its toes.”

Lauren Zeznanski, director

Conemaugh Township

“All Shook Up”

“All Shook Up” is a new musical comedy built around a number of songs made famous by Elvis Presley. It takes place in 1955, somewhere in middle America, where one girl’s dream and a surprise visit from a mysterious leather-jacketed, guitar-playing stranger help a small town to discover the magic of romance and the power of rock ’n’ roll.

Among the songs featured in the score are classics like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Dont Be Cruel,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” and the title tune “All Shook Up.”

“Our cast is incredibly excited for this show as they love the music and the dancing. They didn’t know how many songs they would recognize that were originally made popular by Elvis. It is something that they have been sharing at home with their parents and grandparents. This is a show that almost everyone will leave singing songs from it for days after. Our two leads, Nick Felton and Savanna Mitchell, are some of the hardest working teens. They put their heart and soul into their roles and the audience will just get lost in their performances. It is amazing what our choreographer, Sharon Wissinger, can do with a stageful of students who have never really danced before. Our set constructor, Dick Gardenhour, is one of the best set builders in the area. Our stage has very little side space and every year he creates a new world on stage that makes our stage look larger than it really is. My co-director, Suzette Gardenhour, and I love working with our students. They are so hard working and never cease to amaze us at what students can do.”

Mari Grace Lingenfelter, director

Conemaugh Valley

“Footloose”

“Footloose” is the stage adaptation of the ’80s classic and to a lesser extent, the 2011 movie.

The show follows Ren (played by Ricky Stahl) as he tries to get the town’s Rev. Shaw (played by Shawn Ocipa) to change his thinking and get rid of a law that prohibits dancing within the Bomont city limits. He is aided by his mother Ethel (Shauna Bixel) and Shaw’s wife Vi (Selena Graham). In the process, he falls in love with the preacher’s daughter (played by Bryanna Yahnert) and befriends her circle, including Rusty (Amanda Sepp), Urleen (Jamie Cekada), Wendy Jo (Mikayla Lint) and Willard (Jake Statler). The show features many Top 40 pop and rock songs from the ’80s, including the title song, “Footloose,” “I Need a Hero,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” and “Almost Paradise.”

“We performed ‘Footloose’ on the Conemaugh Valley stage 10 years ago. Two weeks before we were to perform, our student playing Rev. Shaw had to drop out of the show. With no one to replace him, I was forced to take the role. Even though it was an honor to perform with the students, I felt that we left something incomplete.

When Jeanie Arcurio (musical director) and I were discussing show possibilities for this year, I suggested redoing ‘Footloose.’ Looking at the potential students that would be auditioning, we felt we had the perfect group of students. Our theories were proven true when Jeanie and I each cast our own show and then compared notes. We discovered that we differed only on three roles.”

Brian Empfield,

drama adviser, director

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