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It's a Cinderella Story for Moon Area High School

Students will perform the Rogers and Hammerstein classic this weekend, marking the first production in the district's new high school.

Director Laura Mitchell said that when it came time to select a spring production for , size had a lot to do with it.

So Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's 1957 version of Cinderella fit the bill perfectly, she said.

“We always put on a musical in the spring, and we needed a show with a large cast,” said Mitchell, who has taught English and directed plays in the district since 2003.

The script calls for two royal butlers, three confectioners, a trio of haberdashers, three chefs, a royal family, four mice, a team of horses and an actor in a giant cat costume. There’s also the Prince, the Stepmother and Sisters and Cinderella herself.

Such a grand production is fitting for Moon, whose high school was moved into a new building this winter. The theater is a state-of-the-art auditorium with high ceilings, a massive stage and two-tiered seating for more than 1,000 guests.

While the space has already played host to plenty of concerts and ceremonies, Cinderella is the venue’s first theatrical production. Because the fairy tale concerns an impoverished girl whose patience leads her to royal love, the play is fitting for a drama club whose dream has finally come true.

“We had no lighting,” recalls Mitchell of the theater in the old Moon high school. “The equipment was so burned out you couldn’t fix it.” It was confined space with a low ceiling because there was a classroom directly above the auditorium.

The new theater and its high-tech capabilities are almost overwhelming, said Mitchell.

“Intimidating? Absolutely, but such a thrill,” she said. This is going to be a beautiful show.”

Parents and students have dedicated nearly two months to rehearsal and set construction. Thanks to fundraising efforts, Mitchell has spearheaded a lavish production: She estimates $3,000 to $5,000 will be spent on costumes alone. The rights to the work cost more than $3,000.

Nicholas Barthen, the school’s music teacher and band director, arranged and will conduct a full orchestra for the play.

To help pay for expenses, the club will have a “Breakfast with the Stars” fundraiser Saturday morning, where attendees may interact with performers in full costume.

Adrianna Arena-Jacobs and Laurie Smith, of , helped to choreograph the many dance numbers and ballroom waltzes. Jeff Sherman, a staff technician at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, helped oversee the complex new lighting equipment and coordinate special effects, such as the pumpkin turning into a coach.

“It’s a lot simpler than it looks,” Sherman said.

One of the most active volunteers is Sallie Adams, whose daughter Shannon, a Moon senior, plays the lead role of Cinderella. Shannon has performed in eight Moon productions, and her mother has helped in nearly every capacity.

Adams has painted murals for the corridor, collected Cinderella memorabilia for the high school’s art gallery and photographed the production for promotional use. She even helped glue together one of the set pieces, a “prom piece” in the shape of an arch. With complex instructions, the kit required days to assemble.

Adams said no one in their family has future theatrical aspirations. Her daughter plans to study Marine Biology after graduating in June.

“She’s kind of shy,” Adams said of her daughter. “You’d be surprised how many of these kids are shy, but they get on stage and you wouldn’t know it.”

Adams said an old college friend saw a video clip of the production on Facebook. In the clip, Shannon donned the full ball gown and sang one of the show’s classic songs.

“She wrote me and said, ‘It’s almost as if she was born to be Cinderella,’” Adams said. “It was such a compliment.”

The performance will take place at the new Moon Area High School auditorium on University Boulevard. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. May 21; 1 p.m. May 22 and 7 p.m. May 23. Tickets are $10 for students and $12 for adults and will be available at the door. 

A May 22, 2011 at 03:32 AM
I saw it tonight, and it was spectacular. By far, from what I've seen, the drama club's best production yet!

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