A giant sun prop stage in the middle of the field will be featured when McKeesport Area High School Marching Band kicks off its 2021 season with a return to competitions, festivals, and home and away football game performances.
“We wanted it to be exciting, festive, happy, a celebration of life,” band director Drew DeCarlo said of the “SOLARbration!” theme.
Band booster Mark St. Clair designed the sun prop, with painting by Anna Chapell.
A trailer for the show in May on the band’s YouTube site showcased how different cultures throughout history have celebrated the sun. “After last year (with COVID-related performance restrictions and other difficulties), we wanted something very different,” DeCarlo said. “There is a lot of percussion, even a rainforest-like sound.”
Cast and crew of “Massacre Academy” celebrate the film’s premiere at the Lamp Theater in Irwin. (Sarah Turnbull photo for Tube City Almanac)
When director Mark Cantu was deciding on a topic for his next movie, horror seemed like the perfect choice.
“I’m a child of the ‘80s. I made my own horror movies as a kid, and the slasher films of that era have everything I loved as a kid, like practical special effects and strong female characters,” Cantu said. “It’s easy to do when you have classics like “Halloween”, “Jaws”, and “Alien” to go off of.”
Cantu’s latest film, horror-comedy “Massacre Academy,” made its world premiere at the Lamp Theatre in Irwin on Saturday. Filmed in and around McKeesport, the cast and crew consist mostly of locals.
"Dracula, a Musical" cast members gather on the McKeesport Little Theater stage during a rehearsal break. The show, which made its debut on the same stage in 1993, opens today. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
If you go...
“Dracula, A Musical”
Where: McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St.
When: July 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $20 for adults and $12 for students with a valid ID or under 18. To make reservations, call the theater at (412) 673-1100 and leave your name, phone number, the date of the performance you wish to see, and how many tickets you need. There are no online reservations for this show. No one will call you back about your reservation unless there is a question or concern. After 5 p.m. for same-day viewing, you will need to purchase tickets at the box office.
When the cast of “Dracula, a Musical” takes the stage at McKeesport Little Theater, it will mark only the third run for the show — all at MLT.
Roughly based on the 19th-century novel by Bram Stoker, it premiered on July 9, 1993, a collaborative effort among Carnegie native songwriter/lyricist Paul Michael Brown, his mother Rita Brown, who was the original executive producer, and family friend Al Snyder, who owns a Pittsburgh-based recording and production studio.
The well-received show was performed a second time in the late 1990s, and was to have been the MLT season finale in May 2020.
East Allegheny graduates Taylar Getsy (2020) and Chris Rayman (2021) return to the high school stage for a summer musical “A Pirate’s Tale” July 15-17. The musical was supposed to be the spring show in 2020, but was cancelled due to the pandemic. (Submitted photo)
If you go...
“A Pirate’s Tale”
Where: Online and live shows, East Allegheny Junior-Senior High School, 1150 Jacks Run Road, North Versailles Twp. Patrons are asked to wear a mask while at the performance if they are not fully vaccinated. Seating will be every other row to provide some distancing for patrons.
When: July 15, 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on the 17th. Streaming is available July 15-17 and 22-24.
High school musicals aren’t usually performed in the summer months.
But this week, “A Pirate’s Tale” is about to set sail at East Allegheny Junior-Senior High School. The show was supposed to be performed during the spring of 2020, then was postponed to summer, but COVID-19 thwarted every attempt to get it out of port, says director Amanda Rosco.
“I knew this was kind of the last shot if we were ever going to get it up with that semi-original cast. It was going to be this summer, because (after) this summer we would have had two classes of alumni that were off and doing other things,” she says.
The cast is smaller than the original one planned for 2020, she says — not everyone was able to recommit — but with the help of one guest actor and three staff members they make the show work.
Correction: This article was corrected after publication to fix a misspelled name. We apologize for the error. —JT
Senior members of the McKeesport Area High School Choir gather for their final spring concert on May 11. (Submitted photo)
Twenty-seven McKeesport Area High School seniors — some even participating in all three music ensembles — performed their final band, choir and orchestra concerts to culminate a challenging year during a pandemic.
The choir concert was May 11, while band and orchestra performed May 13.
Although practices, classes, and performances definitely were different than in the past for the students and their directors, some shared reflections of how they overcame the obstacles.
Three seniors receive awards annually for outstanding contributions, while a fourth is presented with a scholarship in honor of a long-time McKeesport Area High School music teacher and band director who passed away in 2017.
The cast rehearses one of the high-energy song-and-dance numbers from “Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr.” (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
If You Go
“Schoolhouse Rock Jr.”
Where: Francis McClure Middle School, White Oak
When: Thursday through Saturday, but two performances are sold out. One of the performances will be recorded and streamed at a later date. Details will be posted on the McKeesport Area School District and Founders’ Hall Facebook pages.
Tickets: No admission at the door. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, seats are extremely limited and some performances are already sold out. To ask about tickets, email EMoore@mckasd.net.
Years after Edward Moore studied theatre arts at West Virginia Wesleyan College, he’s directing and producing his first musical — “Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr.” — featuring Founders’ Hall Middle School students.
“I guess that being a singer/actor with a college degree in theatre arts, I always wanted to try my hand at directing,” he said.
Moore works as an assistant to the Special Education Department at McKeesport Area School District. His musical credits include performing as a chorister for Pittsburgh Opera for more than 30 years.
After the former middle school musical director retired, Moore said he was approached by principal Tom Knight to take over.
Rehearsing “A Spoonful of Sugar” are Vincent Brown as Robertson Ay, Victoria Koslosky as Mary Poppins, Serafina Szarmach and Lindsay Schanck as Jane and Michael Banks, and Abriel DiLonardo as Winifred Banks. (Bonnijean Cooney Adams photo for Tube City Almanac)
When: In-person showtimes are 7 p.m. April 23; 1 and 7 p.m. April 24; and 2 p.m. April 25. Scheduled online streaming is 1 and 7 p.m. April 24 plus 2 and 7 p.m. April 25. Scheduled content streams only play at the specified event date and time, and cannot be viewed at any other time. Cost is $20 per stream per device, with an additional slight surcharge.
Tickets: Limited tickets are available through advance sales only at $5 for students and $8 for adults by calling the high school office at (412) 751-2020, or from cast members. No tickets will be sold at the door.
Returning senior Lindsay Schanck, who plays Michael Banks in Serra Catholic High School’s spring musical “Mary Poppins,” has a message for the director, echoed by other students as well.
“Thank you for just not giving up, Mr. (Jesse) Bush,” she said. “We are all so close. We all work together, have fun together, and I got to meet people I would have never met if I didn’t do the musical.”
Victoria Koslosky also is a senior, and was set to perform the title role of Mary Poppins last year when schools were shut down because of the pandemic and the musical eventually was canceled.
She also thanked Bush for giving the show a second chance.
Where: East Allegheny High School courtyard, 1150 Jacks Run Road, North Versailles Twp.
When: 8 p.m. April 15 and 16, 2 p.m. April 17
Tickets: Must be purchased in advance at easd.booktix.com. No tickets will be sold at the door.
Nate Perez, Bryce Schmeltz, Kalei Getsy, Passion Paillett and Madison Rucker are “Walking Like An Egyptian” in “The Awesome ’80s Prom.” (Kristen Keleschenyi photo for Tube City Almanac)
Crimp that hair and grab some pink eyeshadow.
East Allegheny High School is going back to the ’80s with its spring musical, “The Awesome ’80s Prom.” The show aims to give audiences the experience of living in a classic John Hughes style movie.
"Take some ‘Ferris Bueller,’ and some ‘Breakfast Club,’ some ‘16 Candles’ and ‘Pretty in Pink’ with little bits of ‘The Wedding Singer,’ in a high school kind of way, and throw it all together. There are lots of stereotypical 80s characters. I think everybody is going to find something they recognize especially if you are familiar with that era," says director Amanda Rosco.
The audience are supposed to be guests at a prom. The storyline revolves around the nominees for prom king and prom queen and who is going to end up winning.
The audience will actually get to vote when they are at the show. "We will not know who wins,” says Rosco. "It could be a different winner every single time. We are preparing multiple endings."