McCandless church to host preview of seven area high school musicals |

McCandless church to host preview of seven area high school musicals

Emma Walter, Allie Evans, Joey Franz and Natalie Yurasits rehearse a number in preparation for Shaler Area High School's 'Les Miserables.'
Natalie Yurasits, far left, in background, Ashley Grady and Amber McGaffick rehearse a number in preparation for Shaler Area High School's 'Les Miserables.'

The stars will be out at Memorial Park Church for a new event that will preview spring musicals at schools across the North Hills and support a local nonprofit.

At “Twilight Night” on Feb. 3, performers from seven local high schools will sing solos or duets from their upcoming musicals to give people a sneak peek of their shows.

“I wanted to give people the chance to see what’s happening, and maybe they’ll catch a few more shows this year as well as give the students a chance to use their talents and raise funds for the (North Hills) Community Outreach and impact the community in a broader sense,” said Jim Lueers, arts director at Memorial Park Church. “It’s also an opportunity for us to be a force in the arts in the community.”

Participating schools are Shaler Area, Hampton Township, Pine-Richland, North Allegheny, Northgate, Avonworth and Eden Christian Academy.

There will be no costumes or props; just the students and their music. Representatives from each school will give a short introduction to tell the audience what to expect from their 2017 show; then the actors will sing a featured song, Lueers said.

At the end of the night, actors from all the schools will come together and perform a song for the finale.

Admission to the concert is a “give-what-you-can donation” to North Hills Community Outreach, a Hampton-based nonprofit that benefits local families in crisis, hardship and poverty through more than 20 programs.

Lueers wanted to create an event that combined the excitement surrounding spring musical season and support for the church’s mission partners. He called it “Twilight Night” because twilight is when stars start appearing in the sky.

He also hoped to bring together students in a non-competitive way before the Gene Kelly Award season begins, when many schools are pitted against each other.

“We tend to, in the arts, get very competitive and put up some walls in that sense,” Lueers said. “This way we’re all collaborating, doing something for the community and sharing our gifts, hoping we’ll be encouraging toward each other.“

Memorial Park Church in McCandless has a variety of arts and worship programs that connect the church with the larger community. Music is performed at four weekend worship services, Lueers said, and the church has an art gallery, dance group and other specialty music events.

Dan Franklin, Hampton Township School District’s musical director, said “Twilight Night” is an excellent opportunity for the North Hills community to see what local districts plan for their spring musicals. It’s also great for the students involved.

“[The students] get the chance to not only break the ice and calm opening night jitters a bit, but they also get to connect with and establish friendships with students in other districts; students who share the same love and passion for theater,” Franklin said.

Rachel Farkas is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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