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Photo by Graham Cullen
Dance captain Dani Ebbin stretches in a doorway as the cast of "Fame" gathers around a piano to practice their vocals before a Saturday afternoon performance at Tuscarora High School.

By Marge Neal
News-Post Staff
January 17, 2010

Tuscarora High School's theater program produced two shows Saturday afternoon, but only one for which patrons could buy tickets.

While ticket holders filed into the theater for the school's production of "Fame," actors and crew members rushed around backstage, preparing for the first of two shows of the day.

It is sort of a show within a show, watching student actors prepare for their roles as acting students at New York's Performing Arts High School.

With less than an hour before curtain, students filed into a music room for vocal warm-ups.

Junior Addie Bavari sat at the piano, leading her fellow actors through scales and other vocal exercises.

Theater teacher and production director Dorothy DeLucchi walked into the room.

"I need the old people," she announced. "In a few minutes, come on over."

DeLucci explained to a reporter that she would be applying the makeup that would age the students portraying teachers in the show.

Toward the end of the vocal exercises, junior Michael Ryan Miller delivered a pep talk to his peers.

"I know we're tired and we have a long day today," he said. "But I want you to have energy, sing out, project and have fun," he said.

He said afterward that he considers himself one of the veterans of the school theater and a role model for younger students.

"I just wanted to offer a few words of advice and get people up," he said.

While dancers stretched and singers vocalized, stage managers and other crew members made sure props were in place.

Senior Brent Hammett, who portrayed Nick Piazza, gave a backstage tour in the last few minutes before curtain. He pointed out the desks on either side of the stage where stage managers sit to call the show.

"This is how we keep track of the scenes," he said, pointing to a poster-sized list of scenes in the two-act musical.

In the theater's shop, Hammett pointed out pieces of previous shows.

"Here's a tree and a bed from 'Seussical,' and somewhere, we have a car from 'Grease,'" he said. "We save and reuse just about everything, it helps us keep the costs down."

Hammett has appeared in all but two shows during his four years at Tuscarora. He's headed to Frederick Community College for his first two years of higher education. He plans to major in law and minor in theater so he can stay active in the art he loves so much.

While the actors are the ones to get the applause, the school's production of "Fame" was a true collaborative effort, DeLucchi said.

Band director David Franceschina put together the pit orchestra, teacher Paul Hoyt's pre-engineering students helped construct the set and art teacher Dan Neuland's graphic arts students helped make posters.

Just before the curtain was scheduled to go up at 1 p.m., the students and DeLucchi gathered in the band room. They formed a big circle and held hands for a pep talk.

"You guys have been awesome and you gave a great second performance last night," she said. "Remember when I told you that second performances can nose-dive?

"Well, your second performance was just awesome."

The teacher took a breath and then asked her students what time it was.

"Showtime," they replied.

"What time is it?" DeLucchi asked in a louder voice.

"Showtime," they hollered back.

"What time is it?"

"SHOWTIME."

 

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