Dover Area High School's musical rehearsal probably looked like most a week before opening: chaotic.

Students gathered in groups discussing their lines and costumes while others ran up and down the stage, moving props and shouting orders. Director Jamie Brandstadter, an English teacher with the high school, talked with students, clarifying questions and giving instructions for a character breakfast the students will participate in.

Finally, it was time to start. Brandstadter told the students to get into places; they'd be starting from the beginning of the play and going through as much as they could before rehearsal ended at 5 p.m.

Students lined up in their designated spots, and the overture for "The Sound of Music" began to play.

"It's a very consuming position," Brandstadter said about being director. Brandstadter has worked as the assistant director for the school musicals before and has directed the fall play, but this is her first time directing a musical. It's a stressful job that requires coordinating a lot of schedules in order to perform a high-quality musical after only two full months of rehearsal.

Despite this, it's worth it, she said.

"They are so committed," she continued. "When they're that committed, it's easy for me to be committed."

Because she recently took over the role of director, she didn't "The Sound of Music" for the school's spring musical production, but it worked out well for her. The play is one of her favorites. In particular, she loves the messages it has and the discussions those messages inspire between her and her students.

For example, she and the actors were working on a party scene where a fight breaks out between two dissenting groups.

"I told them to imagine the political climate, and they just kind of laughed," she said. "They don't have to imagine it, we're living it."

Her favorite part about directing the play is working with the students, Brandstadter said. The actors at Dover have gone above and beyond to prepare themselves for the show, including scheduling rehearsal time without Brandstadter so they could continue to work.

Students such as Elliott Petrilla, a 17-year-old senior who has a lead role as the von Trapp family's agent, Max Detweiler, share Brandstadter's passion to make this musical the best it can be. Elliott has been performing on stage since he was 9, when he worked with DreamWrights Center for Community Arts. He's been involved in the high school musical production since he was in seventh grade.

Elliott found his passion for acting early, and he'll continue with that passion while he studies musical theater performance at whatever college he decides to attend next year.

"I've been able to come into myself," Elliott said, remembering a time when he was younger and a bit more timid. "I have more confidence."

Plays can do that for students. Brandstadter said working in theater can help students in many subject matters, such as English, with character analysis, and history. They can also give students more confidence, something an actor needs to have to get in front of a crowd of strangers on a stage.

For high school junior Alexandra DiGiovanni, a 17-year-old with the lead role of Maria in the play, performing in theater has something she's enjoyed thoroughly in high school.

"It's really enriched my high school experience," Alexandra said. "It's the best thing I've done in high school."

She's excited for the opening of the show. She thinks it's a classic with great messages conveyed in a fun way, making it perfect for everyone. She loves playing Maria and said she identifies with how she experiences life. This is her first leading role.

"I enjoy how we start to become the characters," she said.

Dover Area High School isn't the only school district doing "The Sound of Music;" Northern High School will be performing it on the same weekend, March 3-5.

Here's information for all high school spring plays in York County:

Northeastern: "Sister Act"

Performances: 7 p.m. Feb. 24 and 25; 2 p.m. Feb. 26

Tickets: $8 for students and seniors; $10 for adults

South Eastern: "Anything Goes"

Performances: 7 p.m. March 2, 3 and 4; 1 p.m. March 4 and 5

Tickets: $10 for students and seniors; $12 for adults

Central York: "Sister Act"

Performances: 7:30 p.m. March 3 and 4; 2:30 p.m. March 4 and 5

Tickets: $8 for mezzanine side section; $10 for orchestra side sections; $12 for orchestra and mezzanine center sections

Dover: "The Sound of Music"

Performances: 7 p.m. March 3 and 4; 2 p.m. March 4 and 5

Tickets: $8 for students and seniors; $10 for adults

Northern: "The Sound of Music"

Performances: 7 p.m. March 3 and 4; 3 p.m. March 5

Tickets: $10

Red Lion: "The Music Man"

Performances: March 3, 4 and 5

Tickets: $10 in advance; $12 at the door

Spring Grove: "Oklahoma!"

Performances: 7 p.m. March 3 and 4; 2 p.m. March 5

Tickets: $8 for students in advance; $9 for adults in advance; add $2 for tickets purchased at the door

South Western: "Bells are Ringing"

Performances: 7 p.m. March 16, 17 and 18

Tickets: $8 in advance, $10 at the door

Eastern: "The Addams Family"

Performances: 7 p.m. March 17 and 18; 2 p.m. March 19

Tickets: $8 for students; $10 for adults

West York: "Little Mermaid"

Performances: 7 p.m. March 24 and 25; 2 p.m. March 26

Tickets: $8 for students and seniors; $10 for adults

Dallastown: "The Drowsy Chaperone"

Performances: 7 p.m. April 6, 7 and 8; 2 p.m. April 8 and 9

Tickets: $12

Hanover: "Les Miserables"

Performances: 7 p.m. April 7 and 8; 2 p.m. April 9

Tickets: $7 for students in advance; $8 for adults in advance. Add $2 for tickets purchased at the door.

Southern: "Shrek: The Musical"

Performances: 7 p.m. April 7 and 8; 2 p.m. April 8 and 9

Tickets: $6 children 10 and under; $8 students and seniors; $10 for adults. Add $1 to all ticket prices for those purchased at the door

York City: "Memphis"

Performances: 6:30 p.m. on April 7 and 8

Tickets: $5 for adults; $3 for students

York Suburban: "The Importance of Being Earnest"

Performances: 7:30 p.m. April 27, 28 and 29

Tickets: $6 for students; $10 for adults

Read or Share this story: