York County students celebrate high school theater at Encore


More than 500 high school students across the county will come together to perform, compete and bond over their mutual love of the performing arts this weekend.

Encore, an annual celebration of musical theater in York County high schools now in its 12th year, will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Central York High School, 601 Mundis Mill Road.

Students will have the opportunity to perform two selections from their school's musical for an audience and a panel of judges made of local arts lovers and professional performers.

Awards will be presented for best female performer, best male performer, most creative or original performance, best production number, best small ensemble performance, best dance performance, Judges' Award for Excellence and best overall performance.

Directors will also have the opportunity to recognize a student from their production, and six seniors will be awarded scholarships.

Celebration: "It's a fun little competition for the students, but that's not really what it's all about," said Lyn Bergdoll, artistic director and choreographer for the event. "What it's really meant to be is a time of celebration for the performing arts in our schools. It's about celebrating the talents and abilities of these students; celebrating all the work they've put into these productions."

Mounting a high school musical production is a large undertaking. In Kennard-Dale High School's production of "Sweet Charity," there are 25 cast members and more than 60 students behind the scenes making the show run, director Jim Craley said.

"From the crew to the pit to production staff, we had around 85 kids or so working in this show," said Craley, who is also the chair of directors for Encore. "This really is just a great opportunity to show how wonderful our students are and the amount of time and work they put into everything."

Kennard-Dale High School last year took home the award for most creative or original performance for a production of "Beauty and the Beast."

Encore allows students to perform highlights from their shows one last time, giving theater-goers an opportunity to catch performances they might have missed.

"It was so crazy with the weather this year that we didn't get around to see many other shows, so that's something I'm really looking forward to," said Jessica Staub, the director for Spring Grove Area High School performances.

Encore's impact: Staub, who directed a cast of about 35 students in "Guys and Dolls" this year, said Encore has had an impact on the high school performing arts community.

"You can see the impact every year as our audiences grow," she said. "I think it really pushes us to get better, and it has also brought the schools closer together. We can ask the other directors questions. We borrow each other's props. It's really brought about a level of collaboration."

Spring Grove's production of "Willy Wonka, the Musical" last year nabbed two awards: best male performer and the Judge's Award for Excellence.

Students also have the opportunity to work with those from other schools in the finale, taught and choreographed in only a few hours the Friday before the event. Last year, students performed "We Go Together" from "Grease."

"We love that it brings people together," Bergdoll said. "We want to really enhance the community and give these kids an opportunity to form a lifelong memory."

The event has succeeded in both, said Noah Schmitt, a sophomore at West York High School who attended Encore for the first time last year.

Schmitt, who played Bert Healy in West York's production of "Annie" this year, said he's most looking forward to the awarding of scholarships.

"We have a lot of really talented seniors who have worked really hard, and I'd like to see them get recognized for that," he said.

All proceeds from the event are put towards the scholarships, Bergdoll said.

"Encore means one more time," Bergdoll said. "This is really one of the last times they'll get to perform those pieces and come together as a group. When you do shows like this you really bond, so it's really sentimental, especially for the seniors."

Those interested in purchasing tickets might want to do so in advance, as "we always get a full house," Bergdoll said.

Tickets cost $12 and are available at www.cyhspad.com or by calling (866) 967-8167.