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The new fall season is here!

No, not on television, at the movies or even along the Great White Way.

We’re setting our entertainment sights a little closer to home.

York County high schools have been busily preparing to stage their fall plays. From Susquehannock to Northeastern, from Spring Grove to Kennard-Dale and, seemingly, every school in between, students have been learning lines, designing sets, rigging lights, creating costumes and generally engaging in the thousand and one chores that go into putting on a professional stage production.

It’s a fantastic learning experience for the students — both those on the stage and those behind the scenes. After all, for every lead performer or member of the chorus, there is a stagehand, makeup artist, publicity assistant, spotlight operator, soundboard engineer, set designer and myriad other roles that go into any high school performance.

And don’t let the words “high school” in fool you; these are indeed professional-level productions — right in our own back yards. The variety and scope of the selections is impressive.

York-area performances alone include the comic musical “Little Shop of Horrors” (Central York), the comedy/drama “Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes)” (York Suburban), the rarely performed comedy “Cases of Mistaken Identity” (West York) and the drama “Middletown” (William Penn).

And because the performances are being staged mostly on different weekends and several times each, an inveterate play-lover could easily take in all four.

Ambition is no less subdued elsewhere in the county, where performances include the updated drama “Twelve Angry Jurors” (Kennard-Dale), the Caribbean-flavored musical “Once on This Island Jr.” (Hanover) and even a work by the titan of all playwrights, Shakespeare. Both Dallastown and Susquehannock are tackling “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

In all, 13 county schools will stage weekend productions between Oct. 25 and Dec. 2. The hundreds of students involved in these efforts — as well as their faculty advisors — deserve not just credit, but attention.

In these days of small screens, social media madness and internet interconnectivity, a local stage performance is a welcome excursion back to real life — people communicating directly with people.

That it is our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, young friends and neighbors that are strutting the stage, as the Bard put it, is a delightful bonus.

Besides, you never know when a local diamond in the rough might be taking the first steps toward stardom. Celebrated actors including Bradley Cooper, Tina Fey, Richard Gere and — to reach back a bit further — Princess Grace were first bitten by the acting bug in their native eastern Pennsylvania.

A complete list of high school performances can be found on the York Dispatch’s website. Pick a performance and treat yourself to a night of homegrown entertainment. Better yet, pick several performances.

York County students are working hard to present evenings of music, comedy, drama and emotion. Now, all they need is you.

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