Beaver Area Senior High School has always provided a home for the Bobcat Players with the Ed Schaughency Theater. They have graciously accommodated our rehearsal schedules and expanding performance season. We have always welcomed student participation, and most often, Beaver High School students can be seen handing out programs at our performances. More recently, though, that relationship has begun to blossom, and we couldn't be more proud.
The Bobcat Players have been fortunate to have the dedication of Katelyn Schlak for years now. Schlak is a Beaver graduate who we have happily relied on to run lights and sounds for our summer shows when she returns home from college. Schlak is great addition to our group; her enthusiasm and professionalism have been essential to the tech elements of favorite shows like Paul Elliott's Exit Laughing and Barbara Pease Weber's Foolish Fish Girls and the Pearl. Last year, we were excited to welcome Justin Kopicko and Marissa Lahr into the Bobcat Player family.
This series of events all began when artistic director Patti Ross encouraged Kopicko to audition for the 2017 Pittsburgh New Works Festival and helped coach him with his monologue. Erin Berger then cast him in the Bobcat Players' staged reading of Hamilton Kreeger's Wilderness Survival at the New Works Festival. Of the experience, Kopicko said, "[Ross] and Erin taught me many things about character development and theatre in general. Also, I thought that the chance to share the stage with two highly-experienced and well-decorated actors was wonderful."
Kopicko was then recommended by Schlak to student direct our season special production of Meredith Dana Levy's Decision Height. "Being a part of the [New Works Festival] production with the Bobcat Players was a very beneficial experience overall, so when I was recommended to student direct Decision Height, I was very excited," Kopicko explained. "I loved student-directing because I was able to learn, as well as offer my suggestions, and be a contributor to a production in a brand new way."
When an unfortunate twist of fate caused one of the ensemble cast members of Decision Height to drop out, Kopicko suggested his friend, Marissa Lahr, as the replacement. Lahr joined the ensemble at the last minute, with an extremely limited time period to learn the material. Having previously participated in musicals, Lahr was able to adapt quickly, but also felt there was a "huge shift in acting in a play with such a somber demeanor." "I would love to participate in another show with the Bobcat Players in the future, as I had a great and rewarding experience this past fall," Lahr said. Kopicko echoed the same sentiments, adding that he would eagerly welcome any future opportunities.
In February, the Bobcat Players invited featured performers from the high school musical to perform during the mainstage outreach production of On The Edge. This marked the first time there was crossover between the two Bobcat theater groups, and we were happy to give them the opportunity to promote their work. Three students performed multiple numbers from Anything Goes that night--including Kopicko. (Both Kopicko and Lahr are leads in the musical, as Billy Crocker and Reno Sweeney respectively.)
However, the crossover isn't ending there. After a sudden vacancy in the Beaver High School musical, our oldest board member, Dolores Dowlin, was asked to be a part of the cast. When Dowlin was contacted for comment, she said, "Who would have believed an 82-year old would be in her first high school musical? Just when my family thought I had done it all!"
We are excited to see Dowlin make her Beaver High School debut in April with the rest of the cast of Anything Goes, and we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for our growing relationship with the high school students. Our mission has always been to support the growth and education of the theater arts in the local community of Beaver, Beaver County & Western Pennsylvania. We strive to achieve that end by performing high-quality, low-cost plays four times a year, and we are always looking for willing participants. And we don't just welcome high school students from Beaver! We are happy to incorporate anyone with a passion, regardless of age.