"Are you ready for a surprise?" asked Angela Kline, representative from Disney Performing Arts, to a group of nearly 200 students from the Upper St. Clair High School (USCHS) bands, choirs and strings during an in-school assembly on Sept. 17. The main curtain in the USCHS Theatre opened, and members of "The Lion King" made their entrance center stage.
For the next hour, students got to hear from and interact with 17-year-old Nia Holloway, who portrays "Nala"; Dashaun Young, who plays "Simba"; Nick Cordileone, who stars as "Timon"; Darlene Drew, flutist; and the dance captain, Kendra Moore.
The team of professionals was from the PNC Broadway Series co-sponsored road show production currently underway at Pittsburgh Benedum, and time with them was an opportunity for the music students to ask questions and learn about life as an entertainment professional.
The visit, "a special treat" as one student called it, was arranged by Disney Youth Programs to recognize USCHS' past performances at Walt Disney World Resort and to celebrate the school's plans to perform at the resort again this coming April.
Disney Performing Arts is a series of workshops, competitions, festivals and events designed to help participants showcase and develop their talents through exclusive opportunities that only Disney can provide. Participating groups can sing, dance and shine in the spotlight on world-famous Disney stages, taking their talents to new heights and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Disney Performing Arts programs promote leadership, discipline and life skills that students can take beyond performance and apply to their career goals and aspirations.
Directed by Performing Arts Curriculum Leader and Band Director Don Pickell, Band Director Frank Eisenreich and Choral Director Lorraine Milovac, the annual USCHS music trip involves up to 200 musicians and singers, and once every four years, celebrates their accomplishments by participating in Disney Performing Arts workshops, concerts, parades and adjudications. Backed by an active Band Parents Association and Choral Boosters support groups, each musical family will raise more than $1,000 to participate in what graduating seniors have dubbed "the best five-day trip of their entire high school career."
Disney's "The Lion King—The Musical" has made a triumphant return to Pittsburgh Sept. 3-29 following its record-breaking 2008 engagement.
USCHS Performing Arts ensembles have a long tradition of superior and top-ranking ratings at international festivals, local and national parades and Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) Large Group Adjudication Festivals.
Every year, students distinguish themselves by earning placement in PMEA District, PMEA Region-State, PMEA All-State, National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Eastern Division and NAfME All-National Bands, Orchestras and Choruses. Most recently, USCHS groups have collaborated in performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, River City Brass Band, Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra and international soprano star Giorgia Fumanti.
Selected by a competitive process involving audition CDs, USCHS will be performing through Disney Performing Arts at Walt Disney World from April 24-28, 2014.