RIDLEY TOWNSHIP — Ridley High School's acclaimed Drama Group rose to new heights when its recent production of the Broadway musical "The Drowsy Chaperone" was performed on the stage of The Strand Theatre in downtown York during the Pennsylvania State Thespian Festival held at York College earlier this month.

More than 150 students, staff and volunteer parents traveled to York after packing up the entire set of the Ridley production, all of the costumes, sound and lighting equipment and props and the school's pit orchestra instruments. Once there, this mighty group's work took on a new task--reassembling the entire show at The Strand Theatre within a two-hour window just prior to curtain time.

Christina McGovern, who is now in her 20th year as director of the Ridley Drama Group and International Thespian Society Troupe 2103, explained that Ridley was selected for the honor through a lottery.

"You find out in the spring (of selection) and you have until fall to get ready. It really does take a 'village' to do it." McGovern said. "The conference location changes each year and there are about 1200 people at the conference. The Strand Theatre is an Equity Theatre and that was wonderful for the kids to play in a professional theatre."

Cast member Joey Kovach agrees with the director.

"It was very cool to perform at a professional theatre. It made me feel very accomplished," the 4-year RDG veteran commented.

Kovach said a career in theatre is in his future and he plans to stay involved in regional theatre.

"In the RDG no one feels anyone is better than anyone else, " Kovach said.

McGovern said she was astounded by the positive feedback via social media about Ridley's stage presentation.

"The Twitter feed was insane. A full day after the show and people were still tweeting. One girl said she would come from Pittsburgh to see our show next year," McGovern said.

While at the conference, students competed in a variety of events and there were top winners in the Ridley group. Technical Team members Robbie Geddes and Danny Lynch won first place in the Cable Relay, and the Technical Team, with members Kevin Donegan, Joshua Geddes, Stacy Alfieri, Abby Spraker, Lynch, Robbie Geddes, Matthew Leake and Marissa Kennedy, took first place overall as a team for the entire event.

Ethan McKellar won a $200 cash award for his technical theatre portfolio judged by professional theatre artists. He was also named "All Star

Cast" member from the musical production and is currently working on a documentary of the entire experience. Kayla Boamah, Mackenzie Cannon and Lindsey McCue all auditioned for senior performance scholarships and Boamah qualified with a superior rating to compete at the national level in the state Thespians adjudication process. Donegan was named "Technical Hall of Fame" honoree and Cannon was named "Performance Hall of Fame" honoree.

Ridley High School's ITS Troupe 2103 achieved Gold Honors status, which is the highest achievement for a troupe, as a result of its activities, outreach and community service projects. Nicole Kopko is president of Ridley's ITS Troupe 2103 and a state Thespian officer. She represented Ridley as a student thespian officer, attending two prior meetings on site to organize the conference in York. She worked during the conference as a representative of the Educational Theatre Association and PA State Board. McGovern is a permanent member of the PA Thespian Adult State Board and served her 17th year as committee chairperson in charge of Scholarship Auditions for the conference. She is in her 20th year as ITS Troupe 2103 sponsor.

McKellar admits he was star struck when he first walked on stage at The Strand Theatre.

"I was like 'wow'," he said laughingly. "I've been involved in the RDG since I was in fourth grade. It was really cool to see the progress I've made."

McKellar said his goal is to become a director in the theatre.

"I got into my top (choice) school--Pace University in New York," he said. "But I applied to the University of the Arts in Philadel;hia and Widener University. I'm definitely leaning toward Pace."

McKellar was thrilled with his selection as "All Star Cast" member at the York conference.

"Parents are always going to tell you 'you did good,' but to see 1200 people tweeting about how well you did......,"he added.

Kopko called the entire York conference "mind blowing" and one of the best experiences of her life.

"We were assigned to do a job (at the conference) and that was what we focused on,"she said.

"The Drowsy Chaperone" is billed as a musical within a comedy. Set in 1928, the show debuted in Toronto, Canada in 1998. It opened on Broadway in 2006 and won five Tony awards and seven Drama Desk Awards.

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