New Castle News

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April 25, 2012

Photo Gallery, Story: Portersville Christian School presents ‘Annie’

NEW CASTLE — Courtney Ingram invited bad guys to her house – to dance.

For the Portersville Christian School’s musical director, theater is a family affair, and helping a bunch of thugs with their choreography is just part of the job.

This year’s production of “Annie” features not only Ingram and her husband, Ryan, as directors, but also her daughters — first-grader Tobie and fifth-grader Tealey — as orphans and the family’s pug, Fezziwig, as Sandy.

“Well, he is the right color, and any dog can be a runaway,” Ingram explained, noting that Fezziwig was doing well, aside from stealing performers’ snacks while they’re rehearsing.

Both Ingrams hold degrees in theater, so when a family friend mentioned a few years ago that Portersville needed a musical director, Ryan applied. Gradually, as Ryan’s job with US Investigation Services in Grove City allowed him less time to direct and choreograph, Courtney, who works at the Maridon Museum in Butler, began to assume more duties. By then, the couple had fallen so in love with the school, they enrolled their daughters and, in January, moved from Chicora to Slippery Rock to be closer to it.

Once “Annie” wraps up, the Ingrams may actually find time to unpack, but until then, life’s a stage. Specifically, it’s the one being constructed by Portersville students, parents and staff in the high school gymnasium.

“We’re a really small school, but we’re blessed because a lot of kids want to participate and help out. Maybe they don’t want to be on stage, but they’ll help with painting or something else behind the scenes,” Ingram said.

Calling the rehearsals “controlled chaos,” Ingram added, “One of the great things that we’ve noticed here is that the older kids genuinely want to help the younger kids.”

This year’s 46-member cast includes lots of younger students. Comprising the chorus of orphans are 16 elementary-age girls.

A more experienced cast member is sophomore James Mangiapane of Ellwood City, who has been participating in musicals both at Portersville and the New Castle Playhouse since fifth grade.

“It’s always fun to be involved with the (Portersville) musicals because the product comes out so good,” explained Mangiapane, who portrays Rooster, a con artist who poses as Annie’s father. “This year was especially fun because I got to be the bad guy.”

Also enjoying her role as Grace Farrell, Oliver Warbuck’s secretary, is Brittney Kelosky, a sophomore from Fombell.

“Grace is feminine, elegant and sophisticated and it’s fun to portray that on stage,” she said.

Meg Tipton, an eighth-grader from New Wilmington playing the orphan Mary, found “Annie” to be educational, showing what the economics were like during the Depression.

“Everyone’s doing great,” Ingram noted. “They’re excited and trying hard and we’re trying to help them develop professional skills whether they’re on stage or building sets.

“We know a lot of them won’t do anything more with theater once they leave here, but we want them to learn the proper way of doing things.”

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