Competing schools in York County perform the same musical

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – It’s not often that you hear about a collaboration between rivals. But two midstate schools are teaming up to show that “we’re all in this together.”

“They grew up as rivals,” said Jamie Brandstadter, principal of Dover High School.

Dover and West York is a classic crosstown rivalry in York County.

“Of course there’s a bit of a sporting rivalry between schools, but through our arts program we’ve always been kind of a huge community across schools,” said Travis Conrad, a student from West York.

“Theatre is meant to be collaborative, not competitive,” Brandstadter said.

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And great minds often think alike.

Brandstadter met Deirdre Casey, a choreographer in West York, and found that the two schools independently came up with the same idea: a performance of “High School Musical.”

The two schools, which are only 15 minutes apart, are showing the same musical this year.

“We recognized that this could create a competitive situation,” said Jolene Kingston, director at West York.

But once the choreographers started working together, things changed.

“The two choreographers from West York are very good friends of mine, and we all hung out that night and we were talking about, ‘Oh god, we both do High School Musical,'” said Brady Bennett, a choreographer at Dover.

“It was just the perfect storm of events that made us think, ‘Well, why don’t we choreograph a number together?'” Casey said.

The collaborative endeavors are all part of the larger lesson: Working together is a crucial life skill.

“No production runs just because of one person. It takes a team, it takes a hard-working group of people,” Casey said. “It’s important to teach such students that these are their formative years, they learn a lot here.”

“Anyone can be anything because everyone is already everything. So when I work with the children, I try my best to encourage them. These kids, like me, are scared, they fight, they’re nervous, and they’re learning so much about themselves through the process,” Bennett said.

Some of the students involved in the productions recognize the lessons that are at play.

“Everyone has these challenges that they go through and you never really know what someone’s going through just by looking at the surface,” said Kylie Snelbaker, a student from Dover.

The production staff love to see the students grow in many facets throughout the process.

“That’s why I love what I do, because I can make people feel and we can be emotional in a safe place together,” Bennett said. “And that emotional connection I think is the foundation for me when it comes to performing and creating.”

The students are also excited about the opportunity.

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“Acting opens up the world for me to do whatever I want,” said Conrad.

“As these kids grow up, have jobs, go to college, and everything they do going forward, it’s about collaboration, it’s about community, and that’s what theater teaches,” Brandstadter added.

The West York edition of High School Musical will take place over the weekend of February 24-26. Production in Dover will take place the following weekend, March 3-5. Competing schools in York County perform the same musical

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