YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A collaboration between rivals isn’t something you hear very often. But two Midstate schools are teaming up to show that, “we’re all in this together.”
“They’ve grown up as rivals,” said Jamie Brandstadter, a director at Dover High School.
Dover and West York is a classic crosstown rivalry in York County.
“Obviously, there’s like a sports rivalry throughout the schools, but we’ve always sort of been one huge community throughout all the schools through our arts program,” said Travis Conrad, a West York student.
“Theater is meant to be collaborative, not competitive,” Brandstadter said.
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And great minds often think alike.
Brandstadter ran into Deirdre Casey, a choreographer at West York, and found out that the two schools independently thought of the same idea: putting on a performance of “High School Musical.”
The two schools, only 15 minutes apart, will show the same musical this year.
“We recognized that it could create a competitive situation,” said Jolene Kingston, a director at West York.
But when the choreographers started to collaborate, things changed.
“The two choreographers at West York are some of my very good friends, and we were all hanging out the one night talking about like, ‘Oh gosh, we’re both doing ‘High School Musical,”” said Brady Bennett, a choreographer at Dover.
“It was just the perfect storm of events that ended up with us going, ‘Well, why don’t we choreograph a number together?'” said Casey.
The collaborative efforts are all part of the bigger lesson: working together is a crucial life skill.
“No production goes on just because of one person. It takes a team, it takes a hard-working group of people,” said Casey. “It’s important to teach that to students like this is their formative years, this is where they are learning a lot.”
“Anybody can be anything because everybody is already everything. And so when I’m working with the kids I try my best to encourage them. These kids, just like I did, have anxiety, they struggle, they’re nervous and they are learning so much about themselves through this process,” said Bennett.
Some of the students involved in the productions are recognizing the lessons at play.
“Everybody has these challenges that they’re going through, and you never really know what somebody is going through when you just look at the surface,” said Kylie Snelbaker, a Dover student.
The production staff loves to see students grow in many facets during the entire process.
“That is why I love what I do because I get to let people feel and we get to be emotional together in a safe place,” said Bennett. “And that emotional connection, I think, is the foundation for me when it comes to performing and creating anything.”
The students are excited about the opportunity as well.
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“Acting opens the world to me where I can do whatever I want to do,” said Conrad.
“As these kids move on to be adults, to have jobs, go to college, and everything they do in the future, it’s about collaboration, it’s about community, and that’s what theater teaches,” Brandstadter added.
West York’s edition of “High School Musical” will take place the weekend of Feb. 24 through Feb. 26. Dover’s production will be the following weekend, March 3 through March 5.