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Hughesville High School's theater club takes shows to the Lycoming County Fair

Hughesville High School students Julia Birdsall, Camryn Hall and Noel Gardner rehearse for the fair with the play "Bank Job."
Chase Bottorf
Hughesville High School students Julia Birdsall, Camryn Hall and Noel Gardner rehearse the play "Bank Job."

The Hughesville High School theater club is taking their program to the Lycoming County Fair. 

The club’s director, Jesse Stryker, wants his group to grow and get other schools onboard. The 153rd annual Lycoming Fair is a starting point. 

“I work with several people that work here at the fair and they reached out and wanted to do something new like this. We voted on it as a club, and the club decided that they'd like to do it,” Stryker said. “Hopefully, it branches off to other schools to become interested in it and it'll become a big thing here at the fair.” 

The club will perform four 10-minute plays through July 20, including “Oz’s Dilemma,” a Wizard of Oz prequel; “Bank Job,” about superheroes who save a bank from a robbery; “Trip Through Time,” involving a scientist who invents a time machine; and “Alien Halloween,” about aliens who visit Earth and crash a teenager's Halloween party. 

Shows are held each night at 7 p.m. at the Amelia Earhart Funway. Follow-up performances will be at 7:15 p.m.

Theater students kicked off their performances Wednesday with “A Trip Through Time.”

There are 16 students participating. The club as a whole has about 40 students, Stryker said. Of them is 10th grader Leanne Gilliam who will perform in "Alien Halloween" and work with the stage crew. 

This is the first time Gilliam has performed outside school. Some fellow actors share the same change of scenery.  

“I don't think we've done it outside of school. We have put on some shows like Ray of Lights, which is a big thing for a bunch of different theater groups. But this is our first time I think at the Hughesville Fair,” Gilliam said. 

Tenth grader Mona Perry has been a member of the club for three years. It isn’t the first time she's performed outside her school. 

“I was in a program called Summer Stock and I performed at CAC (Community Arts Center) in Matilda as Mrs. Honey,” she said. 

The stage along the Amelia Earhart Funway where Hughesville High School students will perform.
Chase Bottorf
The stage along the Amelia Earhart Funway where Hughesville High School students will perform.

"Oz’s Dilemma" performers will host a children’s story hour July 16 at 9:30 a.m. during the fair’s Youth Day. 

The schedule for shows are as follows: 

July 11: Alien Halloween

July 12: The Bank Job

July 13: A Trip Through Time

July 15: Bank Job

July 16: Oz’s Dilemma and children’s story hour

July 17: Oz’s Dilemma 

July 18: Bank Job

July 19: Alien Halloween 

July 20: Oz’s Dilemma

15 years ago, Stryker was in the same place as his actors. He acted for Hughesville High School back then. The club has changed hands since, he said. 

Like many places, COVID impacted the theater club. The fair is an opportunity to build it back up, Stryker said. 

“This is my second year doing this (directing). We're just kind of trying to pick up after COVID, as everybody is trying to be a solid foundation in this and build the program up, so we're doing it,” he said. 

Chase Bottorf is a graduate of Lock Haven University and holds a bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in writing. Having previously been a reporter for the Lock Haven news publication, The Express, he is aware of the unique issues in the Lycoming County region, and has ties to the local communities.

The Lycoming County reporter position is funded by the Williamsport Lycoming Competitive Grant Program at the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania.

You can email Chase at chasebottorf@wvia.org