September 2019
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BHS Show Choir — Back by Popular Demand!

Kathy Grabigel spent more than 30 years performing, from community theater productions to one-woman shows, before having a son and taking on her most important role: working mom.

But she may saved her best performance for this past spring, when she stepped in to lead the Burrell High School show choir. In a matter of weeks, Grabigel guided a group of 26 students through four rehearsals that culminated with a rousing performance at the annual Alle-Kiski Show Choir Festival.

“These kids did an amazing job,” says Grabigel, a business manager by day who gives private voice lessons in the evenings. During their first meeting April 2, Grabigel told the students they were going to do an 11-song ’80s medley, plus a special Burrell-themed variation on the recent No. 1 hit “Uptown Funk.”

“The kids were wonderful and said they wanted to do it, and it just worked out great,” says Grabigel, who lives in Upper Burrell with her husband, Jeff, and 14-year-old son, Nick. “They got a standing ovation, and people just couldn’t believe it. People just really respected that we pulled it together in three weeks.”

Grabigel got involved after a couple of her voice students and a parent mentioned there had been nobody to direct the show choir during the first three quarters of the school year. In addition to the April 24 show choir festival at Valley High School, the group performed for residents at the Logan House assisted living facility and for the May 29 Concert in the Courtyard at the high school.

But it was during the Burrell Choir and Show Choir concert May 5 that Grabigel got her own well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

“The kids got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and it was so nice that everybody stood up and gave me an ovation. It was quite overwhelming,” she says.

Of course, Grabigel didn’t take on the role for the applause. She just wanted to give the students an opportunity to learn and perform.

“I just wanted to show the kids that someone cared enough for them to fill the position,” says Grabigel, who plans to continue as show choir director next school year. “I have a lot of experience – I did shows for 30 years. And I have a lot more to share with them, and for the time I’m doing it I’m willing to give it a million percent.”

She concedes the dynamic will be a little different moving forward.

“It will be much more relaxed,” she says. “It was really grueling this time. Normally you have all of those months to prepare for a holiday show and a spring show. So I said to the kids, ‘We won’t know what to do with ourselves,’ because we won’t be pressed for time.”

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