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Five decades of drama

When Pashley Elementary PTA President Jane Coffey thought of a theater production as a possible fundraiser 50 years ago, she didn't know that her proposal would be alive and well today in the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Theater for Children program.

We tried to think of something to raise money for the PTA, and I said, 'Why don't we do a play or operetta,' said Coffey, who was then involved with the Schenectady Light Opera Company with PTA Ways and Means Chairman Dave Jacobs.

Pashley put on "Hansel and Gretel" with a cast made up of Pashley parents and sixth-grade students. Since then, a Theater for Children performance has grown into an annual tradition, and 2009 is no exception.

To commemorate half a century of bringing live theater to the community, Coffey is creating a $500 annual scholarship to be awarded to a BH-BL graduate who is going on to study theater, drama, music or literature and comes from a household with a combined income of less than $75,000.

And as always, the group will be presenting a play aimed at a family audience. This year's offering is "Grease" (a version that lacks some of the racier elements of the John Travolta classic).

Kathy Lynch, TFC producer, said she thought "Grease" would be especially appropriate this year, given that it opens with a 50th high school reunion where the characters reminisce about days gone by. About 60 people have been working since January to make this year's show a reality.

"Our goal is to have live, affordable theater for young children and families," said Lynch, who has been with the program for 26 years. "We don't go around looking for donations, and we don't do advertising."

The show is set for April 3 at 7 p.m. and April 4 at 2 and 7 p.m., at the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School. Tickets are $5 in advance (available at Mail 'n More on Route 50 in Burnt Hills) or $6 at the door.

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