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High school musical season kicks off in western Pennsylvania

Students take the stage for high school musicals
Students take the stage for high school musicals 02:07

SHALER, Pa. (KDKA) -- The lines are memorized, the dance moves perfected and high school musical season is officially underway. 

KDKA-TV's Meghan Schiller went backstage at Shaler Area High School to find out how the kids are getting their nerves out before showtime. 

This is the moment, the big one. Think the Super Bowl for theater kids. But gone are the days of just a few weeks of rehearsal. Some of these actors in high schools across Pittsburgh started perfecting their skills at just 5 years old.

As the parking lot at Shaler Area High School slowly fills, Malia Podgorski gets her nerves under control.

"Five seconds before we start, I'm going to feel like I'm going to have a heart attack and then when I get on, it'll all go away once I start," Podgorski said.

She's stepping on stage to perform the lead role in her high school's rendition of "Anastasia."

More than three months of rehearsals course through the minds of these talented high schoolers. Director Jenny Birch says it's all building to this moment.

"It's really intense and really rewarding and really exciting," Birch said.

High school musical season is sort of Pittsburgh's debutante ball for students of the theater, a chance to showcase years of preparation.

"My first musical was sixth grade, we did "Annie" and that's when I fell in love with it and after that, I've just been practicing my art," student Joshua Clark said.

Every high school participating in CLO's upcoming Gene Kelly Awards knows tonight could be the night. A judge could be sitting in one of the seats.

"Word gets out that, 'hey, someone knows a Gene Kelly judge might be there tonight, hey, let's have a really great show' and I hope that it just amps up the excitement," said Jim Scriven, Pittsburgh CLO's director of education. 

This curtain will open and close each night, but the skills and lessons learned will outlive any show's stretch.

"Being on stage you have to control yourself, you have to act a certain way and I think it sort of helps you find who you are," student Max Milligan said. 

There's a whole list of high schools performing musicals that you can find on KDKA-TV's spring musical guide.

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