Two teens wrap up '42nd Street' debut

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When Stephanie Franciscus received an email that she had been chosen to dance in the opening number in the Civic Light Opera's current production of "42nd Street," she was in class at Oakland Catholic High School.

"I wanted to scream, I don't know how I held it all in," the 17-year-old from Pleasant Hills recalled. She had to wait until class ended to text her mother the big news.

The musical runs through Sunday at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown. The Tony Award-winning show includes classic songs such as "Lullaby of Broadway" and "We're in the Money."

Stephanie dances in the opening tap dance number with 11 other girls, including Kayla Kozlowski, 15, of Pittsburgh, a student at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School, Downtown.

Kayla also is a student at the CLO Academy, where she sings. She is the daughter of Brian and Chris Kozlowski, who said she began dancing and singing after watching old Shirley Temple films.

Stephanie is the daughter of Jay and Georgia Franciscus. Her mother said Stephanie danced around the house so much she enrolled her in classes.

Both girls have taken dance lessons at the Carpelz Center for the Arts in Carrick since they were preschoolers.

They auditioned for "42nd Street" on Valentine's Day with 30 to 40 girls and boys, performing elements of the dance they will do in the show.

"It has a lot of stuff that you think is easy, but when you put it all together it is really hard," Kayla said of the tap number.

While Kayla dreams of a career as a singer and dancer, Stephanie said she will be content teaching dance as a sidebar to a career in pharmacy or, perhaps, physical therapy.

Until then, she's excited about her debut in live musical theater.

"I think it is a wonderful opportunity to do something I absolutely love, and tap is one of my favorite styles of dance."

Tickets: 412-456-6666, or visit:


Margaret Smykla, freelance writer:


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