The Knight Crier did a deep-dive into Accolades from the 70’s and 80’s to find photographs of Cindy Louden and NPHS Theatre productions.

50 Years of NPHS Theatre; Act One-The Louden Years

In leading up to the official 50th birthday of the current North Penn High School next September, The Knight Crier is crafting a retospective of 50 years of NPHS Theatre. In the first of a series of articles to come throughout the rest of the school year, we chat with NPHS Theatre Founder Cindy Louden.

Only a handful of individuals can be considered North Penn legends. It takes someone whose work was so impactful that his or her name will be known throughout the North Penn School District as long as it exists. For these people, North Penn runs through their blood. In 1971, as North Penn High School as we know it (at 1340 Valley Forge Rd) was taking shape, one of those legends was born. Her name is Cindy Louden. 

Louden is the founder of North Penn High School Theatre and Thespian Troupe #5464. Over her nearly 40-year career at NPHS, she directed over 100 productions, and left an indelible mark on thousands of Knights.

 

Scene 1- The Early Days

1967-1971 – The transition from Penn St. to Valley Forge Rd

In 1967, Louden was working as an English teacher at North Penn High School, when the school currently known as Penndale Middle School was the high school.  She also assisted with the school’s senior plays. In 1969, through her public speaking class, Louden received an invitation to participate in the Pennsylvania High School Speech League 1-Act Play contest; this contest would end up being the first time the name “NPHS Theatre” was officially used. 

“I got an invitation to join a one act play contest. And that’s what we did. I put it out and we got kids to join. We did a really good version, and happened to win it and went on…that was sort of like the beginning,” Louden said.

Between 1967 and 1971, there was lots of work occurring surrounding the design of the new high school curriculum. Theatre had only been an extracurricular up to this point, but after the one-act play contest, a group of her students, unbeknownst to Louden, went to the principal petitioning for theatre classes. This petition would eventually become the wide array of theatre classes that are offered today. 

The kids that I was working with got together, and I didn’t know this, they got together behind my back, they had a petition, and it was all signed. They presented it to the principal!”

— Cindy Louden

“The kids that I was working with got together, and I didn’t know this, they got together behind my back, they had a petition, and it was all signed. They presented it to the principal! I had no knowledge of it. And he called me down to the office, and anytime you get called to the principal’s office, you’re thinking, “I’m in trouble.” And he told me that’s what it was. And so the following year, I started to teach acting classes,” Louden explained.

Knowing that she would be heavily involved in the new high school auditorium, the district went to Louden to ask if she had any design requests.

“I was told that I could help to design that theater. You know, “what do you want?” So I gave them a list of things that I wanted. I said, “Oh, it’d be great to have such and such”, and I had enumerated about maybe 20-25 things. And it ended up I didn’t get any, because it was done by committee,” Louden said.

Scene 2-The Team

These days, the NPHS Theatre staff has Co-Directors, a Technical Director, Costume Coordinator, Choreographers, and many, many other essential positions. Back in the early 70s, this wasn’t the case. In fact, as former student and current Co-Director Debra Buckner said at Louden’s 2018 “Knights of Honor” induction, “In addition to wearing the hats of director and producer, Cindy was also the costume designer, the set designer, the light designer, and the sound engineer—amazing.”

1970s-  NPHS Theatre starts up and Louden puts together her theatre staff

As NPHS Theatre began to take shape, Louden started sculpting her team.

Louden approached Karl “Bolly” Thompson, director of the North Penn Knights (now the Marching Knights) about leading the pit orchestra.

“I said, ‘Have you ever done anything like this before? Don’t you want to try something new?’ He said ‘Not really.’ But anyway, I guess I convinced him I wasn’t going to go away. And he really enjoyed it. He really ended up enjoying it,” Louden remembered.

Louden used the same tactics with choral director Alvin Schmidt.

I said [to Ken Pierce, then principal of NPHS} ‘do you think you could have a little chat with him when I’m down there, and we could see whether we could really get him to finally say yes!”

— Cindy Louden

“Alvin had beautiful singers, gorgeous singers that just sang perfectly. A lot of religious and spiritual songs. A lot of classical, a lot of like acapella and such, but was always perfect, just perfect! And he had never, ever had interest in [theatre]. He was not involved with the school other than in his own little [chorus] world… I said [to Ken Pierce, then principal of NPHS} ‘do you think you could have a little chat with him when I’m down there, and we could see whether we could really get him to finally say yes.’ So, he did that. I sat in every one of his rehearsals…there was no doubt that he didn’t know his music, but he had never done show music. So I’d be in there, having the kids belt and sing louder and everything else. And [Schmidt}, he probably went home every day and probably needed several glasses of wine,” Louden joked. 

David Miller, Industrial Arts Shop teacher, came on board to help build the (very sturdy) ship for Anything Goes in 1971.

“That set was not moving anywhere. That was built by the shop teacher who only knew how to build heavy and strong…two by fours, three quarter inch plywood. Nobody was going to break that set, and [the actors] could get up to the second floor, and on that stage, with the size of that auditorium, that’s really important…because they look like ants,” Louden said.

Choral Director Alvin Schmidt and Band Director Steve Frederick in the 1974 Accolade.

1972; Bolly Thompson retires, exits NPHS Theatre stage right; Enter Steve Frederick, stage left 

Bolly Thompson retired after his first year with NPHS Theatre, and in the 1972-73 school year, Stephen Frederick (Marching Knights founder and inaugural Knights of Honor inductee) joined the team. Although they would grow to become very close, Louden and Frederick did not hit it off right away.

“The first time I met him, I told him I didn’t like him. And he just sort of fixed his glasses. Okay. And I said It’s nothing personal. It’s just that, you know, I really love Bolly Thompson. And I’m still attached to him. And now you’re coming in’, you know, and they said, ‘Well, he was hired to do music for the music show.’ Well, I wasn’t going to take just anybody to replace Bolly. You had to prove yourself to me, you know, but Steve and I got to be very, very good friends,” Louden explained

The fall 1972 show was Oklahoma!, but since Frederick and the newly formed Marching Knights were booked for the football season, Louden had to make other arrangements for the pit orchestra.

“So then I used a student group, I had a couple of talented kids. There was a piano player who wanted to go to music school to become a conductor. So I chose him to be the conductor because I have no knowledge of music, but he wanted to be a conductor. I didn’t know all of this, you know. And then so we had about eight or 10 student musicians and a student director,” Louden noted.

Things did not go as planned.

“It was the only time we ever ever played the overture from the album. Because they couldn’t play it. It was so bad. So bad. So we moved them out of the pit. Okay…so I thought ‘we should put you up in the barn. I think that’d be a great place, you know’. So I move them up to the barn. And we put them and made like a corral of musicians. And then I put all kinds of straw bales to block the sound. We did that whole show, almost completely with a piano and a small set of drums,” Louden said.

“So I said, ‘no more fall musical.’ And Steve said ‘no more fall musicals!” 

A candid of Louden and her students from the 1981 Accolade. (Knight Crier)

Ken Weir, who was a social studies teacher at the old high school, was named the Community Education director as the transition to the new NPHS was happening. Weir came up with the idea for the Senior Citizen Gold Card Matinee, now a pillar of the NPHS Theatre experience.

He said, ‘I’ll do the the cookies and lemonade and the iced tea, and you do the show’. He’d go down and he talked to the audience, welcomed them, everything else like that. Well, the first show, the whole gold card is filled with these people. They loved the theater!”

— Cindy Louden

“He’s the one that came up with the idea…Ken proposed doing what he called the senior citizen matinee. And he said, ‘it would be a payback for all their taxes. So it’s a freebie. It’s great publicity for the school. You know, it’ll be great for your shows’, and so I said, not knowing anything, ‘okay’. I didn’t know the scope of it, you know, and you look at where it is today. I mean, you’re talking full houses! So he said, ‘I’ll do the the cookies and lemonade and the iced tea, and you do the show’. He’d go down and he talked to the audience, welcomed them, everything else like that. Well, the first show, the whole gold card is filled with these people. They loved the theater,” Louden remembered.

 

1978-  Louden turns to Debra Buckner to join the team as choreographer, Nancy Budzynski (pre-Buckner choreographer) exits, stage right

1979-  John Buckner comes on board as technical director

Years later, Louden turned to a former student, who had been a part of the very first NPHS productions, to join the team.

“Deb {Buckner} was a former student; she was in those first opening shows. She was a major dancer in Oklahoma and Hello Dolly!, and as a senior, my choreographer left town in the middle of the show, so Deb stepped in and choreographed the waiters’ dance, that whole big waiters’ dance…at 17 years of age. As is pretty typical, you sort of lose touch with [graduates] for, you know, two to four years. When they [Debra and husband John] got married, they moved to New Jersey…and it took a year to two years for the theater to keep going, and me realizing I need people in my life if we’re going to do this to what the school district wanted. I needed a staff that I could trust, and I trusted their expertise. I remember going over to their home and just doing my pitch. I just put it out there on the line. I said, ‘would you consider coming back as my staff,” Louden said.

It took a year to two years for the theater to keep going, and me realizing I need people in my life if we’re going to do this to what the school district wanted. I needed a staff that I could trust, and I trusted their expertise.”

— Cindy Louden

Being from the North Penn area, both Buckners had family asking them when they were going to come home and have kids. Therefore, after thinking it over, they took Louden up on her offer.

“Deb came on board as the choreographer first. And that was before they even had children. And then John, in order to see his wife, you know, started coming around. He saw that we needed real help, because the kids and I could get into trouble not doing things quite as well as a real carpenter could. The right people came into my life as my life went on over there,” Louden noted. 

As for how Louden knew what it took to craft a team with all of these individuals?

“I learned on the job. Literally. I had no knowledge of how to put all of this together, it just came to me.”

 

Scene 3-The Stories Behind the Scenes 

As one can imagine, having produced over 100 productions, Cindy Louden has a behind-the-scenes story or two to share. Here are just a few she told me.

 

1971 – First show in the new NPHS auditorium, Louden and theatre students adapt to the new stage 

In the fall of 1971, the first production in the new high school was the play David and Lisa, about a disturbed teenager who thinks that he will die if he makes physical contact with another.  He has an overbearing mother who has him hospitalized in a mental hospital, where David works with his psychiatrist and becomes interested in a teen girl, Lisa, who has a multiple personality disorder, and also meets other teens with their individual mental health problems.

Since the auditorium was brand new, David and Lisa was minimalistic, to say the least. 

“We had no direct lighting, and the the balcony did not have a rail on it at that time, so there was no lighting. And the microphones that they bought for me were bad. You couldn’t even hear them. So that began our shouting years,” Louden joked.

 

Spring 1972-  Anything Goes acts as ‘grand opening’ for NPHS auditorium

When Louden was preparing for the inaugural musical in the spring of 1972, she knew she had to pick a show that would start off NPHS Theatre with a bang; Anything Goes checked all of her boxes.

“Anything Goes” from the 1972 Accolade. (Knight Crier)

You know, no one in Lansdale had ever seen shows like this! They’ve never seen a Broadway musical, unless they went to New York City. I don’t think there was a show that I ever did that somebody didn’t say ‘you’ve got to take this to Broadway!”

— Cindy Louden

“It only asked for a funny person, it asked for a lead who could sing a song and belt. I knew we had at least two or three girls who could sing well. Most of the males were not the leads at that time. They were second leads. And I knew we could cover you know, most of those. And I love Cole Porter! It was his music and I knew that music could sell. And it had never been done. You know, no one in Lansdale had ever seen shows like this! They’ve never seen a Broadway musical, unless they went to New York City. I don’t think there was a show that I ever did that somebody didn’t say ‘you’ve got to take this to Broadway,’ Louden explained.

 

Fall 1972-  NPHS Theatre produces Oklahoma! with live animals on stage

The most infamous NPHS Theatre story may just be the Oklahoma! stallion story from 1972. As the popularity of the program grew, so did Louden’s larger than life aspirations for her productions. One of the crew members told Louden that he owned horses, and that Louden should come by and see if she would want to use them in the show. Louden loved the idea, and found a place on Troxel Road where the horses would be kept after rehearsals.

“I had an old blue van, and I would drive like a mile an hour, you know. And for a while, the boy who owned the horses, and then the guy who had to ride the horse in the show, they would help us. We would lead them out, you know, and take them back…one time it was after midnight, one o’clock in the morning, we were doing this,” Louden said.

“I had such a dedicated group of kids. I mean, these kids were in the theater. These kids wanted to do theater year round, and so it was exciting for them. And the hours were much longer. It wasn’t until when Juan Baughn came in and said ‘Cindy you have to stop at 10 o’clock’. Before that, I didn’t stop until 11 o’clock,” Louden added.

Cast photo of “Oklahoma!” from the 1973 Accolade. (Knight Crier)

During the Gold Card Matinee, Louden and the students discovered that their stallion had a bit of an ego. 

Every time he came out on stage again, without a prompt, he went into that stance where and waited for his applause!”

— Cindy Louden

“We had never applauded, we had never cheered. So he came out the very first time, and the auditorium went wild. Just wild! I mean, senior citizens cheered, they started to applaud and yell, and some of them were standing up. And that horse was startled, that horse went up into a into a stance. I mean, he held up that beautiful stance way up high, and his back legs are going and they’re slipping on that stage. And I could just see him stepping and jumping and falling off and people getting killed. And I thought, oh, that’s how to end your career. But he got it back down and under control, and stood there, you know, he was he was just magnificent animal. And the audience settle back down and things like this. Every time he came out on stage again, without a prompt, he went into that stance where and waited for his applause,” Louden described.

 

Fall 1974- NPHS theatre produces Our American Cousin, learns show in ASL

In the fall of 1974, Louden chose to do things a little differently; instead of a formal fall show, they put together a variety of Americana skits and songs. Our American Cousin was monumental for NPHS Theatre because Keith Mousley, a deaf student, joined the cast. 

“Our American Cousin” from the 1975 Accolade. (Knight Crier)

“We signed all of the music, all of the poetry. I went up to our special-ed program, and met this young boy who was totally deaf; hey talked him into joining us. So he joined our cast. And he also helped us to sign, and he said it was one of the best things he’d ever done. He had never been a part of a school activity. He couldn’t speak. But he could mouth the words. Now, he is a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. It’s an amazing story,” Louden said. 

Word got out about the show, and Louden took the show on the road, traveling to a number of schools across the district and region.

“We went to our elementary schools or middle schools, and then word got out. So we went to a few other school districts around, I remember going up to Souderton, and Indian Valley, and Indian Crest. And then, our special ed and hearing people got in touch with the school for the deaf down in Philadelphia. Then there was another school in Chester County. So we arranged and did the shows over there,” Louden explained.

“That year, when we gave out the senior awards, I recognized him with a special theater award. I spoke and [fellow students] signed that we were giving him the special award. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Louden added.

That year, when we gave out the senior awards, I recognized him with a special theater award. I spoke and [fellow students] signed that we were giving him the special award. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

— Cindy Louden

 

 

 

Spring 1979-  The Music Man, over the top “76 Trombones” performance

In the spring of 1979, Louden and Frederick hatched an idea to truly amp up the performance of “76 Trombones” from The Music Man: get the entire North Penn Marching Knights to enter the auditorium and play the song.

“It was unbelievable! You talk about chills and thrills. And the audience was in tears. It’s another situation where it was absolutely mind-boggling. Because you started to hear when the mayor is standing out there saying “Where’s the band? Where’s the band?” And just a half second before that, every door opened up. And you heard the cadence of the drums. And people are starting to just look around a little bit, because they couldn’t see anybody yet. They had to come all the way down those hallways into all those doors. And then they they started to see movement. In upstage left, that’s where we brought the timpani. But anyway, that’s when they first started to notice it. And then under the balcony, the people started to applaud, like, you hear the gasps and things, and then people in the front started to look around, and with that, they started coming out on the sides down front, and come across, and those were the batons and the flags and the rifles. So it was absolutely unbelievable! I think they probably played “76 Trombones” at least three times, just going back up, and the audience was just standing and cheering and stomping and singing along!”

It was absolutely unbelievable! I think they probably played “76 Trombones” at least three times, just going back up, and the audience was just standing and cheering and stomping and singing along!”

— Cindy Louden

 

Spring 1983-  Lil’ Abner… and the pig incident

The Oklahoma stallion is not the only animal incident Louden has had to deal with; during Lil’ Abner in the spring of 1983, a piglet escaped from the garage and ran loose in the auditorium!

“We put the piglet in a big dog cage back in the garage. It hooked up, we put the latch on it, and everything else. Well, you know, pigs are smart! Pig let itself out in the dark. Pig fell off the stage…had a bruise on the end of its snout for the rest of the next two to three weeks. And a purple little snout,” Louden remembered.

“And so the story goes, of course, [Assistant Principal Paul Matusky] was trying to chase it, he got a rope, he was chasing it all over. And that little pig was doing what comes naturally to him. It was pooping in places because it was getting the you-know-what scared out of it. By the time I got there, I had been paged a lot of times, All my kids were down by the room, sort of guarding, and I can remember hearing ‘you’re not gonna believe how much trouble it is…when I walked in this building at 715? They were paging you then! ’‘Ms. Louden, come to the auditorium; there’s a pig loose,” Louden added.

 

1989-  ‘Asbestos’ show performed in the gymnasium

In 1989, Louden and the NPHS Theatre staff dealt with yet another bump in the road; asbestos in the ceiling. Nonetheless, as the saying goes, the show had to go on.

“They closed the auditorium because they found asbestos in the ceilings. We had been in there, you know, I always figured I was gonna die from black lung, because I was in there so much, but they found asbestos…nothing they could do. They had to close it down and replace it. Get it all changed. So we ended up going down to the gymnasium, and so our theme was, we’ll get by “asbestos” we can,” Louden joked.

Louden on the set of “Mame” in 1977. (Knight Crier)

Spring 2000-  Students fly over auditorium in Peter Pan

In the spring of 2000, Louden flew the theatre department into the 21st century…with a little help from faith, trust, and pixie dust.

Unbelievable! We flew, I think it was six, totally, because at the end, you also fly young Wendy. But at one time, Peter and the three kids all have to fly. And they figured it out!”

— Cindy Louden

“That’s the only time that John [Buckner} insisted on having adult males behind stage because he knew he would need their strength and their precision. And so a lot of the parents of cast members, the fathers came in and said they will do it. But they flew out and over, out over the orchestra pit, and out up into over part of the audience. Unbelievable! We flew, I think it was six, totally, because at the end, you also fly young Wendy. But at one time, Peter and the three kids all have to fly. And they figured it out,” Louden said.

 

Scene 4-Thespians

Fall 1999-  Ryan Williams approaches Louden about starting a BC/EFA Gala

In the 1999-2000 school year, senior Ryan Williams approached Louden about an idea he wanted to pursue for his graduation project; a Broadway Cares gala to raise awareness and money for the fight against AIDS.

“He came to me and said that he had been to a Broadway show and for his graduation project, would I be at all interested in starting a {Broadway Cares event}? So he had to tell me about Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA). He just thought it would be great to start this in the high school. He said ‘no other high school is doing it. I’d like to start.’ And so, I said, ‘okay, just get the information for me. And let’s work it through step by step,’ Louden explained.

He just thought it would be great to start this in the high school. He said ‘no other high school is doing it. I’d like to start.’ And so, I said, ‘okay, just get the information for me. And let’s work it through step by step.”

— Cindy Louden

So that’s just what they did. Williams picked up the phone and called the New York City headquarters of BC/EFA and spoke to Joe Norton; the BCEFA-high school partnership had begun.  To spread the word, Louden and her students went up to NYC to meet with Norton and talk to Broadway shows about acquiring memorabilia.

“Joe had said to us ‘have your kids go out to all the the different shows that have all these tables up and introduce yourselves to them. Tell them where you’re from, and tell them that anything they want to get rid of, you would come back for it at the end of the day when they were closing up, and we would sell it at an auction and donate the money to Broadway Cares.’ And they bought it! Once again, give the pitch. Be earnest, be honest, be excited, you know, and this was brand new,” Louden noted.

So Louden and her staff filled their vans with props, costumes, and set pieces, and brought them all back to North Penn High School. Louden, Williams, and Thespian Troupe #5464 (which Louden had recently founded in 1996) President Mark Weinstein, hatched the idea to expand the high school collaboration with BC/EFA by presenting it to the Pennsylvania State Thespian Conference, and later to the International Thespian Conference.

“I said, I think we should talk to the states’ directors and go out and see if we can introduce them to Broadway cares. And we had success there once again. You know, I was respected and liked. I can sell ice to an Eskimo I guess. Later on, I said ‘why don’t we now take this to Internationals?’…that was a harder sell. Mike Peitz (of the Educational Theatre Association), he wasn’t sure if he wanted to get these kids into an active involvement with AIDS, you know, what are the parents gonna say? I mean, he had to come from Educational Theatre Association and from the International thespians, but we convinced him, he trusted us enough. And we brought Joe Norton out there and he gave a great speech. We ended up making, of course, more thousands of dollars, and every day they would say how much money we’ve made. And that was the beginning and it hasn’t stopped,” Louden said.

 

Scene 5-Thought Processes

As any theatre student knows, rumors fly near auditions surrounding the director and if they precast, or have certain students in mind for roles. When it came to choosing what the next production would be, Louden never precast. She would see what shows were available and aimed to cast a show believing that a student can and will rise to the occasion.

You have to cast a show, with the hope that the student will rise to the role. You know, there’s something at an audition that you see that gives you hope.”

— Cindy Louden

“You have to cast a show, with the hope that the student will rise to the role. You know, there’s something at an audition that you see that gives you hope, I think they can do this. You see them growing, and when you see how Deb [Buckner] gets them doing all these different things with choreography, it’s just amazing. You know, absolutely amazing,” Louden explained.

After producing over 100 plays and musicals, I had to ask Louden to share some of her absolute favorites.

“You see, it’s not fair to the show you’re working on if that’s not your favorite. I’ve got to put 100% plus into that show, or I’m slighting it. That was always my standard answer. And so ‘what show is your favorite show? ‘The one I’m working on.’ However, my favorites would probably be…I love Hello, Dolly! I love The Sound of Music. I love those traditionals. I love My Fair Lady. They were sort of like romantic happy shows, you know? Boy-got-girl type of thing,” Louden shared.

As for the role that principals and administration played in what shows she would be allowed to do? “Next to none.”

A candid of Cindy Louden. (Knight Crier)

“I never, ever had problems with the principals or the superintendents. Honestly, they loved it, because I was bringing in good stuff. So I can honestly say, I felt the support of my superintendents. I always ran everything by them. I’m a rule follower, but if I need something done, I’m going to find a way to get it done. I always talked to them ahead of time, you know, they always knew what show I was going to do. And they always brought people from all of their friends. They brought school board directors and superintendents in from all over the state and New Jersey to come and see our shows,” Louden said.

“I had great relationships with, I’ll say, 99% of the faculty…if they needed something I did it, and if I needed something, they would do it for me. It was just a great camaraderie in that school. We started to promote it, like over the PA system that for example, if I said, “Mr. Brumbaugh’s such and such will be on stage this weekend!”; it helped to build an audience, you know, and they loved having their props become stars on the stage,” Louden added.

I can honestly say, I felt the support of my superintendents. I always ran everything by them. I’m a rule follower, but if I need something done, I’m going to find a way to get it done.”

— Cindy Louden

 

Scene 6-Changing of the Guard; Transitioning to Mrs. Andrea Roney

2003; Andrea Roney joins NPHS Theatre as parent volunteer

In the 2003-2004 school year, Louden was determined to take a show to the International Thespian Festival and was convinced into doing the musical Zombie Prom; this would lead to Andrea Lee Roney joining the theatre program and eventually becoming Louden’s successor.

Oddly enough, Roney had been in the NPHS auditorium before. It just so happens that in 1972, Roney and her mother came down from their home in the Upper Perkiomen School District to see Oklahoma! Debra Buckner was in the chorus of that show; Roney and Buckner would then go on to become the core partnership of NPHS Theatre to this day.  

“When we decided that we were going to do Zombie Prom and try to go to The Pennsylvania State Thespian Conference and such, that was at the time when Andrea Roney retired as General Manager from the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in residence at DeSales University. She came down and she said, ‘Cindy, I’m going to be your parent volunteer,” Louden said.

“She’s very organized, and very clever. So she came up with some fundraisers for us to make money. But she’s the one that put together the budget, how much money we would need, helped us do all the fundraising, and raised all the funds to take that whole cast out to Internationals in Nebraska,” Louden noted.

At first, Roney could not be hired as Louden’s replacement, because she didn’t have the proper teaching degree, but Louden and the district worked with Roney to get her certified.

“They could not hire her at first, because she didn’t have an education degree. She had a Master’s in Fine Arts in Acting from Penn State. And then I think up at Desales, I think she went to undergraduate at Desales and Master’s at Penn State. We got her into Gwynedd Mercy University to go down there and start getting her teacher certificate and everything. So I mean, she’s a great student. I mean, she’s brilliant. But, you know, she was double and triple timing her classes down there, trying to teach at the same time. And so I think her first show was, I think she started helping with Once Upon a Mattress,” Louden explained.

 

2005; Roney replaces Louden as NPHS Theatre Director

Roney would go on to become NPHS Theatre Director beginning in the 2005-2006 school year, and remains the producer, director, and teacher to this day.

 

Scene 7-Legacy

2018; Cindy Louden is inducted as a Knight of Honor

At Louden’s Knights of Honor induction in October 2018, Roney described taking over for Louden as “inherit[ing] one of the finest public school theater programs in the United States, the rareness of which I appreciate more each year.” I asked Louden if that’s how she feels about the program.

I’m still proud of it. I’m very, very proud to have been the founder and the director.I can’t imagine doing anything else.

— Cindy Louden

“Yes. I had been told it by too many people. People that I respected well. The Blue Ribbon School panel. It was all the superintendents brought in from all over. I knew we did good theater. I believe in the whole school, I think that school is one of the best one in the state. But we do it without a performing arts department. We know we’re a performing arts high school that’s so very good, but we do it without having an actual department. We just have great people who work well together.  I was proud. I’m still proud of it. I’m very, very proud to have been the founder and the director. I’m also very proud to be retired from it. Theater is a jealous mistress. Yeah, it doesn’t like to share. It demands a lot from you. Your family suffers, your friends suffer, your children suffer. But we were all in the whole staff, we were doing what we wanted to do. I can’t imagine doing anything else.” 

 

INTERMISSION

When the curtain rises…Act 2: The Roney Years. To be published in early 2021.

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