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August 28, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU-linked couple share community musical stage

It’s not quite Broadway, but two former Slippery Rock University Marching Band members, R. Courtney Riffer and his wife, Sharon, along with their elementary-age son, are using their talents in a small-town community theater group’s musical.

The pair – he graduated as a social work major in 2000, she followed in the same major in 2001 –have lead roles, as “Josh Claypool” and “Mary Mantini” in the hometown-written work “Rivertown Firemen’s Jubilee.” Their son, Jacob, a student at Kiski Area School District’s elementary school, plays “Bobby Barnett.” The family lives in East Vandergrift.

The Freeport Theater Festival is presenting the work.

According to The Kittanning Paper, the musical, written by local residents Rennick Steele and Drew Fennell, salutes three Kittanning volunteer fire departments and the band they formed. The couple, who have both been involved in community theater in Freeport for some six years, had never worked together. The production makes note of their SRU connection

“We have fun with music – that’s something we always do,” Courtney told the newspaper. “There are so many true elements to us in the show. We were both in the marching band and ‘band geeks’ as we kept referring to in the show so a lot of it was real-life, a little too close on-stage there at times.”

The show, which opened last weekend, continues at 8 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday, this coming weekend and next.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.