Final act coming for JHS play director

Suzanne Hummel retiring after 28 years of casting and rehearsals

By tabitha goodling

Sentinel correspondent

MIFFLINTOWN — The director of the Juniata High School junior class play is closing the curtain on 28 consecutive years of casting and rehearsals.

Suzanne Hummel is directing the class’s presentation of “The One That Got Away” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Juniata High School. Tickets available at the door.

Hummel started directing for the senior high school in 1989 after teaching English for ninth grade, which was previously located in Tuscarora Junior High School.

“The person who used to do it resigned, so I was asked to do it,” Hummel, who has been a teacher in the district 40 years, said.

The play was originally cast with students in grades 10, 11 and 12. Hummel also had the responsibility of directing the spring musical, a much more involved task. She eventually passed the torch on the spring program, and she took a more dedicated approach to the junior class play’s six weeks of rehearsal. Spring programs take a least 10 weeks of rehearsal.

Hummel lives in Liverpool, and the rehearsals often begin in the evening hours due to student commitment to sports.

She said it made little sense to drive all the way home after school and return again, so every day for many weeks she stayed in the building from early morning to late evening.

Hummel said this seemed like the year to end her directing career, simply because the current class is top notch.

“I was halfway through this and it struck me. I need to end with this class. They’re such a joy. This group is truly professional,” Hummel said, and ending her career on a positive note just seemed the best way to go.

Hummel teaches 10th grade English at Juniata, and she said it helps her to get to know the potential cast members for the following year. She said this particular class demonstrated their character early on.

This production is a repeat performance from about 10 years ago. State representative-elect John Hershey held the lead role in that production.

Hummel hinted she may retire from teaching after this school year as well, but she said she has not made an official decision.

There will be no encore, however, for directing another play, Hummel said.

Still, the curtain call will be bittersweet.

“I don’t feel ready for this to be over yet,” Hummel said, because of the connection with the cast.