Maroon and Gray Celebration 2024 Leah Mueller ’08 & Jared Yarnall-Schane

In the heart of State College, Leah Mueller and Jared Yarnall-Schane are carrying on the 65-year legacy of performing arts education at their studio on Pugh Street, which they purchased in 2022. Their journey highlights their shared aspirations and a commitment to nurturing young talent through the vibrant world of musical theater.

In 1955, Betty Jane Dittmar and her husband John built 1108 South Pugh Street as a modern dance studio. For 50 years Betty Jane taught students creative movement and ballroom dance. In 2003, her daughter and son-in-law, Heidi and Richard Biever, founded Singing Onstage at the studio. When the Bievers left the area, Leah and Jared stepped in to take over the space and the business, which had already made a major impact on countless generations of local children and teens.

Leah, a State College native, was a student at Singing Onstage during her middle and high school years, discovering her talents in musical theater. Leah graduated from State High in 2008 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Music Education from Penn State. She also studied at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London and earned her MFA in Acting from Indiana University in 2023.

With countless performances and a decade of teaching experience—including six years as State College Area School District’s Delta Program Middle School performing arts teacher (a role she recently stepped into again)—she wove her passion for music and theater into teaching and directing performances for every level of student from Pre-K through Collegiate. Her students describe her as “honest, approachable, compassionate, talented, patient and enthusiastic.”

As co-owner, Jared uses his unique background to focus on operations. Growing up at a summer camp in the Pocono Mountains, he fell in love with the outdoors and learned the art of team-building. Jared earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State and an Executive Certificate in Social Impact Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania. His work at Singing Onstage is behind the scenes, utilizing his analytical skills and entrepreneurial experience to handle financials and operations. Jared is also Director of Innovation at the Biomimicry Institute where he helps scientists and entrepreneurs tackle systemic sustainability challenges through nature-inspired design.

The couple’s journey back to Happy Valley was motivated by their shared love for the arts and a desire to contribute to the community. “When this opportunity to purchase the business fell into our laps, the timing wasn’t perfect, but it was really a perfect fit as far as our skillsets,” Leah said. At the time, she was finishing her Masters program in Bloomington, IN.  “And we were kind of looking for a reason to come back to State College because we missed it so much. The State College arts community gave me so much as a young performer and I felt a strong pull to do the same for the amazing young students at Singing Onstage.”

Singing Onstage serves young performers, ages 5 to 18, providing musical theatre training and performance experiences to students across Central Pennsylvania. “Not all of our students go on to be musical theater performers, but anyone who has come in contact with Singing Onstage is exposed to musical theater and the joy that musical theater can bring,” Leah said. “Singing Onstage has become a community itself for the students. We hear over and over from families how much confidence students gain in these classes, whether or not they continue through high school.”

She continued, “State College is full of supportive families who want to see their children engage in the arts and we are happy to be a place for some of those children to come and learn about the joys of musical theater.”


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