An Inside Look into Dr. Harriton: Interview with Allie Blackburn and Kate Ferenchick


Friday, February 24, 2023 marks the 16th Dr. Harriton—an annual talent show composed of various upperclassmen that raises money for charity. This year, Dr. Harriton has chosen to donate their proceeds to the Lower Merion Scholarship Fund and the Bethesda Project. Their director and producer this year are Allie Blackburn and Kate Ferenchick, respectively. The Banner was able to reach out to these two and get insider input on the creative process and team dynamic of the show. 


When asked what prompted the two to participate in this year’s show, both agreed that in years prior they always looked forward to the performances and “wanted to be a part of such a special community.” As director and producer, they hold roles different from the contestants, with various unique responsibilities. As producer, Ferenchick works with Student Council officers to brainstorm ideas and oversee fundraising. As director, Blackburn takes on a role that includes a lot of communication, organization, and being there for her peers. Her role is both essential and dynamic as she often finds herself  “planning meetings, answering logistical questions, and making decisions on acts, dances, etc.”


Both Blackburn and Ferenchick agree that one of the best parts of Dr. Harriton is being a part of a team and forming a close knit group with people they “wouldn’t expect to.” The show brings together various people but is rewarding in the relationships it produces. Ferenchick described how “Allie and [her] always joke that [they’re] gonna have separation anxiety once Dr. H is over because honestly [they] look forward to seeing each other every day.” One of Blackburn’s favorite memories is being the first person a contestant called when he found he had gotten into Penn State, as their love for the school had brought them together. She wrote how, “I was so touched that he did that because we all were so excited for him and got to share such an amazing experience together as a family.” 


Aside from bringing a team together, watching the show develop is a rewarding experience for contestants and crew alike. Pulled together in just a few months, Dr. Harriton is a large time commitment and is formed with a lot of hard work and cooperation from the team. However, Blackburn and Ferenchick agree that the time and experience leading a group is made easier because of how dedicated to the show the contestants are, a testament of the show’s success. 


Additionally, over the course of the past few weeks, the show has come together going from bits and pieces to full scale rehearsals in the auditorium. Blackburn reflects on how, “in the beginning it seemed a bit discombobulated and unorganized but as the weeks have moved on [she has] tried to devote time and attention to each contestant and their needs in order to set them up for success for show night.” According to the two, Dr. Harriton never has a “dull moment” and is an experience that they are very proud to be a part of. 


Both Blackburn and Ferenchick are extremely excited for February 24th, and they encourage all to watch, whether that be in person or virtually. For those who are interested in participating in Dr. Harriton in the future, both Allie and Kate heavily recommend it, as it allows one to be involved in school activities and have a unique, memorable experience.