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Clear Spring High revives the musical with 'Cinderella'

April 11, 2002|BY KEVIN CLAPP

Beth Smith. At Wolf Trap. For "Camelot."

No, it's not a whacked out, regional version of "Clue." Rather, it represents the clear-as-a-bell memory of the Clear Spring High School choral director's introduction to musical theater.

She was 8.

"It was just magical," she says. "I remember, I came home and sang the music for the next year."

Eager to expose Clear Spring to the same wonderful world of musicals, Smith is the Pied Piper for the school's first foray into musical territory in at least 30 years.

So, last fall, she selected as her source material the whimsical tale of love conquering all, "Cinderella."

Wait a minute. Cinderelly?

"I wanted a musical people had heard of but wasn't really well-known," Smith says while keeping an eye trained on her cast rehearsing below. "I wanted a name that was easily recognizable, but not so well-known as some of the standards, like 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'Grease.'"

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Opening Friday, April 12, the musical romp's rehearsals keep Smith's 23 students hopping on a recent Monday morning. As some of the cast members repeatedly run through their paces on the auditorium stage, Smith discusses the challenges of staging the production.

With opening night a week and a half away, obstacles are varied: Juggling a cast with other obligations, including after-school sports and activities; balancing acting direction with choreography; and directing technical aspects to make sure actors' lines can be heard at the rear of the hall.

Among the lessons on this day - students need to drop their inhibitions to create less reserved, more flamboyant characters. The exercise is harder than it might seem.

"It's hard to do because you think you look so dumb because you're making these big, crazy movements," says 17-year-old senior Courtney Smith. "Everybody's self-conscious that they're going to look like a big dork up there."

As evil stepsister Portia, Courtney has ample opportunity to flail away, leaving hefty chunks of scenery in her wake.

"This is like a cartoon, so it is good to act crazy because everyone is going to have a good time," she continues. "And the bigger everybody acts, the better this production will be because everyone will understand who the characters are."

As the King, senior Gerad Haupt has less of an opportunity to venture into outlandish territory. But the 18-year-old still enjoys having a chance to showcase his talents.

"We have a lot of musical people at this school," Gerad says. "And this gives those people a chance to show what they're really good at."

Diana Bryan, 17, has been eagerly awaiting this opportunity. As Cinderella, the junior has a role echoing her personality.

"I'm quite a dreamer myself and she's really up in the clouds all the time and dreamy," Diana says. "The whole musical really proves that dreams can come true if you work hard enough."

Performing in the musical, her first, has been a thrill, something she has dreamed of since her first musical experience when she saw a local production of "Oliver."

"It was just really cool," Diana says. "It looked like they were having so much fun."

Buoyed by the talent she has to work with, Smith is eager for practice to disappear in a plume of smoke like carriages at midnight, making way for the real performance with a real audience.

Today, the production will debut for Clear Spring Elementary School students. Smith hopes the effect on the young children echoes her first musical experience.

"It's been such an educational experience for all of us, but I'm really anxious to provide, for the younger kids, an opportunity to see a musical, a full-fledged musical a lot of these kids won't get a chance to see except for what they see here," she says.

"I think it'll be a really great thing for them to see even our simple production."




If you go ...

"Cinderella," presented by Clear Spring High School

Friday, April 12, to Sunday, April 14

7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday

Clear Spring High School Auditorium

12630 Broadfording Road

Clear Spring

Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students.

For tickets or information, call 301-766-8082.

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