Theater campers acting like 'Pirates'

June 28, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - Thanks to a $2,690 grant, "The Pirates of Penzance" will move "with cat-like tread" across the stage at Southern Fulton High School, and Major Stanley's daughters will once again be stopped from removing their socks and shoes in front of a man by Frederic's well-honed "sense of duty."

The sixth- through 12th-graders participating in the Summer Theater Camp spent eight days memorizing lines and blocking, rehearsing songs, building sets and learning various theatrical techniques. They will present the play to the public on the camp's final two days - today and Wednesday.

Director and Choreographer Carolyn Mottern, art teacher at the school, said she chose "The Pirates of Penzance" for the Theater Camp because "it seemed like one we could pull off in eight days. It's a good show, and it's one people know."


Grant money went for materials and supplies, scripts, scores and salaries, Mottern said.

"Kids signed up in April to be part of the production, and everybody showed up," she added.

Musical Director Dan Meredith, vocal music instructor at SFHS, said that about half the cast are chorus members. He sat in front of the stage coordinating the sound equipment and directing the singers.

Judy Schriver, a chemistry teacher at the school, serves as set construction and crew coordinator. She worked with several students to build everything in two days, Mottern said. Mottern designed the scenery and worked on costumes.

The male lead, Frederic, an apprentice to a band of pirates, is portrayed by Brian Palmer, 17.

"It took time to learn all those lines," he said. "It took three days to get them in my head, and the rest of this week to get them down pat."

Palmer said his only stage experience has been in church plays, but he appeared confident and relaxed on stage.

Timothy Rohm plays the Pirate King, Frederic's master. Rohm wears a huge, black, bejeweled pirate hat that adds greatly to his height, but still does not make him as tall as Frederic.

Brittnie Peck, 16, plays Mable, the female lead and Frederic's love interest. Brittnie said that the extent of her acting experience was playing a little boy in a play in third grade.

In the second act, the four policemen engage in some intricate choreography. Cody Murray, 13, an eighth-grader, said he practiced the movements for his part as a policeman five times a day at home.

As Major-General Stanley, Daniel Wolfe delivers clearly the words of the patter song, "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General."

Lindsay Divelbliss portrays Frederic's 40-something nursemaid, Ruth. Friday morning, the cast worked on trouble spots, then ran through the whole play in costume in the afternoon.

At the outset, the students watched a video of the stage version of "Pirates" to help them grasp the story line. Pupils in the rural, 1,000-student school district in southern Fulton County have few opportunities to see live theater, Mottern said.

The Summer Theater Camp program is funded by the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts in cooperation with Southern Fulton High School and the SFHS Drama Club. Funding is granted with the intention of allowing students to take part in a musical theater production to learn about the theater arts.

The project was supported by the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA), the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, a state agency. State government funding comes through an annual appropriation by Pennsylvania's General Assembly and from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. PPA is administered in this region by the Council for the Arts in Chambersburg, Pa.

Proceeds from the show will go to the drama program to help fund future performances, Mottern said.

If you go...

What: Gilbert and Sullivan musical, "The Pirates of Penzance:

When: Today and Wednesday, June 29, 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30. Admission is $2.

Where: southern Fulton High School auditorium, 13083 Buck Valley Road, Warfordsburg, Pa.

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