UNIONTOWN — Sparse sets that don't distract from the actors in their authentic costumes mark "Tom Jones," the spring production of Francis Scott Key High, to be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Following flute and clarinet prologue music, senior Tom Barbieri, as narrator Mr. Partridge, transports the audience back two centuries to the British village green for the story of an orphan who goes off to seek his fortune.
"Tom Jones" is a satire based on an 18th-century novel enti
tled "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling."
The stage adaptation the school is using was written by David Rogers.
"('Tom Jones' is) an innocent all the women fall for," said Suzanne Summit, play director and drama coach at Francis Scott Key for 15 years.
"Tom Jones" requires more creativity on the part of the cast than do some plays having spectacular scenery, the cast and director say.
"Not having elaborate sets makes it more of a challenge," said Jenell Rinehart, asenior in the lead role of Sophia Western, Tom's romantic interest.
"(The lack of sets) tests the skill of the performers," said John James, 17, who has the title role.
"Lighting gives the effect of change for the different locales," Summit said, adding that's where the special talents of junior Mike Pfaltzgraff and senior Angie Schwartz shine.
Since Feb. 1, under Summit's coaching, students chosen byaudition have rehearsed three evenings a week.
"I like directing and have always been interested in the theater," said Summit, a math and computer instructor for the past 23 years.
"Tom Jones is brave, polite, and chivalrous. The play has funny moments," said James, a senior who's been acting since his freshman year. He plans to major in theater in college, and is a member of Fool Proof, an improvisational theater troupe focusing on alcohol and drug abuse.
The Drama Club, composed of 50 members, helped Summit select this play.
"It was funny and had a good-size cast," James said.
"I like to vary what the students do. This is something light," said Summit.
Last fall, they performed Agatha Christie's chiller, "The Mouse Trap," and last spring did "You Can't Take It With You."
"It's a great experience to work with other aspiring actors. It's a lot of fun," said Rinehart, costumed in a long, rose-colored, Williamsburg-style gown at a recent rehearsal.
Following graduation, Rinehart -- also current Maryland farm queen -- plans to major in genetics while minoring in drama at the University of Maryland.
Matthew Fuhrman's role as SquireWestern, Sophia's father, requires him to wear a frilly black wig and a dapper, green-velvet suit complete with knickers, lace collar, flowered brocade vest and black cobbler shoes.
Summit said that mostof the period costumes are rented from The Costume Shop in Westminster, which has a collection left by the late Dorothy Elderdice.
"The costumes are some of the most authentic we've ever used. 'Tom Jones' has a lot of potential. It should all come together to be a performance we can be proud of," said Fuhrman, a senior who hopes to continue in theater at Western Maryland College.
Assistant Director Faison Drury, longtime substitute and now a teacher aide at FSK, uses her expertise to advise on costumes, makeup and myriad other details.
"It's an exceptionally good play with a Monty Python air," she said.
Substitute teacher Betty Roop will help coif the masses of curls, ringlets and pompadours, whether on wigs or the students' real hair. FSK graduate Tony Hemler is in charge of makeup. Math teacher Pat Baltzley serves as business manager.
Admission prices are $3 for Adults and $2 for students and senior citizens.
For information or tickets: 775-7888 or 848-2422.