ELDERSBURG — Liberty High School has pulled out all the theatrical stops for thisweekend's debut performances of "The King and I."
Audiences are invited to watch Liberty's largest cast ever take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday to sing, dance and act in Rogers and Hammerstein's musical collaboration.
The cast also will present repeat performances at 7:30 p.m. on May 8 and 9 in the school's auditorium.
Directors Kathy Schnorr and Cathy James have engineered a spring production that includes not only cast members from Liberty, but also four elementary schools and onemiddle school.
"We wanted something that had community involvement," said James, who has taught drama at Liberty for six years. "We wanted to showcase some of our senior talent. We tossed around a numberof different ideas and this is what we decided."
Roughly 86 area students, ages 5 to 18, will perform in "The King and I."
About 35students from Carrolltowne, Freedom, Mechanicsville and Eldersburg Elementary schools and Sykesville Middle will participate.
Schnorr,who has been instructing students and directing plays at Liberty since the school opened in 1980, said because of the magnitude of the performance and the dedication of the cast, it was important to schedule two weekends for the play to run.
"This is the largest cast we have ever had and they have put in a lot of hours," Schnorr said. "After all the work, the performances seem to go by so quickly. We thought it would be nice to have it last a little longer than one weekend."
"The King and I" is based on the novel "Anna and the King of Siam," by Margaret Landon.
The play focuses on the plight of Englishwoman Anna Leonowens, who comes to Siam to teach the king's children and educate the people of his country.
Many problems arise between the determined Anna and the strong-willed king as they work to modernize an ancient society.
Tamara Mitchell, a 16-year-old junior who plays Anna, said the role is appealing.
"I really wanted this role.It's more me," she said. "I love children and I get to work with them in this play. And I love to sing and dance."
Alvin Richardson, who plays the king, has been quite serious in his preparation for his role.
The 18-year-old senior has spent the last few months studying the period and watching film version of the play.
"Because this play is from a different time period, I needed to develop an accent and a persona, how a king would act," Richardson said. "I watched the movie 2 1/2 times and it really helped. I studied the way the lines were deliveredand his stances."
Senior Ben Schuman is confident audiences will enjoy the musical.
"It's an immense production, with an elaborate set and lots of music," said the 16-year-old, who is musical director and plays the part of Lun Tha. "The show is three hours long, but it's a funny play and the little kids are so cute."
Tickets for all four performances will be sold at the door for $3. Information: 795-8100.