Play is hard work at Crofton Middle

NEIGHBORS

March 26, 2002|By Nancy Gallant | Nancy Gallant,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN THE CLOSING bell rings at Crofton Middle School, more than 100 children ignore the school buses and the sidewalks leading home. They stay after school for hours to practice dance steps, learn their lines and prepare for next week's production of 42nd Street.

This is the fifth year that Crofton Middle School parents and children have produced a spring musical. The process began in the fall when the youngsters auditioned for parts on the stage and in the ensembles.

Valerie Gerheiser, one of the show's mother-producers, reports that this year's group of pupils is the largest yet. She is impressed by the enthusiasm, hard work and talent the youngsters have brought to the project. Some have taken part in other performances at the school or with area groups, such as the Talent Company. For others, this will be their first public performance. Still, as Gerheiser said, "Everybody's important to the show, from the chorus to the stars."

Joining Gerheiser on the mom-producer team are Mary Ann Miller, Debby Homonai and Rose Flippo. Since January, they have overseen the after-school and Saturday practices, teaching dance steps and songs, teamwork and stage behavior, guiding, encouraging and cheering the kids on. But they are quick to point out that this is not just a four-mother project. Scores of parents have pitched in to make costumes, handle publicity, sell tickets, help with rehearsals, construct scenery and oversee hundreds of tasks necessary for a show like this.

Seventh-grader Greg Aluisio is a veteran of middle school musicals. Last year, he was the mayor of Munchkinland in The Wiz. This year, he has two parts: He plays a waiter and a thug.

The pupils' commitment to the show is clear in their attitude during rehearsal. They chat and giggle while awaiting their turns, but they keep half an ear open for what is going on onstage, breaking off conversations in midstream with a rushed, "Gotta go. It's my number."

Eighth-grader Kristin Field also took part in The Wiz last year. When she heard about this year's show, she asked two of her friends, Emily McGarity and Jennifer Goldman, to join her for the auditions. Neither had ever taken part in a show. Jennifer remembers being reluctant because she hadn't had dance lessons and wasn't sure she was up to the challenge. Still, the idea of tap-dancing intrigued her so she took a chance, and she loves it. She says tap-dancing is fun, and that she enjoys the music, the excitement and the camaraderie.

What is the hardest part about preparing for a performance? Seventh-grader Laura Chrisner says learning all those dance steps is difficult. But it's a good feeling when you finally "get it." Laura adds that the best part of taking part in the musical is being able to put on a show that everyone will applaud.

With such a huge cast, the show couldn't possibly be limited to the stage. Groups of students wind through the aisles, dancing and singing and filling the room with their excitement.

Show times for 42nd Street:

April 5 at 7 p.m.

April 6 at 7 p.m.

April 7 at 6:30 p.m.

April 12 at 7 p.m.

April 13 at 7 p.m.

April 14 at 2 p.m.

The show will be in the Crofton Middle School cafeteria. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students. Information: Janice Abbott, 410-721-0737.

Crofton board elections

Every two years, members of the Crofton Tax District elect a new nine-member board of directors to guide the Crofton Civic Association. The Elections Committee, led by Dave Espie, welcomes applications from potential candidates for the board election in May. Candidates must live in the tax district and be at least 18 years old.

The deadline for applications is Friday. Forms are available at Town Hall, from members of the Elections Committee or from the Town Hall Web site, www.cccwebs. com/crofton.

Information: 410-721-2301.

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