Middle school's `Guys and Dolls' gamble pays off


May 10, 2002|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BIG, BROADWAY-style productions no longer are limited to high schools as Mount Airy Middle School opens Guys and Dolls tonight to a sold-out audience.

More than 80 pupils have been working since January under the guidance of music and choral teacher Kim Hobbs to put together the musical.

"It's been a little crazy," Hobbs said. "Basically, I'm the only adult with 60 or more kids at after-school rehearsals."

The production features a cast of more than 50, all of whom are on the stage at once for several song and dance numbers.

"Some people, including me, had a lot of trouble at first" with the dance numbers, said eighth-grader Liz Ehrlich, who plays one of the lead roles. "But we worked really hard and there are lots of funny parts, so I think people will enjoy it."

Hobbs has been at Mount Airy Middle for two years and helped bring large-scale musicals to the school.

"I taught in Montgomery County prior to coming here and we had a great time doing musicals," said the Westminster resident. Growing up, she said, "I always had this opportunity, and I wouldn't be the person I am today if I didn't have that opportunity. I think middle school is the time for kids gifted in this area to foster that ability."

Hobbs chose Guys and Dolls/ from a junior series of Broadway plays scaled down and geared to students in grades four though nine.

It's the story of New York City gambler Nathan Detroit, played by seventh-grader Ben Bechtel, who runs a floating craps game. His fiancee of 14 years, Miss Adelaide (Liz Ehrlich), works at the Hot Box nightclub.

The plot follows their exploits as Nathan bets his fellow gambler, high-roller Sky Masterson, portrayed by eighth-grader Neill Kinter, that he can't convince mission "doll" Miss Sarah Brown (eighth-grader Karalee Yocum) to have dinner with him in Havana. Sky, in turn, promises Miss Sarah he'll fill her mission with "one dozen sinners" during a big prayer meeting to prevent her mission from closing.

More than 200 pupils auditioned for the play. Fifty-two were cast, with 16 signed on for stage crew.

"This is really the best of the best," Hobbs said. "It also has given kids who don't like being in the spotlight the chance to work backstage and get the experience of being part of a big production."

It was a schoolwide effort as technology education teacher Joseph Fournelle, with a crew of his pupils, worked on the flats for the scenery and building stage extensions. The school's Pallette Art Club painted the scenery.

"I think putting together a production like this fosters team work and gives the kids a lot of other experiences that they wouldn't have in their regular academic classes," Hobbs said.

Guys and Dolls will be performed at 7 p.m. today and tomorrow at Mount Airy Middle School. Both performances are sold out.

Gone fishin'

A Fishing Derby is planned for area youngsters this weekend at Mount Airy's Prospect Park Pond.

The annual event, sponsored by Mount Airy Lions Club, will begin with registration at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow. The derby will run from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The derby is free and open to all children up to age 16.

"I think of it as a way to bring the community closer together," said Clyde Gibson, event organizer.

The Woodbine resident says he has enjoyed the sport of fishing most of his 67 years. "I just want the kids of today to see how much fun it is to go out there, catch some fish and just have a good time," he said.

The Lions Club will stock the pond with up to 200 bass, trout and catfish.

Prizes will be awarded to everyone, including top honors for the largest and second-largest fish, and the most combined catches.

Children must be accompanied by an adult. Participants should take gear. The event will be held rain or shine.

Information: 301-829-5466.

Empty Bowls dinner

More than 200 budding artists have contributed to South Carroll High School's Empty Bowls Dinner, which will benefit local charities and food banks.

The dinner will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the school.

Community members, local schoolchildren, Girl Scout troops and celebrities, such as members of the Baltimore Ravens, have gone to the high school to create ceramic bowls that will be auctioned at tonight's dinner.

"The response has been great," said Cara Ober, South Carroll High art teacher and co-chairwoman of the event. "The first day we had a packed room full of people."

Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door.

Information: 410-751-3575.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.