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Taking to the stage

BHS students to star in production of As You Like It

If it's true that all the world's a stage, a group of students at Bethlehem High School have been getting some serious real-world experience as they prepare for a production of William Shakespeare's "As You Like It," to be shown on eight occasions later this month.

This will be the 21st consecutive year that a Shakespeare play has graced the high school auditorium. Director James Yeara"who also directed the previous 20"said that the bard's plays are not only recognizable to the cast and audience alike, but they offer students something beyond the typical high school theater fare.

"It's the challenge," he said. "It's the greatest theatrical challenge and training you can have."

To pull off such a hefty task, the troupe has been practicing rigorously since auditions in September"some members even earlier than that"with rehearsals four days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. In the few weeks leading up to the show, rehearsal expands to six days a week and can go late into the evening.

The production has a 32-member cast, including members of the Chorus, along with 20 students who are providing backstage and technical support to the actors. Most don't have to attend every practice, but Stage Director and senior Cathleen Owens is one student who's been at Yeara's side through the whole thing.

"It's a lot of work, having to fill out college applications and that senior year stuff," along with the theater work, she said.

For many of the students, acting is a hobby and it will continue to be so in the future. They know that the field of live performance can be competitive and low paying, but in the sphere of a high school production it's fun and a great social experience.

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