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A River City revelry

Middle school students to star in production of 'The Music Man'

How do you make it to the Bethlehem Middle School auditorium? Practice, practice, practice.

At least, that's how it is for the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who will be performing The Music Man there next week, and the dozens of others who are working behind the scenes so it all comes off right.

It has taken the cast three months to prepare, said co-directors and music teachers Lynda Conway and Katie Daly, who are preparing their fifth musical production.

"It's a substantial amount of time that the students are willing to put in, in addition to being students, which is their primary responsibility," said Conway. "The kids are phenomenal."

The cast has been preparing since October, when about 150 students auditioned. The directors said they were happy "The Music Man" allows a relatively large cast of 65 students.

"We don't exactly have the largest stage, but we try to utilize as many students as we can feasibly put up on the stage," Conway said.

Another 65 students are involved in behind-the-scenes work making costumes, building sets and manning the lights. Parents have also been a great help to the directors, with about 80 volunteers doing everything from chaperoning to selling tickets to costume design.

Two-hour rehearsals have been running four days a week for the past three months, which is a big commitment from participants, especially those playing lead parts. Some have to curtail other extracurricular activities like sports.

"You have to sacrifice a lot to put on a great show," said Trevis Lipnicky, who will play the part of Marcellus Washburn.

Scott Mistler-Ferguson (Harold Hill) agreed.

"It's really hard while you're doing it, but once it's done it's great," he said.

But the musical offers the players an opportunity to partake in a different kind of extracurricular activity and meet new people.

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