Middle School Strikes Up Madcap Musical

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When the curtain rises on "Lumberjacks and Wedding Belles" Friday and Saturday evening, the audience at the Rim Country Middle School musical production will be in for about 100 minutes of non-stop action, punctuated by plenty of laughs, song and dance.

The two-act musical comedy, written by Tim Kelly and Larry Nestor, has a little bit of everything, RCMS music teacher and director Mike Buskirk said. "There are bad guys, a funeral, a wedding dress, a happy hoedown, and even a fiddler."

The play is set in the Washington Territory sometime around 1850, and centers around a running feud between a group of lumberjacks and a rival group of fur trappers, who are more than a little upset because all the tree cutting is causing a decline in the population of furry critters. As if that weren't complication enough, the lumberjacks also decide to send out for some mail-order brides from Boston.

The hero, a young lawyer who is running for the territorial legislature, ends up getting framed by the trappers, who are led by Ma Scrubbs, a character reminiscent of Granny in "Beverly Hillbillies."

Just to make things interesting, she has a son called Lump who steals dresses and occasionally dresses in drag.

Needless to say, when the brides show up out West, they are appalled by their new circumstances including a hotel roof that caves in during a thunderstorm and would just as soon head back East and forget the whole thing.

About 35 RCMS students are involved in the production, with Mickey Stern and Candice Kraniak holding down the male and female leads. Others with major parts include Chris Bott, James Neverman and Jamie Ruscovick as Mae B. Thistime.

Assisting Buskirk is Karen Goss, RCMS's other music teacher, who is serving as music director, and Pine teacher Daria Mason, who is directing the pit orchestra.

The play is being staged at the Payson High School auditorium, with both the Friday and Saturday performances beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $4 for adults, $3 for children and $15 for families, and can be purchased in advance at RCMS or at the door, beginning each night at 6 p.m.

Buskirk said the play is good, wholesome family entertainment that can be enjoyed by young children, especially with an early curtain time. And he said that identification is not necessary for the family package price.

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