"The dancing made it harder," says Rachael Faulkner, the Marshall County High School freshman who reprises her role as Gabriella, a brunette whose love interest is a focus of the show leading to her character's kiss. "The sequel is fine," she says.
New to the community stage is dancer Dezmund Edmundson, an MCHS senior who also sings and says it was during piano class when Elise Dumser suggested he audition.
"For two years, I danced on the MCHS Half-Time Team" at basketball games, Edmundson said before a recent rehearsal when he was asked if he wants a career in theater. "Now, I'm having fun, but in the future, I'm sure I could find work in production."
Quay Harris, 18, of Lewisburg returns to the musical. "This year I'm Taylor," she said of her character. "Last year, I was a teacher."
The play's underlying message, Harris says, is "be true to yourself because two of the characters come and go through a phase when they forget who they are. Through friends and family, they are reminded of who they really are.
"To find out who they thought they were," Harris says, "go see the play."
Show dates are March 4-8 with performances at: 7 p.m. Thursday and Monday; 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The cast is drawn from students in grades 7-12 in Lewisburg, Cornersville, Chapel Hill, Pulaski and Columbia.
Alva Cavnar directs. Elise Dumser is the musical director. Julie Plott is the choreographer. Elaine Cagle designed the sets, and Mary Alice Ingram is the producer.
A grant funded by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee have made the production possible, according to photographer and volunteer Debbie Parks. The grant was for $2,450. Royalties for the show cost $2,130.
Rehearsals started just before Christmas.