Published: Jul 15, 2008 10:07 AM
Modified: Jul 15, 2008 10:07 AM
When director Deryl McGuire asked Bob Sharpe to play the lead in her upcoming production of "The Music Man," he must have felt a twinge of deja vu.
She asked him the same thing 32 years ago.
"Deryl McGuire was my high school drama teacher at Orange High School," Sharpe said. "We did 'The Music Man,' and I played the lead. It was the first musical I had ever done, and in fact that experience inspired me to go on to get a college degree in the field and a career in theater for several years."
Sharpe will play con man Harold Hill again this week in the Orange Community Players' production of Meredith Wilson's classic musical, under McGuire's direction. Even the stage will seem familiar: performances will be held Thursday through Sunday in the Orange High School auditorium.
"A lot of it came back pretty quickly -- the songs more so than the lines and stuff," Sharpe said. "I'd like to think I'm a little better at it now. At 17, I'm not sure how prepared I was to play a mature adult with worldly experience.
"It's a wonderful experience. Some of my former classmates are involved, and some of the young people in the cast are the children of former classmates. It's been a lot of fun."
McGuire will direct a cast of 55, ranging in age from 5 to 78. That diversity --echoed in the wide range of theatrical backgrounds and experience within the cast -- is among the things she loves about community theater.
"It's so exciting to see so many kids -- of all ages -- accepting the challenge of taking this on, learning and getting really excited about doing it," she said. "Some of my former students are back, and there are a lot of new faces, wonderful new people. We have more people wanting to get involved every year, people from Mebane, from Hillsborough, from Chapel Hill -- and even a few from Durham."
She founded the Orange Community Players in 2005 as true grassroots theater group. Since then, supported by the Orange County Parks and Recreation Department, the group has put on one major show each year. This year it's Wilson's popular tale about a con man out to swindle a peaceful Iowa town before his love for Marian the Librarian leads him to see things in a new light.
"I think everybody involved has gained a new appreciation for how things have changed," McGuire said. "The play is set in a simpler time, when the worst swear word was 'swell.' I think it's clear that that simpler world wasn't bad, that bigger and better isn't always the best."
"We're having a great time with it, and the local business community has stepped up to get involved. People say, 'We want to be a part of this; what can we do to help?' That's what it's all about."
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