FAIRMONT - In a time when programs and organizations seem to be struggling, shrinking or shutting down, it seems rare to find a group - especially one devoted to the arts - thriving.
But that is exactly what has been going on in Truman for the last two weeks.
Students from all over the area have taken over the school's auditorium to build sets, make costumes, learn lines, music and choreography for the annual Stage Masters production.
ON?STAGE?— Children rehearse in the Stage Masters program at the Truman Schools auditorium this week.
This year, students are preparing to present "Annie, Jr.," a shortened but familiar telling of a story of a little orphan whose luck turns.
More students than ever - 55 - have signed up for the production this season, so many that the directors have had to find ways to add parts.
"If they come and try out, they are in," said assistant director Kathy Krumwiede. "We aren't a group that says, 'Sorry, you didn't make it.'"
The students have just two weeks from getting their parts and music to performing for often sold-out audiences.
Krumwiede said students have learned their parts so quickly this year they have been running full production rehearsals since the beginning of the second week.
"The kids are doing really well," she said. "I am impressed they learned their lines and all the music (so quickly)."
Stage Masters has presented Annie, Jr. in the past, about six years ago.
Krumwiede said the play was a hit at that time and she expects the same result this year.
Students are largely familiar with the story through a movie remake in 1999. Their parents and grandparents are likely more familiar with the 1982 film version that set off a marketing frenzy to little girls at the time.
Funds from ticket sales and the $45 fee for students are used to pay directors; buy set and costume material; and for publicity.
Steve Schlager is directing the show again this year.
The group is not affiliated with the school district, although it is allowed use of the auditorium.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for students. Performances are 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.