Students work past snags

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Lindsay Koehler has a long repertoire to describe how she is feeling the week "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" is set to open.

"This play has brought me to the edge of my limits," she said. "It's like treading water and getting nowhere. I am walking the thin line of almost cracking."

What: "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" directed by Lia Kozatch with technical direction by Lindsay Koehler When: 7 p.m. today and Saturday Where: Steamboat Springs High School auditorium Tickets: $5, available at All That Jazz, Celebrations and Off the Beaten Path Bookstore

Koehler is the play's technical director, running a crew of 12 fellow students, alongside Lia Kozatch, who is directing the actors. Koehler and Kozatch took on directing the play for fun and for school credit. But neither realized what a three-ring circus it would be to get the production from auditions to the stage.

After two kids dropped out of the show two days before opening night and the half-built set had to be removed from the stage for a mid-week band concert, the girls tried to remain calm and take the glitches in stride.

"I have never been so stressed out in my entire life," Kozatch said.

The challenges began early on. Kozatch held auditions in January and soon found out that the high school auditorium was a hot commodity and her project was not a priority.

"We practiced in the choir rooms, in the pods at the school and in the hallways," Kozatch said. "We did the best blocking we could out there."

But the hardest part was getting the set built in the two short weeks they had access to the auditorium.

The set has a center house that is set on a turntable, designed by Renny Harner, so the audience can see the inside and outside of the house.

The students had a $200 budget from money given to them by a parent group and money Kozatch had saved from her summer job. Most of the money went to pay royalties to Musical Theatre International ($75 per show).

Materials for the set were donated to by BMC.

Kozatch already had the school credit she needed to graduate, but "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" was a play she had always wanted to act in or direct, she said. So she took the Senior Odyssey class just so she could do the project.

"My dad showed me the movie when I was 11 or 12," she said. "I loved it, and if the school can't do it, I decided to do it myself."

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" is a musical by Stephen Sondheim. It follows the story of the laziest slave in Rome who is promised his freedom if he can set up his master with one of the new courtesans.

"He gets to the point where he doesn't care what happens to anyone. He just cares about getting his freedom," Kozatch said. "I chose this play because the characters are so interesting."

Theater audiences may have seen Kozatch in the Community Player's summer production of "Cosi" or in "Much Ado about Nothing" and "Into the Woods" at the high school.

"A Funny Thing Happened" is her first play as a director.

"I like it because it's different than acting, but it's a lot more responsibility," Kozatch said. "It's so much harder than memorizing lines."

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