Almost all cast-members in this year's Hayden High School play have part-time jobs, are in the school band, play sports or are cheerleaders.
That has been the biggest challenge for language arts teacher Gary Shaw, who is directing 11 students in the play "Bull in a China Shop."
The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Hayden High School auditorium.
"It's really hard to get everybody on stage at the same time," Shaw said.
As of last week, the entire cast had been able to rehearse together only twice. Overall, the group will have two fewer weeks than usual to practice because of other school activities.
This makes Shaw a bit nervous but not junior Dusty Zabel, who will appear in his fifth school play and is used to details coming together at the last minute.
"We'll pull it off, we always do," Zabel said matter-of-factly after rehearsal Thursday.
Described by the cast as a humorous murder mystery, "Bull in a China Shop" was written by C.B. Gilford. The play follows the antics of elderly women in a boarding house who vie for the attentions of detective O'Finn, played by Chris Willingham.
The women's attractions eventually bring them to murderous intentions.
"People around here will like the humor more than anything else," said Zabel, who will play detective Kramer.
Shaw chose the play because a lot of girls tried out for parts. One of those girls is junior Justine Bedell, who will play her first role in school theater as Jane, a mean-spirited reporter. The character turned out to be a good way to let off steam, she said.
"If you get to play an evil character and you're mad at your cast mates, you can take it out on them through the character," Bedell joked.
Although Bedell contends with nerves, Zabel talks about the upcoming performance like a seasoned actor.
"I love it -- the thrill of being in front of a crowd and being a character that isn't you," he said.
In addition to learning lines and practicing expressions, the cast has built the set -- complete with Pepto-Bismol pink walls -- gathered costumes at thrift shops and the schools' dusty attic and printed tickets and play bills.
Gary Shaw has organized school plays most of his 22 years as a Hayden teacher. The biggest perk is directing lively students, which isn't always the case in required classes.
"This is a way you work with kids that really want to do this and want to be here. ... It's really fun," he said.
It has been nearly 20 years, before the days of video games and movie rentals, since Hayden students performed in front of a full house, Shaw said.
More faces from Steamboat Springs and Craig, in addition to Hayden, might help fill up seats, Zabel said.
"We'd love to have a packed house," he said. "There will be more energy if there are more people here."
Tickets may be purchased from cast members for $3 in advance or $4 at the door. Proceeds will help pay for royalty fees, set materials and other expenses.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.