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Muir students cast a 'Spell'

April 07, 2004

Mark R. Madler

In a booming voice, Stephen James calls out instructions to his cast

and crew of eighth-graders at John Muir Middle School.

"When I cue [the trumpet player], open up the curtain and raise

the lights," James directed from the front of the school's auditorium

during a rehearsal earlier this week.

Most of the cast of "The Spell of Sleeping Beauty" then

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disappeared behind the green curtain, leaving just a handful of

students out front, including Becca Mirnoff, 13, and Anush Iritsyan,

14, who is dressed for her role as a cat.

Becca and Anush knelt over a poster board, drawing letters with

markers.

"We're making a sign for a TV show in our play," Becca, said,

marker in hand.

The TV show interlude -- there are two, including a sendup of

"American Idol" -- is one of several inclusions into this familiar

story of the princess who falls asleep and can only be awakened by

the kiss from a prince.

But James, a former English teacher at Muir who is in his first

year of teaching drama, said it was necessary to add characters and

scenes to accommodate the large cast.

"I have 30 very talented actors and it's hard to find plays with

30 characters," James said.

Ashley Karp, 13, and Paula Moren, 14, said the cast was given an

option of two plays and chose "Sleeping Beauty" because the story was

better.

"The Spell of Sleeping Beauty" will be performed at 6:30 tonight

at Muir Middle School, 1111 N.Kenneth Road. Tickets are $5.

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