Rock Hill Elementary students present #039;The Music Man Junior#039;

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2003

PEDRO - Jordan Rigsby is a "T-shirt and shorts" kind of person.

But Wednesday, the Rock Hill Elementary fourth-grader donned a suit and tie, complete with a vest, for his leading role in "The Music Man Junior."

"The Music Man" is a 1962 Broadway play written by Meredith Willson in which con artist Harold Hill comes to a small town, planning to scheme its residents by offering to equip and train a boy's marching band. The con artist falls in love with Marian Paroo, the local librarian who is trying to expose him. "The Music Man Junior" is a version of the play adapted for children.

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At 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., students from both the elementary school and Rock Hill Middle School in grades 3-7 performed the play for the elementary school students. Thursday night, they will perform it for the general public at 7 p.m., free of charge.

The students involved in the production are part of the district's 21st Century After School Mall program.

Scott Jones, elementary school music teacher and co-director for the production, said the facilities at the elementary school that opened this year have made the production better.

"It's the technology," he said. "We have a computerized lighting board now."

"We also have a nice new stage," said Lori Donohue, kindergarten teacher and co-director.

Donohue also commented that the students viewing the play have received it well. During breaks between scenes, the children clapped along with the music.

"They've been a really good audience," she said. "I'm pleased with their attention span"

While his leading lady, fourth-grader Ashley McKenzie ("Marian"), relied on her experience in other productions, Rigsby ("Harold") chose not to look at the audience. However, he said he was not nervous.

All of the performers became another person while onstage, but some young ladies became gentlemen.

"I feel like Bill Cosby in these shoes," sixth-grader Brianna Hairston said, strutting around backstage in a suit and tie.

Cindy Russell's daughter Megan played "Mrs. Paroo" Marian Paroo's mother.

"I think it's excellent for kids to take part in something like this," she said. "She's always been interested in singing, but this is her first time other than a Christmas play that she's done this. She loves it."