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Dramatic Heist at Robinson

Fall play takes place in mob-controlled 1930s Chicago.

Chicago, 1930s. a small-time con man unknowingly steals from a mobster. A battle of wits and intrigue ensues.

Submerged in this shady world of not knowing who can be trusted and who can't are Robinson students tackling their latest production, "The Sting."

"He gets to play drunk a lot, which is a lot of fun for me," said student Alden Kendall of his character, Gondorff.

Robinson Secondary presents its fall production "The Sting" on Thursday, Nov. 21 through Saturday, Nov. 23. Over 100 people are involved in the entirely student-run production, with 50 students in the cast.

"They're doing great. Cast morale has been very strong from beginning to end," said theater instructor Chip Rome.

The play, written by David Rodgers, is about the little guy succeeding in Chicago's mobster racket. Mrs. Vanderkieft (Emily Sandhaus) relates the story of Johnny Hooker (Ryan Haldeman) to interviewer Cynthia Hastings (Sam Mandeles). Hooker steals from mobster Doyle Lonnegan (Russell Peavy). Lonnegan retaliates by killing Hooker's friend and mentor, Luther. With the help of an experienced con man, Henry Gondorff (Alden Kendall), Hooker avoids Lonnegan's hit men and pulls off an unforgettable heist.

To get into character, the cast went down to Hard Times Cafe in Springfield to shoot some pool, in costume and in character.

"This is my home away from home. I spend more time here than in my own room in my own house," Kendall said of his involvement in Robinson's productions. The Fairfax Station senior has done both acting and backstage work since his freshman year.

Fellow seniors Brittany Brewer and Ryan Haldeman share Kendall's sentiments.

"Probably the responsibility and the opportunity to work with lots of people," said Brewer, when asked about her favorite aspect of the production.

Haldeman agreed. "Working with all of the new actors and techies that are coming up through the department."

Haldeman suggested doing "The Sting" when he found out about the play version through his friend. He saw the movie, which starred Robert Redford and Paul Newman, when he was eleven. As a senior, Haldeman is busy applying to college theater programs.

"That would be my dream, to pursue that," Haldeman said.

Before the production opens on Thursday, the students previewed scenes from the play to Robinson's English classes. They've posted flyers around the neighborhood. Their previous show, last spring's "The Sound of Music," was sold out.

"We're certainly hoping to do the same here. We have a wonderful supportive community," Rome said.

The Sting will be performed at Robinson Secondary, 5035 Sideburn Road, Fairfax, from Thursday, Nov. 21 to Saturday, Nov. 23. Show times for all days start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 presale and $10 at the door. For more information and ticket reservations, go to www.robinsondrama.org, or call the Robinson Theatre Department at 703-426-2123.