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'Snow White and the 8 Dwarfs'

Chantilly High presents children's play with a fun, new twist.

Leave it to Chantilly High to do something different with a children's show. It's upcoming production is "Snow White and the Eight Dwarfs."

It will be presented Friday, June 2, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, June 3, at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, June 4, at 2 p.m., in the school auditorium. Tickets are $5 at the door.

"THE AUDIENCE will enjoy it because it's a classic story everyone's grown up with," said director Shannon Khatcheressian. "But there are so many twists and dimensions we've added to it that it should be a really hilarious show."

"I wanted to introduce a new element, more characters and humor for the grownups, too," she said. Besides Burby, the eighth dwarf, said Khatcheressian, "We added Sir Bojo and Sir Skunky and a slew of ensemble characters, such as Alice in Wonderland, White Rabbit, a lawyer and Pizza Man, so everyone who tried out for the show could have a part and see what it's like to perform in the theater."

Accordingly, the production is double-cast with 64 actors and actresses and a technical crew of 12. And Khatcheressian says they're all doing a really great job. "It's always exciting working with the Drama I and II students because they're our upcoming talent for future shows," she said. "And everything's coming along beautifully."

Sophomore Tracy Carter, 15, is Snow White. Describing her character as "really nice, pretty and innocent," she said Snow White eats a poisoned apple and falls under a spell placed on her by her stepmother, the evil queen. Then it's up to the prince to break the spell.

"It's really fun," said Carter. "This is my second play, so I'm excited. I try to be nice to everyone, so it's pretty easy for me to play this role. And I like the other actors I'm with." She said the hardest part is memorizing all her lines and adding her character's personality to them.

"But I think it's awesome that I'm the lead in just my second play," she said. "I think the audience will like the different characters, and the show's pretty funny."

Oscar Mejia, 16, a sophomore, plays the prince. "He's a cocky guy — 'I'm the prince; I'm hot' — and at the same time, he's sensitive but funny," said Mejia. He, too, enjoys his role because "in school, when I make a joke, I overexaggerate it, and he's the same way."

He said it's tough "acting and being yourself [while simultaneously] making the prince believable. But he likes his character's attitude.

"HE'S NOT like other people," said Mejia. "He's like Fabio, and every girl has the hots for him. But he's also a jerky dork."

He said it's neat being in a children's play because "I entertain my little cousins and make them laugh, so I'm pretty sure I can do it with other kids, too." He said the audience will definitely like the prince and the story. Said Mejia: "We're having fun but, at the same time, we're doing it right."

Sophomore Jenny Igbokwe, 15, plays the evil queen. "She has a big attitude, is very self-absorbed and thinks she's the most beautiful thing in the world," said Igbokwe. "She's pretty sassy."

The queen's also jealous of Snow White because her magic mirror says she's more beautiful than the queen — who used to be the prettiest one in the kingdom before Snow White came around.

"So I give her a poison apple and she falls asleep," said Igbokwe. "I'm excited because I'm the prettiest again, but then the prince kisses her back to life. I like being the queen; she gets to be mean and nasty, but nobody can do anything about it 'cause she's the queen."

Igbokwe said her character's big and flamboyant and has a huge ego and "it's fun being someone I'm not and the person everybody has to listen to." The toughest part of her role, she said, is that the queen "has an old, evil, raspy voice, and it's hard on your throat because it hurts."

But she's pleased with the part because the queen "gets to boss everyone else around and she's very loud." She also likes being in children's shows because they're "a lot more relaxed than main-stage productions and more fun because we get to be more energetic and use bigger facial expressions and body language. And we get to be silly on stage. There are lots of jokes for adults and teen-agers, besides the comedy for the kids."

Freshman Andrew Dugan, 14 — who played young Patrick in Chantilly's Cappie-nominated production of 'Auntie Mame' — portrays the eighth dwarf, Burpy. In the story, he explained, "My mom named me after my favorite hobby, burping." And, of course, he always burps at inopportune times. Said Dugan: "Whenever he can throw one out there, he does."

Burpy lives with the other dwarfs in a cottage in the woods, and Dugan said he's fun to play because "he gets to burp a lot and I like to burp and can do it pretty well. And all the dwarfs have funny conversations with each other."

HE SAID children's shows are great because "you get to really be over-the-top and utilize different body language and voices than you would in a main-stage production. The kids especially will like Snow White. She's sweet, all around, and the dwarfs are fun. The show's a real good twist off of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

Playing Harry the Huntsman is sophomore Mike Tea, 16. "He's the queen's righthand man and does her dirty work," he explained. "He's very loyal to her and is serious around her. But when he's around his henchmen, Bojo and Skunky, he goofs off and shows his lighthearted side."

Tea is also giving Harry a "corny-heroic" voice and character. "He's over-dramatic and worries a lot," said Tea. "He's nervous around the queen and doesn't know if he should get rid of Snow White — like the queen wants him to do — because Snow White is nice to him."

He said the toughest part of playing this role is that Harry has several different emotions in different scenes. But he's glad that Harry's "a kooky character on stage, serious as well as goofy." And in a children's show, said Tea, "You can do silly things and the kids love it."

Stage manager Pat Graham, an 18-year-old senior, also plays an important part in the production. "During rehearsals, I take down notes for blocking and changes in the script and help direct," he said. "And during the show, I'll make sure everything goes smoothly backstage."

As stage manager, said Graham, "You can see things from a director's point of view and learn how they're done." He also loves having one, last chance to participate in Chantilly theater and be with all his friends before graduation. He said the show has lots of pop-culture references the audience will enjoy. "Kids will like it because it's upbeat and even has a dance party," said Graham. "And the actors even go into the audience, so it's a fun experience for everyone."