Drama director Marilyn Gilligan likes to do things in an inclusive way. Rather than having a few leads in Briar Woods High School's fall production of "The 12 Dancing Princesses," she opted for a cast of 60. "I was able to get a lot of girls on stage and have fun with it and not just have one girl as the main lead," she said. "I have too many talented kids."
And because she previously staged the darker pieces, "Dracula" and "Jekyll and Hyde," she said "this year I wanted to go more family oriented."
THE STORY follows King Oakley who discovers that the conditions in his castle have grown lax, so he devises a strict regimen for his daughters. In the mix are his diabolical servant, Fiorello who means to claim the castle as his own, a gardener and the magical nanny Fern. The castle is turned into a place of longing for the princesses as they journey to the Land of the Muses where they hope to have their dreams come true.
Show dates are Nov. 13, 14, 15 and 21, at 7 p.m.; and a matinee on Nov. 22, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. It is based on a lighter version of the Grimm Brother's folktale with the same name.
TYLER KIRBY, 17, of Aldie, plays the role of the king, the father of the 12 dancing princesses whose castle is in complete chaos. "In the beginning, he's under the enchantment of his friend," Tyler, who has been in eight plays, said. Then he returns from a long trip and sees that his daughters have invited the village commoners into his castle. The challenge was to come off as a fatherly figure for 12 girls. "I had to find the balance for being almost too harsh, the strict father and the mean father," he said.
Brad Kimball, 18, of Ashburn Farm, plays Fiorello, the wicked servant whose main objective is to take over the kingdom for himself. "I'm a peer helper and it's really quite opposite of who I am as a person," he said. "I'm so used to goofing around with all these kids and all of a sudden, I have to be mean to them and feel no remorse to them."
Katie Bell, 16, of Brambleton, plays the mother figure, Queen Moss, who is watching over her daughters and husband, "and just trying to keep control of the household." She said she wanted to do a British accent with the role, but it didn't quite fit.
Makinsey Eddy, 17, of Ashburn, plays Fern, the cousin of all the princesses. "Fern is a little crazy, but not in the lunatic sense," Makinsey said. "She's basically a second mom to the girls and she believes she can do magic." She said her challenge is the scene where she has to interact and get hit by an invisible person.
LINDSEY NEIMO, 16, plays Camelia, the oldest daughter who is sort of the second mother of the household. "She's a princess and so she's not supposed to mingle with commoners," Lindsey said. "But she develops a crush on the gardener [played by Brett Stockman.]" She had to show the inner side of falling in love and still stay in charge and be responsible.
Brett Stockman, 16, of Broadlands, plays the gardener named Sweet William who is plain and simple and just wants to marry Camelia. "It's kind of fun being an innocent person ... completely unaware, but motivated by love," he said. "He has no intention of ever becoming more than a gardener."
Matt Vespestad, 16, Broadlands, plays Hapless, a manservant. He says he enjoyed all the movement on stage — the back and forth talking to different people. Plus, he created a rough and rugged voice for his character. "There's a whole scene where I'm sitting there eating chocolate covered ants. It was really fun doing that," he said.
Sarah Worden, 17, of Broadlands, is the stage manager in charge of the technical aspects of the play. "I call the cues for the show and make sure everyone's where they should be," Sarah, whose been involved in eight shows, said. "I love the feeling of when you get on stage. It's the greatest feeling in the world."