For 19 years, Arnie Hayes has celebrated his birthday by putting on a musical play for the benefit of Carroll County's developmentally disabled citizens.
Tomorrow, September Song begins its 20th production.
This year, the theater troupe will perform Meredith Willson's "The Music Man," first produced by the group in 1983.
Show times are at 8 p.m. tomorrow and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Westminster High School, 1225 Washington Road. Show time will be 8 p.m. Sept. 24 and 25.
"I always wanted to put on a musical -- I have a mentally retarded sister and wanted to do something for her -- and Bob Kersey offered to get me an orchestra if I could put together something," Mr. Hayes said. "So we started with one weekend and made $750 the first year."
September was chosen, he said, because it opens the school year and Sept. 22 is his birthday. This year is his 69th.
Since its first play in 1974, September Song has raised more than $175,000 for various organizations that deal with the developmentally disabled. This year's proceeds will be split among CHANGE Inc., Richcroft Inc. and the Carroll County Therapeutic Recreation Council.
September Song gets additional money from the Lutheran Brother hood Branch 8521, which matches the show's profits up to $3,200 from the Sunday matinee performance.
The 1993 show features numerous veterans and some new faces. Hal Fox is directing for the second year; Mary Lee Schmall is music director; Mr. Kersey, orchestra conductor; Joan Crooks; stage manager; and Mary Lois Powellson; choreographer.
Mr. Fox said the cast of 60-plus represents "quite a cross-section from the community." More than 200 people are involved in the annual production.
"The Music Man" is the story of Harold Hill, a con man who preys on small Midwestern towns and the librarian who tries to expose him. Mo Dutterer plays Harold Hill and Ann Barcroft portrays librarian Marian Paroo.
One of September Song's new actors is Eldersburg's 8-year-old Andrew Johnson, who plays problem child Winthrop Paroo, Marion's little brother.
Andrew, the son of Judi and Gordon Johnson, was at first rejected even for an audition because the group was looking for a 10-year-old, Mrs. Johnson said. After some persuading, Mr. Hayes gave Andrew an audition and chose him for the part.
"I like to act and wanted to try out because I have never done community theater," Andrew said. "It's very fun and it's been a success."
The dark-haired youngster sings two songs in the play, "Gary, Indiana" and "The Wells Fargo Wagon."
Although Mr. Fox calls Andrew's character a problem child, Andrew said, "I'm just a typical little boy."
Andrew seems to fit right in with the other actors in the play. He has had four years of ballet lessons, plus drama and voice lessons.
"That's his thing," Mrs. Johnson said. "I have one son who plays soccer and other sports, but Andrew loves dancing and singing."
The play, set in 1913, features actors, singers and dancers of all ages, and colorful costuming and sets, especially during the ensemble numbers. An enlarged orchestra adds to the show's lively production.
"We've grown in our shows with the use of technology over the years," Mr. Kersey said. "We have a better sound system now than we did 20 years ago."
September Song's leaders are proud of their success with the show and the support it has garnered over the years from the community, local businesses and the schools.
"We never play to any less than 2,500 people and we never lose money," Mr. Hayes said.
Tickets to "The Music Man" are $7 for general admission, available around the county, and $10 for reserved seats from Coffey's Music. Tickets may be purchased at the door for all shows.
Information: 876-1760 or 848-3186.