Lack of a stage didn't deter Sykesville Middle School students from mounting a production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."
While the cast and chorus rehearsed, the children, with teacher Eric Conway, built a 16-foot by 16-foot portable, collapsible stage.
The Drama Club hopes its first production -- on tap tonight and tomorrow at the school -- will lead to many more staged shows and enough profit to buy props for future endeavors.
For the Charles M. Schulz musical based on the "Peanuts" comic strip, costumes came from most of the cast's closets and props were few.
"I wear a white outfit, a dog collar and I am going to spray my hair to make it look like dog ears," said Kathryn Stephenson, 12, who will appear in the role of Snoopy.
The building crew carried the stage in pieces to the players Wednesday.
"Guys, we could use some heavy arms here," said Jessica Parrott, the 13-year-old stage manager. Pairs of children maneuvered the panels among singers practicing at a piano and actors reading lines.
"Don't use up your energy carrying in the stage," said Lori Patterson, teacher and drama coach along with director Roberta Baker. "We have a lot of rehearsing to do."
Cheyenne Eicher, 12, who plays Lucy, may have sold the most tickets to the performances. Despite the brisk sales and long practices, she said, she didn't think the play would become reality until she saw the stage. "It seems like we have been here forever this week," she said. "Until I got on the stage, I didn't think it would all come together."
At stage front, Matt Kelley, 12, plays the lead. He has the experience of a stage veteran (a part in the South Carroll High production of "Music Man") and says he plans on an acting career. "I like Charlie Brown," said Matt. "He's funny, but sometimes you feel sorry for him."
Kathryn said playing a dog offers her the most versatility.
"Snoopy improvises and pantomimes," she said. "I am a dog, but I do talk."
J. D. Jordan, 13, sits on the floor playing a large, yellow block shaped like a piano. As Schroeder, he said he can display a full range of emotion.
"Schroeder is moody and yells at people, but he sings 'Happiness' at the end," J. D. said.
Chasity Foust, 11, said she likes the story because it "proves there is always good in people. Even Lucy, who is mean and crabby, is nice in the end."
The part of Linus may be the show's quirkiest casting. At 6 feet 1, Billy Lizor, 13, towers over the cast as he drags a pale blue blanket across the stage.
"It's just one of those things about show business," said Billy.
Jessica, speaking with the detachment of a nonplayer, said that the play has been fairly easy to stage and that she is not nervous about missed cues or botched lines.
"Everyone can relate to the story because it's about children," she said. "If they make mistakes, it will either be funny or nobody will be able to tell."
The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at the school, 7301 Springfield Ave. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. The students also will provide refreshments. Information: 795-1313.