IT STARTED out with predictable chaos four months ago -- a riot of 30 children described by one of their teachers as "cheeky." Now they are a team, an ensemble of fourth- and fifth-graders ready to work a little magic in their cafeteria.
They are pupils at Annapolis Elementary School, 180 Green St., and they will present "Annie" at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 2 p.m. Saturday -- free perform- ances that are open to the public. They will give two other shows this week for their classmates.
While this may be an elementary school, the show is serious business: a full-blown two-hour performance with sets and costumes, choreography and choruses. Why, Daddy Warbucks will even perform with a newly shaved head.
A tradition is at work at Annapolis Elementary. Mike Morrison, an art teacher at the school, has directed "The King and I," "Peter Pan," "Sleeping Beauty," "Robin Hood" and more. They are, he said, "full-fledged productions."
And they are productions that enjoy commendable support from the school, the kids and their parents. The PTA raises money for the show during the Christmas shopping season by running the school's parking lot on Compromise Street.
Parents Jeff Jorgensen and Jim Garman built the sets, Laurie Hewitt created the scenery, Kay Steinfeld sewed the costumes, and Susan Jorgensen combed consignment shops for props.
Jean Melton, PTA president, and Steinfeld served as producers, which means they became specialists at begging and wheedling.
Family connections are in evidence almost everywhere. Morrison shares directing chores with his wife, Donna. Parents of players built an addition to the stage.
Annie Weber, a fourth-grader who performed in "The King and I" last year, plays the lead role. She has two older sisters, Katie, 16, and Meredith, 12, who also are veterans of stage productions at Annapolis Elementary. Fifth-grader Ned Kimble, who plays Daddy Warbucks, is the son of the music director, pianist Ken Kimble.
Graduation doesn't necessarily mean an end to pitching in. Jane and Carrie Friend and Schuyler Sutton, students at Severn School, returned to help with choreography. They are veterans of the Annapolis Elementary stage.
A professional patina seemed in evidence from the start. There were tryouts, and parents of those who earned roles had to sign an agreement that they and their children understood there was a prodigious amount of work in store. Rehearsals ran from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday since January, plus weekday evenings in March.
The younger Kimble started working behind the scenes as a sound man in the third grade. He has interests all over the place -- he plays the piano and cello, and wants to become a major-league baseball pitcher, "like Mike Mussina." His best pitch, he says, is a fastball.
He plans to get his head shaved tomorrow for the Daddy Warbucks part. "I didn't really like the idea at first," he said. "But Dad said I would never get another chance like this. He said I should play this to the fullest, and so I am."
The report in this space last week of vultures congregating along Aris T. Allen Boulevard provoked calls from a resident and a former neighbor of nearby Fairfax Road. They reported that the birds roost in those parts for good reason: Someone on Fairfax Road regularly feeds them chicken.
A reminder: Saturday is GreenScape Day. There will be cleanup, fix-up and planting projects at dozens of sites around the city.
Work starts at 8 a.m., which gives plenty of time to help prettify the neighborhood and then get cleaned up in time for the "Annie" matinee.