Not too young to pen a play

The Baltimore Sun

Curious about what's on the minds of Maryland's youth? Staged readings of seven student scripts will be presented at Center Stage on Monday as part of the theater's 21st annual Young Playwrights Festival.

Selected from submissions by more than 300 students, the plays being read include four by elementary and middle schoolers: Yankee Haters, in which three friends debate everything from baseball to the Revolutionary War, by Paul Gianfrancesco, a fifth-grader at Whetstone Elementary in Gaithersburg; The Survey, about a little girl who changes an older student's views about a woman in the White House, by Alice Sheehan (conceived with Ariel Wasserman), fifth-graders at City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore; Bob the Slushy Guy, about a man who creates his own slushy empire after being laid off, by Mitchell Hopkins, a sixth-grader at Harford Day School in Bel Air; and The Life of a Dollar Bill, which follows a day in the life of a dollar, by Kendall Baskin, an eighth-grader at Harford Day School.

Three high school scripts will also be read: Growing Up in the West, about an 18-year-old girl torn between her feelings for her boyfriend and her father's traditional values, by Fahmida Sultana, a 10th-grader at Northwestern High School in Baltimore; Getting In, a send-up of the college application process, by Alison Burris, a 12th-grader at the Park School in Brooklandville; and T'Ain't No Sin, about a stand-off between a mother and son during a fire, by Benjamin Jonah Korman, a 12th-grader at the Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson.

The festival will take place at the theater, 700 N. Calvert St. WJZ anchor Denise Koch returns as emcee. Admission is free, but reservations are required. Call 410-332-0033.

Double 'Trouble'

In other news from Center Stage, there's more trouble afoot -- and that's a good thing. Center Stage's February production of Alice Childress' Trouble in Mind will be remounted in October at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Conn., by Center Stage artistic director Irene Lewis.

"I'm just delighted," Lewis said. "Normally I don't jump to repeat a show, but Alice Childress is somebody very special, and the fact that this audience can be widened thrills me." Lewis hopes her three Center Stage leads, E. Faye Butler, Thomas Jefferson Byrd and Starla Benford, will repeat their roles in this 1955 play about an African-American actress (Butler) who challenges stereotyped portrayals on stage. The design team for this incarnation will consist of Yale Drama School students.

'Sweeney Todd' is a no go

Sweeney has been axed. Washington's Kennedy Center has canceled Sweeney Todd: The Reunion Concert. The concert was to have starred Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski, reprising their roles from the 2002 Sondheim Celebration production. A spokesman for the Kennedy Center attributed the cancellation to conflicts with Baranski's shooting schedule for the forthcoming film version of Mamma Mia!

The Sweeney Todd concerts, which were to have taken place June 22-23, will not be rescheduled. For refunds, call the box office, 800-444-1324.

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