Organizing 160 people in a studio for a day of recording is no easy matter, even for the professionals at Maryland Public Television. Yet on March 16, from early morning to early evening, youth from 80 schools in Maryland, including five from Howard County, gathered in Owings Mills to either sing, play in the orchestra or dance for MPT's program, "Young Artists of America: The Songs of Tim Rice," which is scheduled to air June 1 at 8 p.m. on MPT.
All of the participants in the broadcast are students at Young Artists of America at Strathmore, a nonprofit organization offering musical training in two locations, one in Potomac and one at 8600 Foundry St. in Savage.
Howard County residents Allison Fitzgerald, Madi Heinermann, Carleigh Solomon, Madeline Rothfield and Helena Barsotti — all vocalists — participated in the filming and in the original live concert performance held earlier in the year.
"We took a two-hour concert and condensed it," said Allison, 16, a junior at Glenelg High School, who is enjoying her first year with Young Artists. "This is the biggest thing they've done so far. It really took it to the next level."
For the one-hour program, 12 of lyricist Sir Tim Rice's most popular Broadway and movie hits from such productions as "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Evita," "Chess," "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King" were performed for the program.
"They were able to really capture the biggest moments of the two-hour show," said Carleigh, 14, a sophomore at Atholton High School. "It was so exciting."
All of the older members of the Young Artists of America school arrived at MPT around 8 a.m., according to Carleigh, for a full day of recording.
"It wasn't as I expected," Carleigh said. "I thought they would just film it and be done with it. We got to really understand what goes on behind the stage and filming. There is a difference between television and performing."
"It was very different," Allison said. "There was no stage. No audience. It was many hours of filming and re-filming of different takes."
Helena,14, of Fulton, and Madi, 12, of Ellicott City, are in the junior group of Young Artists. Their part in the production required them to be at the filming for only a few hours.
"I'm not in much of the TV production," Helena said. "We sing one song and in another two songs we watch. It was fun."
"It was interesting," Madi said, of the experience. "All the cameras surrounding you. I like the live performance more. I like the audience's reactions. "
Ken Day, executive producer of the show, said that a special stage was built to accommodate the soloists, chorus and orchestra and that there were more than 41 microphones spread throughout the group.
"We love getting our hands on a big production like this with songs and dance," Day said. "We worked very hard to edit it and put it together to air while they were still in school."
The group, he added, was very impressive.
"I was amazed by this group," Day said. "A few people in these groups are headed to Broadway."
All are excited to see the show when it airs on June 1.
"It is something I never thought I would be doing before leaving high school," Allison said. "It is something I want to continue."