Not often do high school drama students perform a dark, adult comic tale, but when River Ridge drama teacher Diana Rogers got the chance to do the award-winning short musical The Mice, she couldn't pass it by.
"You can't get permission to do this play" through a licensing agent, Ms. Rogers said. "You have to get it straight from the writers," composer Laurence O'Keefe and lyricist Nell Benjamin.
That's what she did, and now her students at River Ridge are going to present it as part of their spring show, "An Evening of One-Acts," tonight and Saturday at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge.
The musical is based on a short story by Sinclair Lewis. It was commissioned by legendary director Hal Prince and is rarely performed.
"It's rather macabre," Ms. Rogers said.
In it, a Minnesota exterminator named Allan is unhappily married, as is his girlfriend Virga. So Virga releases nests of mice into neighborhood homes, the neighbors call Allan to get rid of them, and Allan advises the neighbors to move out while he applies his dangerous chemicals.
This gives Allan and Virga nifty places for their own little love nests.
That game gets old, though, so the lovers must decide whether to take things one step further, with the help of the exterminator's toxic materials — but the audience shouldn't jump to conclusions about how everything works out.
The second one-act of the evening is a poignant drama by Eric Alter, Mrs. Jaye, about a man who visits his favorite teacher in the twilight of her life.
In between acts, student John Timpanelli Jr. will perform a 15-minute cabaret-style act, with songs from the musicals Shrek, The Boy from Oz, Fiddler on the Roof and Betrayed.
The entire show is about 90 minutes long, with one intermission.