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RMS play brings big messages

Rosemount Middle School students Leif Olson, Nicole Hutchinson and Petra Holtze rehearse a scene from the school's production of The Giver. The students will perform the play at 7 p.m. April 7 and 8. For more on the play, turn to page 8A. For video, visit / 3
Rosemount Middle School students Justin Laurel, left, and Ryan Poehler rehearse a scene from the school's production of The Giver. Poehler plays Jonas, the play's main character. Laurel plays Asher, his best friend. RMS students will perform The Giver at 7 p.m. April 7 and 8.3 / 3

When you're a middle school student, being different isn't always a good thing. But the performers in Rosemount Middle School's new play, The Giver, have spent more than a month exploring the importance of being yourself and making your own choices.

This week, they'll put that message on stage.

Set in a futuristic society where everybody's role is pre-determined and nobody has to make any decisions, The Giver carries the message that it's the choices available to us that make life worth living.

That's pretty heady stuff for actors who aren't old enough to shave.

The play, an adaptation of a novel by Lois Lowry commissioned by the Oregon Children's Theater, tells the story of Jonas, a 12-year-old boy who is chosen to become his community's Giver, the only person who has memories of real pain and real joy. As a result of his new role he learns the hypocrisy at the center of what at first appears to be a utopian world.

Director Mike Liegel called the play "science fiction lite."

The RMS production, which features 20 actors and a crew of about 20, uses minimal sets and costumes and uses video to fill in many of show's visual aspects.

Liegl said he likes the idea of doing something different than the lighthearted fare typically produced for middle school students.

"I really feel that kids need to see that theater isn't all Annie, Shrek and Wicked," Liegl said. "Those are great shows, but sometimes theater is serious and it can still be fun and entertaining at the same time."

Despite the serious subject matter, Liegel said The Giver should be entertaining for anyone who shows up to watch.

"The Giver has its light moments," he said. "We are, after all, a school, and providing shows for kids to be in is as much about teaching them about everything theater can be as it is putting together something to showcase for the community.

The Giver will be on stage at 7 p.m. April 7 and 8. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults.