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Originally published Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Franklin High arts alums invited to return to school — and sing

Teaching high-school students the performing arts for 24 years can add up in astonishing ways. Franklin High School teacher Mary Smith estimates...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A musical reunion

Rehearsals: Alumni can rehearse 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. Saturday, at Franklin High School's Little Theater, or 6:30 p.m. before any performance. Call 206-252-6193 for more information.

Performances: "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" will take place April 25-26, May 2-3, at 7:30 p.m. on the Franklin Mainstage, 3013 S. Mount Baker Blvd., Seattle.

Teaching high-school students the performing arts for 24 years can add up in astonishing ways.

Franklin High School teacher Mary Smith estimates she has put about 5,000 students on the stage over the years, singing, dancing and acting.

If all goes as she hopes, some of those students will relive that high-school rite of passage, performing in the musical she wrote, "Bye Bye Miss American Pie."

For this musical reunion, those alumni will be molded into the class of 1985 — the year Smith started teaching at Franklin — and perform Queen's "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions."

"It's nice to be on the stage where you can be a hero for five minutes," said Smith, 64.

Smith is making it easy to participate. Alumni can attend just one rehearsal Saturday or show up one hour early the night of the performance, when they will learn the lyrics, where they stand and their entrance and exit.

Smith and her students have worked to find her old students, e-mailing alumni and getting in touch with parents. She's only heard from about 20 so far, including students who have gone on to careers in the arts. She hopes still to get about 30 a night for the four performances.

Principal Jennifer Wiley said Smith has had an impressive run of musicals at the school and called the reunion aspect "wonderful."

"I respect Mary in great measure," she said. "She's done tremendous things for Franklin."

After years of devoting herself to the production, Smith says it could be her last musical.

In the meantime, she is throwing herself into the musical, sewing costumes, accompanying students on the piano and prepping them for the performance. And she is eager to see her old students.

"You can go back to high school and do your fabulous production that is the one thing you remembered from high school," she said.

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or ntsong@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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