STARKVILLE • Young thespians from Northeast Mississippi have had the opportunity to attend a summer musical theater camp at Mississippi State University.

The Summer Scholars Production Camp will culminate this week with the presentation of “The Pitch,” an original musical comedy.

There will be two productions – one at 7 p.m. today, the other at 1 p.m. Saturday – in McComas Auditorium on the MSU campus.

The eight area students are Meg Goussett of Tupelo High School; Janiya Rutherford, R.J. Rutherford, Emma Reid and Alando Gates, all of New Albany High School; and Abrielle Carnathan, Kellen Harrison and Erin Harrison, all of Tupelo Christian Preparatory School.

“The Pitch” will be the 38th annual original musical comedy staged as part of the three-week Summer Scholars program.

All are welcome to attend the shows, for which there is no admission fee. The content is appropriate for all ages.

With a cast of 58, the show will likely last about three hours.

Here’s the plot of “The Pitch:” The three-part musical spotlights pitches of three distinctively different books.

One is a fantasy monster high school novella; then there’s a psycho analysis of a small-town utopia; and finally, a compilation of a child’s favorite board games in a murder mystery.

There’s something for everyone: comedy, mystery, original songs – all written and performed by the Summer Scholars.

Of course, there was much guidance from creative adults.

Production director is Mississippi University for Women instructor T. Kris Lee; writing director, Starkville Area Arts Council director John Bateman; director of the MSU theatre program who taught the class who built the set, Dr. Cody Stockstill; director of the Summer Scholars, Dr. Joe R. Underwood, professor emeritus of Counseling and Educational Psychology at MSU; along with 40 other staffers from Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Michigan.

“We have a costumer from Atlanta, an electrician from New Orleans, a sound engineer, dance and drama teachers, a stage manager from Virginia,” said Underwood, who started the camp in 1978.

Camp attendance is very competitive.

“Students who wish to be in the writing class must submit a short story to be judged before being admitted to the class,” Underwood said. “Those interested in the music class must submit an original lyric or recording.”

Through the years, the camp has expanded into three weeks.

“It’s quite a challenge to do what we do in a three-week period,” Underwood said. “Fourteen wrote the script for the production, nine wrote the songs and eight built the set, which we’ll probably finish late Thursday night before Friday’s performance.”

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