STARKVILLE, Miss.--Later this week, Mississippi State's 32nd annual Summer Scholars Onstage camp presents its 2014 production, "Partlynormal Activity."
Taking place in the McComas Hall main theater, the three-act musical comedy begins at 7 p.m. Friday [July 25] and 1 p.m. Saturday [the 26th]. Admission is free to all.
This year's performance tells the story of the most haunted location in the United States--a turn-of-the-20th-century Boston hotel called The Underwood. The fictional location has a history of murder, mayhem and frequent bursts of paranormal activity.
Established in 1982, Summer Scholars Onstage is co-sponsored by the university's departments of communication and counseling and educational psychology. The three-week program features gifted and talented students in grades 7-12 from Mississippi and beyond who write and star in a full-length production.
This year's group included 22 students who came together in early July for a week-long writers' camp. They were aided in the intensive process by a team of experienced writers, musicians, choreographers, theatre technical professionals and costumers, as well as other staff members.
For the second two weeks, the writers were joined by more students for the production camp, during which the play was cast, directed and produced. Classes for dancing, choir and acting were added to the daily schedule as role casting and rehearsals began.
For 2014, a total of 56 campers were part of what has become a well-received MSU summer entertainment tradition.
In this year's Act I, the hotel's early days as a 1920s mob-run headquarters for bootlegging are explained. When the head mobster turns up dead, it's up to the hotel staff, guests, a psychic and a group of famous teen detectives to determine who among them was responsible. Their efforts uncover a darker presence, however, one that seems to thrive on the conflict the mobsters provide.
In Act II's 1970s set, the hotel is shown from the perspective of some resident ghosts. Though most are harmless, they are a mischievous bunch, taken to pulling pranks upon the living, including a pair of lady bank robbers.
One spirit even becomes drawn into a star-crossed love story. When it is discovered that the old, dark presence has returned, the ghosts and a trio of mysterious maids band together to stop it.
For Act III, the Underwood stands in the modern day as a tourist trap in dire need of repair. As guests begin disappearing one by one--without paying, of course--the current owner attempts to rid the place of all spirits by calling in competing groups of reality show "ghost hunters."
While all of them seem incompetent, the hunters soon discover that some ghosts are more real than others, and that the building's dark presence is very real, very dangerous and nearly powerful enough to escape its bonds.
To help carry the production along, accompanying music will span a wide range of styles popular during the appropriate decades, with some contemporary hits, as well.
Complete information about Mississippi State is found at www.msstate.edu.