RACINE - Two young people are about to get buried alive.
Their hands tied, they stand at the mercy of two armed guards. Then suddenly a voice comes out of the darkness.
"The lights should be dimming here," it says. "No, wait. Now turn him around."
The voice comes from Elizabeth Steege as she directs the burial scene, part of Racine Unified's summer musical, "Aida," an Egyptian love story.
"This is the newest musical we have done," said Steege, who added that the Broadway musical is very modern with pop music written by Elton John. "No one else in Racine has done it yet."
The musical, which opens this weekend, uses the singing and acting talents of 41 Racine Unified students from sixth grade through graduated seniors, including more younger students than ever before, said Steege, a choir teacher at Case High School who has directed the district's summer musical three other times.
"Aida" starts in a museum filled with Egyptian artifacts, including a tomb where a young man and women were buried alive together, something very unusual. A young man and woman from the present are swept back in time to discover the reason for the odd burial, a journey that leads them and the audience through a passionate love story complete with betrayals and sword fights.
There are even dance numbers.
"There are so many moves, quick footwork," said cast member Matthew Burton, a 13-year-old Gilmore Middle School eighth-grader. "It's fun, though, that you can get
The musical's love story develops between Aida, a captured princess who lives as a slave for the Egyptians, and Radames, a prince and Egyptian naval captain.
Aida is played by Desirey Olison, an 18-year-old recent Case graduate, and Radames is played by Jacob Kornwolf, 17, who also just graduated from Case.
"They're always discovering new things about their parts," Steege said.
Kornwolf said he has discovered the many facets of Radames.
"It was challenging at first to find both sides of him - the nurturing side and the working side," Jacob said. "He likes exploration but not conquering."
Olison said she struggled with learning Aida's emotions - and accent.
"It's supposed to be Egyptian, but sometimes it comes out a little Jamaican," she said laughing.
Aside from accent mix-ups, cast members said a few other funny antics have happened at rehearsal.
"There's a scene where Aida and Radames are chained together and about to be buried and the guards are supposed to frisk us. The guard took his sword and was just rubbing (Aida) with a sword and Aida kept looking at him," Jacob said.
Steege said everything they will be ready this weekend - and the lights will dim during the burial.