As far as stories go, it doesn't get more timeless than a tale of love and misunderstanding.

It's a plot that occurs in Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, and in countless hearts throughout the ages.

One of the most loved stories is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and several area high school students are helping to bring the story to the stage.

Elizabeth Studenroth, a senior in Kutztown, and Mertztown brothers Christopher and Mike Evatt, a senior and freshman respectively, are members of Players of the Stage, a drama group made up entirely of homeschooled or previously homeschooled students.

Players of the Stage was founded in 2000, when a group of students got together to perform for a program at a local church.

Founding member Anna

Barshinger, Hellertown, Lehigh County, now 20 and the only full-time employee of The Players of the Stage, has adapted Austen's lengthy novel into a two-and-a-half hour play.

Christopher and Mike's mother, Susan Evatt, even has a role. She plays Mrs. Benett, who is desparate to get her daughters married off because she fears being homeless if her husband dies.

Susan initially began homeschooling Christopher when he was in early elementary school so he could learn at his own pace, and after a year, she began schooling his younger brother.

The three are glad their family made the choice they did, and said that learning from home not only gives them more family time, but also allows the students to study some topics more in depth.

In fact, Studenroth, who plays Caroline Bingley and Charlotte Lucas, is using the play as an opportunity for history credit and is studying the era extensively.

The students are affiliated with the Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency (PHAA), which requires them to compile a yearly portfolio which is evaluated before they can move on to the next grade.

While it seems like an intimidating prospect, the students take it in stride.

"It's never a trip to the dentist kind of thing," Studenroth said.

Christopher enjoys the fact that he's able to advance in subjects he excels in.

"It's nice to have that flexibility," he said.

The drama group is flexible too, with performers varying in age from five to some of the parents.

According to Studenroth, the actors involved in the play have become like a family.

"Everyone who is there wants to be there," she said.

A story of five sisters who need to get married because they have no inheritance, Pride and Prejudice will take the audience to long ago England when social structures were much different.

"Jane Austen writes rich characters so it's fun to play them," Christopher said.

He plays dual roles of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Cullens.

His brother also plays dual roles of Mr. Wickham and Colonel Fitzwilliam.

No backyard-type play, Pride and Prejudice promises to be an excellent theater experience.

The group has received accolades from Dan Neidermyer, executive director of Maranatha Productions, Inc.

"Players of the Stage (is) unique in educating young actors to such an excellent caliber of drama," Neidermyer said.

Pride and Prejudice is the group's largest production yet, costing the organization $10,000.

The students are relying on sponsors, a car wash fundraiser, as well as donations at the door, to keep the organization in the black.

Contact Penny at

Pride and Prejudice can be seen April 20 through 22 at 7 p.m. , April 27 through 29 at 7 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on April 29 in Living Hope Presbyterian Church, Allentown, Lehigh County.

For ticket information, e-mail, or call 610-923-6742 or 610-216-3195. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

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