Hannah Perreault as Alice Kinnian and Josh Flanagan as Prof. Harold Nemur in a rehearsal for “Flowers for Algernon” in the fall. (Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record)

BRUNSWICK — With just five months to go until a group of Brunswick students fly to Edinburgh to perform in Scotland’s Festival Fringe, it’s starting to feel real.

The Brunswick High School Players were tapped to perform an abridged version of “Flowers for Algernon” this August, during what is known as the world’s largest performing arts festival. They are one of 35 schools participating as part of the American High School Theatre Festival, and over the course of two weeks will perform four times, attend workshops, other performances and travel. Such an opportunity does not come cheap though, and according to director Pamela Mutty, the group is just over halfway to its $84,000 fundraising goal.

Wyeth Tobey, a Brunswick High School Senior, plays Charlie Gordon, a mentally challenged young man who becomes a near-genius after an experimental surgery in “Flowers for Algernon” last fall. Ten students from the play will perform an abridged version in Scotland this summer. (Hannah LaClaire/The Times Record)

“It’s a big, ugly number,” Mutty said Monday, but she is confident that they can reach it. The group has been fundraising in earnest for months, gathering proceeds from the fall production of Algernon, a theater camp for middle school students over winter break. a few one-act and faculty plays, a raffle, and even a benefit event at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

The spring production of “Mamma Mia!” opens March 21, and according to Mutty, it’s a show that “really fills the house.”

“We’re hoping that will put us over the hill,” she said. The musical, based on the songs of Swedish pop group ABBA, follows a young woman, Sophie, who is preparing for her wedding and wants her father to walk her down the aisle. The only problem is that there are three possible men (who she has never met), all equally likely to be the one, and Sophie has invited them all to the wedding, unbeknownst to her mother.

It’s always a hit, Mutty said, and without a pit orchestra or the period costumes needed for recent productions of “Les Miserables” and “Titanic,” “Mamma Mia!” is relatively inexpensive. They have added an extra show, a Sunday matinee to help increase ticket sales.

“We’re going to get there,” she said. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll try something else.”

Since most, if not all of the cast members going to Scotland are also in “Mamma Mia,” Algernon has taken a bit of a backseat since the show closed in November. They have done one read-through of the new script, Mutty said, but once Mamma Mia closes she will give the kids a few weeks to “catch their breath” before getting back to work on Algernon.

The show they will perform this summer has been whittled down from two hours to under 90 minutes, and the cast of 25 has been shrunk to just 10 actors. Once they get the show “on its feet” they will only need to rehearse about once per week.

“Flowers for Algernon,” based on a novel and short story of the same name by Daniel Keyes, was adapted for the stage in the late 1960s. It features Charlie Gordon, a mentally disabled man who is the subject of an experimental surgery to make him smarter. The test was successful on a mouse named Algernon and, it appears, on Charlie as well. His intelligence begins to improve and, within a matter of weeks, he is a genius, aware of how hard his life was before. When Algernon takes a turn for the worse and begins regressing, Charlie fears the same might happen to him.

There is a one-act version of the play that is roughly 30 minutes. Mutty said that instead of taking the original script and cutting out large chunks, she started with the one-act and figured out which scenes from the original she could add back in to “remain completely true to the author’s intent.”

“It’s not a show for everybody,” she said, but “everyone who saw it (in the fall) was incredibly moved.” Wyeth Tobey, who plays Charlie, “completely disappeared behind the character,” she said.

Algernon is heavy, heartbreaking and, at times, uncomfortable, but they were told to “bring whatever you can do best,” she said, and it’s a show that lets the students abilities shine.

“It’s an important show,” she said, adding that while it is not one that sells 600 tickets, she often prefers dramas like Algernon to some of the fun comedies. “You’re changed somehow when you walk out of a show like that, she said, and hopefully it is something they will soon be taking to show to people from all around the world.

“We’re going to make or break,” Mutty said. “Somehow we are going to make this happen.”

“Mamma Mia!” is playing 7 p.m. March 21, 22 and 23 and 2 p.m. March 23 and 24 at Crooker Theatre. Tickets are $15 for front of the house and $12 for general admission. They are available at brownpapertickets.com/event/3911390

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