For most high school students, it's hard enough to fit in and pass algebra.
But the girls in the newest production of the Olentangy Liberty High School theater department have a bigger goal: to outshine a host of beauty-pageant contenders and be crowned the winner.
Four performances of Smile: The Musical are set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 9-12, at the school, 584 Home Road.
The story unfolds like a real pageant as California's peppiest, prettiest and most-talented girls compete to win.
Some of the contestants are just happy to be there, while others are out to win at all costs, director Dan Skrovan said.
"Some of the girls are mean, some of the girls are nice, some of the girls are scared and have stage fright, and some don't want to be there at all," Skrovan said.
"It captures the essence of what high school kids are really like."
The story begins as the contestants try out for the pageant, then run the gauntlet of preliminary rounds and even compete in a talent competition featuring baton twirling and an over-the-top dramatic recitation.
Audience members will feel like they're watching a real-life pageant, Skrovan said -- albeit a wacky one.
Crew members even constructed a catwalk that extends out to the theater's front seats to create the pageant atmo-sphere.
"The audience is not only the audience of the show Smile, they're the audience at the finals of the Young Miss American pageant," he said.
Cast members said the show is filled with big personalities who will draw big laughs.
"It's funny to see the outrageous things the girls will do to win," said cast member Lexi Peck. "Plus some of the girls are really snarky and sassy."
The show has big song-and-dance numbers. Cast members don shiny, glittering costumes and fill the stage.
Set in 1985, the production is filled with big hair-dos and 1980s pop culture references that parents and older audience members will love, cast member Erica Richard.
But the show is bold and funny enough to please anyone, cast member Kaitlin McGee said.
"It's really upbeat and fun, so young people will really connect with it," McGee said.
Smile is filled with enough twists to surprise even die-hard theater fans, cast member Ashley Parker said.
"This is not your typical musical," she said.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors.
The Sunday performance will feature a special discount for moms, who can get a ticket at half-price with the purchase of one other adult ticket in honor of Mother's Day.