Central Crossing High School will be offering the chance to visit Middle Earth with its coming theater production.

The school will present a one-hour stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" Friday, Nov. 2, through Sunday, Nov. 4.

"It's a fun story that a lot of people know from the book and movie versions," said Nathan Weaver, a theater teacher at the school.

"The play gives people a new way to experience a familiar story."

Weaver said he selected "The Hobbit" because of its appeal to an important audience -- his theater students.

"We chose it because the movies and book are so popular among our students," he said. "When I announced that this was going to be our fall play, they were so excited because it's so familiar to them. They grew up with 'The Hobbit.'

"On the plus side, when students are familiar with the story you've chosen, they are highly motivated and eager to do the show," Weaver said. "On the other hand, because they are so familiar with the movies, they expect the play to be exactly like the film version. You just can't do the same thing on stage that you can in a movie, and they have to accept that."

For example, the play does not include the Battle of the Five Armies, he said.

Every school play production offers a challenge for student actors, Weaver said.

"The most challenging thing about this show is needing to tap into your imagination and imagining a whole new world," he said.

Some cast members are having to imagine being a whole other gender, Weaver said.

The dwarves in the play are male characters but they are mostly being played by female students, he said.

"It just works out that we have more female students involved in our school plays than males," Weaver said. "It gives them another challenge."

Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 4, in the Ed Palmer Theater at Central Crossing, 4500 Big Run South Road.

Tickets are $5.