December 06, 2004 12:00 PM

Two years ago she was the most famous kidnap victim in America. On Nov. 6 Elizabeth Smart stepped onto the stage at a Toby Keith concert, played the national anthem on the harp, politely took a bow—and walked off without saying a word. Yes, “the audience was surprised to see her,” says her father, Ed Smart. Delighted too: “They gave her a standing ovation.”

Three days earlier Keith, knowing that Smart lived in Salt Lake City and played the harp, had the concert promoter phone her out of the blue. “It took her about two seconds to say yes,” says Ed. “She spent two grinding days memorizing the piece in time for the concert. It was a challenge, but she really wanted to do it. It was a really fun night for all of us.”

Nearly two years after being rescued from her alleged abductors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, “Elizabeth [now 17] is just a normal teenager who likes shopping and going to the movies with friends,” says her father. Now a junior at East High School, she drives to school in an old Toyota Corolla she shares with her older brother Charles, attends school dances, dates—”but they have to be guys I know,” says Ed—plays the harp part-time at a local hotel and dreams of going to Juilliard one day. Her nine months spent in captivity rarely come up. “Every once in a while she’ll mention something that happened,” says Ed, “but we don’t really talk about [the abduction] much at home.”

As for the accused kidnappers, Barzee has been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial; Mitchell’s case is slated to begin Feb. 1. Although he was found mentally competent after 18 months of testing, his lawyers have requested further evaluations, stating in court papers, “his delusions have taken on an increasingly dominant role in his decision-making process and conversation.” Ed Smart is skeptical. Mitchell, he says, is “crazy like a fox. I think he knows very much what he’s doing. We would love to have the whole thing over with.”

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