Area Bethel College students portray leads in upcoming production

Bethel College junior Allison Weaver of Hesston takes part in rehearsal on Thursday night at the college, in which she portrays a lead character in "Bright Star," a musical. Wendy Nugent/Harvey County Now

By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now

NORTH NEWTON—Allison Weaver’s acting experience started out as her portraying a kitchen tool to now being a lead in Bethel College’s upcoming production of “Bright Star,” a musical.

The Hesston resident and Bethel junior’s first-ever production was “Beauty and the Beast” in high school.

“I was a broom,” she said. “Very glamorous position.”

The 2019 Hesston High School graduate now portrays Alice Murphy in “Bright Star,” which includes singing and various forms of dancing, like waltzing, ham bone movements and “cool lifts,” Weaver said.

The musical flips back and forth from the 1920s to the ’40s.

“Bright Star’ is the story of one woman at two different points in her life — the first, when she is a wild young thing growing up barefoot and carefree in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina; the second, when she is a well-to-do magazine editor in Asheville, 22 years later,” according to “Her story is inevitably woven with that of an idealistic young man named Billy, with whom she shares a mysterious connection.”

Jerod Kaufman of Moundridge and Bethel College senior portrays Billy Cane, a Mennonite.

This isn’t the only Bethel College production Weaver’s been in.

“They only did one my freshman year because of COVID,” Weaver said, adding it was a pretty small show with eight people having solos and all were ensemble members for everyone else’s songs. “It was kind of an unconventional way to do it, but it was really fun,” she said.

That production was “The Theory of Relativity.”

Performing ties into Weaver’s studies at Bethel, as she’s majoring in English and communication arts.

“I’ve always enjoyed musicals,” she said. “I’ve thought about going into a career in broadcast journalism. I had an internship with KWCH.”

As with theater, broadcast journalism includes speaking in front of people.

“It’s really fun to be someone else on stage for a while, like a southern accent, and I’m not a dancer,” she said. “I am now.”

She had to learn.

Weaver has something in common with the woman she portrays.

“My character is a head editor on a literary magazine, and I’m an assistant editor on both the newspaper and the literature magazine [at Bethel College],” Weaver said.

She said acting like an editor is easier than actually being one because she has the experience.

Weaver said with her internship at KWCH, she went out every day with a reporter, went to staff meetings and did her version of the story alongside the reporters. She’d then edit them on the computer and although she did all that work, the station never aired her stories, but used some of her shots.

Giving her more experience in broadcasting was in a Bethel radio production class and she had a show for two semesters—in the fall of her sophomore and junior years. On those shows, she reviewed books, reported on news at college and took requests from friends.

“That was fun,” she said.

That Bethel College radio station is 88.1 KBCU.

While at Bethel, Weaver plans to take part in more musicals.

“Plays are OK,” she said. “I think everybody just has more fun.”

Weaver has only taken one acting class, which was for her communications major—styles of acting. It dealt with different periods of acting, like Greek, Elizabethan and post-modern.

Weaver encouraged folks to attend the production.

“It would be really fun if people could come out and watch,” she said.

Co-star Jerod Kaufman of Moundridge, is majoring in mathematical sciences and wants a career in meteorology. He thinks of theater as a de-stressor.

“I’m just doing it for fun,” he said. “While theater isn’t always easy, it provides a different kind of stress—it’s something else to relax your mind and do. It’s a nice outlet, I think.”

He likes various aspects of taking part in a production.

“I enjoy a lot of things,” he said. “I enjoy the singing as a group. I enjoy being able to make connections with people I might not have otherwise been with.”

It’s something he’s missed in the past few years because of the pandemic.

“Being able to make connections with people in a stage setting is different,” he said. “It’s unique.”

About the musical

“Bright Star” will be performed at 7:30 p.m., March 25 and 26, and 2 p.m., March 27 in Bethel College’s Krehbiel Auditorium in the Luyken Fine Arts Center.

The cost is $3.50 for Bethel students unless comped by faculty, $11.50 for adults and $9.50 for adults 65 and older and students.

The play contains adult language and themes and is not intended for young audiences. Masks are required and social distancing will be enforced.


Cast and crew

The cast includes Allison Weaver, Hesston, as Alice Murphy; Jerod Kaufman, Moundridge, as Billy Cane; Ben Rudeen, Osage City, as Mayor Josiah Dobbs; Seth Rudeen, Osage City, as Jimmy Ray Dobbs; Julianna Schrag, Goessel, as Margo Crawford; Chris Strecker, Goessel, as Daddy Cane; Emil Benavides, Stockton, as Mama Murphy; Hayden Honomichl, Great Bend, as Daddy Murphy; Sophie Girtz, Valley Center, as Lucy Grant; and Tristan England, Pretty Prairie, as Darryl Ames.

The ensemble comprises Nathaniel Schmucker, Moundridge, Angelika Donaldson, Highland, Ill., Lizzie Schmucker, Moundridge, Dylan Yoder, Wichita, and Lynnzey Young, Valley Center.

Rachel Geyer, Oxford, Iowa, is the stage manager, with Emily Guldner, Independence, as assistant stage manager.

Karen Robu, D.Min., instructor of theater, directs “Bright Star.”

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