BHS to present first musical in more than 50 years

It will be the first musical in more than 50 years and the biggest production ever put on by the Brainerd High School Theater Department. Students will perform the 1950 classic production of "Guys and Dolls" at 7:30 p.m. April 28-30 at Tornstrom ...

Caleb Meyer (left), Chloe Severson, Sophie Stubbs and Noah Cure-Hendrickson from the Brainerd High School cast of Guys and Dolls pose for a photo at practice. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)
Caleb Meyer (left), Chloe Severson, Sophie Stubbs and Noah Cure-Hendrickson from the Brainerd High School cast of Guys and Dolls pose for a photo at practice. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)

It will be the first musical in more than 50 years and the biggest production ever put on by the Brainerd High School Theater Department.

Students will perform the 1950 classic production of "Guys and Dolls" at 7:30 p.m. April 28-30 at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd.

Theater director Karla Johnson said it will be one the community will not want to miss. She said the production is so large that they had to change venues to accommodate all the staging areas, as the Little Theatre at the high school is too small. The cast alone consists of 50 actors and actresses, there is an orchestra crew and a technical crew.

Johnson was pleasantly surprised by how many students wanted to be a part of the musical. She had no problem with filling the roles, as the students were competitive vying for the role they wanted. The cast began practicing after school in February and starting Monday they will rehearse every night until 10 p.m. to perfect the musical as much as they can.

"Guys and Dolls" is written by Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows and is about New York's most infamous crap game organizer, Nathan Detroit, who is hoping to get his big payday, as stated on Broadway Musical Home's website on the musical. Detroit challenges the notorious gambler Sky Masterson to a bet he can't lose. Masterson accepts and pursues the known prude, seemingly hopelessly, while Detroit deals with his own situation-his 14-year fiancée, Adelaide, who's tired of waiting for a wedding.


"Guys and Dolls" features some of Frank Loesser's most memorable tunes, including "Adelaide's Lament," "I've Never Been in Love Before," "Guys and Dolls," "If I Were a Bell" and "Luck Be a Lady."

Johnson said the music department was instrumental in assisting with the musical. Choir director Brian Stubbs and band director Spenser Frie helped with the music and the orchestra portions of the musical.

"It is all coming together," Johnson said of the musical. "When you combine the signing and the dancing to the acting, it takes a lot of skills to do it effectively. The students are doing a lot of work and we have two students doing the choreography, which has been a huge help."

Johnson said one of the challenges of the musical was to find enough costumes for all the roles, especially when they had to find costumes from the late '40-'50s. Johnson said the University of Minnesota-Duluth is renting the costumes they couldn't get to the high school.

Johnson said she wanted the theater department to put on a musical to help lure more community members to be involved in attending plays at the high school. She said "Guys and Dolls" was one musical she thought would appeal to the students and the community, as it is a good, classic production.

"Having the students do a musical is a big deal," Johnson said. "The high school has not had a musical in, for sure, 50 years. This will be a big production and we hope a lot of people come out to see it."

BHS senior Noah Cure-Hendrickson is playing one of the lead roles in the play, Sky Masterson.

"This is my first play and I have never been in choir," Cure-Hendrickson said. "I've wanted to be in the fall play, but I didn't have time and now I finally have time to do it. (Sky) is who I auditioned for. I figured go big or go home. You don't audition for a small role, if you are going to fail as a character it may as well be a big one."


Cure-Hendrickson said his character is a wandering soul who goes to town to gamble. The senior said the role is charismatic, like himself, but Masterson also is frank with people and selfish and he is not.

To prepare himself to the play, Cure-Hendrickson said he watched a variety of versions of the musical, including the Broadway musical and the '50s original version.

"The biggest challenge would be the music, as I have never been in choir," Cure-Hendrickson said. "It was bit of a struggle, but Stubbs has helped me get to a place where I am comfortable with my notes and ranges. Now I need to work on my dynamics and emotions."

When asked if he likes to sing, Cure-Hendrickson said, "Sure I like to sing. I sing in the car all the time and now I control of my voice."

The senior said he feels the cast is in the right place on where they should be before showtime.

Senior Sophie Stubbs plays Sarah Brown, who is sweet young lady who has her heart set on converting all the sinners into Christians. Stubbs said Brown overdoes everything and throughout the musical she falls in love in with the bad guy, Masterson.

Sophie Stubbs, who was in the BHS fall and spring plays last year, also is in choir and orchestra.

"I was ecstatic when I found out the high school was doing a musical," Sophie Stubbs said. "If we do good job with this, then the high school can move forward with it and do more musicals in the future. This is my senior year and doing this musical is big.


"It will be an amazing experience. Bringing the arts to the high school a great thing to be a part of."

Sophie Stubbs said it is difficult to play Brown, as she is uptight and forward. The senior said sarcasm goes over Brown's head. However, she wanted to play the character because she sings soprano.

The senior said playing in the musical will be different as she not only has to act, but she also has to sing and dance and put it all together.

"I have to sing a classic song people know and I am suppose to be in love and have to show it," Sophie Stubbs said. "I did a solo in choir, but this is different.

"Having a musical background has helped me in this play."

BHS senior Caleb Meyer plays the lead of Nathan Detroit, who is the gambler. Meyer said Detroit is confident and he knows what he is doing around his friends. He wants money, but he is gentler around Miss Adelaide, who he has been with for 14 years.

Meyer said the character is more serious than he is personally. He also said it's interesting as the play is set in the '50s, when women were not treated as equals to men.

"I am respectful of women to the point of being terrified of them," Meyer said.


Meyer said the biggest challenge of the play is being able to switch his character from being controlling with the male characters to being gentle with Miss Adelaide. He said some scenes are back to back and he has to switch his role instantly.

Meyer said he watched the musical to help himself get into his role better.

Meyer said this is his first speaking role in theater. He said he was part of the technical crew last year. He said he is in choir, so that helps.

"I wanted to be in the play last year but I didn't have time," he said.

BHS senior Chloe Severson, who plays the role of Miss Adelaide, said she has done all the plays at the high school and was interested in the musical because she loves to sing and act. Severson said her biggest challenge was learning all the lyrics to all the songs, and then adding the choreography to it.

"My character is a burlesque dancer, so it's a challenge," Severson said. "We run our lines anytime we get together and we burst into monologues. The 'Hot Box Girls,' practice dancing all the time."

Severson said Miss Adelaide is flamboyant, loud, optimistic and sees the best in everyone.

"I am nothing like Miss Adelaide, but that is the best part about theater," she said. "I'm not loud at all."


JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.

The cast:

Sky Masterson played by Noah Cure-Hendrickson with Christian Richards as his understudy; Nathan Detroit, Caleb Meyer with Mason Qualley as his understudy; Nicely Nicely Johnson, Zach Rude; Benny Southstreet, Tayler Borders; Arvide Abernathy, Peder Smith; Big Jule, Sam Dirks; Harry the Horse, Mason Qualley; Rusty Charlie, Aaron Nibbe; Lt. Brannigan, Christian Richards; Joey's Voice, Aaron Nibbe; The Crapshooters are Theo Knudson, Michael Bauer, Josh Marquart, Romeo Hall, Ethan Ferrian and Peder Smith; Male Havana dancers are Aaron Nibbe, Peder Smith and Mason Qualley;

Sarah Brown played by Sophie Stubbs; Adelaide, Chloe Severson with Aubrey Luth as her understudy; General Cartwright, Mikayla Jackson with Lizzi Ortmeier as her understudy; Hot Box Girls are Sami Selter, Kate Toriseva, Grace Riedel, Taiya Holmberg, Tori Senica, Emma Johnson, Lyndsey Severson and Aubrey Luth; Agatha, Lizzi Ortmeier; Female Havana dancers are Kate Toriseva, Taiya Holmberg and Tori Senica; Mimi, Aubrey Luth; Master of Ceremonies, Megan Doran; female chorus are Aly Neistadt, Taylor Krassas, Lexi Groters, Elisabeth Buffetta, Emily Chock, Kirsten Schroer, Olivia Jackson, Hailey Pederson, Dawn Hestrin, Sydney Stock, Zoey Heitkotter, Amanda Alvarenga, Jaden Wendt, Emily Moore, Shannon Dinh and Anna Nichols;

Pit orchestra members are Carly Miller, Jenna Swenson, Rachel Cleveland, Jasmine Olson, Matthew Majerle, Travis Jensen, Kyle Moe, Ryan Swartwood, Devin Makey, Timothy Roehrich, Reilly Miller and Chris Fogderud.

Stage manager is Faith Rudnick; Poster designer is Kayla Raasch; Choreographers are Sylvia Borash and Hannah Staehling; Make-Up is Jamie Truong, Lexi Groters and Shannon Dinh; Tech crew are Arundel Arntz, Hannah Sawyer, Caitlyn McLain, Kiernan McFadden, Anne Zimmermann, Sarah Kleist and Anne Zimmermann.

If You Go: Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students and available at the door or by going to the BHS office.


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