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BHS theater students to stage ‘Father of the Bride’

Four showings of the play will take place Friday-Sunday, Nov. 18-20.

"Father of the Bride" cast
Cast and crew members of the Brainerd High School production of "Father of the Bride" pose during their rehearsal Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Since 1950, there have been no shortage of cinematic renditions of “The Father of the Bride.” Steve Martin is perhaps the most well-known actor to take on the titular role, taken from a 1949 novel.

But lakes area residents can get ready for a whole new take on the story, as Brainerd High School’s theater students prepare to perform a stage version.

“I actually just got married in September, so weddings were on my brain,” Theater Director Karla Shepherd-Johnson said of choosing the play. “I thought about the film ‘Father of the Bride,’ and I thought I had heard that it was initially a script, but I had never read the script. So earlier in the summer I purchased a script for ‘Father of the Bride,’ and I just loved it.”

Those familiar with the Steve Martin flick will get a feel for what the play is about, but the story takes place in the 1950s.

“But it very much is about Kay, who is our bride-to-be, who is in love with Buckley, and Mr. Banks disapproves of this relationship because no one is good enough for his precious daughter,” Shepherd-Johnson said.

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Junior Randall Mitchell landed the role of shy Buckley Dunston, who’s smitten with Kay and trying to get in her father’s good graces.

“He’s very nervous around Kay’s family because he’s not fully used to that whole atmosphere of them yet,” Mitchell said. “But he really cares deeply about Kay, but he is also nervous about having a big wedding.”

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Wanting only the smallest of weddings to celebrate himself and his bride, Buckley quickly finds himself roped into a giant, dramatic ordeal for which he’s wholly unprepared.

Kay’s mother, Mrs. Banks, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier about planning a huge wedding for her only daughter. Played by junior Harley Kopek, Mrs. Banks is somewhat of a peacekeeper amongst all the chaos.

“I’m so happy my daughter’s getting married,” Kopek said. “I am not so pleased that my husband does not want such a lavish wedding. But you know what? I’ll be patient. I’ll cope.”

Mrs. Banks gets a little more stressed about all the hectic wedding events as the show goes on.

“But in the end, I’m happy again,” Kopek said, “even though I was most likely the most happy all the time.”

Kopek enjoys getting to play the character who’s typically excited about everything, amid groaning and exhaustion from the rest of the cast.

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Debuting in their first acting role after working in the tech crew for several productions, Kopek is quickly learning what it means to be one of the leading actors in a show.

“Although it’s definitely an impact on my schedule, I’m happy about it, and I have a lot of fun, and I will be seriously auditioning for productions in the future,” Kopek said.

Shy, quiet Buckley is an adjustment for Mitchell, too, whose most recent role prior to this play was as one of the newsboys in “Newsies.”

“Obviously that’s a lot different being a little streetrat instead of, you know, a guy who’s madly in love,” he said. “... I’ve never been the love interest in a play before. This is my first time for that, and it’s very, very fun.”

As is the entire theater department as a whole.

“I absolutely love the atmosphere of this high school and its theater program,” Mitchell said. “It’s so nice. It’s absolutely amazing.”

For those interested in seeing Mitchell, Kopek and a whole host of other high school talent show off their work, Shepherd-Johnson promises a charming, family-friendly production.

If you go

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 18 and 19; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19-20.

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Where: Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts.

How much: Tickets are $5 for students and senior citizens, and $7 for other adults.

Where to buy: Tickets will be available at the door before each show or can be purchased in advance at bit.ly/3hJ1YpV .

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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