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Bethel musical production to include one night of ASL interpretation

March 15th, 2022

Bright Star poster detail

Bethel’s Departments of Music and Theater will present Bright Star, March 25, 26 and March 27, with sign language interpretation for the Friday performance, in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center.

Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.

The two American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are Peter Boklund, Wichita, and Laura Reimer, Hesston, of Boklund Interpreting Services.

First-time freshman Dylan Yoder, whose parents, Rodney and Gwen Yoder, South Hutchinson, are Deaf, is a member of the Bright Star cast.

Dylan is a graduate of Haven High School. While HHS doesn’t have a theater department, it does have an active music program, and he was involved in choirs and instrumental groups there.

“My choir director always made certain to get an ASL interpreter for every musical production I was a part of,” he says.

“Since I recruited Dylan from Haven High School, I had the opportunity to see how the public high school treated the situation,” says William Eash, D.M.A., director of choral activities at Bethel. “They are bound by federal law to provide interpreters.

“It seemed only right that Dylan’s parents should have access to his concerts at Bethel when he came as a student, and I initiated the arrangement with the interpreters.”

While Bethel is not bound by exactly the same legal provisions as a public high school, Eash says, “If we claim to be a welcoming community for all, it seems only right that we find the resources to make access possible for everyone.”

Eash has contracted four or five times previously with Boklund Interpreting for musical events and says, “the partnership has been excellent.”

Since the music department doesn’t have unlimited funds for extra services, Bethel College Dean of Students Samuel Haynes committed funds from Student Life for the remainder of the school year, and hopes to make it a permanent part of the budget.

Rodney and Gwen Yoder commented via e-mail, “The Deaf community often doesn’t have ample access to the arts and [we] believe an opportunity to see this show would be well received. It could lead to some extra ticket sales for Bethel and a great opportunity for the Deaf community.”

Tickets for Bright Star are available at Thresher Shop in Schultz Student Center during regular business hours, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (call 316-284-5205 for credit card orders only); at the Luyken Fine Arts Center ticket window starting 1 hour before showtime and subject to availability; or online at

Tickets are $11.50 for adults; $9.50 for non-Bethel students and adults 65 and older; and $3 for Bethel students unless comped by faculty.

This production contains adult language and themes, and is not intended for young audiences.

Karen Robu, D.Min., instructor of theater, directs Bright Star, the story of one woman at two different points in her life: as a young girl growing up barefoot and carefree in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and, 22 years later, as a well-to-do magazine editor in Asheville.

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 (Max/Stanford), Angelika Donaldson, Highland, Ill. (Edna/Waitress), Lizzie Schmucker, Moundridge (Florence/Government Clerk), Dylan Yoder, Wichita (Dr. Norquist/Stationmaster), and Lynnzey Young, Valley Center (Well-Dressed Woman).

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

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #15 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only Kansas college or university selected for the American Association of College & Universities’ 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and has been named a TRHT Campus Center. For more information, see

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Bethel College prepares students for meaningful lives of work and service through faith formation, the liberal arts, and practical experience in career pathways.