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Play for all ages about making connections in a diverse environment

September 11th, 2017

by Cassie Josselyn

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – With Fall Festival just around the corner, that means the first theater production of the school year is being set to stage at Bethel College.

The three performances of Brooklyn Bridge by Melissa James Gibson will be Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 2 p.m., all in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center on the Bethel campus.

Ticket prices vary, and tickets are available at Thresher Shop in Schultz Student Center during regular business hours or in the Luyken Fine Arts Center ticket office starting one hour before each performance and subject to availability. Call 316-284-5205 for ticket information.

The genre of Brooklyn Bridge by Melissa James Gibson is “family drama,” with a bit of humor involved.

“It’s a humorous play, … written for a younger audience but has an appeal for all ages,” said John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts and director of the production.

Brooklyn Bridge is about a 10-year-old girl named Sasha who lives in an apartment building in Brooklyn, New York.

Her mother, an immigrant from Russia, forbids Sasha to leave the house when the mother is not home. But on this day, Sasha can’t find a pen to write her very important homework assignment about the Brooklyn Bridge.

She has no choice but to disobey her mother, leave the apartment building and go search for a pen from neighbors she does not know.

“I chose this play because it’s a light-hearted drama with a profound message about connecting with people in a diverse environment,” said McCabe-Juhnke.

“I actually became interested in this play when I was in Ukraine [on sabbatical in 2014–15]. I came across [it] and thought this would be appropriate for my Ukrainian theater club because it was more accessible.

“While it didn’t work out for my theater club, I kept it in mind when I returned to Bethel.”

McCabe-Juhnke added, “Having been in the Fulbright program [on sabbatical], … designed to help build bridges between people, the play has had a particular appeal for me at this time.”

When asked about how this play might connect to Bethel, McCabe-Juhnke noted, “It connects … because college is a diverse environment and a place where people come together from a number of different backgrounds to learn from one another.

“Students should also connect to having a deadline for an assignment.

“I think people should come see this play because it is entertaining and has a great message,” said McCabe-Juhnke.

Appearing in the role of Sasha is Cassie Voth, Littleton, Colorado.

The rest of the cast is:
  • Leah Towle, Lawrence, as the Teacher’s Voice
  • Jayce Yoder, Topeka, as the Singer-Songwriter
  • Leland Brown, Galveston, Texas, as Sam
  • Shaelyn Atwood, Sabetha, as Trudi
  • Justin Haflich, Pretty Prairie, as John
  • Gretchen Maddox, Wichita, as the Mail Carrier
  • Mikala Wertz, Wichita, as Talidia
  • Logan Hughes, Marana, Arizona, as the Pizza Delivery Man
  • Austin Regier, Newton, as the Bass Player
  • Erik Long, Newton, as Washington Roebling
  • Abigail Bechtel, Henderson, Nebraska, as Emily Roebling
And as the Bridge Builders:
  • Kate Jolliff, Newton
  • Nate Kroeker, Augusta
  • Mariel Robert, Osage City
  • Connick Roe, Kingman
  • SynJohn Sears, Stockton, California
  • Garrett Smith, Moundridge
  • Logan Hughes
  • Leah Towle
Production staff, in addition to McCabe-Juhnke, is:
  • Ethan Koerner, scenic design and technical direction
  • Danika Bielek, choreography
  • Abby Phillips, Maple Hill, stage manager
  • Alyssa Sullivan, Kansas City, Kansas, lighting
Costume design by:
  • Leah Towle
  • Abigail Bechtel
  • Meredith Stone, Fresno, California
Properties by:
  • Kate Jolliff
Sound by:
  • Ben Carlson, Hurley, South Dakota
  • Garrett Smith

Ticket prices

  • Adults: $10
  • Non-Bethel students and adults age 65 and older: $8
  • Children age 3–12: $6.50
  • Bethel students: $2 for Friday & Saturday night, free on Sunday

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015–16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015–16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.