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Bethel and Hesston team up to produce winter musical

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NORTH NEWTON AND HESSTON, KAN. – Last summer, the academic deans and communication arts faculty from Bethel College and Hesston College met to talk about ways they could pool their resources. They noted this: Bethel no longer has a formal theater program. Hesston, which does, currently has no theater.

After a discussion of schedules and potential challenges, faculty from the institutions decided to collaborate on a play.

The result is a joint production of the musical Brigadoon by students and faculty from the two colleges. The director is Megan Tyner, professor of theater at Hesston. The choreographer is Margaret Mead-Finizio, instructor of communication arts at Bethel. The musical director is William Eash, professor of music at Bethel.

The musical will be on stage in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center on the Bethel campus at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 1-3. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens. To reserve tickets, call the Bethel College Bookstore at (316) 284-5205.

There will be a dress rehearsal on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m., that is free but open only to students and faculty from the colleges.

Brigadoon, first produced in 1947 by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, is the story of a magical village in Scotland that appears for only one day every hundred years, and two American tourists who stumble upon this village just before the celebration of a wedding.

Brigadoon is an enchanting story,” said Mead-Finizio. “There is quite a bit of romance involved, and that is a nice welcoming aspect to the show. It has a nice balance between acting, dancing and music. It’s a very well-balanced musical.”

Thematically, the show communicates a message for its participants, as well.

“Brigadoon is its own little community that relies on each other for everything,” said Tyner. “A sense of community is very important to its inhabitants. That sense of community is something that we’ve been stressing in rehearsal.”

Tyner and Mead-Finizio cited the creating of that “sense of community” as both a challenge and a joy of the collaboration process.

“Bridging the two communities [of Hesston and Bethel] together to form one was a little bit of a challenge, but it’s been a lot easier than I had originally presumed,” Tyner said. “We’ve made sure that we were communicating everything, so there were no major glitches. Both schools were fully committed to the project.”

Rehearsals took place weekday nights, alternating between the two campuses every two weeks. The design team, in charge of costumes, lighting and set, consisted of two students from each college.

“It’s been such an interesting dynamic watching the students from these different colleges interact with each other,” Mead-Finizio said. “It’s been exciting for me to watch this happen.”

Crew members for Brigadoon are Hesston students Amanda Diaz, sophomore from Chicago, as stage manager and Stephanie Friesen, sophomore from Denver, on lighting design and Bethel students Miriam Friesen, junior from Paoli, Ind., on costume design and Kate Larson, junior from Clay Center, on scenic design.

The cast includes Brittany Baker, sophomore from Kingman, as Jean Maclaren; Hannah Blalock, sophomore from Coppell, Texas, as A Villager; Caitlin Buerge, junior from Kansas City, Mo., as Bartender/Villager; Chelsea Chaffin, junior from Lawrence, as Fiona Maclaren; Elizabeth Friesen, freshman from Littleton, Colo., as A Villager; Dan Graber, junior from Marion, S.D., as Jeff Douglas; Erin Hershberger, freshman from Hesston, as Sandy Dean; Zach Hurst, freshman from Bridgewater, Va., as Mr. Maclaren; Ben Kliewer, senior from Buhler, as Tommy Albright; Adam Larson, freshman from Lena, Ill., as Mr. MacGregor; Heather Linscheid, senior from Fresno, Calif., as A Villager; Austin McCabe-Juhnke, freshman from North Newton, as Mr. Lundie; Bethany Miller, freshman from Marion, S.D., as Meg; Caleb Miller, freshman from Middlebury, Ind., as A Villager; Amanda Marsh, senior from Fresno, Calif., as A Villager; Caley Ortman, junior from Marion, S.D., as Harry Beaton; Joshua Powell, freshman from Basehor, as Charley Dalrymple; Leanne Reimer, freshman from Hesston, as A Villager; Kelly Reed, freshman from Edinburg, Texas, as A Villager; Heather Robertsen, freshman from Hesston, as A Villager; Aimee Siebert, freshman from Topeka, as Maggie; Michael Voth, sophomore from Topeka, as Mr. Beaton; Kristin Wedel, junior from Hutchinson, as Jane/Villager; and Sharayah Williams, freshman from Kalona, Iowa, as A Villager. Hershberger, Hurst, Larson, Bethany Miller and Caleb Miller are Hesston College students and the rest are Bethel students.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu. Located in south central Kansas, Hesston College is the two-year liberal arts college of the Mennonite Church USA. Hesston offers two-year degree programs and transfer programs for more than 50 academic majors and pre-professional fields. Learn more at www.hesston.edu.

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