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Bethel’s “Die Fledermaus” to be comedic collaboration

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College production of Johann Strauss’ operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) promises to be one big party, packed full of laughs.

Bethel’s music and theater departments present Die Fledermaus March 4 and March 6 in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center.

“It’s a comic operetta and it’s going to be funny,” said Timothy Shade, instructor of instrumental music. “We’re laughing already in rehearsals.”

Die Fledermaus is a maze of mischief and music. The plot revolves around Viennese Ball-master Dr. Falke, played by Ryan Goertzen, junior from Goessel, and his friend Gabriel von Eisenstein, played by Joshua Powell, senior from Basehor.

Falke devises the central hoax on Eisenstein, who had left an inebriated Falke in the public marketplace dressed as a bat (fledermaus) a year before. Now Falke wants revenge. Eisenstein’s wife Rosalinda, played by Kelsey Easterday, senior from Manhattan, and her chambermaid Adele, played by Kelly Reed, senior from Edinburg, Texas, add to the drama and drunken debauchery.

“He’s a very flirtatious, fun, does-whatever-he-wants man,” Powell says of his character.

“It’s a really fun operetta,” adds Reed. “There is a lot of partying and drinking and laughter. But it’s really all about the relationships between the three main characters – Adele, Eisenstein and Rosalinda.”

As an operetta, Die Fledermaus includes more acting than a typical opera.

“This production includes quite a bit of dialogue so that the students get to show off their dynamic voices as well as their acting abilities,” says Shade.

The core cast already has experience acting together. All of the leads from last year’s production of the musical The Light in the Piazza return to the stage for Die Fledermaus.

“It’s really fun to work with them again,” says Powell. “To borrow a phrase from Andrew Voth [junior from Topeka], it’s our ‘theatrical family’ back together again.”

Students and faculty are collaborating to make the music as lively as the acting.

“There will be a full orchestra in the pit,” says Shade. “And it’s Johann Strauss we’re playing – he is the waltz king. This means that the music is always moving and is never slow.” Shade serves as both artistic director and conductor for the show.

“This means that the orchestra needs to make sure we’re on the same page, but at the same time it allows for a lot of expression,” Shade says.

Besides a full orchestra, the Bethel College Concert Choir will participate in the production. William Eash, professor of music, directs the chorus. Soyoun Chun, assistant professor of music, is the vocal music director. Teresa Kenneth serves as stage director in her first Bethel College production.

“I like Ms. Kenneth,” says Reed. “She has a plan, but is also willing to accept advice from Soyoun Chun. They’re both really on top of stuff.

“And Bill [Eash] doesn’t let the chorus backslide,” Reed adds. “You can totally tell how good an opera is by its chorus.”

Participants hope this collaboration combines to make for catchy comedy and music.

“Audiences can expect to laugh and they can expect to walk out of the theater humming,” says Shade.

In addition to Easterday, Goertzen, Powell and Reed as Rosalinda, Dr. Falke, Eisenstein and Adele, respectively, the cast of Die Fledermaus includes Clinton Harris, junior from Manhattan, as Alfred; Andrew Voth, junior from Topeka, as Frank; Monica Schmidt, senior from Mount Hope, as Prince Orlofsky; Evan Conrad, sophomore from Lakewood, Colo., as Blind; Lacey Parker, senior from Lone Tree, Iowa, as Sally; Sarah Pohl, sophomore from Moundridge, as Molly; Audra Miller, freshman from Hesston, as Frosch; and Sam Gaeddert, senior from Hutchinson, as Ivan.

Members of the chorus are: seniors Holly Anthony, Sterling, Justine Erb, Henderson, Neb., Elizabeth Friesen, Littleton, Colo., Lindsey Ortman, Marion, S.D., Greg Shelly, Lenexa, Aimee Siebert, Topeka, and Brittany Voth, Goessel; juniors Alex Boldt, Parlier, Calif., Rachel Gaeddert, Larned, Oliver Kropf, Hesston, John Miller, Partridge, Sierra Pryce, North Newton, Keila Quenzer, Visalia, Calif., Brian Skinner, North Newton, Cameron Voth, Hillsboro, and Caleb Stephens, Lawrence; sophomores Kellen Goertzen, Henderson, Neb., Naomi Graber, Elkhart, Ind., Julia Huxman, Wichita, Taylor McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton, Kelsey Ortman, Marion, S.D., Camden Pankratz, North Newton, and Sara Volweider, Haven; and freshmen Julia Miller, Hesston, Jordan Ortman, Marion, S.D., Renee Reimer, Sioux Falls, S.D., Austin Unruh, Goessel, and Allison Yoder, Kalona, Iowa.

Crew members include seniors Evan Fast, Goessel, and Jonathan Huber, South Hutchinson; sophomores Trent Baalman, Wichita, Eric Goering, McPherson, and Natalia Krahn, Mountain Lake, Minn.; and freshmen Dustin Abrahams, Canton, Edward Davila, San Antonio, Texas, Jacob Enos, Hominy, Okla., Jenae Janzen, Newton, Kyle Kroeker, Hutchinson, Alix Rodriguez, Newton, and Jason Vail, Skiatook, Okla. Audra Miller, Julia Miller and Renee Reimer are also working on the crew.

Performances of Die Fledermaus will be Thursday, March 4, and Saturday, March 6, at 7 p.m., in Krehbiel Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and non-Bethel students, $6.50 for children 3-12 and $1 for Bethel students, and are available at Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center on campus (8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, phone 316-284-5205) or at the door. Tickets can be reserved by credit card.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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