“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”
By Jason A. Smith
Music, dancing and matrimony will take the stage at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, when students kick up their heels for a beloved stage production.
The school, at 2400 Ga. Highway 42 North in McDonough, will present “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” May 1-2 at 7 p.m., and May 3 at 11 a.m.
The play is set in the mountains of Oregon during the 1850s and centers on a character named Adam Pontipee. Director Chuck Ekstedt describes Adam as a “scruffy backwoodsman” who is raising his six brothers after their parents have passed away.
“He decides to go to town and get him a wife,” said Ekstedt. “He meets Milly and marries her the same day, but doesn’t tell her he’s got six brothers. To Milly’s horror, she’s now taking care of seven scroungy backwoodsmen. Milly wants to get the brothers married off, but it’s Adam that comes up with a creative solution.”
Ekstedt describes “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” as his favorite musical. Still, he said it has been a challenge to put the production together until now.
“I finally was able to get enough men to do the show I’ve always wanted to do,” said Ekstedt. “There are 30 people in the cast. You have to have 18-20 men to do the show. I had oodles of girls, but I had to go recruit boys to be in the show.”
“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” will showcase the talents of 75 students at ELCA. In addition to those who will appear on stage, the play will feature a live orchestra and a 15-person crew.
All of them, said Ekstedt, have been splitting their time between classes and rehearsals since January.
“It’s a big undertaking,” he said. “I want the students to enjoy producing the show, and I want the audience to enjoy watching it. The audience will laugh, cry, cheer and sing along.”
ELCA senior Beau Beasley, 18, of McDonough will tackle the role of Adam Pontipee. He appeared previously in the school’s productions of “Annie” and “The Wizard of Oz,” and has also played four years of football at ELCA as an offensive lineman.
Beasley said the play has enabled him to “break some barriers” to encourage more young men to become involved in drama. This concept he said, was reinforced during a recent encounter with a pee-wee football coach.
“He said his own son wanted to be in drama but also wanted to play football,” explained Beasley. “He said me being a role model for him has really helped him in his decision.”
Beasley said what stands out to him most about “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” are the dance numbers, and the young men at the school who are involved in them.
Isabella Lama, 18, of Stockbridge will portray Milly in the production – her seventh at ELCA. Although the ELCA senior’s past musical work has been as part of an ensemble, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” will mark her first time in a leading role.
She expressed pride in her fellow students for the work they’ve done on the production.
“It’s really fun because I get to interact with the entire cast,” said Lama. “I wouldn’t have been able to form the relationships with everybody that I have unless I was in a lead role. The overall level of difficulty that we’ve taken on, and the fact that we’ve handled it so well, is amazing.”
Lama also credited Ekstedt for helping students deliver the best performances they can.
“He just takes everything hands-on and explains really well, so there’s no way you’ll get lost doing it,” she said.
Another notable aspect of the play revolves around one McDonough family’s connection to it. Three of the seven brothers depicted are, in reality, brothers themselves. Sterling Blackburn, along with his siblings Stephen and Benjamin, will take the stage together for the first time on opening night.
Sterling Blackburn, 18, has participated in drama productions since seventh grade. Now a senior, he will appear as Benjamin Pontipee in the play, and said it is exciting to express himself creatively while spending time with his brothers.
“It’s been a fun experience,” he said. “The Lord Jesus Christ has blessed me and my brothers with the ability to act and perform, and we are thankful for the opportunity to perform in front of our friends and family. “It’s like everything comes naturally. It’s been really fun as well because we get to go home and practice our lines and our dance moves.”
Sophomore Stephen Blackburn, 16, will portray Daniel Pontipee in the play. His interest in performing began taking shape in seventh grade while watching a production of “The Sound of Music.” He has also participated in mock-trial presentations at ELCA, and said he is grateful for the chance to hone his stage skills at the school.
“I just love performing in a venue like this,” he said. “At ELCA, we just step up our game. We have a really good fine arts program. We do really big shows for a high school.”
Seventh-grader Benjamin Blackburn, 12, will make his stage debut as Gideon Pontipee in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” He said he, too, has enjoyed being part of the production.
“It’s been fun making new friends and having the challenge of getting it done,” he said.
Tickets for the show are $8 per person and will be available at the door prior to each performance.
For more information, call ELCA at 770-957-2927.
Locust Grove Day entertains families, recognizes Womens Club
By Jason A. Smith
Sunny skies welcomed hundreds of people to the city’s Municipal Complex for the annual Locust Grove Day celebration Saturday. The festival featured a parade, food, games, crafts, children’s activities, and music. It also included a street dance performance to collect funds for Locust Grove’s volunteer fire department.
Members of the Locust Grove Women’s Club were collectively named Citizen of the Year during the annual Locust Grove Day celebration Saturday. The club is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
Photo by Jason A. Smith
Locust Grove Mayor Robert Price said the festival, which has been a staple in the city for 45 years, helps to foster a sense of camaraderie among residents.
“It helps us see people that we don’t normally see every day,” he said.
One of the highlights of the occasion was the announcement of Locust Grove’s Citizen of the Year. This year’s honor went, collectively, to the Locust Grove Women’s Club which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The group was recognized with a proclamation by Price on behalf of the city, as well as proclamations presented by State Sen. Rick Jeffares and State House Rep. David Knight.
Price congratulated the club for the impact it has had on the city over the last century.
“The founding women of our community were in it,” he said. “Even my mother was in it. Of all the civic organizations that we’ve had in the city, this is the only one that’s lasted anywhere near 100 years.”
Jane Lute, president of the Locust Grove Women’s Club, said she is “overwhelmed” by the recognition given to the club. She said the honors are a tribute to what she called the “foremothers” who have been involved in the club over the last 100 years.
“It’s such a motivator for us to keep going and serve our community,” said Lute. “I think our mothers are looking down and smiling on us today, and we hope that the group we have today can continue to be a positive factor in in the community.”
©Henry County Times, Inc.