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'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' coming to Thomas Jefferson stage

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
Director Sandy Barker, front, center, talks to students, from left, Shoueb Mamoor, Alyssa Gephart, Travis Churilla, Arran Whitt, Bryce Churilla, Carmen LoPresti, Kathryn Zohoranacky and Hanna Salmon. Submitted by Sam Robbins | For The South Hills Record
Christopher Serrao, who plays Ephraim, lifts Julia Marcinko, who plays Martha, as they rehearse a dance scene for “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Submitted by Sam Robbins | For The South Hills Record

Rushing down the aisle of the dimly-lit high school auditorium in hopes of making it to the stage in time for their cue, Bryce Churilla and Alyssa Gephart begin to skip.

He grabs her hand and leads her toward the front.

“Common schnookums, let's go get married,” he says, as she lets out a laugh.

The spring musical at Thomas Jefferson High School this year will be made stronger by the friendships of the nearly 80 cast members. Rehearsals are spent laughing, telling jokes and completing each other's sentences.

“There's going to be really good chemistry on stage, because everyone is really close off stage,” said junior Becky Stem, 17, a dancer.

The show, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” is scheduled for March 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Thomas Jefferson auditorium, with a 1 p.m. matinee on March 9.

The show is based on the 1954 Steven Donen film with the same name. Set in 1850s Oregon, the show follows mountain man Adam on his quest to find a bride. Once he finds a woman, Milly, he brings her to meet his brothers and she helps to teach them manners and how to find a lady.

“It's really one of those old-time favorites that I can remember watching on TV when it came out,” director Sandy Barker said.

She selected this show as this year's musical because of the number of male characters in it and out of a “love for the music and movie,” she said.

“The story line definitely is the strongest part. It's a huge love, not so much triangle even, it's more than that,” said sophomore Lexi Stoicovy, 15, a dancer.

“It's just a big group of love. It's like a big ball of love,” added sophomore Liz Mason, 15, also a dancer. “It's like Shakespeare minus the blood.”

The show is a “feel-good musical” that will put everyone in the audience in good spirits, said Gephart, 17, who plays Milly.

The show also has a humorous element to it and is full of puns and somewhat “corny” lines, students said. Focusing on courtship and men striving to get married, the show has some “interesting” lines, students agreed.

“There is definitely a sexual, comedic aspect to it,” said Thomas Jefferson senior Matt Eichler, 17, who plays Mr. Sander. “The puns make it funny.”

Students have been rehearsing since January.

The dance routines have been enjoyable for some performers, while others have had to try a little bit harder to get the numbers just right.

“It was definitely something that took a lot of practice. We're good now. We're getting there,” said senior Travis Churilla, 17, who plays Benjamin.

Getting those moves where the “Seven Brothers” lift the “Seven Brides” in the air just right, also has been a challenge and has taken a great deal of trust from the ladies.

“I'm still a little nervous,” said senior Emily Stock, 17, who plays Alice.

And there have been drops.

“I'm proud to say, I haven't dropped my bride yet,” said senior Shoueb Mamoor, 18, who plays Frank.

The set this year includes all moveable pieces. Typically, there is at least one stationed piece on the Thomas Jefferson stage for a given musical, students said.

“This is the craziest set that I've ever had at TJ,” Gephart said. “Every piece moves.”

That, though, puts more focus on the actors.

“This is one of the shows where the cast has to carry the show,” said senior Maddie Ellgass, 17, who plays a townsperson.

“It's not one of those well-known, flashy shows that you can rely on your props and big sets. You have to rely on your cast for this show. The cast has to bring this show to life.”

This year's cast has no problem with that. The “Seven Brides” and “Seven Brothers” are such good friends outside of school that they go to breakfast each week.

“That friendship makes it 10 times more fun,” said senior Bryce Churilla, who plays Adam.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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