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Montezuma-Cortez theater brings classic musical to life

Montezuma-Cortez High School prepares to perform the musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” with a pit orchestra conducted by Marla Sitton to provide the musical score. The production is set to run from March 10-18 at Ralph Vavak Auditorium at M-CHS. (Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal)
‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ to open Friday, March 10

It’s all in the family for the highly anticipated Montezuma-Cortez High School production of the play “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

The production holds plenty of nostalgia for theater teacher Nicholaus Sandner, since he performed it during his acting days. Now, as the director for the show, which includes plenty of family involvement, Sandner developed a vision of seeing his own children perform the classic musical.

M-CHS junior Lily Sandner, who plays the female lead role of Milly, relishes the opportunity to see that ambition spark to life.

“It’s an upbeat musical,” said Sandner, the director’s daughter, “and since it’s a comedy, it is really enjoyable for a lot of different types of audiences.”

Montezuma-Cortez High School students get set to perform their spring musical, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” which runs March 10-18 at Ralph Vavak Auditorium at M-CHS. (Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal)
Montezuma-Cortez High School junior Lily Sandner (Milly) and classmate Chandler Snyder (Adam) play the lead characters in the production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” The production is set to run from March 10-18 at Ralph Vavak Auditorium at M-CHS. (Ben Bradley/Special to The Journal)

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” originated as a 1954 film, telling the tale of seven brothers living in the woods of the Oregon territory in the 1850s. Adam (played by M-CHS junior Chandler Snyder) heads to town in search of supplies, where he falls in love with Milly.

Milly is surprised to learn of Adam’s six brothers, not to mention the challenges she faces of teaching them good manners, courting etiquette, how to dance and the ways of love and romance.

“This is a dream role for me,” said Sandner. “I’ve worked hard to get her character developed, which has come from watching a lot of other examples – and I hope that she comes across as refined in the productions.”

Full of high-energy dance ensembles and toe-tapping songs, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” showcases plenty of community involvement, including a pit orchestra conducted by Marla Sitton.

With all the musical numbers, bringing an exuberant energy is vital, which, according to Snyder, comes down to one thing: “Confidence, which comes from knowing the show. I remember the original Adam (played by Howard Keel) and thinking to myself, ‘That’s who I want to be.’”

So now Snyder gets to fill the boots of an iconic American character, “I can’t wait to throw my own spin on this character, and make him real,” he said.

“We have a lot of our own stamps on the play, including in the choreography,” added Sandner, as the M-CHS production seeks to make its own unique version of the classic, “and we’ve tapped into resources in the community to help us develop our dancing and fighting scenes so that they can be as authentic as possible.”

With a bevy of aspiring thespians in the production, Snyder sees the incorporation of middle and elementary students into the cast as an opportunity to continue the strong interest in the M-CHS theater program.

“It’s something that I’m passionate about,” said Snyder, “to be able to inspire the next generation of performers – they’ve been a lot of fun to work with, and you can see their commitment to their craft.”

Working with a larger cast, with more that 50 students ranging from high school to elementary – not to mention over a dozen additional stage, sound, props, and house crew members – the production’s development held plenty of challenges. Between working on the various transitions and onstage chemistry, the M-CHS theater aims to have all the pieces ironed out for the unveiling on opening night.

“There have been times where it’s been difficult to keep everyone focused,” added Snyder, “but we’re all working together toward a common goal – and it’s been fun to see it all come together.”

The production opens a six-show run at Ralph Vavak Auditorium on Friday, March 10 at 7 p.m. before showcasing a 2 p.m. matinee and 7 p.m. performance the next day. The following week, M-CHS will provide three more shows, with another Friday night performance on March 17 at 7 p.m., followed by their final two performances on March 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are available on mchsdrama.org for $10 for adults and $6 for students and seniors.