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A different kind of 'cheese'

Imagine rehearsing one five-minute dance scene for more than 15 hours, sweating out every step, perfecting every facial expression.

That's what Perham High School students have done for their upcoming performances of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."

And that's just for one song - one of nearly 20 total.

This is the first time the Perham Community Theater has hired a professional choreographer to work with the kids - and Director Kevin Kosiak said the extra effort shows.

"This show has the potential to be like nothing we've ever seen here before," he said, adding that he's "really excited about it."

In addition to the extravagant dance scenes, Kosiak said, the talented cast of students will wow audiences with their singing, and keep them laughing with the play's tongue-in-cheek jokes.

"It's such a fun show," Kosiak said. "I think it's funnier than the film - a different kind of 'cheese' than the film has."

"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" started as a movie musical in 1954, starring Jane Powell and Howard Keel. Featuring memorable songs like, "Bless Your Beautiful Hide," "Sobbin' Women" and "Goin' Courtin,'" it became an instant hit, and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. It was later reworked a little and brought to Broadway in the early '80s.

The play tells the story of the Pontipee brothers - seven rough-and-tumble backwoods man-children who have never so much as seen a woman.

When their oldest brother, Adam, comes home with a sassy new wife, Milly, she turns things around. Soon, the brothers are cleaned-up, well-mannered gentlemen, and they all want wives of their own.

When Adam comes up with a strategy to 'steal' the nearby town's most eligible girls, the havoc begins.

"I think it's going to be amazing," said Kosiak. "We have a great senior class."

About 20 of the cast members are seniors, and many of the male actors are also on the basketball and football teams - Kosiak praised them for their "really incredible athletic dancing."

The dance sequences, including the biggest number, a high-energy hoedown, have been choreographed by Paul Mathieu of Promenade Ballroom Dance Studio in Perham. Bonnie Tweeton, an art teacher in Frazee, designed the set, and a live orchestra, directed by Larry Wankel, will provide the music. Costumes will be rented from a professional theatre company in Minneapolis, and are sure to be lavish.

"I thought it'd be a fun role," said Perham High School senior Emily Peterson of why she auditioned for the part of Milly.

Peterson had hoped for the leading female role, and was happy to get it. She said she's having a lot of fun in rehearsals, and enjoys singing and dancing. The cast has been rehearsing since about the third week of school.

"It's a lot of work," she said. "But worth it."

Senior Joe Ahlfs agreed. He tried out for the role of Adam, he said, because, "I am Adam - everything about him is like me. He's outdoorsy, I'm outdoorsy."

Except Ahlfs is a little nicer to girls than his chauvinist character. At one point in the show, Adam brashly says, "One woman's pretty much like the next."

Ahlfs laughs at those kind of lines, and says that's one way he's definitely not like his character.

Presented by Perham Community Education and Perham Community Theater, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" will be performed Friday, Nov. 18 and Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday matinee Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. All shows will be held in the Perham High School Auditorium.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and are available in advance from Perham Community Education, located in the ALC building, at 346-6502.