In 2002 when Amish Acres Round Barn Theatre in Nappanee presented “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” Jeremy Littlejohn was cast as Adam Pontipee. This year he is the show’s director and Rory Dunn is cast as Adam.
I said that show provided the audience with blue ribbon entertainment. Nothing has changed. The current production is still blue ribbon quality. Both Littlejohn and Dunn were perfect for the older brother of the Pontipee clan.
The show takes place in Oregon Territory in the late 1850s. Men outnumbered women and finding a wife was no easy task. But, Adam wants a wife. She could cook and clean and mend and do the things women do on a family farm. So, the next time he goes to town for supplies he is determined to find a wife.
Milly Bradon (Emily Dunn, who just happens to be Rory’s wife in real life) agrees to marry him. After all, she has been dreaming of getting married and settling down in a home for two. Emily Dunn is a superior actress and as Milly, she takes charge. The audience is quick to fall in lover with her.
Surprise! There are six younger brothers at home.
The music is “toe tappin” and the dancing is tremendous. The music is different than what was featured in the 2002 show. It’s better. It puts the audience in the heart of the production. Musical director Travis Smith said there is “a heckuva lota dancin’” in the show. He’s right!
When Milly learns her fate she is upset. She will, however, remain true to her marriage but not without rectifying her situation by trying to change the brothers — Ben (J. D. Simper), Caleb (John Lampe), Daniel (Trent Loggins) Ephraim (Steven Freitas), Frank (Timothy Leonard) and Gideon, the youngest (Andy Frank).
Among other things, she will teach them how to treat a woman so they will marry and move to homes of their own and her dream will come true. These guys are great. Each brother has his own personality and Simper, Lampe, Loggins, Freitas, Leonard and Frank all do a great job as they let those personalities show.
Their first outing is a church social where they meet Dorcas (Allison Jean Jones), Ruth (Sarah McGowan), Lisa (Caitlin Borek) , Martha (Angie Fisher), Sarah (Sarah Philabaum) and Alice (Monique Abry). Their suitors object and during a dance a fight breaks out. The Pontipee men are banned from town. The women are great. Jones, McGowan, Borek, Fisher, Philabauma and Abry capture the hearts of the audience.
Back on the farm Adam finds a book in Milly’s things about the Roman soldiers and “Sobbin’ Women.” He then tells his brothers how the soldiers kidnapped the woman. Why can’t they do the same? They would also have to kidnap a preacher (Travis Smith) so he could marry them.
The women are kidnapped but they forgot the preacher. Milly objects but it’s winter and the pass is closed. The women have to stay until spring. Milly takes charge. The women will have the house. The men must move to the barn. Adam is upset and leaves to spend the winter in a trapping cabin. When Milly gives birth to a baby girl, Gideon decided Adam needs to come home and take care of his family. Adam, however, refuses.
Later, Adam does return and proclaims the brothers must take the women home and court them properly. He would be very upset if someone did that to his daughter. The brothers object. The women run away. The suitors arrive at the farm and the fun begins, again.
Bouquets to the suitors and townspeople for jobs well done. The show runs through Oct. 20. This boot stompin’ musical is a must see. Call 800-800-4942 or on line AmishAcres.com for tickets.