WELLSBURG - Brooke Hills Playhouse will host the world premiere production of "bf F?" a play for young actors by Diana Mendel of Wellsburg.
The comedy-drama about middle school students, their younger siblings and the peer pressure and other challenges they face will be presented at 8 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations and information, call (304) 737-3344.
The play is directed by Mendel's daughter, Julia Barnhart of Wellsburg. Mendel says it was Barnhart who urged her to write the original work.
"Julie couldn't find a good play for young actors for this season, so she asked me to write one," Mendel said.
A retired teacher for Brooke County Schools who also spent a year teaching in England and now runs an after-school program as a volunteer, as well as being a mother and grandmother, Mendel knows the problems of young people first-hand. She also has a lot of experience as a playwright.
"When I taught middle school at Beech Bottom and Hammond I wrote a play every year for my students, directed them and choreographed the dances, so this is just picking up where I left off in the '80s," she said.
Mendel reports the play has changed a lot from her first draft.
"The first draft was for a small cast, but the story and the cast kept getting bigger and bigger and I ended up writing for a cast of 21," she said.
Director Julia Barnhart reports the cast of 21 includes actors portraying members of the Williams, Sanders and West families. Roberta Fedoush of Weirton is cast as Jacqui Williams, the mother of Sarah Grace, portrayed by Karleigh Kowcheck of Wellsburg, Madeleine is played by Abby Nickerson of Wellsburg, and Hannah is enacted by Caitlin Cuomo of Follansbee.
The Sanders family includes the mother, Robyn, played by Amy Balog of Follansbee. Peri Dimitiriou of Weirton is cast as daughter Melissa, and Amy Marosz of Follansbee will portray daughter Megan. The West family includes siblings Meredith, enacted by Emily Fournier of Weirton, and Lizzie, played by Carly Balog of Follansbee,
The cast also includes Ellie Talbott of Wintersville as Morgan Harris, Zach Spurrier of Wellsburg as Adam Murray, Rhiannon Macom of Wellsburg as Emma Kelly, Katie Spurrier of Wellsburg as Mackenzie Wallace, Gabriella Narus of Avella as Mary Jane Baxter and Lauren Fritz of Follansbee as Ashley Morgan.
The cast of "bf F?" also boasts the talents of Alexa Gerrard as Kayla Tennant, Shyla Stroud as Brianna Carlson and Grant VanCamp as Dan Roberts. All three are Follansbee residents. Ben Fedoush of Weirton as Jake Allen and Madison Buxton of Wellsburg as Faith Miller complete the cast.
"bfF?" is the final show of the Brooke Hills Playhouse's 40th anniversary season. Season sponsors are WTOV-TV and the Center of Music and Art. Show sponsors include the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club, Koppers Inc., Kwik King Food Stores, Main Street Bank and Brooke County Rotary Club. For information, go to www.brookehillsplayhouse.com.