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First Baptist students step back on stage

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Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

For Gary Manthey, the time was finally right to bring theater back to First Baptist School.

Manthey had been thinking for years about directing a play at the Rosemount school. He'd been in a play when he was a high school student, and he'd loved it. He wanted more students to have that experience, and he was eager to try his hand at directing, but other things kept getting in the way.

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This year, things are different.

"Every year I kind of think about it, and I talked to my wife this year and she said, 'Let's go for it,'" Manthey said. "We talked with my pastor and he was excited about the idea. He gave us a budget. We're working on a very, very thin budget."

The school will present A Man Called Peter at 7 p.m. Friday, April 20. The play is based on the life of Peter Marshall, a chaplain of the U.S. Senate in the 1940s. A movie version of the story was nominated for an Academy Award in 1956.

Manthey chose the play after a friend saw a performance at a Christian college.

"I wanted to find a play that fit with our Christian beliefs," Manthey said. "That's kind of where this comes in. It's got a good message to it. It's positive and upbeat and nobody gets killed."

This is the first time in 15 years First Baptist has put on a play, and getting things together has been a learning experience for everyone involved. To supplement his budget, Manthey got a $500 donation from First Baptist's parent-teacher fellowship. He also got a lot of help from the theater department at Burnsville High School. BHS rented First Baptist a backdrop and has loaned props. They will also help with costumes for the performance.

"They have really come through for us," Manthey said.

The students involved with the play weren't really sure what to expect, either. Manthey has a cast of 14 students and one adult actor. Most of the students are in middle or high school, but one is a second grader.

"It's a little challenging," Manthey said. "The kids have never done a play like this, so when I first gave them the schedule of practices, they were a little surprised. When I compare it to other high schools when they do their plays it's pretty comparable, but our kids are already so busy with the ministries at the church."

Cast and crew have been working on the play since February, and Manthey is happy with the way things have taken shape. Now that he's finally got it going, he hopes to make the play an annual event.

"It's a lot of work, but it's been fun," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing the final product when they get it all together."

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