Back to the ‘30s on stage, screen at Community Center

The cast of Brave Community Theatre's production of "A Thirties Affair" rehearses at the Spring Valley Community Center. From left are Jeff Thauwald, Laurie Helmers, Patrick Sween, Sarah Kohn and Rob Johnson. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Spring Valley Tribune

It’s a match decades in the making, but where there’s Pauline, there’s film and fire in Brave Community Theatre’s production of “A Thirties Affair.”   

“Pauline wants to match-make her divorced friend, Carla, to her longtime husband Henry’s colleague, Jason, because the two singles both love watching the old movies of the 1930s.  Carla and Jason hit it off right away, but they decide to teach the meddling Pauline a lesson by pretending they hate each other, much to Henry’s amusement,” outlined director Laurie Helmers, giving a synopsis of the plot of the Ag Days production for which a collection of BCT’s finest thespians has come together. 

“The relationship gets tangled when Carla’s ex-husband, Daniel, returns from his soul-searching world travels asking Carla to give him a second chance.  As Carla waffles between the two suitors, Jason tries to win Carla over by making her jealous of his staged new love interest, Cindy – a well-endowed and not-too-bright young actress.  In the end, Carla must make her choice,” said Helmers.

The cast offers the spirited talents of BCT thespians Jeff Thauwald as “Henry,” Julie Mlinar as “Carla,” Patrick Sween as “Daniel,” Rob Johnson as “Jason,” Sarah Kohn as “Cindy,” Helmers as matchmaker “Pauline,” and Elliott and Karen Grandall, Emily Biermann, Linda Niemeyer and Corey Marzolf as musicians who will provide musical entertainment during the performance evenings with songs of the 1930s. 

Being blessed with such experienced actors has its inherent challenges, however. “The challenge is always getting very busy people together to rehearse and adapting the performances to fit the venue,” said Helmers.    

The director shared that she has no doubts about how the show will go on, as she has great confidence in the ladies and gentlemen taking the stage. 

“All the actors and performers are top-notch talents who work hard but make the experience fun at the same time.  They are gifted people who can just ‘become’ their characters,” she said. “Thauwald and I are well-matched as the longtime married couple – comfortable enough in their relationship to both rib and regale one another.  Mlinar skillfully maneuvers the complicated, confused Carla through her romantic dilemma with a wide range of emotional responses.  Johnson’s high energy level and comedic timing are perfect for the ebullient Jason, contrasted by Sween’s perfect portrayal of the ‘overgrown hippie,’ Daniel.  No one but Kohn could make Cindy into the lovable ‘ditzy blonde’ with an unbelievable romantic life.”  

Megan Hammon is handling costuming, and that entails finding pieces that help Helmers and her cast bring their characters to life. 

“Some of the actors have to portray characters who are very different in age, physique and personality from themselves, which they do with creativity and the help of great makeup and costume pieces,” said Helmers.

BCT founder and board member Debi Neville is in charge of set design, and the work to build the set is a cooperative effort of the cast and crew. Neville is acquiring set pieces and “dressing” the set, said Helmers, while Craig Cornell and Thauwald are in charge of construction, supported by all kinds of volunteers from the cast. There will be a platform constructed to represent an old-fashioned movie theater and screen.  The musical selections from the 1930s will be sung with the singers dressed in costumes of the era of their songs, performing on a “movie screen.”        

Helmers promised an enjoyable evening for theater-goers middle school-aged and up. 

“The show is funny, and the audience will recognize traits of their own friends and family and neighbors in each of the characters,” she said.

The show opens Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Spring Valley Community Center, with subsequent shows at the same time through Saturday, Aug. 18.  Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and children 12 and under at the door – with a $1 discount with an Ag Days button when tickets are purchased at the door or beforehand at either Sunshine Foods or Chateau de Chic in Spring Valley.  Online tickets may be purchased by linking to Ticket Leap on the Brave Community Theatre website at  For more information call 507-951-4394.