From left, Julie Mlinar, Stephanie Osterhus, Jeff Thauwald, Sheryl Strain, Jon Dahl, Aleta Capelle and Rita Hartert in a scene from “Murder at Michael’s,” one of the scenarios exploring love of all kinds in “Food for Thought,” Brave Community Theatre’s Valentine performances Feb 9, 10 and 11.
SUBMITTED PHOTO From left, Julie Mlinar, Stephanie Osterhus, Jeff Thauwald, Sheryl Strain, Jon Dahl, Aleta Capelle and Rita Hartert in a scene from “Murder at Michael’s,” one of the scenarios exploring love of all kinds in “Food for Thought,” Brave Community Theatre’s Valentine performances Feb 9, 10 and 11.

A look at love through comedy, drama, mystery and music just in time for Valentine’s Day is set at the Spring Valley Community Center Feb. 9 through 11 when Brave Community Theatre brings “Food for Thought” to the stage.

“We are performing six 10-minutes shows augmented with music. The shows are a variety of ways to look at love – different kinds of love in a format of comedy, drama, mystery and music,” said founder Debi Neville about the first production of the 45th anniversary year of Brave Community Theatre (BCT).

Three of the plays are originals, produced for the first time by authors Tim Brennan of Austin, who has had his plays produced across the country, Joan Sween, formerly of Grand Meadow and now of Rochester, and Neville. The other three are commercial productions from publishers.

A performance and dessert are scheduled for the evening of Thursday, Feb. 9. A dinner theater is set for Feb. 10 and 11.

“BCT did a dinner theater at this time two years ago, and it was a very successful event, so we wanted to try it again. I helped put the scripts together and advised Jeff Thauwald on casting, but I’m only acting in the advisory capacity now,” said Neville.

Looking at love

“This is a collection of scripts that look at love from many different angles – father-daughter, husband and wife, a group of friends, there’s comedy…and a couple that have a very touching message. There’s a funny murder mystery, and then we top it off with wonderful talent providing music in between,” said Neville. “We felt we wanted to showcase the abilities of so many actors who stepped forward, and by doing a series of 10-minute plays, we were able to give everybody an opportunity to shine.”

The cast includes Jon Dahl, Rita Hartert, Sheryl Strain, Maria Klingsheim, Jeff Thauwald, Aleta Capelle, Julie Mlinar, Craig Cornell, Stephanie Rowe Osterhus, Roger Svebakken and Neville.

“It’s a very strong cast and we have a couple new people, but it’s a very talented group taking on the roles – some of which are rather challenging because there are so many different characters that they play,” said Neville. “It’s a challenge to do something like this…to put it all together, however, it also has an advantage in that the small groups can rehearse independent of each other and there’s no big scene changes.”

Neville hopes that the audiences settle in after a buffet dinner catered by Some Like It Hot Catering, get comfortable and take in the anthology of stories that the thespians have to offer.

“I think the audience will get carried away by the flow of stories and enjoy every single one of them,” she said. “We have a couple surprises in store for the audience that’ll just step it up a notch.”

Six plays on varied topics

BCT board member Thauwald noted that the three plays written by local playwrights are “An Evening Out,” adapted from a 10-minute play by former Grand Meadow resident Sween, “940 Feathers,” written by Austin resident Brennan, and “Murder at Michael’s,” written by Neville. The other three plays are “Dinner Plans,” a winner of the Lebanon Community Theatre Playwriting Festival, “I’ll Fly Away,” a play by David Rush and produced by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois, and “Lust and Digestion” by William Doody. There will be musical interludes performed by Maria Klingsheim.

“An Evening Out” features Capelle and Thauwald as a couple trying to figure out how many dinner theater tickets to order for this year’s BCT Valentine’s show.

“Murder at Michael’s,” a show about a book club meeting at the former Michael’s restaurant in Rochester features Capelle, Thauwald, Osterhus, Cornell, Dahl, Niemeyer, Strain and Hartert in the cast.

Capelle is also in “Lust and Digestion” with Cornell about a first date misunderstanding.

“I hope the audience enjoys these performances as much as we’ve enjoyed preparing for them,” said Capelle. “This is a great cast, and it should be a fun evening.”

The show “940 Feathers” has Dahl and Niemeyer enacting a story of a couple that is coming to terms with personal limitations.

“It’s really fun to work with Linda on this short play about the early stages of Alzheimer’s,” said Dahl.

“Dinner Plans” is a story of four women finding out they have more in common than they think. It has newcomer Strain, as well as veterans Osterhus, Hartert and Niemeyer rounding out the cast.

“This is my ‘return’ to BCT,” said Osterhus. “I’ve worked with a lot of the cast before, and I have lots of memories with many of these people. I’m excited to make newfound memories with those I have never worked with before.”

Strain noted that although this is her first endeavor with BCT, “I have always enjoyed theater and am finding the cast very enjoyable to work with.”

“I’ll Fly Away” highlights a father, Thauwald, and his daughter, Mlinar, having a confusing and enduring goodbye.

“The play really hits home, as I deal with elderly parents that can’t always remember things as they are,” said Mlinar. “It may be a little too easy to act out the frustration that sometimes accompanies that care. As always, it’s an honor to be a part of the cast.”

Cornell summed up the gathering of talents, saying, “This is a great group of dedicated actors. The Valentine dinner theater show will be funny, serious and everything in between.”

Neville, Thauwald and BCT’s thespians invite the public to join them for comedy, mystery, music and “Food for Thought.” For the dinner performances, the doors open at 6 p.m., with first play at 6:30 p.m. and dinner slated for 6:45 p.m. Admission is $35 by advance ticket purchase only. The deadline for tickets is Feb. 7. The Feb. 9 dessert performance is set for 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and costs $20 per person, which includes dessert. Tickets are available at Sparrow’s Closet, Chateau de Chic, Sunshine Foods in Spring Valley and the BCT website at For more information, call 507-951-4394 or e-mail