by Vicki Ikeogu
If all the world’s a stage, St. Joseph native Mitchell Brown certainly wants a part.
At 17, the St. John’s Preparatory School junior has been bitten hard by the acting bug.
“I didn’t get my first major role until last year,” Brown said. “But I’ve been doing theater since I was seven.”
During the past 10 years, Brown has perfected his skills from his first play, in GREAT Theatre’s production of Aladdin – he was a mini genie – to this fall’s Great Northern Theater Company’s production of Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act where Brown plays the lovable but clueless groundskeeper George.
“I decided against doing the fall play at my school because I was doing soccer and I didn’t want to have to do the play and soccer,” Brown said. “But then Amy (Hunter, director of ‘Drinking Habits 2’) said ‘Hey, we’re doing Drinking Habits 2, we’d love you to try out for George.’ And I said sure, I’d give it a shot and lo and behold, here we are.”
Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act takes place eight months after the conclusion of Drinking Habits, the original story. Director Amy Hunter said even if audience members did not catch the original – which debuted last fall – the actors will bring everyone up to speed rather quickly.
“In the original story, two of the nuns are making wine undercover to raise money for the convent,” Hunter said. “Mother Superior is dead set against any alcohol so they have to do it in the middle of the night and sift it off to the townspeople.”
Hunter said the wine made by these two nuns ended up winning a prize. Two reporters, coming to investigate who made the wine, sneak into the convent dressed as a priest and a nun.
“So there’s all these mistaken identities and it just gets crazier,” Hunter said.
Fast forward and one of the two nuns – now known as Kate – has left the convent, has quickly married George and is pregnant with twins. Even though the babies are expected any day, Kate and George, along with the rest of the cast band together to help save a local orphanage through some “zany” tactics.
The whole production is put on with a cast of eight people, the same as last year. However, Hunter said, three of the actors – including Brown – are new to the Drinking Habits 2 production.
“(I decided to cast Mitchell as George) because he is so animated,” Hunter said. “He just plays this innocent, kind of absent-minded kind of guy so well.”
This is Brown’s first non-musical performance and largest role he has had to date. In addition to his work with GNTC and some of his earlier work with GREAT, Brown has been in several productions at St. John’s Prep. One of his more recent roles in the St. John’s Prep production of Godspell even earned him a trip to the Twin Cities to showcase his dancing as part of the Spotlight Education awards distributed by the Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Brown said it’s been a bit of a struggle juggling soccer – which has temporarily ended – school, and the production. He said he’s often caught studying biology in between scenes or running a little late to practice because he was working on a paper.
But for Brown, the added stress is worth it to further develop his passion for theater.
“I don’t see me stopping any time soon,” he said.
Brown and the rest of the Drinking Habits 2 cast will hold seven dinner-theater performances including one Sunday matinee at The Great Blue Heron in Cold Spring. The show runs Nov. 9-12 and Nov. 16-18. Tickets are available at gntc1.com or by calling 320-241-GNTC.
Author: Carolyn Bertsch
Bertsch has worked for the Newsleaders since 2015. She and her husband, Matt, and their three children live in Sartell where they also own and operate Four Seasons Window, Carpet and Air Duct Cleaning. Bertsch also stewards the “Reads and Seeds and Other Needs” Little Free Library in Sartell. The “Other Needs” portion of the library functions as a collection site for donations to the Salvation Army where Bertsch serves as a board member. Her other hobbies include volunteering at the food shelf, cooking, baking, and growing a vast array of fruit in her backyard orchard. Bertsch believes that every single person can choose to make the world a better place for someone else and at the end of the day the only question that matters is, “What kind of difference did you make?”