The Freeport Theater Festival’s production of “The Rainmaker” is a family project for the Bronder sisters.

Kristy and Jen Bronder grew up watching the local theater with their parents. Now, for the first time, they will work together in a local theater production at the Freeport Theater Festival this summer.

Jen Bronder is directing the theatrical production of “The Rainmaker”, which will star Kristy as Lizzie Curry.

Jen Bronder said Rennick and Marushka Steele, the husband and wife duo who own and operate the Freeport Theater Festival, approached them with the idea of ​​working together on the play last fall.

“I love working with them, so of course I’m happy to do it,” said Jen Bronder, who teaches Junior Drama Camp at the Freeport Theater Festival. She teaches drama and language arts at Knoch High School, where she has produced and directed over 30 performances, and holds an MA in Theater Education from New York University.

Kristy Bronder starred in the theatrical production of “President Arthur’s Inspiration” last summer. She studied acting at Westminster College before moving to New York to attend the School for Film and Television, now known as the Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. She holds an MA in Theater Arts from the University of Pittsburgh, where she works.

“Jen and Kristy are remarkably talented young women,” Marushka Steele said, calling them role models.

In the play, written by N. Richard Nash in the 1950s, Lizzie lives with her father and two brothers on a farm in severe drought during the Great Depression.

“Back then, women really needed to be married. Her brothers and her father are really hoping that they can find her a husband so that they can feel that she will be safe. She isn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of ​​just being married. So there is a little push and pull, ”explained Kristy Bronder.

Then, an alien named Starbuck comes to town, calling himself the Rainmaker. He promises – for the price of $ 100 – that he can bring rain and end drought.

“He’s a character who brings hope, not just for the rain that will save their farm, but bright light or hope for the characters,” Jen Bronder said of the play’s namesake character. “The past year has been difficult for everyone. But the hope is still there. The idea of ​​still having hope and moving forward through difficult times is something we can all relate to right now. ”

The couple attributed their interest in acting to their parents who exposed them to the arts from an early age. Kristy Bronder pointed out that a local production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” was the moment that sparked her love for the theater.

“This production really marked me,” she said. “It made me say, ‘I think I want to do this. “”

This interest in the theater has remained with Kristy Bronder.

“I loved the live performances,” she said, explaining that she felt a sense of “freedom” on stage. “I like the experience, the collaboration of putting on a play.”

Last year, when she took the stage for her first performance at the Freeport Theater Festival, she said, it rekindled her passion.

“The theater has always been a passion for me, but circumstances, life bother me,” she said. “I was away from the stage for a long time. Last year was the opportunity to try again.

Her sister said Kristy has always been the actor of the family.

Jen Bronder said she too had always had an interest in acting – but it wasn’t until she was in college that she taught with a drama teacher that she learned to put in stage while helping to set up the school musical.

“Often with siblings, you’re interested in similar things, but you don’t want to be the same,” Jen Bronder said. “Playing was his thing. I found the directing and the backstage part to be really where my strength was.

The two sisters said they always support each other in their creative endeavors and attend each other’s shows.

Kristy Bronder said she would help get props and costumes for the plays her sister was orchestrating at Knoch High School. Her sister, in turn, “saw all the shows that I did,” Kristy said.

The couple eventually agreed to work together on “The Rainmaker” fulfills a long-standing goal.

“We’ve always supported each other, but with this piece I can see what it’s like to have her as a director,” said Kristy Bronder. “It’s already a great experience. It’s just fun for me to be in one of his shows, and I really enjoy the whole experience. It’s nice to have this opportunity where we both have time. It’s something that just happened. I think the time had come.

She added that it was “a little surprising” that they hadn’t worked together on a performance earlier.

“It’s just the way things worked,” she said.

Jen Bronder said she treated her sister the same way she treated other actors, including two of her former students, who play brothers.

“The cast is fantastic,” she said.

Because she knows her sister so well, Jen Bronder said, they can “really delve into the psychology of the character in depth,” highlighting how unique Lizzie is – especially in the context of the Great American Depression, in which the room is set.

“Even for a period piece, it really examines what Lizzie wants in her life, and how she really wants, even back then, an equal. She wants someone who can support her. Lizzie is modern for her time, ”said Jen Bronder.

The Bronder sisters have said their parents will be in attendance on opening night to watch the couple’s first performance together – although Jen Bronder said their parents caught a glimpse of this type of collaboration years ago.

“They saw a lot of shows in our attic with growing friends who I’m sure were of much lower quality than this one,” Jen Bronder said, referring to the pieces the two would create together when they were children.

Other family and friends will also come to support them, the sisters said.

“They are very excited that we are doing this together,” said Kristy Bronder. “It helps both of us because it can be stressful at times, but it’s good to have a support system. I have absolutely total confidence. I trust my sister.

Julia Felton is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Julia at 724-226-7724, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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