Ruth and Nathan Hale wrote this innocent little play 40 years ago. It's been a staple of their theaters, first in California, and now in Utah.
They based their plot on a family they heard about when they were on vacation one long-ago summer - a family who lived in the Canadian Rockies and whose children had never been to town.The eldest daughter, April Ann, meets a man for the first time when a trapper sets up camp on the mountain where she lives and works.
And April Ann works hard. She fells trees, traps, puts a new roof on the cabin and teaches the little ones to read. She does whatever needs to be done and she's never heard the word "feminine."
After the first man crosses her path, a second man follows. She implores the second man, Larry, to help her learn to be feminine so she can snare Art. Her younger brother and sisters implore her not to get too helpless lest they all starve to death.
Yet she strives to walk like a lady and make banal conversation and pour tea. Pretty soon she wonders if she doesn't love Larry, who likes her as she is, more than she does Art.
This play has a kind of seven-brides-for-seven-brothers (minus six) plot. The humor is light. The music is perky. The choreography, by Sharon Kenison, is foot-stomping.
Stephanie Coleman played April Ann in Saturday night's performance. (The play is double cast. On alternating days the authors act in the roles of Grandma and Grandpa.) Coleman has a sweet voice.
Mark Dietlein, as trapper Art, also has a pleasing voice. As do Jennifer Wainwright, Matt Cropper and little Kirsten Kenison who play the sisters and brother.
Eight-year-old Kenison turns in an especially appealing performance.
Mary De LaMare and Leo Ware played Grandma and Grandpa, and Brad Lee Graff played Larry in this particular performance.
"April Ann" is standard Hale Center fare. The acting is solid. The set (designed by Nathan Hale) and costumes (by Linda Phillips) are attractive. It's a good play for children because the plot is simple, fast-paced, and there is no swearing, no kissing - nothing to offend youngsters.
Grown-ups might find the marriage proposal dance, where Art asks for April's hand while pushing her around the stage and telling her she's worthless, to be oddly violent and disturbing.
But as soon as he reveals his true colors, April decides she doesn't love Art any way, so there may be an anti-wife-abuse moral implied.
At any rate, all's well that ends well - as always - at Hale Center Theater this spring.