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Bethel Alumna Praised in New York Times Review

Bethel graduate Jennie Sophia performs as Fiona in "Brigadoon"Jennie Sophia – the stage name of Jennie (Yoder) Grunseth ’02 – was recently praised in a New York Times review of the Goodman Theatre’s revival of “Brigadoon.” Sophia stars as Fiona MacLaren, resident of a mysterious Scottish town that comes to life for only one day every 100 years.

New York Times reviewer Charles Isherwood says, “Ms. Sophia’s soprano has a bright bloom and sufficient power to do justice to Loewe’s almost operatic melodies, and she acts the part with an easygoing warmth that never feels synthetic or forced.”

Sophia also received praise in the Chicago Sun-Times. Reviewer Hedy Weiss says of Sophia and her co-star Kevin Earley, “Earley and Sophia are beautifully understated actors with ravishing voices that soar in such classics as ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ and ‘The Heather on the Hill,’ with Sophia’s heart-piercing rendition of ‘From This Day On’ and Earley’s fierce rendering of ‘There But For You Go I’ both achingly beautiful.”

Bethel graduate Jennie Sophia performs as Fiona in "Brigadoon"“Brigadoon” opened on June 27 at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, Ill., and will run until Aug. 17. The original Broadway production of “Brigadoon” opened in 1947, the same year Bethel was founded. In 1954 it was made into a movie starring Gene Kelly, Van Johnson and Cyd Charisse.

Bethel theatre patrons will remember Sophia’s performances as Maria in “West Side Story” and Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” among others. Her professional career has included numerous roles in productions at the Round Barn Theatre in Nappanee, Ind., the Wagon Wheel Theatre in Warsaw, Ind., and various theatres in Chicago. She most recently starred as Nellie Forbush in the U.S. national tour of “South Pacific.”

Read Sophia’s interview with to learn how she would have missed auditioning for the role of Fiona if her son, Gavin, had been born on his due date.

You can also read more about Sophia in an article from the Goshen News and watch “The Making of ‘Brigadoon,’” including clips of an interview with Sophia, on the Goodman Theatre website