School of Music, Theatre and Dance

SMTD students getting professional acting experience as members of Meadow Brook Theatre’s ‘Father of the Bride’ cast

icon of a calendarJanuary 16, 2024

Share this story

SMTD students getting professional acting experience as members of Meadow Brook Theatre’s ‘Father of the Bride’ cast
Father of the Bride at Meadow Brook Theatre
Annabel Pulman, Zander Brown, Raegan Cantrelle, Grant Cleaveland, Chip DuFord, and Jacob Lipski perform in "Father of the Bride," which runs through Feb. 4 at Meadow Brook Theatre.

Six current Oakland University students and two recent graduates are currently cast members in Meadow Brook Theatre’s production of “Father of the Bride.”

The show, which runs through Feb. 4, is part of a partnership between Oakland’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD) and Meadow Brook Theatre (MBT).

“I had always wanted to do a production where we could utilize students in age appropriate roles,” said Meadow Brook Artistic Director Travis W. Walter, who is also an alumnus of Oakland. “We have had students in many of our productions before, but mostly one-at-a-time and never a group this large. Several years ago we found the right play to make this work. 

“This show ‘Father of the Bride’ has an assortment of great roles for students. Cheryl L. Marshall, managing director of Meadow Brook Theatre and myself proposed this plan to the MBT Board of Directors and they were very enthusiastic about it. It then took several years to obtain licensing. We then talked to SMTD and were able to get student auditions with their help.”

Father of the Bride at Meadow Brook Theatre
Alexa Huss and Brady Jacot in "Father of the
Bride" at Meadow Brook Theatre

Oakland senior Brady Jacot, juniors Alexa Huss and Annabel Pulman and freshmen Zander Brown, Wyatt Cleaveland and Tyler Girand are all members of the “Father of the Bride” cast. Recent graduates Mason Gaida and Olivia Kiefer are also part of the cast.

The SMTD students are enjoying getting to learn and work alongside professional actors.

“It has been amazing getting to work with professional actors,” Brown said. “I have learned so much from my professional cast mates, and all of them want the best for me and my peers. They have shared support, love, tips and stories from their own careers that help give me insight on what a career can, and will look like going forward, and what I can do to have a successful one.”

The students are hopeful working in a professional environment like the one at Meadow Brook will help lead to more professional roles.

“Doing this show is gonna help me in many ways,” Girand said. “Being able to do this show for Meadow Brook is definitely going to help me get my name out there, and hopefully prepare me for any big regional and professional work I do in the future.”

“I am gaining my first professional theatre credit through this experience, which is a huge step forward for my career,” Brown said. "I am also learning a lot from the equity actors about auditions, jobs and what a career looks like in this field, and I can take this knowledge to help me succeed and navigate in the future.”

One of the big adjustments for the SMTD students has been the shorter amount of rehearsal time.

“This process moved much quicker than anything we've done at Oakland,” Jacot said. “Oakland usually rehearses about five to six weeks leading up to performances. This show only rehearsed about two and a half weeks before jumping into tech rehearsals. It was a bit jarring at first (since we staged a three-act play in just four days), but I felt as though we've had plenty of time to succeed. This simply meant for us as the individuals that our own preparation was critical to a successful rehearsal. We needed to bring in work and make choices in the room to help keep the process going. It's sort of exhilarating, in a way.”

Despite the shorter rehearsal time, the SMTD students still feel their training at Oakland has helped get them ready for a professional show.

“My time at OU prepared me for this opportunity by giving me the tools I need in order to succeed in this type of environment,” Huss said. “I have been able to thrive in this rehearsal process because my instructors pushed me while in class. I am very grateful for the education I’m receiving because I know that it will further me in my career as a professional actress.”

Walter has been very pleased with the SMTD students and what they have brought to the show.

“The OU students are wonderful,” Walter said. “They are eager to learn and very capable of everything that is asked of them. They are extremely collaborative artists. I know they will make everyone at SMTD very proud.”

“Father of the Bride” opened Jan. 12 and runs through Feb. 4. For more information and to purchase tickets visit

“The show is just so funny,” Brown said. "I sit and watch the show when I am not on stage because it is just so entertaining. There is never a dull moment, and it is a show with a lot of laughs, but also a very heartwarming story.”

“It is hilarious,” Jacot said. “But, I also believe that this show communicates the unorganized chaos of planning a wedding very well, which creates for a very enjoyable and relatable experience."

Share this story