WELLSBURG - The Brooke Hills Playhouse's world premiere production of Diana Mendel's comedy-drama for young actors, "bfF?" which runs at 8 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, focuses on the real problems of young people in their middle school years, according to the playwright.
"'bfF?' stands for 'best friends forever,' and it features two girls in the eighth grade who have been best friends through their childhood, until one girl makes some choices that don't include her friend," Mendel said, adding the friends of the title are played by Caitlin Cuomo and Amy Marosz, both of Follansbee
The plot is complicated by one girl's new, material-minded friends, who are completely different from the ones with whom she grew up.
"One group is more into appearance and fashion, and the other group seems to be more interested in their studies and developing as individuals," Mendel said.
Comic relief to these more serious issues is provided by the girls' younger sisters, portrayed by Peri Dimitriou of Weirton and Abby Nickerson of Wellsburg. The younger siblings' age-appropriate behavior also contrasts with some of the older girls' attempts to act more grown up than they are.
"The script emphasizes that you don't have to rush through your childhood to become an adult and try to mimic adult behavior too soon. You should wait until you're ready," Mendel noted.
While the primary purpose of "bfF?" is to entertain audiences of all ages, Mendel said, "I want the play to emphasize the importance of friendship and understanding how relationships change, how you have to work at relationships to keep them going, the importance of having the right values and not being in such a rush to grow up."
"bf F?" also deals with issues of integrity in campaign tactics for a school election and with choices involving personal morality.
"We have a scene where some of the girls pressure another girl to make out with a boy so they'll get invited to a party," Mendel said. "One character says, 'I don't want to kiss a boy unless I actually love him.'"
The cast of "bf F?" also includes Gabriella Narus of Avella; Follansbee residents Amy Balog, Carly Balog, Lauren Fritz, Alexa Gerrard, Katie Spurrier, Zach Spurrier, Shyla Stroud and Grant VanCamp; Ben Fedoush, Roberta Fedoush and Emily Fournier of Weirton; Wellsburg residents Madison Buxton, Karleigh Kowcheck and Rhiannon Macom; and Ellie Talbott of Wintersville.
"bfF?" is the final show of the Brooke Hills Playhouse's 40th anniversary season. Season sponsors are WTOV-TV and the Center of Music and Art. Show sponsors include the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club, Koppers Inc., Kwik King Food Stores, Main Street Bank and Brooke County Rotary Club. For information, go to www.brookehillsplayhouse.com.