Sometimes when your parents break up and you're the only child, either maturity comes quickly or you do a lot of "acting out."
A youngster from Bagley, 12-year-old Brody Paggen, takes his lead from the script but expands his role in "Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music," the current show at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.
He plays Jason, a 15-year-old who tends to shock, amuse and generally annoy his mother's boyfriend, his cousin and a kindly customer at the bar.
His mother, Eva June Wilfong, and his professor father, Robert Wilfong, share custody of Jason, who travels between Texas and Minnesota. The show opens with Jim, the bar owner who lives with Jason's mother, fighting with his old truck which he needs to start to get out of town so he doesn't "kill" Jason, whom he refers to as Jay Bob.
Any man who puts up with a confused teen for the summer because he loves the mother needs to have a good sense of humor and a lot of forgiveness for the kid.
"I love playing a bratty 15-year-old who is snotty and non-athletic unless he's smashing beer bottles or burning money," Brody said during a recent interview before starting rehearsal for the show.
"I love acting but it's a lot different this year with a new director and new actors."
This is the opposite side of the coin for Brody, as last year he played the insightful son of a man who fails time and again to attain adulthood in the musical "The Full Monty" at the Playhouse.
Brody is the eldest of four siblings and admits that being the eldest sometimes has its problems and responsibilities. But he wouldn't change a thing in his family headed by father Joel, who is a pressman at Arrow Printing in Bemidji, and his mother Jaime, a Bagley school bus driver. It is surprising that coming from an intact family that he plays a child from a broken home so well.
Terry Lynn Carlson, artistic director of the Playhouse, is impressed with Brody's natural delivery.
"Brody takes direction right away and he works on it," said Carlson. "Brody cares about what he is doing to make it right and he integrates well with the rest of the cast."
Although Jay Bob gets his comeuppance at the end of the second act to the satisfaction of Jim, the amusement of Eva June and shock of his cousin Catherine, life takes on a sweet glow because in the end, love conquers all.