The story of runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks is on its way to a theater in the form of a rock opera.
The show is scheduled to open in October at the Red Clay Theatre and Arts Center.
But Mark Pitt, the theater's owner, says the show will not be a comedic spoof of Wilbanks' infamous disappearance before her scheduled 2005 wedding. Instead, the rock opera will show how the community came together and bonded over the experience, which included a massive search for Wilbanks before she turned up a few days later.
Wilbanks and her then-fiance, John Mason, will only be minor characters, Pitt said.
"The story is more about the city and the tenacity and camaraderie of its citizens," he said.
Pitt said he had not yet read the script, which is still being worked on, but said it will not be about making fun of the story or Wilbanks.
Pitt said Wilbanks' story makes for great theater because it involves dramatic and engaging situations.
"Good theater is all about the exploration of the idiosyncrasies of human nature," he said. "This story certainly has that, and it will make for great theater."
Initial reactions to the upcoming show have been mixed, ranging from laughter to shock.
"When some people hear about the show, their chins drop to the floor," Pitt said. "Other people, they just laugh. Some people worry that it will be harmful to the family, but that is not at all our intention."
Wilbanks got her nickname "runaway bride" after fleeing before her wedding and making up a story about being kidnapped and sexually assaulted. Actually, she got cold feet and fled to New Mexico. She later recanted, saying she ran away because of personal issues, and pleaded no contest to telling police a phony story.
She was sentenced to two years' probation and performed community service that included mowing the lawns at public buildings.
Wilbanks and Mason later ended their engagement and filed lawsuits against each other, which were dropped last month.
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