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Runaway bride — the rock opera?

The story of runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks is becoming a rock opera.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The story of runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks is becoming a rock opera.

The show is scheduled to open in October at Duluth’s Red Clay Theatre and Arts Center.

Mark Pitt, the theater’s owner, says the show will not spoof Wilbanks’ infamous disappearance before her scheduled 2005 wedding. Instead, it 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-fiancé, 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.

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.