Willany or Bethaford?

Wilford Woodruff and his wife, Bethany, achieved certain celebrity status on campus, despite never gracing us on the silver screen
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Posted Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 9:24pm

Like they say, it’s all in the name. Bennifer, Brangelina, and the not so popular Albaham. So naturally USU Eastern’s favorite thespian power couple deserves a similar portmanteau.

Wilford Woodruff and his sweet, little, Scottish wife, Bethany, achieved certain celebrity status on campus, despite never gracing us on the silver screen. But after spending time with them, this fantasy could some day turn into a reality. Given the opportunity, of course.

Anyone who’s met Willy knows he needs no introduction. A true-blue Price boy born and raised, and other than serving a two-year mission in South Africa for the LDS Church, it’s the only place he knows.

Contrary to what some think, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Willy is down to Earth and has a good head on his shoulders, regardless of its size at times.

Ringing true of most politicians, USU Eastern’s former student body president is typically loud and very outspoken. The difference is, one actually want to be friends with Willy after spending a few minutes with him because of his charisma and unique personality. His natural magnetism serves him well, opening doors and leading him down paths, which ultimately changed his life. One of those came from his association with Todd Olsen, student government advisor for the duration of Willy’s presidency.

Olsen shared responsibilities with the theatre department alongside Dr. Cory Ewan. During the production of “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” despite having no prior acting experience, Olsen insisted on using Willy to run the fly system.

Behind the scenes, Ewan coaxed Willy to tryout for the role of Thomas Jefferson in the upcoming play “1776” by filling his head with the delusion of an uncanny appearance to our founding father. Fate denied Willy the chance to portray Jefferson, but was instead awarded the part of Richard Henry Lee.

Nevertheless, being a smaller role for his acting debut, Willy’s performance stole the show with his stage presence and comedic timing. He was hooked. The bug bit him hard and he fell in love with the stage because of that role. But it was a different love that blossomed during the production of “1776.”

Regardless of how long you’ve lived in Price, at some point you probably asked yourself, “how did I end up here?” I’m willing to wager that most of you did not come by way of Scotland. So why would somebody move away from such an exotic place? What would drive someone to leave an island of green and luscious rolling hills in exchange for an otherwise high desert place? We presumptively all have different answers, but to my surprise Bethany’s motivation for the drastic change from Scotland to Utah was religious.

Unlike those throughout the veins of history who were persecuted and driven from their homeland due to religious persecution, she wasn’t. As a member of the LDS Church in Scotland, you’re very much a minority and she simply yearned to be around more of those who shared her same beliefs and standards.

She became friends with an Emery County boy serving an LDS mission in Scotland, who convinced her to move here. Other than talking to him, she had little exposure to the area. But she did use Google Maps and McDonalds on Main Street being the highlight, wasn’t let down when she arrived.

Bethany integrated quickly enrolling at what was then CEU, and became involved with the theatre department. She’s known since she was a wee lass that she wanted to act. She grew up singing and playing the saxophone. With that background, she prefers singing roles. One thing is for certain, musicals or not, the girl’s an actress and theatre is her passion.

Unfortunately, the production had started on “1776” by the time she arrived in Utah, forcing her to play the part of an audience member. During rehearsals, she noticed a fellow ginger on stage, playing Richard Henry Lee, and she was quite taken with him.

Obviously everyone knows what happened next, and the rest as they say is history. But marriage hasn’t slowed them down in getting parts in the theatre department.

They’ve continued to star in plays on campus, even landing some lead roles. Most recently “Romeo” and “Juliet” of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet.”

But like all good things, they must come to an end, and time is running out to see them on-stage at USU Eastern. Bethany and Wilford are moving on to greener pastures soon.

They’ve played an intrical part in the theatre department and will be missed. Maybe someday the couple will take over the Hollywood scene like they’ve done at USU Eastern.

Filed under: lifestyles

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