A Mathematician and a Prince, BSU’s Opportunities Extend Beyond Department Borders

Originally from Shakopee, Minn., Markus Babris discovered his love for music and theater during his freshman year of high school. Now a junior double majoring in economics and mathematics at Bemidji State, Babris can be seen performing as the Prince in the university’s upcoming production of “Cinderella” by Rodgers & Hammerstein from Feb. 28–March 1.

Under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Olson, assistant professor of music, students started individual music rehearsals in the Fall of 2019. In January, they began full cast rehearsal and are now in the process of finalizing the show. As a dual-cast show,Babris will perform as Prince on Friday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1 while Aaron Kolb, a senior majoring in music from Rosemount, Minn., will assume the role on Saturday, Feb. 29.

“We have an outstandingly talented cast,” Babris said. “We are putting together a really nice show and Dr. Olson, the new director, is just phenomenal. She knows what she wants and she is going to get a very good show out of us.”

Recalling depictions of princes in cartoons, Babris remembers the characters as having little sense of vulnerability or development. He says the Rodgers & Hammerstein character is well rounded and helooks forward to bringing it to life.

“The way they wrote him is genius. They made him a snobby boy, someone who has no familiarity of how to go about things,” he said. “You get this sense of intense vulnerability and confusion as to what is going on. I think that is fun and there are a lot of opportunities there.”

Coming to BSU to embrace his love for Winter in the Northwoods, Babris ended up finding his passion for so much more. Though his schedule keeps him busy, he enjoys splitting his time between music, economics and math.

“I am having a great time and everything is going very well,” he said. “I love math and economics is one of those all-encompassing subjects. I actually enjoy doing all of the things I’m doing to the point where I forget about the time that is passing.”

Despite a challenging course load, Babris still finds time to dedicate to his musical activities and is involved with the Bemidji Choir, Chamber Singers and the Musikanten men’s chorus. He also recently co-founded the People for Theatre student club.

After graduating, Babris hopes to pursue a career in music before committing to graduate school.

“If I become a rockstar – awesome! Otherwise, I want to study macroeconomics in graduate school, I think it would be really cool,” he said.

About the Musical

Set in the 1920’s and inspired by the historical drama “Downton Abbey,” the Bemidji State Department of Music’s production of the musical “Cinderella” will be held in the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex from Feb. 28–March 1. Performances will include two 7:30 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday and a 3 p.m. matinée on Sunday.

The formulation of this opera required collaborations with people and departments across campus and the community. Scott Guidry, associate professor and director of bands will conduct the pit orchestra, which is comprised of both BSU students and professional musicians. Olson, who is also the show’s artistic director, worked closely with costume designer and BSU alumnus Fred Rogers and BSU general repair worker and chief set builder Mitchell Bannor to form set-design and costume concepts.

BSU music alumnus Katilynn Meine has served as assistant director and junior music education major Justine Hutchins is the stage manager. Alyssa Mess, sophomore mass communications major is hair and makeup designer while Nathan Datres, a senior mass communications major, is the lighting designer and lead tech for the production.

Bemidji State University’s production of “Cinderella” is presented through special arrangement with R&H Theatricals.


MN State logoBemidji State University, located amid the lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,000 students, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. The university’s Shared Fundamental Values include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and international and multicultural understanding. For more, visit bemidjistate.edu or find us at BemidjiState on most of your favorite social media networks.