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Blind Bullwinkle the Moose proposes to Buffalo Becky

By Staff | Jan 17, 2011

Chris Kruse and April Garlick

Patrons attending the Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 performance of the Delavan Community Theater group’s fall production received a little extra bonus for the price of their ticket that evening.

There was an unexpected encore scene. In fact, it was so unexpected that only some of the cast, and a few members of the audience, were aware it was going to happen.

After the cast took their well-deserved bows, a blind moose came on stage and proposed marriage to one of the cast members, named Buffalo Becky.

And, it was for real.

The moose was Chris Kruse and the actress portraying Buffalo Becky was April Garlick, both of Delavan.

April Garlick (Buffalo Becky) raises her hands to her face as Chris Kruse, with antlers, drops to a knee and proposes at the end of the play, “Sagebrush Sidekicks” in Delavan last November.

He proposed marriage, and she said yes. But, there is so much more to the story.

The couple had met on that very stage nine months earlier, when they both had parts in the spring play production of the Delavan Community Theater group.

“I have been in the plays for years,” April says. “But that was Chris’ first play.”

They talked a lot during the two months of rehearsals, and by the last performance of the play, they were ‘officially’ dating.

From there, love blossomed and grew, and Chris eventually knew he was going to ask April to marry him.

“I didn’t know when to do it, but I knew I wanted it to be different,” he says. “It was actually April’s mom, Sue, who suggested doing it during the play.”

April was one of the cast members, portraying a rough-around-the-edges, female mule skinner named Buffalo Becky.

Chris had opted not to be in the play, but was helping out in other ways, including videotaping the production.

“I told a couple of cast members, and director Ellen Katzke, what I wanted to do,” he says. “And, they were all excited about it.”

Since both Chris and April work at Garlick’s Water Conditioning in Blue Earth, they see each other a lot, and Chris worried she would find out.

“Plus, her mother knew and I wasn’t sure Sue could keep it a secret from her, either,” he says.

Chris says it took a lot of planning time.

“At first I thought I would do it during the play, but then I decided doing it after the final bows were over would be better,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to take away from the cast and their receiving applause.”

Chris and Dan Haugh, a cast member, spent four hours one night figuring out how to do it.

“In the play, one of the cast members wonders what Buffalo Becky is up to, and asks if she has a date,” Chris says. “Another person answers, ‘With what? A blind moose?’ That gave us a good idea.”

The two wrote some additional dialogue for when the play and curtain call were over, with two cast members discussing Buffalo Becky’s date with the blind moose, and wondering how it went.

“I was hiding behind the pine tree on stage, dressed as a blind moose,” Chris recalls. “I then walked out and over to April, while the rest of the cast stood back.”

Chris says he had written out the proposal, but he was so nervous he forgot what he was going to say and just spoke what came to his mind.

Meanwhile, the front row of the audience was composed of April’s parents, sister and a few other close friends and relatives. Chris’ parents were there as well.

They all knew what was going to happen – because Sue Garlick had informed them all.

“Suddenly, they all raised their cameras up, almost in unison,” April recalls. “I knew something was up. I felt myself start to shake and I got very, very warm.”

The moose – that is, Chris – dropped to one knee, and Becky – that is, April – held her hands in front of her face in shock. Both had tears in their eyes, as did most of the audience.

After he asked her, and she said yes, they embraced.

“The audience started to yell, ‘Kiss her, kiss her!'” Chris says. “So I did.”

That caused thunderous applause, hoots, whistles and cheers.

Afterward, the cast lined up to greet the audience as they filed out. Besides being told she did a good job in the play, April received a lot of congratulations on her engagement.

“I couldn’t believe how many people asked me when the wedding was going to be,” she says. “I told them, ‘Give me a minute, I?only got engaged five minutes ago.”

Others asked Chris if he was going to repeat his ‘proposal’ at the next day’s play performance.

“No way,” he told them. “Once is enough.”

So, when is the wedding going to be?

“We have it set for later this year,” April says. “We are busy planning all of the details.”

Since the two met on the stage in Delavan, had their first date there, and became engaged on the same Delavan stage, any chance the wedding might be there, too?

“It would be nice, but not practical,” April says. “But, we are doing the next best thing. We are looking at a wedding in the West Delavan Church at the fairgrounds.”

One of the issues is that both Chris, who is originally from Mapleton, and April, from Blue Earth, both come from large families.

“The church only holds about 100 to 150 people, so that is an issue we have to work on,” April says.

Then there is the issue of all those Saturday audience members who watched the engagement. Hopefully they don’t think the ticket price also includes the wedding.