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Duluth-Area Theater Primer 2019-2020

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It’s the Halloween season, which of course means it’s time for witches and ghouls, but it’s also the time of year when the region’s theater companies get down to business. Here again is the PDD Theater Primer, where we hip you to all the haps on local stages for the next year.

Hamlet could be Wise Fool Theater’s last show

Selective Focus: Amber Burns

Amber Burns is a true advocate for the arts. She has worked as a dancer, choreographer, painter, teacher and is now Artistic Director of the Duluth Playhouse Family Theatre. This week she talks about her love of many types of expression, and how she builds the work of other people as well as the many disciplines of her own.

AB: When I think about my medium I more like to think about what I love to create, which is visual movement, whether it is through my choreography, directing, through sculpture or on a canvas. Sometimes my medium is paint and sometimes it is physical bodies. I am a dancer, actor, director, choreographer, and visual artist. When I was just three years old I started dancing at a studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota and when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I said, “I already am a dancer!” As I got older I developed passions for many other things, including drawing and painting. When it was time to pick a career and go to college I decided to b become an art teacher, and graduated from UMD in 2011 with a BFA in Art Education, all the while I was still dancing and teaching dance classes. At UMD I also received a minor in dance, and this is where I was introduced to the theater world.

Mystery Photo #74: Jungle Book

There are quite a few things we know about this mystery photo. According to info scribbled on the back we can discern that Hope Phillips and Andy Tureson are acting out a scene from a staging of The Jungle Book at St. Michael’s Church in Duluth.

The Realistic Joneses

I left Panera for the Realistic Joneses at the Zeitgeist while, it seemed to me, a woman was in a tree. I’m not entirely sure about the tree part — I know she was in the woods, alongside the creek behind the parking lot separating the Panera from the Aldi complex, and I know that the police and EMTs were looking upward as one of the pines was shaking. I didn’t see her. I could only hear her voice, sadly crying that people believed that something was wrong with her. I felt a sadness that mirrored hers. There was no way for this story to end which didn’t fulfill her words.  I wished there were a way for people to just turn their backs and let her leave, if that would be what she wanted.

Duluth-area Theater Primer 2018-2019

PDD Theater Primer Logo
As the leaves start to turn and the smell of fall starts to waft through the air, local theater companies are springing to life. It’s time for the Perfect Duluth Day theater primer. If it’s on the stage, it’s in our calendar.

Selective Focus: Ashley Wereley

Tonight (Friday, July 27) is the opening of Peter Pan, Jr. at the Depot Family Theater, and next week, the Toxic Avenger opens at the Underground on Thursday, August 2. This week’s Selective Focus subject is the scenic designer for both productions.

AW: My name is Ashley, of Ashley Wereley Design, and I am a scenic designer, exhibit designer, scenic painter, exhibit painter, muralist and commissioned artist.

I stumbled into scenic painting while in art school when a friend at a local church asked me to paint some scenery they were building for a youth camp. I was immediately enthralled, and decided to stay on for a year at the Oaks Fellowship in Red Oak, Texas, as scenic charge and an assistant scenic designer.

Music Man, on Three Levels

I sat in the balcony to watch a preview (or Sponsor Night) performance of The Music Man by the Duluth Playhouse at the Norshor Theatre. The performance was enjoyable, the text is enjoyable, if complicated for the 21st century, and as this was my first trip into the new Norshor, I have some thoughts about that.

Superior native reviews “Girl From the North Country”

“Girl From the North Country,” the musical play that features the song catalog of Duluth/Hibbing native Bob Dylan, will close its second run at the Old Vic Theatre in London’s West End on March 24. Superior native Cassandra Csencsitz has published a review in the latest “Critic’s Notebook” on the American Theatre website: ‘Girl From the North Country’: How Does It Feel?

Theater of All Sorts in the Twin Ports

Sure, all the theater illuminati were at the opening of the NorShor for Mamma Mia. But across the street and down the road, on Friday and on Saturday, other kinds of theater and performance were opening up at Teatro Zuccone and the Underground, and I want to give them a nod.

What She Said! Short Play Festival Submission Call

The Underground theater is planning an event featuring short plays and monologues written by women playwrights celebrating women and what they have to say. The What She Said! Short Play Festival will be staged May 24-26. In the meantime, scripts for short plays and monologues written by women and people identifying as women, are being sought.

Selective Focus: Brianna Hall

The Duluth Playhouse production of Cabaret opened at the Underground this week and runs through August 19th. For this installment of Selective Focus, we hear from Cabaret Choreographer Brianna Hall.

I am a dance artist and choreographer. For my current project Cabaret, I created jazz dance. Although this is my first time choreographing a full musical, I made my choreographic debut in musical theater with “The Wells Fargo Wagon” for my high school show choir. In college I earned a B.A. in dance where I studied modern dance performance and composition. To the uninitiated, imagine modern as a lot of artful running & falling followed by rolling around on the floor.

A pair of songs from the cast of the new Bob Dylan musical

The two tracks in sound embeds above — “Sweetheart Like You / True Love” and “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” — were recorded as part of a workshop for a new musical play written and directed by Conor McPherson with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan. Girl From The North Country will open at the Vic Theater in London in July.

The voices featured on both tracks are Bronagh Gallagher, Claudia Jolly, Debbie Kurup and Jack Shalloo.

“One River” on the road

oneriverprodphoto1_5x7The cast and crew of UMD Theatre‘s One River play are in Des Moines this week for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s Region V competition. One River will be performed four times in two days during the festival. Written by UMD Theatre Professor Tom Isbell, the show is one of six productions selected to compete in the six-state event.

Over the past 30 years, UMD Theatre has been selected 12 times to present at the KCACTF Regionals and has been chosen five times to perform at the National Festival held at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. As of 2011, productions no longer compete at the National Festival level.

Entering the story, painting the dump gray, and the last chicken

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This is why I think you should go see the production of One River, happening at UMD’s Marshall Performing Arts Center each night this week until Friday. My experience relayed here might be a bit self-centered, especially the comparison to another touching moment when our dog died in my arms recently, but this is how I was affected by these remarkable young actors. Now I can see the power theater has to really touch the heart. Read more at Ed’s Big Adventure.