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Theater Posts

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.

PDD Pronunciation Guide: Teatro Zuccone

Teatro Zuccone Pronunciation KeyIn episode two of Perfect Duluth Day’s Pronunciation Guide series:

Andy Bennett, Zeitgeist Arts creative director, demonstrates the proper pronunciation of “Teatro Zuccone.”

Off-Broadway ice fishing

Nice-Fish-BrooklynNice Fish, Mark Rylance’s play based on the poetry of former Duluthian Louis Jenkins, made its off-Broadway debut at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn on Feb. 14 and continues its run through March 13. An article in The New Yorker notes Jenkins’ poems, “which are syncopated reveries about bologna sandwiches, sea lions, and the meaning of life, are integral to the Nice Fish script.”

Rylance won an Oscar on Sunday for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the Steven Spielberg film Bridge of Spies.

Perfect Play or Musical of 2015: Renegade’s Eastland

PDDPerfectPlay-MusicalLogo2015Renegade Theater Company has earned its second consecutive Perfect Play or Musical plaque, this time for a dramatic musical that marked the centennial of the tragic sinking of the SS Eastland. The 1915 shipwreck resulted in the death of 844 passengers, the largest loss of life from a single shipwreck on the Great Lakes.

Titled Eastland: A New Musical, the play was partially inspired by Jay Bonansinga’s 2004 historical novel The Sinking of the Eastland: America’s Forgotten Tragedy. The show debuted in 2012 at the Lookingglass Theater in Chicago. Renegade’s staging in August 2015 was just the second professional production of the haunting musical written by Andrew White, with a folk, blues and ragtime score by Ben Sussman and Andre Pluess.

Poll: Best Play or Musical of 2015

Plays of 2015

Which Duluth-area theater production made your little Greek mask laugh or weep the most last year?

This poll has closed. The results were:

Renegade Theater Company’s Eastland – 44 percent
Duluth Playhouse Children’s Theatre’s Shrek – 31 percent
Duluth Playhouse’s Mary Poppins – 25 percent

The Plays of 2015

Before we launch PDD’s poll to determine the best play or musical of 2015, we present this list of every play or musical from the past year we could track down, with the hope that you’ll let us know in the comments if we’ve forgotten any.

Avenue Q – The Underground
Banning Around the Christmas Tree, or, The Last Noel of Don Ness – Rubber Chicken Theater
The Barber of Seville – Lyric Opera of the North
Behind the Shining Star – Duluth Playhouse Theatre for Young Audiences
The Birds – Renegade Theater Company
Blithe Spirit – St. Scholastica Theatre

Glensheen: the Musical

Glensheen the musical

Glensheen, a musical based on the book by Jeffrey Hatcher and music and lyrics by Chan Poling, opens at the History Theatre in St. Paul on Oct. 3 and runs through Oct. 25.

Good lord.