Celebrate the opening of our fall production, The Miser by Molière, this weekend. An Afterglow Party will be held Saturday, October 4th following the show, sponsored by AutumnFest, Marcie Marquardt and Carol Lenhart.
Tickets: $26 for adults,
$13.50 age 25 and under
Come join the fun!
Click to Reserve Now!
Festival Theatre Announces Youth Cast
Festival Theatre is proud to announce the youth cast of the upcoming holiday production of Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates. The cast of four adult professional actors and two community guest artists will be joined by twenty-two young actors from the surrounding area, split into two groups of eleven. Youth roles are double-cast to accommodate the large number of shows, running from November 29th through December 28th.
The youth, with an age range of eight to fifteen, consists of Zoe Allen of Frederic, Ella Anderson, Kelsey Cooper, Sidrah Edwards, Megan Hankel, Lucy Herman, Abby Ruona and Claire Scharfenberg of St. Croix Falls, Nicholas Borne of New Richmond, Anneka Cress of Centuria, Britta Dueholm and Josh Stirrat of Luck, Jade Fehlen and Allie Nelson of Osceola, Brita Gallagher, Liam Gallagher and Elliana Naegelen of Dresser, Katie Herrick of Cushing, Andrew Lewis and Christopher Lewis of Grantsburg, and Catelyn Rice and Stephen Rice of Milltown. Their previous stage experience ranges from a few first timers to a couple with five or more years of participation in Festival productions.
Festival’s Artistic Director Jaclyn Johnson says, “We had an amazing amount of talent come out for the youth auditions this year! Being able to feature local talent is always a joy in the holiday season and we are excited to work with these young artists, and share this heartwarming story with our community.”
Ed Moersfelder is directing this production from the story written by Mary Mapes Dodge and adapted for Festival Theatre by James L. Walker. A beloved Scandinavian holiday classic set in Holland in the early 19th century, the story highlights hope, tenacity and perseverance. A poor-but-industrious and honorable young man named Hans Brinker yearns to participate in December’s great ice-skating race on the Canal. He and his younger sister, Gretel, have little chance of winning on their handmade wooden skates, but with a little hope and hard work, Hans aims to purchase a set of steel skates that will aid him in chasing down the illustrious prize. But Hans' and Gretel's father has fallen very ill, and Hans must first find a way to have his father seen and helped by the famous surgeon, Dr. Boekman.
Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates is a story of love, ambition, community and chasing one's dreams while fighting to do what is honorable and noble. Perfect for the holiday season, this show will warm hearts of all ages, and remind audiences of the most precious gift of all, the love of family and friends.
School and home school matinees are available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings during the run of the show in December. School group matinee details can be found on the website, and reservations can be made by calling or emailing the Box Office.
Single tickets for this production are $26 for adults and $13.50 for ages five to eighteen. Reservations can be made online HERE, or by contacting the Box Office at email@example.com, or 715-483-3387. Details on all the exciting events coming up this fall can be found on the website, such as The Miser opening October 2nd, The Orfield Whyte Band performing on October 18th, and Spirits of the St. Croix on October 27th. Festival Theatre is located in downtown St. Croix Falls at 210 North Washington Street, across the river from Taylors Falls, Minnesota.
The Barley Jacks, with renowned fiddler Brian Wicklund, take the stage at Festival Theatre on Saturday, September 20th, beginning at 7:30 pm, bringing their bluegrass, Celtic and rocking R&B sound to downtown St. Croix Falls. Virtuosity, magic and a little danger combine to make every performance unique. Opening the show is fiddler Jake Armerding and the Aeromatics.
“It is always exciting to have the dynamic, highly talented and very personable Brian Wicklund in the house,” says General Manager Pam Fuchs. “The Barley Jacks are a Festival favorite because they connect with their audience in an engaging way. Festival Theatre is proud to welcome them back.”
The Barley Jacks sing original vocals and play jaw–dropping instrumentals in a spirit of excitement and fun. They are masters of the fiddle, guitar, bass and drum who meld their divergent backgrounds of blues and bluegrass, classical and Celtic, R & B and bebop to inspire each other and create something entirely new.
Front-man and fiddler Brian Wicklund is joined by Joe Cruz on guitar, Kevin Rowe on bass, and Joel Arpin on percussion. Their 2010 debut recording “Either Side of Night” and 2011 recording “The Lighthouse” have been met with great praise by reviewers. The group has a long list of past performances at prestigious venues, including the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Targhee Bluegrass Festival in Alta, Wyoming; the Rocky Grass Festival in Lyons, Colorado; and the Shetland Folk Festival over in Lerwick, United Kingdom. Among many stellar reviews, Denise Morris of the Sticks and Stones Festival in Mora, Minnesota, said, “The concert… by the Barley Jacks was just incredible. Everyone there knew we were seeing a world class performance by the quartet headed by Brian Wicklund, who is one of the most talented and versatile violinists I have ever seen."
Brian Wicklund has been an integral part of the acoustic music scene for decades. As a teenager, he won dozens of fiddle contests and has toured internationally with Stoney Lonesome, Judith Edelman Band, Kathy Kallick Band, Chris Stuart Band, and with Brother Mule. He is a busy studio musician and producer with dozens of projects to his credit. Brian wrote the best-selling American Fiddle Method published by Mel Bay and is in constant demand as a teacher worldwide.
Guitarist Joe Cruz brings 30 years of eclectic guitar virtuosity to the band. Kevin Rowe is as comfortable in a symphony as he is in a jazz combo or a bluegrass band with his bass. And Joel Arpin adds his virtuosic percussion on cajon and trap set. Together they are synergy.
Tickets for the Barley Jacks concert are $21 in advance and $26 at the door, and this event is Flex Pass eligible. Reservations for this and other upcoming concerts, including Sinatra & Company on September 26th, The Whyte Orfield Band on October 18th, and Alice Peacock on November 1st, can be made by calling the box office at 715-483-3387, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or online HERE. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and one hour prior to show times.
Festival Theatre’s fall production of “The Miser,” a classic French comedy, is now in rehearsal. Last produced here in 1992, “The Miser” is scheduled to open October 2nd and run through October 26th.
Known as a brilliant blend of satire and farce, “The Miser,” written by Molière (1622-1673) and set in Paris, was first performed in 1668 at the court of the French king, Louis XIV. Molière’s characters are as recognizable today as they were in the 17th century. Using irony and hyperbole, the story winds through numerous conflicts, challenges and surprises, guiding the audience through the laughably exasperating lives of the elderly Harpagon, his son, Cléante, and daughter, Élise. The translation being used in this production, written by David Chambers, features an amazing balance of heightened, almost poetic, language and razor sharp wit. Although Chambers sets the show in the 19th century, the jokes, the character archetypes and the pursuit of love and identity are as poignant now as they were in the 17th century.
The story centers on Harpagon, a widower who obsesses over the feeling that he never has enough money, wreaking havoc on all around him. This includes his two children, Elise and Cléante, who are passionately in love with a valet and the girl next door, respectively. While Harpagon had arranged for them to be married to absurdly mismatched types, the two smart children plot against their frugal father until all erupts in a climactic dinner, and truths are revealed.
Amery resident Ed Moersfelder has the lead role of Harpagon in this production. Moersfelder is well known to Festival audiences from past roles in “Arsenic & Old Lace,” “Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman,” “Crazy for You,” “The Foreigner,” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” as well as directing credits for the holiday productions of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story.” Moersfelder is joined by a cast of eight resident and guest artists. Director Jaclyn Johnson had this to say regarding Moersfelder: "Working with Ed Moersfelder is a true gift for this production. When pursuing a curmudgeon-ed, selfish, vain and egotistical miser of a central character, you also hope you get an actor who is the opposite. One who is giving, kind, honest, thoughtful and caring. Ed is all those things and more. He is approaching the role with heart, passion, and an endless pursuit of great storytelling. I'm sure audiences will delight in seeing his Harpagon as much as I am delighting in watching him come to life."
Currently serving as Artistic Director, in 2013 Johnson directed the summer musical “Crazy for You,” and has acted in numerous shows since her debut here in the 2008 production of “Arsenic & Old Lace.” Favorite Festival productions include “Sylvia” in 2009, “Man of La Mancha” in 2012 and the recently closed comedy “The 39 Steps.”
Tickets for “The Miser” are $26 for adults and $13.50 for students. Reservations for this and for the upcoming holiday production of “Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates” can be made online HERE, by calling the box office at 715.483.3387 or emailing email@example.com. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and one hour prior to show times. Festival Theatre is located in the historic Civic Auditorium in downtown St. Croix Falls, at 210 North Washington Street.
A Miracle Musical-Comeback Story
Nationally renowned guitarist Billy McLaughlin will perform at Festival Theatre in St. Croix Falls on Saturday, September 6th, beginning at 7:30 p.m. His unique story is one that truly inspires audiences and fellow musicians alike.
McLaughlin was highly successful and at the top of his field for twenty years. He was, and still is, recognized as an innovative performer and composer who embraces the advantages of acoustic guitar amplification, unorthodox techniques and altered tunings while celebrating a gift for melody. His enormous yet fluid acoustic guitar tone has carried him around the world, to Billboard’s Top-Ten Chart and most recently through a devastating medical disorder called focal dystonia. McLaughlin has had to re-learn the guitar left-handed and is in the early stages of what might be described as “one of the great musical-comeback stories of all time.” His story is the subject of an award-winning documentary film called “Changing Keys - Billy McLaughlin and the Mysteries of Dystonia”
The Past - A serious professional in his teens, McLaughlin left his home and rock band in Minneapolis for the University of Southern California guitar department where he became interested in minimalist composers Phillip Glass and Steve Reich. Employing what would become his signature style of placing both hands on the fretboard, McLaughlin began composing for his first release using a technique of “hammer-ons” and “pull-offs” that create a harp-like effect on the acoustic guitar. This unusual approach led Billy to extensive national touring earning multiple NACA Campus Entertainer awards. In 1995 McLaughlin signed a multi-album international contract with Virgin Records label Narada whose first release, Fingerdance, peaked at #7 on the Billboard charts. Hundreds of shows a year and another release deep into the contract with Narada, he began struggling with his hands – something felt “off” and it was getting worse.
For two years he struggled with a mysterious and unrelenting condition of unexplainable muscle spasms and contractions. Shockingly as symptoms grew worse he could no longer perform most of his own repertoire. In 2001, Billy was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder called focal dystonia. The diagnosis was confirmed at the Mayo Clinic. Going against doctors’ recommendations to quit music and look for other work, McLaughlin focused on his songwriting and returned to his rock band which was less demanding for his hands. Despite releasing his ensemble’s best recording, Finally – Live! (2002) it was clear that focal dystonia had ended McLaughlin’s career as a virtuoso guitarist.
The Challenge – Feeling utterly lost without his music and not willing to give up, McLaughlin began the unlikely journey of teaching himself to play in his signature style, left-handed! Late in 2004 a documentary film crew began following McLaughlin’s desperate attempt to regain his career. Warned by doctors of a higher likelihood for developing focal dystonia in his remaining good hand, McLaughlin chose to press on towards an ambitious goal he had yet to achieve – to perform and record a new project with a string orchestra.
In January 2007 McLaughlin published a limited release of Into the Light, a concert recording of compositions for acoustic guitar with string orchestra. This collaboration with Grammy nominated arranger Eugenio Toussaint is McLaughlin’s first recording as a left-handed guitarist. In 2008, Coming Back Alive, a companion DVD shot by volunteers from the WWE broadcast crew capturing the historic performance was completed and released via direct marketing.
The Future - Billy’s story is truly an inspiration. The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation in Chicago, Illinois has named Billy their first Ambassador for Public Awareness, and for his efforts McLaughlin was awarded the international 2010 Leadership in Public Neurology Award at the American Academy of Neurology conference held in Toronto. Previous winners of the award include Paul Allen, Julie Andrews, Leon Fleischer and Michael J. Fox. The documentary film, Changing Keys, chronicling McLaughlin’s physical and emotional struggles, the medical mysteries of dystonia, and this amazing musical come-back has been awarded top-honors at the Houston International Film Festival.
“Many people fail because they quit too soon,” reads the fortune cookie saying that McLaughlin taped to his dashboard in 2001. It remains there to this day.
All are invited to hear Billy McLaughlin perform live on stage at Festival Theatre for one night only. Tickets are $31, with a discounted price of $26 if ordered in advance. Reservations can be made online HERE, or by calling the box office at 715.483.3387. Box office hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and one hour prior to show time.
“A Funny Thing” and “Almost, Maine” Enter Final Weekend at Festival Theatre
Since Festival Theatre’s production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” opened in June, it has delighted theatre-goers with its strong musicality, high energy, beautiful performances, costumes and set, and just plain good story-telling. “Almost, Maine” has enchanted sold-out audiences with its warm-hearted simplicity since opening in early July. The productions now move into their final weekend of performances. “A Funny Thing” closes Saturday, August 16th and “Almost, Maine” closes Sunday, August 17th in downtown St. Croix Falls, WI.
(NOTE: Sunday's performance of "Almost, Maine" is now SOLD OUT.)
“These two shows have been a literal showcase of talent for our 2014 summer company,” says Liz Reddy, Marketing Assistant for Festival. “From the phenomenal singing and dancing in ‘Forum’ to the nuanced, intimate conversations in ‘Almost,’ the casts have proven over and over that they can deliver consistently stunning performances. Audiences love these shows, often returning to see them again and share the experience with someone new.”
Festival Theatre’s creative team of directors and designers puts a personal touch on each production, and the professional guest artists embrace every character with such certainty that patrons immediately relax into their seat to be transported somewhere else for a couple hours. Whether you land on a street in ancient Rome or in a small town in Maine, this is an experience not to be missed.
Corporate sponsors for the 2014 Theatre Series are Amery Regional Medical Center, Chateau St. Croix Winery & Vineyard, Edina Realty, Royal Credit Union and Thrivent Financial. Festival Theatre thanks these businesses for their support of local performing arts, along with the sponsors of our Opening Night Afterglow Parties: Bob and Jane Fedderly for “A Funny Thing” and Allen and Sarah Olson for “Almost, Maine.”
Reserve Tickets for FORUM Here!
Festival’s Fall Line-up of Music
After a full spring season of music and a busy summer of theatre, Festival Theatre’s 2014 Music Series continues with six concerts this fall. Coming in September are Billy McLaughlin, The Barley Jacks with Brian Wicklund, plus Sinatra and Company featuring Colleen Raye with music from the Rat Pack era. In October Festival welcomes The Whyte Orfield Band, and in November Alice Peacock and Lynne Rothrock both return.
Kicking off the line-up is Billy McLaughlin, taking the stage on Saturday, September 6th. McLaughlin is recognized as an innovative performer and composer who embraces the advantages of acoustic guitar amplification, unorthodox techniques and altered tunings while celebrating a gift for melody. His enormous yet fluid acoustic guitar tone has carried him around the world, to Billboard's Top-Ten Chart and most recently through a devastating medical disorder called focal dystonia. McLaughlin has accomplished what might be described as "one of the great musical-comeback stories of all time."
The Barley Jacks with fiddler master Brian Wicklund appear on Saturday, September 20th, bringing their special blend of original bluegrass, Celtic, and roots. The Barley Jacks sing original vocals and play jaw–dropping instrumentals in a spirit of excitement and fun. They are masters of the fiddle, guitar, bass and drum who meld their divergent backgrounds of blues and bluegrass, classical and Celtic, R & B and bebop to inspire each other and create something entirely new. Frontman and fiddler Brian Wicklund is joined by Joe Cruz on guitar, Kevin Rowe on bass, and Joel Arpin on percussion. Virtuosity, magic and a little danger combine to make every performance unique.
Up next is a matinee event recently added to the calendar. Colleen Raye Productions Presents: Sinatra and Company features music from the Rat Pack era, set for Friday, September 26th at
2:00 pm. Colleen Raye, Debbie O'Keefe, Tim Patrick and the Fabulous Blue Eyes Band bring a totally entertaining presentation featuring iconic music from the '50's and '60's crooners - guys and gals! Audience members will hear songs from Sinatra, Garland, Ella, Marilyn, Dino, Sammy, Dinah, Rosemary and more - all with the spontaneous feel of a Rat-Pack concert. Group rates for ten or more seats are available for this swingin’ show. Call the box office for assistance in making group reservations.
New to Festival Theatre, the Whyte Orfield Band features Sue Orfield and her band teaming up with national blues vocalist Ellen Whyte on Saturday, October 18th. Sue Orfield plays the tenor saxophone with the whimsy of Sonny Rollins, the passion of Kurt Cobain, the soul of Bill Withers, and the joy of Ella Fitzgerald. Along with a compelling mastery of her instrument, Sue brings to the stage a powerful presence and joy of all things musical. Sue has played with many musical greats over the years, including Bo Diddley, Bobby McFerrin, The Indigo Girls, Ann Wilson (Heart), Dizzy Gillespie, Ivan Neville, and Jo Dee Messina, among others.
Three time Grammy award nominee Ellen Whyte, an accomplished singer songwriter, has fronted bands continuously now for 35 years, and she has four critically acclaimed albums. She was captivated by music since she was a child growing up in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Leaving the humidity and the taffeta dresses of her accordion marching band behind, Ellen branched out to bluegrass, gospel, rock, blues and jazz. Her eclectic tastes in music include heroes such as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Joni Mitchell, and Bonnie Raitt.
On Saturday, November 1st a national performer with local roots, Alice Peacock, returns to Festival’s stage. Peacock, a recording artist with four CD's, brings to town her engaging pop/rock/country and blues sound.
Chicago singer/songwriter Alice Peacock was immersed in performing at an early age. Her grandfather Fritz Gnass was an actor in Germany, appearing in many films including Fritz Lang's “M;” her grandmother was a cabaret composer; her father acted in repertory theater in the 1960s; and her mother acted in film and television. Growing up in a big family, Peacock was exposed to diverse musical styles; she listened to one sister's '70s hard rock and another sister's country-rock, as well as her mother's Burl Ives and Johnny Cash records. While attending college at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, she joined the university jazz band and also performed with a cover band and did some jingle work. It was during this period that Alice discovered a passion for classic jazz, blues, and standards; she also found herself interested in folk and bluegrass. Her musical journey has lead through St. Croix Falls three times previously, and Festival Theatre is excited to have her return to the community this November.
Finally, Lynne Rothrock & the Mood Swingers perform on Saturday, November 8th. Lynne Rothrock is a vocalist, an entertainer and an arts educator. Whether performing in concert as a solo artist who can sing any style, or in theatre as an actor or musical director, she brings a wealth of talent, training and experience to the stage, and often shares that experience with local students in workshops. Rothrock will be leading vocal workshops for local school choirs during this visit, culminating in a chance for students to perform on stage with her during the evening concert.
Lynne’s band, The Mood Swingers, is comprised of Iowa Blues & Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Ron Dewitte, keyboardist Gerard Estella of Queens, New York, bass player Dave Ollinger of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and drummer Greg Kanz of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
With the exception of the Sinatra & Company matinee, all of the concerts begin at 7:30 pm. Many are Flex Pass eligible and tickets for all events are on sale now. Single tickets purchased in advance are either $21 or $26, depending on the show, and tickets at the door cost an additional $5 per seat. Detailed links are listed on the Upcoming Performances page, or information is available by calling the Box Office.
Festival Theatre Holds One-Act Play Readings
On Wednesday, August 13, at 7:30 P.M., St. Croix Festival Theatre will hold its third annual One-Act Play Contest. This year, four plays have been selected for reading by members of Festival Theatre’s acting company. The plays, original submissions by playwrights with origins in, or ties to, Wisconsin and Minnesota, were selected based upon originality, quality of plot and dialogue, and creativity. At the reading, first, second and third place winners will be chosen by the four member reading committee who made the original selections, with input from the audience members in attendance at the reading.
The four plays cover a broad range of subject matter. “Harvest” by Forrest Hartl is the story of a young woman, Elsa, who dreams of leaving a Wisconsin farm in the 1940s. She lives with her brother and her widowed mother who reluctantly has accepted the free labor of a German prisoner of war through a government program. Elsa meets Otto, the prisoner, and the relationship turns into a secret romance; however, once the secret is revealed, Elsa’s life changes forever.
In “The Bar at the Best Western” by Andrew Davis, David Dolle and Jennifer Mohlenhoff-Bagget, three female executives are sent to sign a talented and valuable child to a public relations contract. During the trip, they discover that the assignment has ramifications far beyond what they had expected and, in fact, requires that they change everything they had thought about their work and their world.
“St. George on the Bus” by MT Cozzola is a comedy about a mother and daughter struggling with the implications of an apparent miracle—the materialization of a not-very-good family painting on a city bus. As they come to terms with this odd event, mother and daughter reevaluate their understanding of themselves, each other, and the annoyingly inconsistent thing called “God.”
In “Candy Kisses” by Arnold Johnston and Deborah Ann Percy, cousins take refuge from the tensions of their Uncle Louie’s wake by hiding in the dead man’s basement pantry, where they air their differences over oft-married Louie’s estate and rediscover a measure of their lost girlhood affection for each other and for Louie’s treasure trove of candy.
Several of the playwrights will be in attendance at the reading and following the judging of the plays the audience will be invited to engage with the playwrights in discussing what they have experienced. Because of the adult nature of some material, it is recommended that only high school age and older audience members attend these readings. It promises to be an interesting and enlightening evening at Festival Theatre and all are invited to attend. Tickets are $10.
Hitchcock Comedy Coming Your Way
On Saturday, August 9th, Festival Theatre will open the fourth and final production of its summer rotating repertory, “The 39 Steps,” joining the hilarious musical comedy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” the serene “Almost, Maine,” and the wild Conservatory production of Aristophanes’ “Frogs.”
“The 39 Steps” is adapted by Patrick Barlow from the 1915 novel by John Buchan. The story was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935. Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have "The 39 Steps," a fast-paced whodunit, perfect for anyone who loves the magic of theatre. This highly acclaimed play, which was awarded two Tony Awards and the Drama Desk Award, is packed with nonstop laughs, on-going surprises, amazing comic expression, some good old-fashioned romance, and over 150 zany characters played by a ridiculously talented cast of four.
The play centers on Richard Hannay, a man with a boring life who is about to embark on an extraordinary adventure after meeting a woman with a thick accent who says she's a spy. After she is murdered, a mysterious organization called "The 39 Steps" is hot on the man's trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale. A riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft, "The 39 Steps," amounts to an unforgettable evening of pure pleasure!
The four-actor ensemble of familiar Festival faces, Jaclyn Johnson, Seth Kaltwasser, Andrew Bradford Benson, and Stephen Pearce, deftly meet the challenge of playing multitudes of characters in this fast-action comedy. Chicago-based actor/director Carl Lindberg returns to direct this dedicated cast. Lindberg’s past Festival Theatre credits include directing “Is He Dead” in 2010 and “Inspecting Carol” in 2011, along with performing in “A Christmas Carol” and “The Mystery of Irma Vep” those same years.
Tickets for “The 39 Steps” are $26 for adults and $13.50 for youth ages five to eighteen. This show runs in rotating rep through September 7th, and is Flex Pass eligible for those who have or purchase a 2014 Flex Pass. Reservations for this production can be made online HERE, by calling the box office at 715-483-3387, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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