Veterans from three generations retire flag at St. Croix Festival Theatre
St. Croix Festival Theatre board members First Lt. Melanie Nelson and WWII Navy Veteran Albert Scheideler welcomed American Legion Post #143, St. Croix Falls, to the theatre’s front courtyard to perform an official flag retiring ceremony at the historic Civic Auditorium just before the community’s Music on the Overlook concert on Friday, August 15, 2014.
Community members took time to honor the service of Scheideler, who was an Aviation Electronic Technician’s Mat assigned to Combat Air Service units, and served between 1945-46.
“Our American flag was aging, and just as important to me as putting up a new one, was honoring our flag that had served its time,” said Festival Theatre’s General Manager Pam Fuchs. “I’m glad we could honor our board member Albert, who served in WWII, in the process.”
Festival Theatre Board member Don Anderson, who was in the audience, also served in the Army during Vietnam.
Members of the color guard included former past post commanders; Roger Northquest (Army 1969-72), Wayne Hancock (Navy 1966-69), Roland Mortenson (Army 1968-69), Bill Lindahl (Army 1953-55) and Ron Northquest (Army 1972-1974).
Festival Theatre is located in the historic Civic Auditorium in downtown St. Croix Falls, at 210 North Washington Street. Festival Theatre is a non-profit, professional theatre company, now in its 25th season of producing live theatre in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.
“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 email@example.com.
Festival’s Summer Repertory in Full Swing
Three out of four summer productions are now open and rotating on Festival Theatre’s schedule. “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” has just TWO performances left: July 26th and August 16th. “Almost, Maine” can be seen through August 17th, and the Conservatory production of Aristophanes’ “Frogs” will run through July 31st.
The raucous musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum has one goal, to make audiences laugh. Utilizing classic ideas from burlesque entertainment, this play tips its hat to lots of adult humor, while still keeping things innocent and appropriate for most ages. A favorite since its Broadway debut in 1962, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” won several Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Musical. Festival’s production, with a powerful cast of talented singers, has been delighting audiences since opening June 19th. Time is running out with only two shows remaining, this Saturday, July 26th, and Saturday, August 16th.
Almost, Maine, which opened in early July, is a story of a different style. Often humorous, often tender, this show consists of several short scenes, all set in the same small town in rural Maine. All taking place over the course of one night, we see different characters grappling with human experiences, all on the theme of love. Some are falling into love, some falling out of it. Some are ending a relationship; others don't even realize they are beginning one. This play is a romantic comedy with a slightly surrealist approach allowing the figurative to become tangible. “Almost, Maine” is staged in the Elbow Room, the street-level performance space, which creates an intimate atmosphere and features limited seating. Shows have been selling out and early reservations are recommended for this memorable play about the rise and fall of our hearts, and the human stories that are created from sharing love.
Opening last weekend on the main stage was Aristophanes’ Frogs, the fourth annual Festival Theatre Conservatory for Young Performers (FTCYP) production. Featuring a cast of five youth actors and five adult professionals, "Frogs" is an ancient but hilarious play. It centers on the Greek god Dionysus as he journeys to the underworld to bring back to the land of the living the best playwright, Euripides, who has recently died. Along the way he encounters many obstacles and humorous characters as he battles his own fear, vanity, self-importance, and a few outside intrusions. Although the play is centuries old, the humor and the values that it reflects are timeless. From slapstick style humor to thoughtful examination of what makes good art, this play is perfect for audiences of all ages. With the goal of introducing young audiences to classical work and cast members to different theatre techniques, this Conservatory production delights, entertains, and surprises its audience. Festival would like to thank Chuck and Sherry Pearce for sponsoring the opening night Afterglow party last weekend.
Coming up, the final repertory selection of the summer is the mysterious playground of a show, The 39 Steps, opening August 9th. Four actors take on a hundred roles in this face-paced mystery comedy. An adaptation of the 1935 Hitchcock film, this spy thriller is taken apart and put back together in the almost Monty Python-like style. One actor will play the lonely Richard Hannay, one actor will play the beautiful and mysterious women he encounters, and the other two actors will play everyone else in the show. A whirlwind of dramatic action, "The 39 Steps" moves from a dusty apartment to train stations to high-brow parties to police stations and back again in seamless transition. Come and see how the mystery unfolds, but come ready to have a blast, because theatre artists having this much fun is simply bound to be contagious!
Great music, much laughter, bawdy comedy and sweet, tender moments are on stage now. See the Calendar for dates and times, and like us on Facebook to be among the first to see discount offers!
Reserve Tickets Here!
Contact the box office with any questions. The box office is open Tues - Fri 10 AM - 4:30 PM and one hour before every show. Festival Theatre is located at 210 North Washington Street in downtown St. Croix Falls, inside the historic Civic Auditorium.
Festival Theatre Opens “The Frogs”
Festival Theatre will open its Conservatory production of “The Frogs” this Saturday, July 19th at 7:30 pm. An Afterglow gathering will follow for the cast and opening night attendees, sponsored by Chuck and Sherry Pearce from North Branch, MN. The show will run in rotating repertory through July 31st.
Aristophanes’ comedy classic, “The Frogs,” directed by Stephen Pearce, features five young actors in the cast, along with five adult members of the professional artistic company. The youth are Christopher Lewis of Grantsburg, Ella Middleton of Dresser, Erin Myhran of Shafer, plus Abigayle Paulson and Claire Scharfenberg of St. Croix Falls. The adult guest artists are Isaac Bont, Deanna Davis, Gregory Hilleren, Kayla Klammer, and Jerry Kurek.
With an emphasis on teaching theatre arts, the Festival Theatre Conservatory for Young Performers (FTCYP) is now in its fourth year, engaging older youth actors in a professional process. When asked what they are learning in the rehearsal process, the youth had some definite answers. Erin Myhran responded, “I’m learning about a lot of things included in theatre, such as diction, character development, and neutral mask work.” Techniques mentioned by the others were breath control, energy sharing, improv and devised theatre.
When asked what they enjoy most about their roles in “The Frogs,” answers were quick and sure: “I enjoy how much freedom I have in choosing the personalities of my characters.” (Christopher). “The physical aspects of the chorus and the script.” (Ella). “How my personality changes and how all of the actors support it…” (Abigayle). “I enjoy getting to know everyone in this awesome cast, and working on this production with them.” (Claire).
Tickets are $13.50 adults and $8.50 for youth ages three to eighteen. Patrons have seven opportunities to see “The Frogs,” in rep with Festival’s first two summer productions, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “Almost, Maine.” Make your reservations HERE.
Conservatory Production in Rehearsal at Festival Theatre
The Festival Theatre Conservatory for Young Performers (FTCYP) cast is currently in rehearsal with members of the 2014 summer company in “The Frogs,” set to run in rotating repertory from July 19th - 31st.
Now in its fourth year, the FTCYP has established itself as an invaluable experience for middle and high school age actors who are ready to take the next step, with an in-depth four-week rehearsal process. This summer, the conservatory will culminate in a production of Aristophanes’ comedy classic, “The Frogs,” directed by Festival Theatre veteran actor, director and designer Stephen Pearce. The five area youth in the cast are Christopher Lewis of Grantsburg, Ella Middleton of Dresser, Erin Myhran of Shafer, plus Abigayle Paulson and Claire Scharfenberg of St. Croix Falls.
Set in 405 BCE, the plot of “The Frogs” follows Dionysus, the god of wine and theater, as he tries to recreate Hercules' journey to the underworld. Of course, Dionysus is no Hercules, and the monsters and madmen that he meets on the journey prove more of a challenge than the grape-draped god expected. The traditional Greek chorus sometimes comments on the stupid behavior of the main characters and sometimes eggs them on to be even more outrageous.
“The Frogs is a wild comedy,” says Pearce. “The style of the production mixes the physical buffoonery of European-style clowning with the imaginative staging of story theater. Actors become donkeys and monsters and rowboats and a lake-full of frogs right before your eyes.”
Tickets are $13.50 adults and $8.50 for youth ages three to eighteen. Patrons have seven opportunities to see “The Frogs,” in rep with Festival’s first two summer productions, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “Almost, Maine.”
Along with the FTCYP, Festival Theatre’s Arts Education programming also includes Creativity Camp, a day camp for ages five through twelve. Four weeks of camp are on the calendar this summer, located in St. Croix Falls, Clear Lake and Luck, Wisconsin. More information can be found HERE or by calling the box office.
Reservations are highly recommended for all events, and can be made HERE, or by calling the box office at 715-483-3387. Festival Theatre is located in downtown St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin at 210 North Washington Street, inside the historic Civic Auditorium.
This Saturday, July 5th, Festival Theatre will open the critically acclaimed romantic comedy “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani. Written in 2002, this show is surprising, whimsical and sweet, perfect for a date night or an uplifting evening with friends. An Afterglow gathering will follow for opening night attendees, sponsored by board member Allen Olson and his wife Sarah.
“Almost, Maine” opened Off Broadway in the winter of 2005/2006 at the Daryl Roth Theatre in New York. Since then, media outlets have offered much praise, saying: “A fresh, off-beat comedy. ‘Almost, Maine’ scores with ironic poignancy. [The play] has an ‘Our Town’ sensibility... seasoned by situations and dialogue more reminiscent of Cicely, Alaska (‘Northern Exposure’) than of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire,” from The Syracuse Post-Standard. Also, “Comedic and touching. Love’s successes, failures, and tentative first steps unfurl delightfully in ‘Almost, Maine’,” said the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
Now one of the most frequently produced shows of the past decade, “Almost, Maine” transports the audience to the fictional town of Almost. One cold, clear Friday night in the middle of winter, while the northern lights hover in the sky above, Almost’s residents find themselves falling in and out of love in the strangest ways. Knees are bruised. Hearts are broken. Love is lost, found, and confounded. And life for the people of Almost, Maine will never be the same. It’s love. But not quite.
TucsonStage.com declared the show, “Wistful, amusing, warm, sweet-natured and sometimes melancholy. It is impossible not to be charmed by ‘Almost, Maine’.”
The cast of Festival Theatre’s production features guest artists Kathryn Cesarz, Steven Czajkowski, Millicent Marter, and Paul Steffens, portraying a variety of citizens of and visitors to Almost, Maine in a collection of intertwining vignettes.
Festival is utilizing a talented and proven production crew for this show with Seth Kaltwasser, Director and Sound Design; Jaclyn June Johnson, Scenic Design; Laura Seed, Properties Design; Andrew Benson, Costume Design; Stephen Pearce, Lighting Design; Fizz Kizer and Bill Hallanger, Set Construction; and Miles Ruona, Peter Weber and Barbie Luepke, Stage Management.
Tickets for “Almost, Maine” are $26 for adults and $13.50 for youth ages five to eighteen. Opening night audience members are invited to stay afterward for the Afterglow party. This show runs in rotating rep through August 17th, and is Flex Pass eligible for those who have or purchase a 2014 Flex Pass. Reservations for this show can be made online HERE, by calling the box office at 715-483-3387, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Up: Contemporary Drama in “Almost, Maine”
On Saturday, July 5th, Festival Theatre will open the second production of its summer rotating repertory, joining the celebrated musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Currently in rehearsal, Almost, Maine by John Cariani will be staged in the Elbow Room, perfect for more intimate stories and smaller casts.
“I’m excited to be staging this play in Festival’s Elbow Room, our smaller, ground-level performance space,” says director Seth Kaltwasser. “Over the past few years, Festival has made significant progress in turning that space into a wonderful alternative performance venue and I think a play like Almost, Maine makes great use of the Elbow Room’s unique qualities. Because it’s a more intimate space, actors are allowed to play subtler, softer moments – creating an exciting experience for both actors and audience.”
A four-actor ensemble (featuring Kathryn Cesarz, Steven Czajkowski, Millicent Marter, and Paul Steffens) brings to life all citizens of and visitors to the fictional town of Almost, Maine. The series of vignettes take place one cold, clear, winter night as love is lost, found, and confounded for the people of Almost. Selected for inclusion in Smith and Kraus’ New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2006, the show has garnered much praise. “Wistful. Sweet, funny, and frequently touching... A gentle, satisfying evening,” states Examiner.com (Connecticut). “’Almost, Maine’ is now the ‘Our Town’ of the 21st century,” from The Troy (NY) Record.
Kaltwasser adds, “Our acting ensemble is hard at work rehearsing these scenes, and they are proving well-suited to the task of playing the hilarious comical moments, as well as the tender, quieter beats. I’m excited to share their work with an audience. There’s never been a better time to visit ‘Almost, Maine’.”
Tickets for Almost, Maine are $26 for adults and $13.50 for youth ages five to eighteen. This show runs in rotating rep through August 17th, and is Flex Pass eligible for those who have or purchase a 2014 Flex Pass. Reservations for this and other summer productions, including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and the Youth Conservatory production of The Frogs, opening later in July, can be made online here, by calling the box office at 715-483-3387, or emailing email@example.com.
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