Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Artful acting: MSUM Straw Hat’s 54th season

by Brittney Goodman | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Theatre | March 1st, 2017

The Straw Hat Players at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) are preparing for their 54th season of bringing summer theatre to our area. Craig Ellingson, Director of Theatre Arts and Dance at MSUM, gave some details about the upcoming season. Ellingson is in his 19th year at MSUM.

The offerings for the 54th season are “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits” beginning May 30; “Church Basement Ladies: A Second Helping,” June 6; Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” June 13; and closing out with the musical “Hello Dolly” starting June 20. All productions will be on MSUM’s campus in either the Gaede Stage or the Hansen Theatre. Please check the MSUM Box Office website for specific shows and tickets.

High Plains Reader: What led you to select these four plays?

Craig Ellingson: We always take into account two things. First, we consider our audience - our seasoned patrons who come back every year, as well as our desire to engage new people. It is a fine balancing act. We need to cultivate what we already have, but we need to seed it for the future.

Second, we also need to take a look at what our perceived company members can handle. Our players are primarily MSUM students, alums, and we do have some outside people. We consider what will benefit our emerging artists during the six weeks they have with us, as well as what we will give the audience for the four weeks they have with us.

HPR: Let’s go play by play. First, talk about “Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits.”

CE: This is a hilarious, raucous look at the world of theatre – particularly musical theatre. It is totally Saturday Night Live meets musical theatre. They are making fun of all of the greatest hits on Broadway – it is a roast of musical theatre. If you’re not familiar with musical theatre, you will still enjoy it and laugh, but if you are familiar with the big musical theatre productions, you will have even more fun. Carol Channing, Mandy Patinkin, and many others are hilariously roasted. All the big productions are targeted. This is also a fun way for our student actors to be to be exposed to a wide range of musical theatre and styles.

HPR: And now for the second installment of “Church Basement Ladies 2.” It’s even called “A Second Helping.”

CE: This is a continuation of these lovely three matriarchs we met in the first installment -- who rule the basement and kitchen. This one also includes a younger woman in the mix. This fun play is very much about their relationships. It takes place between 1969 and the early 70s, which was a time of great change.

What does change mean? From our contemporary lenses, looking back, the things we thought were really important then are really different now. The audience gets to see the historical perspective. This play is totally seen through the eyes of these strong women characters. Yes, there is a lot of kibitzing. They even make fun of the Vikings team, who were in the Superbowl! It was written and conceived in the Twin Cities and Bemidji area – and this makes it a homespun comedy. The first version of “Church Basement Ladies” sold out the theatre last time, so we are moving it to Hansen, the larger theatre.

HPR: And now for one of my favorites, Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.”

CE: Every once in a while, we try to do something more serious. This is just a chestnut of a play. If you are not familiar with it, you should be. It’s one of the great American plays. It is about the yearning to be what you need to be versus what you are called to be. It is about how, in life, we often sacrifice what we want in order to make others happy.

And, well, it’s Tennessee Williams. And it is poignant with the depth of the relationships and also the unseen character of the father who is still overseeing everything. It is about family dynamics. Everyone can relate to this story. I think it is going to be beautifully designed. It’s a lovely play to see during the summer. Since I’ve been here we have not done this play. I’m excited to bring it to our audience.

HPR: And to close out the season, a big musical, “Hello Dolly.”

CE: “Hello Dolly” is a standard American classic. It is a show that allows for ample acting, singing and dancing, which you really want in a great musical. There is also going to be a Broadway revival coming up starring Bette Midler, so this musical is getting renewed attention. There are great tunes in it: “Put on your Sunday Clothes,” “Hello Dolly,” and “It Only Takes a Month.” And there are definitely some really memorable characters. It’s one of those iconic roles – Dolly Levi, who was, of course, made famous again and again by the fabulous Carol Channing.

HPR: Anything else you want to say about Straw Hat?

CE: One of the things that I love about Straw Hat is that we are able to provide our student actors a professional experience that is safe for them. I don’t believe there are very many other academic programs that give professional exposure – the Straw Hat students get paid and they put theory into practice. Your work with the students is visible to everybody. But that’s part of the world of theatre. Students are able to just focus on their craft for six weeks – to be pushed and challenged to grow as artists. Being able to put on a show in two and a half weeks is good practice for professional acting. Summer stock is about craft. However, it is always our goal to create art. Good craft allows for art. We always strive for the art.

Hansen Theatre and the Gaede Stage are located in the Roland Dille Center for the Arts on the MSUM campus. You go through the main entrance to campus at 11th Street and 7th Avenue South. The Roland Dille Center is the second building on the right. All shows start at 7:30pm. Signed performances for the hearing impaired are Thursdays for all four shows.

Season tickets are available for the entire Straw Hat season at a discount.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

Straw Hat’s 54th Season

MSUM, Moorhead

Box Office 218-477-2272; mnstate.edu/tickets

Recently in:

OXBOW N.D. – Marcus Larson stops along freshly tarred Trent Jones Drive, careful not to spill his coffee swishing in a ceramic mug. He’s aware his 1991 Chevy pickup doesn’t belong amongst the neighborhood’s Porsches and…

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC) has been dedicated to the preservation of the history of Clay County. Since their mission is “To collect, preserve, interpret, and share the history and culture of Clay…

Thursday, December 21, 6-9pmSanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave NGet in the Christmas spirit singing your favorite Christmas songs with friends and family. Music provided by the Good Shepherd band (Lutheran Church of the Good…

According to a New York Times article titled: “Tinder, the Fast-Growing Dating App, Taps an Age-Old Truth,” close to 50 million people use Tinder. On average they spend 90 minutes a day assessing their matches. Men are three…

What the hell is happening to this country?For a long time the United States has been considered to be the richest and most powerful country in the world. Our president has been the leader of the free world for decades because of…

cjlarson75@gmail.comNewly remodeled since July of this year, the Spirits Lounge inside the Holiday Inn in Fargo takes the lounge concept to a level of comfort that isn’t often seen in town.On one side of the room, underneath two…

On the Corner of University and Northern Pacific sits a building that has just been revitalized. Once a horse barn, this large picturesque structure now houses Wild Terra Cider and Brewing. When the new owners Breezee and Ethan…

“The DIY scene welcomed me in at the age of 15 and I never left. The DIY scene has allowed me to travel to 49 of the 50 US states. I have made friends all over this country that I will have for the rest of my life. People…

On her biggest canvas to date, filmmaker Dee Rees paints a vivid picture of two American families in “Mudbound,” a deeply satisfying drama based on Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel.Adapting the screenplay with collaborator Virgil…

hanhe@mnstate.eduThere are a variety of types of events and groups in our communities that encourage and support women. Robin Swanson, organizer of Her Story, wanted to create another special event for herself and other women. “I…

Theater B is now opening its second show of the season with a play entitled "I Will Not Go Gently" by Jennifer Childs. "This clever one-woman show plays with our sense of nostalgia and shines a light on our quest for self…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Believe it or not, “The Holidays” are upon us. If you’ve been to Target lately, and I know you have, you may have noticed that the Christmahanakwanzika stuff is already up (if you’re unsure of that term, Google it).In fact,…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Tony Gehrigtonygehrig@gmail.com I do not blame any company for seeking incentives. Rather, I blame the government for giving them away. Incentives represent an unfair and unsustainable tax system that affects real people.Some…