A dark, farcical play opens on the main stage of Bangsberg Complex on the campus of Bemidji State University, â€œThe Butcher of Baraboo,â€ set in a small town in Wisconsin—whew, it could have been a small town in northern Minnesota. The director, Patrick Carriere who grew up in Bemidji and attended local elementary and high school before going off to college, feels that the play will have many â€œah!â€ moments that will resonate with his students and the audience. The playwright, Marisa Wegrzyn, explores a common human condition; the politeness that covers dislike and fear of conflict. Many would call that denial and others would call it passive-aggressive behavior but whatever term, the play explores how we all deal with the inability to â€œjust tell it like it is.â€ That inability to deal with the reality of a situation leads to cover-ups, secrets, rumors and the continuous drive to manipulate people and situations. The play is billed as farcical, having a keen sense of wit, but in the end it explores how we relate to the human suffering of those who do not fit into rigid societal mores.
At a recent sit down with Carriere and his associate in the theater department, Ellen Jones, both teachers were enthusiastic at the progress their students have made in the past few semesters in all aspects of production. To say they are enthusiastic is diminishing the obvious pride they have in the students involved with this production. From the hand-painted floor of the stage to simulate linoleum by Candace Billups to the innovative costume designs by Jesse Villarreal, the production crew was encouraged to explore and expand their ideas. The cast is a powerhouse of young actors well known to the Bemidji audiences. Ceara Dowell is Valerie and is(was) the wife of the butcher of Baraboo. A wife and mother who is so handy with a cleaver that she steps right into the role of town butcher. Kirsten Wade, a senior theater student, is Valerieâ€™s daughter and the townâ€™s pharmacist. Everyone knows that pharmacists hold the secrets of their clients safely tucked away! Gail, as played by Jessie Ladig, is the sister of the missing butcher and also the town sheriff. Her character is reminiscent of Barney Fife but with looks and brains. Donal is Gailâ€™s brother and aptly played by Bob Boland whose comedic characters are natural and easy to accept. Sevenly as played by Jacqueline Teegarden, is Donalâ€™s wife and the mother of their six children. Do you think that maybe Sevenly was the seventh child in her family? The action takes place in about a weekâ€™s time in the life of the family of the missing butcher in the town of Baraboo.â€ Thatâ€™s the entire cast for this fallâ€™s production; a few seasons ago we saw the â€œGlass Menagerie,â€ a four person play by Tennessee Williams at BSU. Thereâ€™ll be adult situations and language so itâ€™s probably a PG 13 for those who need to know.
Tickets are on sale now at the box office in Bangsberg Hall and the curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m., tonight, Feb. 5, with a talk back after the performance with the author Marisa Wegrzyn. There will be shows at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 6, 12 and 13 and a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Nov. 14. Tickets are customer friendly at $12 for adults, $6 for seniors and students; free for BSU students with a valid I.D.
The other events competing for an audience tonight are â€œFootloose,â€ the fall musical at Bemidji High School directed by Jeremiah Liend. Tickets can be bought at the door and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.
The 32nd Annual Remember When Dances will take music lovers and dancers back to the Big Band Era with the BSU jazz groups at Jammers Blue Note Ballroom, north of Bemidji on Bemidji Road N.E. The event will take place on two nights, Friday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m., when Steve Konecne, professor of instrumental music at BSU and almost 20 musicians will play the actual charts of the big band leaders: Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Les Brown. Of course, what big band would be complete without its vocalists? Admission for each evening is $7 for the general public, $5 for senior citizens and BSU students with a valid ID. Proceeds go to support the Joe Plumer Jazz Scholarships, tours and the purchase of new music.
Finally, on Friday night, if your taste runs to performing yourself, go to the Wild Rose Theater (501 Bemidji Ave.) and participate in the Northwoodâ€™s Folk Collective. Performer sign-up at 6 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door.
Opener Arts Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 6 at the Hungry Bear Conference Center, 2300 24th St. N. The newest art show and sale, The Opener, will showcase a diverse group of local artists: Paula Swenson â€“ Painter with cards and transfers, Cindy Burger â€“ Silver Jewelry, Ruth Anderson â€“ Quilts, Margie IraciÂ - Copper garden art, Melissa BurnessÂ - kaleidoscopeÂ photos, Carol HoyemÂ - Photo Art, Janet Holbrook â€“ stone jewelry, Nate NoltingÂ - printmaking, Carol HagstromÂ - Quilts, Nicole Foss â€“ Jewelry, Jan & Mark HurbertÂ - Stone creations, Linda Kieffer â€“ Oil Painting, Â Michelle RuportÂ - Hand dyed luciteÂ jewelry, Jane Hastig â€“ Recycled glass art, Wildflower Design Studios â€“ abstract painting, basketry and much more! There is no admission charge for this event.
Folk Singer and songwriter Charlie Maguire will perform in concert at 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 6 at the Bemidji Public Library. Maguire was a long-time regular on â€œA Prairie Home Companion and tells stories and sings songs about the heartland of America. This program is free and open to the public and is family friendly.
A regional film festival with Saarens Productions and Upstream TV will be held at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at the Wild Rose Theater, 501 Bemidji Ave. N. This will be the debut of the first annual UpStream Film Festival with an evening of short films submitted by local cinematographers and a premiere of â€œAcrimony,â€ a feature film produced by Saaren Productions. Tickets are $10 each and will be sold at the door.
Thatâ€™s all she wrote folks and I hope to meet up with many of you at all the First Friday and other events this weekend.Â Check out the on-line version of the Wednesday arts column to see venues and times of receptions. (Just click on Entertainment).