Plaza Suite for Theater, Old Salem Hall Craft Sale, thanks to Saaren’s Productions and Previews of some upcoming events

The next few weeks will prove to be very busy for local performing groups as they all help usher in the coming holiday season. Tonight’s opening of “Plaza Suite” by Neil Simon at the historic Chief Theater is the last offering of non-holiday productions. It is interesting to me (and Ernie) to see what mid-westerners perceive as New Yorker’s quirks and “over the top” behavior and dress! As many people here know, we are transplants from NYC and call Bemidji our home; having just passed our 10th anniversary of moving to this fair city. This comedy which pokes fun at New Yorkers involved in everyday situations, not so unlike those in any part of the country, gives the actors a chance to use their finest regional accents and perceptions of east coast living. The play is fun with lots of Simon’s dry humor cast about willy-nilly, daring the audience the “get the catch line.” As one of the directors, Vicki Stenerson said, “It’s not hit you in the face humor (like “three men walk into a bar…) but sly humor like she says, “I enjoy a very good reputation” and he says, “I’m glad you enjoy it.” This could also be an Ole and Lena joke. The show opens tonight at 7:30 p.m., with shows at the same time on Friday and Saturday nights. The matinee will be at 2 p.m., on Sunday, Nov.21. Tickets are consumer friendly: $12 for adults and $6 for students. Perhaps the show would have a PG rating for some adult situations but there is nothing “out there” per se and the final act is slapstick funny. Mark Fulton (BSU Biology Professor) gives his all as the harried father of a reluctant bride.

Cheryl Winnett has used her fertile imagination to craft and execute Plaza Sweets for intermission—these alone are worth the price of admission! A sample of her work can be seen now in the display window of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse—the wedding cake from Bemidji Community Theater’s production of “Cinderella.” Dwayne Johnson’s set construction gives the illusion of a fancy hotel suite complemented by the loan of furniture from Dave Walter’s Homes here in Bemidji. The set does not look thrown together; pieces gathered from dark corners of storage places. The three rooms constructed by Dwayne Johnson and decorated by Mary Knox Johnson are the kind of set one expects from a BCT production—thoroughly researched, skillfully constructed and well appointed. For those who have never noticed, the Johnson team always leaves the carved figures of the Indian Chief on stage left and right in full view of the audience. Perhaps it is done as a tribute to or maybe as thanks to our Native American neighbors.

Don’t forget to stop by the 6th Annual Craft Sale in the old Salem Hall in Turtle River tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 20 for some high craft work in fine jewelry, silk garments, hand knit mittens and furniture to name just a few of the exhibitors. Make sure to get there for lunch or refreshments. The sale will be on from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and admission is free. Old Salem Hall is north of Bemidji to 71 Bar in Turtle River—follow the signs to the hall.

Thanks to Saaren’s Productions for a chance to see local actors and the debut of a play, “Avenues of Attack” by local author Nick Johnson skillfully played by Kathryn Lavelle and Andor Loftus. I wouldn’t want to be accused of being partial but it seemed that the audience really got into the last piece; “Rainbow Sprinkles” directed by Steve Saari.  The play between the clown (Ernie Rall) and the political correct mother (Linda Wagner) gathered the most laughs for its slapstick, and the realistic costume and make-up by Saari. The first piece was a poignant portrayal of a young couple by Emily Claypool and John Peterson, “Where Have All the Lighting Bugs Gone?”  Both actors brought forth memories of childish games and wonderings of the teen years that caused the audience to realize how fond they had become of the two young people on the cusp of adulthood. Congratulations Steve and DeeJay for bringing another memorable theatrical offering to Bemidji.

Just in case you haven’t heard yet, Elmo, Super Grover and Friends are coming to the BREC in December, just in time for a nice family holiday show. Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster 800-745-3000 or on-line at

There will be many other holiday offerings this season including the 2010 Bemidji Chorale Christmas Concert with three youngsters (Halle Fodness, Lauryn and Vanessa Petrich) as soloists in “Away in a Manger” arranged by Iseler.  Mallory Pynn will play the violin in the premiere of a new holiday piece by Paul Brandvik. There will be an upcoming preview piece about the concert.  That same weekend, BCT and KG Productions are bringing “A Christmas Carol…Gasman’s remembrances” to the historical Chief Theater. Both will begin on the first weekend in December and more information to follow. Tickets are on sale now for the 42nd Annual Madrigal Dinner at BSU.

Of course, last but not least, tonight is the concert of Trombones of Bemidji at Thompson Recital Hall. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

That’s all she wrote, folks til next time!