“Crazy ‘Bout Ya,” Baby” is all I can say about “Forever Plaid” which opens at the playhouse this week. The Roxana Saberi book discussion and Mary the Kayak Lady at the Bemidji Public Library start tomorrow. Some very special congratulations.

We spent a hilarious 90 minutes this afternoon (Sunday June 5) watching a rehearsal of the upcoming season opener at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, “Forever Plaid.” The original musical was written and directed by Stuart Ross and opened off-Broadway in 1990. In the intervening years, “Plaid” has become one of the most requested musicals by audiences across the country.

The show is a time warp travel back to the 50’s and 60’s with impersonations of the days of close harmony: young men dressed in matching tux and performing simple choreographed “moves” and the country’s fixation with the 8 p.m., Sunday night Ed Sullivan show. It was fun then and even more fun today for the over 50’s crowd, which is not to say that the under 50’s wouldn’t enjoy this romp. As the young singers (Ryan Parker Knox, Matthew Goinz, Joshua Hinck and Daniel Lundin) explain, after high school they went to the “Osterizer School of Harmonic Theory: blend, puree, mix and chop to fulfill their dream of becoming one of the groups who made it big in the 50’s and 60’s—The Four Aces, The Crew Cuts, The Lettermen. Unfortunately, that was not to be because their convertible was hit broadside by a bus load of Catholic school girls on their way to a performance of the Ed Sullivan Show. The “Plaids” are allowed to come back to earth for one last concert, the concert of their dreams and hopes.

Musical Director, Matthew Goinz proved his professionalism by researching the songs made famous by the groups.  He was able to bring that knowledge to this talented group of young actors who made their hard work look easy and natural on stage. Director Zach Curtis does give the group a bit of a fun leeway in interpreting the “moves” designed by choreographer Jessie Ladig. Abe Hunter is the accompanist—well, what can be said about Abe that hasn’t already been said? Don’t be left out, get your tickets early! Finally, congratulations Goinz, Ladig and Hunter who demonstrate, once again, what a treasure the performing arts coming out of BSU is to the Bemidji community; you as well Katie Tieben, Company Manager. To access the Paul Bunyan Playhouse website, click here.

“Between Two Worlds: my life and captivity in Iran” by Roxana Saberi will be the focus of the book discussion tomorrow, Monday June 6 at noon and Thursday, June 9 at 7 p.m. at the Bemidji Public Library. Ms. Saberi will be the keynote speaker for this year’s Bemidji Library Book Festival on Friday, June 17. Free tickets to the talk can be had at the library and Headwaters School of Music and the Arts.

Another free talk at the library will be by Mary Shideler, the Kayak Lady at 12 noon, Tuesday, June 7. Shideler kayaked the 1007 lakes in Itasca County over 15 years and has chronicled her adventures in her book, “Mary the Kayak Lady: One Woman, One Kayak, 1007 Lakes.” The book is a collection of short stories and photos; Shideler has published her essays and photos in “Minnesota Monthly,” “Lake Country Journal Magazine” and “The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer.” If you can’t make it at noon on Tuesday, she will also speak at 6:30 p.m. at the Blackduck Public Library.

Yesterday and Friday night, the crowds at the Lake Bemidji Opera Gala were treated to a variety of arias and “A Mostly Gilbert and Sullivan Tribute!” with some familiar singers and new faces on the scene. Once again, professors, present and former music students from BSU made their mark. Danielle Stadick arrived from her teaching position in Houston to sing at the gala and Sara Wabrowetz confided that she will be pursuing a graduate degree in musical performance in Duluth. Matt Goinz will leave in August to pursue a graduate degree in choral directing. It was a grand night for singing and a prelude to the LOON Opera Company production of “The Marriage of Figaro” by W. A. Mozart July 29 and 30 in Thompson Recital Hall.


Congratulations to Alice Blessing and Beverly Everett who were awarded the Region 2 Arts Council/McKnight Career Development Fellowships this spring. The 18-month fellowship provides the opportunity for career development experiences that will add depth and advancement to their artistic career.

Alice will pursue her interest in writing children’s books by attending the Picture Book Illustration Workshop at the Maine College of Art and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in New York.

Beverly, music director of the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, will learn new gestural techniques, deepen her understanding of score analysis and interpretation and gain new ideas for community outreach and programming with mentor JoAnn Fallettea, music director for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

Congratulations the winners of a highly competitive grant round held at R2AC in the spring.

More to come on “Arsenic and Old Lace” which also opens this week at Long Lake Theater. Click here to access their home page.