Writing from the foothills of Mt. McKinley and so far the internet access has been spotty hence the delay in updating this blog– with any luck it will be posted today. We went to see “The Last Resort” at Long Lake Theater before leaving and enjoyed it immensely—if you can get there, get there! The owner of the resort, Freda Heitz, is played by BSU theater student Nick Dahn to a fine comedic edge. I neglected to mention that it is a murder/mystery with lots of music (some fine voices like Aaron Kjenaas) who portrays a “poet” in name only, certainly not by talent. Another BSU student, Liz McGregor plays the roles of twin sisters very convincingly. BSU graduates Sara Bull, an FBI agent with thoughts of romance about her charge, and Andy Browers, a histrionic Italian mob informer round out the Bemidji contingent. The Barzinis, Dennis Skjonsby and director Juliann Kjenaas, are an anniversary couple trying to recapture the glow of earlier times. The audience enjoyed the give-and-take with the actors during the show and there was lots of talk about telling their neighbors how much fun the show was for them. We were late getting there as we left the Pioneer office later than originally planned so had to stop at the Park Rapids Golden Arches for “dinner”—don’t! There is a good steak house on the way—Y Steak House—and an Inn at the bottom of the hill from the theater—do!
During a recent interview with Zach Curtis for an upcoming feature, we talked about “21A” and his emotion connection to the piece. Curtis has known the author Kevin Kling for a long time, even before the tragic accident that left Kling with injuries to his arm. I actually wrote a nice long review of this play but it was lost along with the internet connection so will finish up with—go see it, you’ll appreciate the fine character acting of Curtis.
It’s really cold here, hear it’s really hot back home and that’s all she wrote til next time
Laughter from the first scene to the last was heard at the opening performance for â€œLend Me A Tenorâ€ last night at the PBP. Set in 1934, Cleveland, Ohio, all of the people anticipating the arrival of a famous Italian tenor to play the lead in â€œOthelloâ€ for the Cleveland Opera Company seem to be more in awe of the legend than the real man. The company manager (Ari Hoptman) has his hands full (so to speak) with a star-struck daughter Maggie, charmingly played by Katherine Tieben, and his assistant Max (Ryan Parker Knox) who himself is an aspiring opera tenor who suffers from a lack of confidence and the hypochondriac opera singer. Newcomer to the playhouse this season, Lee H. Adams holds the stage as Tito Merelli or Il Stupendo, an Italian tenor whose artistic personality controls the action on stage and off. Adams has a physical presence that belies the emotionally fragile personality of the character. The verbal dueling between Merelli and his wife Maria as portrayed by Karen Wiese-Thompson is a perfect caricature of the fiery South European persona or in other words, a perfect imitation of my cousin Anthony and his wife Ginny back east. The bellhop (Matt Goinz) is also an aspiring tenor who tries every way possible to insert himself into the presence of the great and famous Il Stupendo. And the soprano (Sigrid Sutter) who will sing with Merelli in the performance only wants this experience to be her chance at the Metropolitan Opera, by vocal or vamp ability. Rounding out this cast of perfectly matched actors is Leslie Ball as Julia, the obsequious chair of the opera society.
In short, there are so many surprises on stage that the audience is held captive by the action and nuanced script. Zach Curtis has done a masterful job directing this play as Ken Ludwigâ€™s devotion to pratfalls, shtick and frantic staging requires experience. One could only hope that Curtis would have the chance to stage Ludwigâ€™s â€œCrazy for Youâ€ sometime in the future here at the playhouse. You know the show is a success when the audience leaves still laughing from the action stage. Get there, itâ€™s wonderful, itâ€™s some of the best theater one will see on stage this season and tickets will be scarce once the word gets out!
Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday July 6-16 and a 2 p.m. matinee this Sunday (July 10) with a $15 ticket price. Tickets for the evening performances are $22 for adults, $15 for students and $20 for groups of 10 or more. Call box office at 751-7270 for tickets or on-line at paulbunyanplayhouse.com. This production is underwritten by Arrow Printing, Ken K Thompson Jewelry and Forestedge Winery. â€œThis activity is funded in whole or in part by a Region 2 Arts Council grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund passed by Minnesota voters on Nov. 4, 2008.