Press Room

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SHOW REVIEWS

REVIEW: Decadence has its day at Cabaret

  • Berlin. The early 1930s. Adolf Hitler’s vision of making the Fatherland great again is gaining traction. But at the Kit Kat Klub, they come to hear the music play and blithely ignore the coming storm. Cabaret remains one of the most depressing musicals ever staged. The production directed by Robert Lee that opened Thursday night (August 3) at the Underground can make you feel guilty for applauding the musical numbers while the lives of the characters are destroyed.

REVIEW: Cheers and tears await in Billy Elliot

  • Billy Elliot: The Musical will make you cheer, cry — and do both more than once. The heart and soul of this endearing Playhouse production directed by Kelly Grussendorf is Tanner Hagen in the title role. On opening night, the 12-year-old simply blew the audience away with his dancing and delivered on the singing, as well.

REVIEW: Kids can become a backyard superhero with latest Imaginarium offering at the Underground

  • What super power would you pick if you were going to be a superhero? That is just one question young and old alike will be asking themselves while watching Imaginarium: Superheroes! The final Theatre for Young Audiences production of the season opened Saturday afternoon (July 8) at the Underground.

REVIEW: What She Said offers diverse women’s voices

  • Selected from over 200 submissions, the seven one-act plays that comprise the first annual What She Said festival at the Underground offer stories that are — in order — cute, touching, intense, insane, unbelievably absurd, the opposite of boring, and an absolute comic gem.

REVIEW: Time Stands Still tackles the limitations of time to heal wounds

  • In Time Stands Still, the timely drama that opened Thursday at the Playhouse, photojournalist Sarah Goodwin (Cheryl Skafte) and writer James Dodd (John Pokrzywinski) have come home after Sarah is severely injured by a car bomb in Iraq Dealing with a near-death experience requires physical and psychological rehabilitation, but Sarah bears the burden of extra baggage because James feels immense guilt over having already gone home before she was injured.

REVIEW: The wit’s the thing in The Importance of Being Earnest

  • For years I’ve wanted somebody to put on Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. With the production that opens May 18 at the Underground, we finally get to see the wittiest play in the English language in Duluth. John Worthing (Jason Scorich) has come to town to propose to Gwendolen Fairfax (Louisa Scorich), cousin of his best friend, Algernon Moncrieff (Mike Pederson). Worthing leads a double life, as the steadfast Jack caring for his young ward, Cecily Cardew (Kitara Peterson) in the country — but as his wastrel younger brother “Ernest” when in the city.

REVIEW: Adults might laugh more than kids at The Stinky Cheese Man

  • The Theatre for Young Audiences’ production of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, which opened Saturday afternoon at the Underground, does indeed take familiar fairy tales and turn them into fairly stupid tales. The result is actually a children’s show where the adults will probably end up laughing more than the kiddies.

REVIEW: La Cage will win your heart

  • Musicals are often about falling in love but rarely about being in love. La Cage aux Folles,  which opens April 20 at the Playhouse, is about the latter. There is something wonderful about seeing two people so deeply in love, and even with all the hysterical drag queens running around on stage, ultimately La Cage aux Folles is all about heart.

REVIEW: Clown Bar is giggles and groans galore

  • For the next two weekends, the Underground has been transformed into an actual Clown Bar, which makes perfect sense since the clown noir comedy Clown Bar opened there Thursday night (March 30). Patrons can purchase “insult beers” from the caustic bartender, Shotgun McGhee (Nathan Payne), and assorted drinks that you can apparently order “extra funny,” delivered by Petunia (Cheryl Skafte), a tart-tongued, bubble-blowing waitress.

REVIEW: A ruddy good time to be had at Ruddigore

  • Ruddigore combines that witch’s curse with a triple-reverse love triangle, with an abbreviated half-twist, that helps put the comic in comic operetta. Director Jeffrey Madison forgoes the overture, moving the explanation of the witches’ curse up to be the show’s prologue. This allows Christa Schulz’s Dame Hannah to delightfully go all expository all over the place.

REVIEW: Classic comedy charmingly captures a simpler time

  • Tolstoy once wrote: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” However, he never said anything about what crazy families are like, an omission that playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart explore in the charming You Can’t Take It With You, which opened Thursday (February 9, 2017) night at the Duluth Playhouse. Today these characters are quirky but quaint, and their eccentric behavior is more endearing than embarrassing, at least until you get all of them in one room at the same time. Above all, they are just so kindhearted, which may well be what dates the play more than anything else.

REVIEW: American Idiot punk rocks the alien nation

  • When Green Day played “American Idiot” at the MTV Europe Music Awards last November, Billie Joe Armstrong changed the last line of the opening verse to “subliminal mind-Trump America.” If you get the point of that change and endorse the sentiment, then you are going to love the stage musical version of “American Idiot” that opened Thursday night at the Underground. If you are insulted by that line, then you should probably avoid this punk rock diatribe.

REVIEW: There’s a lot to dig-diggitydig about Fantastic Mr. Fox!

  • The play adapted from Roald Dahl’s book was on the Playhouse stage, but it was also underground because when you looked straight up from your seat all you could see was brown butcher paper. That is because we were in the burrow where this family of foxes lives, which meant wide-eyed kids were walking into about the biggest set design the Playhouse can possibly pull off.

REVIEW: Joseph delivers promised bold new vision

  • This dream will do. As advertised, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, directed and choreographed by Michael Matthew Ferrell, is far and away the most original vision of a musical to grace the Duluth Playhouse stage in the 10 years I have been paid to pontificate on local theatrical productions.

REVIEW: There’s much to ‘Hyde’ in the Underground

  • In the tarot of horror literature laid out by Stephen King, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson represents the hidden beast within, whose totemic form is the werewolf. But the intriguing drama directed by Jonathan Manchester that opened Thursday night [November 10] at the Underground tells the old tale anew by revealing that the beast within is legion.

REVIEW: Playhouse cast milks big laughs from farce

  • The Duluth Playhouse once again opened its new season with a farce on Thursday night, Ray Cooney’s It Runs in the Family. Throughout the evening, director Robert Lee’s cast demonstrated an amazing ability to milk bigger laughs than what was warranted on the printed page. Really big laughs.

 

THE PLAYHOUSE IN THE NEWS (PRINT)

Cabaret – Life is Beautiful (8-3-2017)

  • 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Cabaret’s original U.S. tour run, and even after all that time the musical manages to deliver a timely message.  We watch as characters struggle to deal with the impending Nazi dictatorship.  They are unsure of what paths to take with friends, what will be safe in their own home, or if there even is a problem to worry about.  In a way, this sets a tone mirrored in our own cities now.

Duluth actor Tanner Hagen has the singing, dancing and acting chops to carry Playhouse’s Billy Elliot (7-13-2017)

  • Here’s the thing with casting Billy Elliot: It lives and dies by its lead — a preteen boy who can dance, act, sing and carry an otherwise adult production. So when the Duluth Playhouse selected the musical for this season, the community theater’s keepers knew they would have to conduct at least a regional search for the right actor for the title role.

When play is work and work is play (4-14-2017)

  • This March the Duluth Playhouse Children’s Theater ran Disney’s The Lion King Jr! The 16 performances sold out before the show even opened. “That may have to do more with the reputation of The Lion King,” humbly admitted Kate Horvath, the play’s director, “than the fact that we are awesome.”

The 10 Best Place for Live Theater in Minnesota! (4-9-2017)

  • Minnesota is a hotbed for live theater. Rumored to have more theater seats per capita than other metro areas in the U.S., the Twin Cities is at the center of the action. Three Minneapolis companies have won regional Tony Awards, Disney’s The Lion King premiered here, and August Wilson completed some of his most important works after receiving a fellowship from the Playwright’s Center in Minneapolis, premiering many of his plays with a local St. Paul company. These are some of the North Star State’s best stages.

A pride unites for The Lion King JR!  (3-16-2017)

  • Among the costume suggestions that came along with the scripts for The Lion King Jr. was a tip about using a paper plate to make the face of a lion. Um. That’s not quite the vision director Kate Horvath had for the Duluth Playhouse’s Children’s Theatre production of Disney’s popular coming-of-animal-age musical. She had a bigger idea — something that more closely matched the long-running Broadway show.

     

TV INTERVIEWS / VIDEO

Teen Intensive Productions Running at the Duluth Playhouse (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)

Iconic Musical Cabaret Hits The Underground (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)

Billy Elliot: The Musical Taps Onto the Duluth Playhouse (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)

Superheroes to Invade Duluth Playhouse (Fox 21 News)

Duluth Playhouse Presents One Act Festival (Fox 21 News)

Classic Children’s Books Retold, Stinky Cheese Man comes to Duluth Playhouse (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)

The Duluth Playhouse Presents Tony Award-Winning Musical (Fox 21 Local News)

High Stuttin’ Musical Comedy will Tickle Audiences (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)

Young Actors Prepare for Disney Classic (Fox 21 Local News)

Disney’s The Lion King Jr comes to Life on Playhouse Children’s Theatre Stage (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)

Playhouse Kicks Off 2017 with Road Dahl’s ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ (Good Morning Northland – WDIO)

Sneak Peak Of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat From The Duluth Playhouse (Duluth.com)

Duluth.com Visits the Set of It Runs in the Family at the Duluth Playhouse (Duluth.com)

 

NORSHOR THEATRE

Duluth prepares to expand skywalk (Duluth News Tribune)

  • A key new link now under consideration could unify and expand Duluth’s skywalk system. A resolution headed to the Duluth Economic Development Authority Wednesday would authorize the conceptual design of a new segment of skywalk stretching eastward from the Technology Village building, through the 100 block of East Superior Street — including Fond Du-Luth Casino — and then across Second Avenue East to the Temple Opera building and the adjoining NorShor Theatre.

Public’s help sought to identify hidden mural discovered during NorShor Theatre construction; first performance in new facility just 245 days away (Business North)

  • The many tradespeople working on downtown Duluth’s NorShor Theatre have recognized numerous signs of the past since they began restoring the 107-year-old facility in June 2016. They haven’t, however, identified a dusty, 8 x 10-foot mural they recently found that had been hidden since at least 1941. When the 1910 Orpheum was renovated to become the NorShor Theatre, which opened in 1941, the mural remained hanging above a newly-constructed ceiling.

Historic Duluth theater rehab over half done, and uncovering secrets (MPR News)

  • The restoration of the historic NorShor Theatre in Duluth, a project intended to anchor a revitalized downtown arts district, is now over half finished.Officials announced Wednesday the $30.5 million project is 60 percent complete, and is on pace to wrap up construction by the end of the year, with a grand opening planned for Feb. 1, 2018.

NorShor on track, on budget; mystery mural discovered (Duluth News Tribune)

  • After nearly a year of work, the renovation of downtown Duluth’s NorShor Theatre is about 60 percent complete, and the project remains on track to be finished by December.

    That was the gist of an update Christine Gradl Seitz provided during a Wednesday morning news conference in the historic theater’s lobby. As the executive and artistic director of the Duluth Playhouse, she expressed confidence the NorShor will be completely ready for the troupe’s opening night performance of the musical Mamma Mia! come Feb. 1, 2018.

Revitalized venue will once again serve as host stage for city’s arts community (Enbridge)

  • The world of theatre is represented by twin masks of comedy and tragedy. In Duluth, nostalgia also enters the picture—especially when the old NorShor Theatre is mentioned. “There are so many people here who have vivid memories of the NorShor—it was the first place they saw a movie, and so forth,” notes Christine Gradl Seitz, executive and artistic director with the Duluth Playhouse theatre company.

Progress MN: Sherman Associates (Finance & Commerce)

  • Bringing a vacant Minneapolis car dealership back to life with new, community-focused roles and renovating Duluth’s empty, historic NorShor Theatre are two examples of Sherman Associates’ commitment to improving and giving back to the communities it works in.

Duluth’s Brewers Row Establishes New Brand for Historic Downtown District (The Duluth Experience)

  • According to a recent press release from Just Take Action (JTA) – the beer-preneurs who created the iconic Fitger’s Brewhouse – the newly branded Brewers Row was established to promote the growing beer scene in Duluth’s Historic Arts and Theater (HART) District.

Views on Downtown Tourism: NorShor to spur housing, tourism in downtown Duluth (Duluth News Tribune)

  • The long-anticipated $30.5 million renovation of the NorShor Theatre in downtown Duluth began in June and is expected to be completed by December 2017. The new NorShor will be an anchor in Duluth’s newly designated Historic Arts and Theater District, or HART District. The theater and the district will be be transformative for Duluth and downtown, Mayor Emily Larson and Duluth Economic Development Authority Executive Director Heather Rand opined during an interview in September with News Tribune editorial board members.

Blacklist Brewery aims for mid-November opening (Perfect Duluth Day)

  • Blacklist Artisan Ales, homeless since Sept. 1, is transitioning into its new and improved home at 120 E. Superior St. The revamped space is still under construction and is barely recognizable as the former site of the infamous Last Place on Earth head shop. If all goes well, the brewery will begin production in mid-October and the taproom will open in mid-November.

NorShor Fundraising Begins with a Splash (Business North)

  • The community portion of fundraising to complete the NorShor Theatre kicked off Thursday evening, with 200 people attending a pool party hosted by the Duluth Playhouse at Northland Country Club.

Minneapolis Developer Begins Long-Delayed Revamp of Duluth Theater (Business Journal)

  • Developer Sherman Associates has acquired Duluth’s NorShor Theatre, setting the stage for a long-delayed $30 million renovation of the vacant property. Finance & Commerce reports on the rehab plans, which officially get underway this week after Minneapolis-based Sherman bought the building from the Duluth Economic Development Authority for $2.3 million. The company plans to restore seats, expand the stage and add an orchestra pit in a project that will bring live theater back to the venue, built in 1912 as a vaudeville house