Press Room

For press inquiries, please contact Ashlee Hartwig, Duluth Playhouse Marketing Director, by emailing or calling 218.733.7577.


REVIEW: ‘Salesman’ affirms its place as the great American drama

  • The set design for Death of a Salesman presents the Loman house stripped down to the studs, a rather haunting metaphor for the life of the central character in Arthur Miller’s classic American play, which opened Thursday night at the Underground. Willy Loman is mentally unstuck in time, taking refuge in his past and in his imagination as his present closes in on him. Director Robert Lee has those scenes bathed in yellow light, an appropriate choice because in retrospect, Willy sees each road not taken as inevitably being paved with gold. But Miller goes beyond Willy’s gilded memories and lays bare unbearable truths.

REVIEW: Mamma Mia! heralds NorShor’s Rebirth

  • From the moment the opening night audience for Mamma Mia! walked into the restored NorShor Theatre, I was overwhelmed by the inescapable conclusion that the Duluth Playhouse is not just another “community theater.” Long before the doors even opened, the entire run of the popular jukebox musical was sold out. Through those doors on Thursday night, there was food and drink to consume, stairways to explore, songs and speeches to hear, and to top it off, a toe-tapping show to enjoy.

REVIEW: Jungle Book a memorable first-theater experience

  • Giant shadows on the blue-lit backdrop of actors moving into place drew a lot of attention from the small fry in attendance on Saturday afternoon for the opening performance of the Theatre for Young Audiences’ production of The Jungle Book on the Depot’s main stage. When it comes to an audience buzzing with anticipation, kids absolutely rule. Then director Lacy Habdas came on stage to rev the kiddies up even more and lay down the house rules before the show started.

REVIEW: Original script adds new life to classic A Christmas Carol

  • For its last production on the Depot’s main stage, the Duluth Playhouse not only selected a timeless holiday classic, they also came up with the first original script to grace that stage in almost 20 years. A Christmas Carol opened Thursday night to an audience eager to applaud. A Christmas Carol is a well-known tale and everybody has their personal favorite version (“Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” for me). With this original script, first drafted by director Jeffrey Madison, revised by Shad Olsen, and then rewritten in tandem, I was looking for what “new” things could they come up with.

REVIEW: 1984 makes its case for renewed relevance


    In the first class in Media & Society each semester we consider which dystopian novel successfully predicted the world in which we now live: George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The academic consensus favors Huxley, that the truth has not been replaced by lies but rather buried under a barrage of irrelevance. However, the striking production of 1984 directed by Robert Lee that opened at the Underground on Thursday night (October 5) makes a compelling case for reconsidering that verdict. Orwell’s book again became a best-seller in the wake of the inauguration, and contemporary parallels are easy to find.

REVIEW: Comedy warning: Rumors has it

  • Lately being a weatherman does not help you know which way the wind blows. Hurricane Harvey was a 3 that became a 4. Irma kept bouncing back between a 4 and a 5. Rumors, the side-splitting Neil Simon farce directed by Julie Ahasay that opened at the Duluth Playhouse on Thursday night (September 21), follows a similar pattern.

    It starts off as a tropical depression, gathers strength, hits you with a powerful stream of comedy, and just when you think you are safely in the eye of the hurricane the audience is devastated by a category 5 comic monologue.

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.



Final details come together for NorShor’s re-opening  (1-7-2018)

  • With less than a month until opening night, paintbrushes and canisters full of yellow paint were strewn on paint-speckled paper taped to the floor in the NorShor Theatre’s offices Sunday. The final touches of the renovated downtown Duluth theater, which first opened as the Orpheum Theater in 1910, are starting to come together. The electricity is on, the theater seats are installed, the skywalk connection is nearly complete, painting is wrapping up and rehearsals for the upcoming musical Mamma Mia! are set to begin on the stage next week.

One elf-show: Actor Luke Moravec is the dry-humored Crumpet in ‘The Santland Diaries’  (12-7-2017)

  • Luke Moravec knows a bit about the Santa-scene. The local actor has had a hand in the Christmas City Express, both as a writer and character at the annual event that combines a short train ride, a seasonal story, and a visit from Mr. Claus. So it’s no surprise he feels a kinship with an elf named Crumpet.

Ho ho ho(liday) shows: Season A&E ranges from ‘A Christmas Carol’ to Keri Novel to Gingerbread City (11-30-2017)

  • What to do when you can’t find the perfect adaptation of A Christmas Carol, one that isn’t a musical per se but has a musical element: Write your own. Jeffrey Madison, director of the Duluth Playhouse’s production of the traditional tale, has spent the past seven months creating a theatrical piece he described as a hybrid. The story rings true to Dickens but has carollers caroling, family sing-alongs, classic holiday tunes between scenes, and ethereal mood-music to introduce the ghostly figures.

Depot to celebrate 125th Anniversary (11-6-2017)

  • The Depot in downtown Duluth will host a 125th-anniversary celebration on Wednesday, featuring music, dance, and history — along with cake, punch, and champagne.

NorShor nears finish line: Final push to restore historic theater by December deadline (10-29-2017)

  • After years of planning and 16 months of construction, the renovation of Duluth’s historic NorShor Theatre is finally nearing completion. It has been a challenging project by all accounts.

    “There was an extraordinary amount of reconstruction work that was unforeseen, and we definitely hit Duluth rock, so we had to manage that,” said Rich Kiemen, senior vice president of construction for Sherman Associates, which redeveloped the building and now owns it.

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.




NorShor Theatre Wrapping Up Renovations (Fox 21 Evening News – January 8, 2018)

Volunteers Helping Finish NorShor Theatre Before Feb. 1 Opening (WDIO Eyewitness News  January 7, 2018)

Wizard of Oz Auditions Bringing Play to Life (Fox 21 Evening News)

NorShor Theatre Hosts Tour, Unveils New Campaign (WDIO Eyewitness News)

NorShor Theatre Deadline Fast Approaching (Fox 21 Local News)

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

Billy Elliot: The Musical Taps Onto the Duluth Playhouse (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)

Sneak Peak Of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat From The Duluth Playhouse ( Visits the Set of It Runs in the Family at the Duluth Playhouse (



Innovative Duluth: A special report on how the North Shore city is revitalizing itself (Twin Cities Business)

  • There’s a slogan Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighbourhood uses to brand its revitalized commercial district: “Crafting Something Great.” And in a sense, it’s a phrase that could describe ambitious efforts happening throughout the city. Located just west of downtown, Lincoln Park was a solid working-class neighbourhood during Duluth’s industrial heyday, but as heavy industry began to disappear in the 1970s, the neighbourhood fell into economic decline.

NorShor Theatre Renovations Coming Along  (Fox 21 News)

  • It’s been 18 months since the major renovations began at the historic Norshor Theatre in downtown Duluth. About 50 people got an update and went on a tour to see how the project is coming along. The restored venue underwent a top to bottom makeover.

Take In a Show at the Duluth Playhouse (Minnesota Bed & Breakfast Association)

  • We tend to focus most of our time on the incredible variety of outdoor activities there are to do here and for good reason. Duluth has been listed as one of the Best Towns Ever by Outside Magazine and is a popular destination for those seeking adventure.  This winter, join us for some incredible skiing at local mountains or hit some of the cross country or snowmobile trails around Duluth.  The days aren’t hard to fill with activity after activity, but what about the evenings?  Did you know there’s another side to Duluth, too?

Take a seat’ at the NorShor Theatre (Duluth News Tribune)

  • You can show your support for efforts to renovate Duluth’s iconic NorShor Theatre as part of the “Take a Seat” campaign launched by the Duluth Playhouse Wednesday. Contribute $1,000, and have a metal plate engraved to your specifications attached to a seat of your choice inside the theater. In all, 630 seats are available and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis to supporters.

NorShor nears finish line: Final push to restore historic theater by December deadline (Duluth News Tribune)

  • After years of planning and 16 months of construction, the renovation of Duluth’s historic NorShor Theatre is finally nearing completion. It has been a challenging project by all accounts.

    “There was an extraordinary amount of reconstruction work that was unforeseen, and we definitely hit Duluth rock, so we had to manage that,” said Rich Kiemen, senior vice president of construction for Sherman Associates, which redeveloped the building and now owns it.

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.


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