Rushford theater group stages comeback with Minnesota comedy
Wednesday, March 08, 2017 2:04 PM
The Rushford Area Society of the Arts (RASA) is making a comeback!
Shown are Xena Arielle and Kristin Burdey who are in this winter’s production of ‘How To Talk Minnesotan: The Winter Musical’. Burdey is playing ‘Lucy’ the same character she played in RASA’s 2007 production of “How to Talk Minnesotan.”
After some poor attendance for tryouts, and an unsatisfactory amount of tickets sold for recent productions, the RASA board took a look at its organization and knew a change had to occur.
President Kristin Burdey stepped into her role with passion as she has helped to spearhead a passionate pursuit of an arts revival, one that will start with a production coming in March.
“After Annika (her daughter) and I were in ‘Seussical’ last summer (a show performed in Lanesboro), I had a renewed enthusiasm for the potential of community theater,” said Burdey.
“I’ve always thought RASA should do something mid-winter, like during cabin fever days. When I found ‘How To Talk Minnesotan: The Winter Musical’, I knew we had to do it.”
The result of RASA pursuing a musical for March came from three parts. Part of the hope was to renew a community appreciation and awareness for the organization while members wanted to revisit the sequel to a well-received musical performed 10 years ago and hoped to raise enough funds to put on a larger musical production this coming summer.
“How To Talk Minnesotan: The Winter Musical” fits the bill and is of minimal cost to produce.
The play focuses around Lucy and Ed Humde (played by Burdey and Chris Hallum, respectively), owners of the Lost Walleye Lodge. Audience members will be attending “winter lessons” for how to acclimate to life in Minnesota.
The play is rife with audience participation and fourth wall breaks.
“It’s a humorous commentary on Minnesota culture under the guise of language lessons for out-of-state visitors,” said Burdey.
“You will see yourself, your friends, neighbors and relatives on stage. We discuss how to dress warm, jumping your car, lutefisk and Jello salad.”
Long time RASA veteran Burt Svendsen will be wearing two hats by both directing and portraying Donny Elmstad, a friend of the lodge who aids in the lessons.
Svendsen was originally slated to simply direct, but when a cast member was unable to fulfill his commitment to the production, Svendsen stepped in.
“It’s hard being the director and in the play,” admitted Svendsen. “I have to put the set together. We’ve got to figure out choreography. We’ve got to figure out blocking. I did some work with the music. I’m the ‘roadie.’ It’s just a lot of stuff.”
A co-director – Rochester native Anna Landkammer – is aiding Svendsen.
Although, he sees some of the concerns of putting on a production in winter (such as competition with school activities and facing inclement weather), Svendsen is excited to bring this musical to life.
“I think you’ll find it entertaining,” he said. “The whole musical, we poke fun at ourselves, but it’s really about how we are.”
The cast is rounded out by Adam George, Matthew Rodenburg and Xena Arielle.
Performances will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, and there will be two matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, and Sunday, March 19. The production will be put on in the Rushford-Peterson High School theater..
Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for kids 12 and under. At the door, the cost is $15 per person.
Tickets can be purchased at Rushford Foods, Burdey’s Cafe (in Peterson) or online at brownpapertickets.com (the direct url is http://m.bpt.me/event/2865648).
Hot dish cook-off fundraiser
In conjunction with the musical, RASA is hosting a Hot Dish Cook-off on Sunday, March 12, at 12:30 p.m. Contestants can submit either a hot dish or a Jello salad.
The fee is $3 for one category and $5 for both categories. Winners will be decided by a panel of “church ladies” as noted by Burdey. Representatives from several area churches will vote on the winners.
For more information, see the RASA press release elsewhere in this issue.
Summer musical announced
Thanks to the proceeds from this play and the fundraiser, RASA intends on pursuing a production of Annie this summer over Rushford Days.
“Everyone’s been a little gun-shy to put on a musical,” said Burdey. “It’s scary to think of finding a cast of 40 singers when you have trouble finding half a dozen. But I thought it was time to take a big chance and put on a big show – one that could get kids involved!”
RASA has already booked Landkammer for the production and will hold auditions, open to all ages, in April.
“I know there are oodles of really talented people in this valley, and it is my hope that they will feel compelled to turn out and support RASA, either on the stage or in the audience,” summarized Burdey.