Theatre Workshops for kids, Fall 2015

I am offering Theatre Workshops for kids in the Brainerd lakes area again this fall, thanks to the support of the Central Lakes College Community Theatre program, director Patrick Spradlin and Jean Beckmann. Classes will be held on Thursdays, after school, starting September 17 with a performance on the last day, November 12, 6:30 pm for both groups. This program is exciting and fun, and the kids get a chance to work together to  create a play. I am always amazed by their openness and creativity. What a wonderful experience for all of us!

Childrens Theatre Work-Shops

Mary Aalgaard and her company, Play off the Page, along with the support of the Central Lakes College Theatre have partnered once again and are offering  theatre work-shops for children in grades 1-4 & grades 5-8. The work-shops will take place at CLC in the Chalberg & Dryden Theatres. 

The subject for the work-shops is:

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Home From School”

What might happen on a bus ride that turns into a train wreck, or when curious students stray off their usual path?  Could they find themselves in some other time and place? Students will create an original script under the guidance of playwright Mary Aalgaard.

Grades 1-4

Class meets from 4 – 5 p.m.
Non-refundable registration fee $65
Note: No class over MEA break
Final performance:
November 12 @ 6:30 p.m.

Grades 5-8

Class meets from 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Non-refundable registration fee $75
Note: No class over MEA Break
Final performance:
November 12 @ 6:30 p.m.

Register by phone: 218-855-8253

* Pre-registration is required

* Space is limited

*Registration deadline – September 15, 2015

For questions regarding these work-shops, contact Mary Aalgaard

Phone: 218-232-6069




Go. Create. Inspire!

Laura Radniecki’s Photography E-book and Course

Quote of the Day: When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. Ansel Adams

Laura Radniecki, Love Your Camera author and photographer

Laura Radniecki is a photographer here in the Brainerd Lakes Area. She has written an ebook and made an online course called Love Your Camera to help people make better use of the DSLR cameras and take better photos. I took her course a few years ago, in person, and learned so much. She helped me understand the settings and create better shots. She also encouraged me to get a new lens, the 50mm, which offered more creative shots and was good for more indoor shots. Since then, I have had several of my photos printed in magazines to go along with the articles I submit as a freelance writer. She is offering a giveaway and special introductory prices on her ebook and course. The following is an interview with the author and photographer.

Hi Laura, Welcome to Play off the Page. How long have you been working professionally as a photographer?

​Hi Mary! I’ve been working as a professional photographer since 2009.

I began my career while living on Oahu, Hawaii with my husband who was finishing up his Active Duty Marine Corps contract. I have a nursing bachelor’s degree, but while we were on Oahu, I bought my first DSLR camera to take photos of the paradise landscapes there. My passion was born and soon, I was scouring the internet and practicing with anyone who would stand in front of my camera. I learned everything I could possibly learn and I started to photograph families on base, and homecomings when the Marines would return from deployment. ​When we moved back to Minnesota in late 2009 after Matt’s contract was finished, I officially started my photography business, and have been photographing professionally ever since!

What are some favorite locations where you’ve done photo shoots?

​I love photographing at the ocean, because I find a special magic present there. Maybe that’s because it was one of my first subjects too as I learned about photography in 2009.

In Minnesota though, I love photographing at our gorgeous local resorts. Living in the Brainerd Lakes Area, we are blessed with incredible resorts that have a wide variety of settings throughout them. Each venue is unique and I welcome any opportunity to photograph at each one.​

Do you ever feel like you “play off the page” as a photographer?

​I like to say that my style of photography is Celebratory Storytelling and I consider myself a photographer with a classic, authentic style. That means I don’t usually incorporate an edgy, modern vibe to my photography, because to me, it’s important that my work be timeless. I want the photos I create to be as beautiful and powerful in 50 years as they are now.

That said, I love to capture motion in my images, as well as genuine emotions. I want to tell the story of my client’s lives, and in order to do that, I welcome aspects of real life into the session.

Will you still be offering your courses for people who live in the area to meet with you in person?

​As of right now, I don’t have any plans for future in-person workshops. Now that I have finished creating my online course and e-book, my efforts will be poured into their promotion in the months ahead. I also have plans to expand and grow my blog, and write about issues that are on my heart. ​
Many people are taking photos with their smartphones these days. What are the benefits of using a “real” camera?
​There’s a saying that I wholeheartedly agree with, and it goes something like this: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” Our smartphones give us a unique and powerful opportunity to document our lives in ways we never could before. Spontaneous moments are able to be captured that would have been missed before.However, the capabilities of our smartphones cameras are greatly inferior to DSLRs and other more elaborate cameras. Some of the areas where smartphones might struggle with are shooting in low light, accurate focusing and being able to capture clear, non-blurry photos. Without getting too technical, DSLRs and other elaborate cameras allow us the ability to create images with certain looks like blurry backgrounds, and we are able to capture clear photos because we can manipulate settings like aperture and shutter speed to achieve desires results.So while I’m a huge advocate for using whatever camera you have with you, I believe there is a huge advantage to using a DSLR camera, and I know the images are better because of it. ​

I can attest to that, Laura. I found myself feeling frustrated for not bringing my DSLR camera on a recent trip. While I could capture many moments, and appreciated the smaller lightweight phone, I missed my nice camera and the shots I could have gotten with it!
What advice do you have for people who want to self-publish their books?​
I think the biggest hurdle to self-publishing a book is just starting. I had the idea for my photography e-book for a year or two before I actually did anything about it, and made any progress.I began by outlining what the book would include, and filled in as many details and ideas as I could.Then, I began writing. I didn’t worry about the formatting or how “pretty” it looked until later.

I’ve written several other e-books since I wrote my photography e-book, and for these most recent books, I actually types them in Google Docs. I wasn’t sure how I’d like that, but I really found it awesome and convenient. I could open my work on any computer as long as I had the internet, and the auto-save feature in Google Docs was PRICELESS!

Plus, it’s free! :)​

LOVE YOUR CAMERA_1Laura is currently offering a giveaway of her e-book and course on her website,Laura Radniecki Images. You can also get some photography tips, or set up a photo shoot for your special occasion. I had Laura take my oldest son’s senior photos, four years ago, and I’ve already booked her for my next graduate. She really listened to us and paid attention to my boy’s personality as she took some wonderful shots that reflected him, our family, and our lives.
Thanks, Laura. It’s always a pleasure working with you. I hope your course and e-book are a hit! You can find Mary at her website Play off the Page, for more reviews, chef’s tips, and more! Mary works as a freelance writer and piano and theatre teacher in the Brainerd lakes area.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Find a favorite photo and write about what is happening in the picture and why it’s a favorite!

Guthrie’s Music Man has Heart, a Review

Quote of the day: photo and quote from the Guthrie Theater Facebook page. (production photos by T. Charles Erickson. Harold Hill played by Danny Binstock, a terrific actor, he really made us believe he went from Shyster to Sweetheart.)

haroldhillquoteIt didn’t work out for me to attend press night for the Guthrie Theater’sproduction of The Music Man, so this is an unofficial review. I wanted to bring my boys, who had an exceptionally busy summer, and it worked best for us to go near the end of its run. Ever since I saw my “little” sister play Marian the Librarian in aAAAA community theatre production of this show, it became my favorite musical. There’s something about the setting, Midwestern Iowa small town, and it’s residents, much like my own community in Minnesota, and the music that sets my toes-a-tapping, that makes this show irresistible. In the end, it’s a story of redemption as Harold Hill finally gets his “foot caught in the door.” He sees the heart of the people and not just their pocketbooks. Marian, who’s been cool and independent, ready to find the flaw in any man, sees the good in a con-artist who somehow reaches in and transforms the lives of her brother, and other town’s folks. He inadvertently does what he lies about being able to do, change the community through music, and that warms this piano teacher’s heart.

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The Music Man has the best opening number of any musical, with the traveling salesmen bouncing and chanting along, making the sounds of the train with their lyrics and claiming, “You gotta know the territory.” Many people, including myself, were bobbing along with them. So many of the songs in this musical are full of rhythm and fun. My second favorite song is the rowdy library romp, Marian the Librarian. The choreography needed to pull off this number is amazing, from the stamping of the library cards, to the slamming of the books, it marches along. I could barely sit still! And, of course, no one can resist tapping at least a pinky finger during 76 Trombones. But, it was little Gracie Shin (played by the adorable Caitlyn Carroll) who first brought the tears to my eyes when she started out on “O-ho, the Wells Fargo Wagon is a comin’ down the street, Oh, please let it be for me.” Oh, and I felt that anticipation, the excitement, the longing for something wonderful “just for me,” and when Winthrop (played by Seth Beil) sings his solo, not giving a hoot about his lisp, I just lost it. Music gives hope and confidence like nothing else. It even offers forgiveness, and promise for what can be if we just let down our guard, pick up an instrument (including our voices), and join in the song.

20150815_161025_resizedOkay, and maybe the tears were for me as I sat with my three big boys. One wasn’t there because he’s already left the nest and is busy building his own life. I just scheduled senior pictures for the next one, and the twins are already sophomores. Sigh. All those grandma’s were right, they really do grow up too fast.

After the show, we drove (surprisingly smoothly considering traffic and road construction) back home, via St. Cloud and Chicago pizza. Yum. I 20150815_160802_resizedwas feeling grateful for inspiring productions like The Guthrie’s The Music Man which gave me a good excuse to have one more summer outing with my boys. I was feeling grateful for our health and happiness, and the hopes of what the future has in store for them. They all said they liked the show. The music was great, of course, and all the actors were so smooth. They had energy and heart. Even as the show is winding down, they give it their all, with a freshness and comfort, like driving on an old familiar road. The run ends August 30, extended because of the popularity of the show. The performance we attended was full, maybe not quite sold out, but close! It must be just what audiences were craving this summer, a familiar story with a favorite musical score, and outstanding actors to bring it to life.

The Music Man, by Meredith Willson, first produced in 1957, is playing at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN through August 30, 2015. Directed by John Miller-Stephany, Music Director and keyboardist Andrew Cooke, Choreographer Joe Chvala, and many more on the production crew and stage. See The Guthrie Theater website for a complete list and for show times and tickets. One final word after watching this production: Bring back Barber Shop Quartets!

Marian the Librarian, played by Stacia Bono. Photo by T. Charles Erickson. Her costumes (by Mathew J. LeFebvre) were lovely.

Marian the Librarian, played by Stacia Bono. The boys and I agreed, she has the best voice out of all the cast. Absolutely stunning. Those high notes are breath-taking, and the emotions she put behind them, heartfelt. Photo by T. Charles Erickson. Her costumes (by Mathew J. LeFebvre) were lovely.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Do you, or did you, play a musical instrument, or sing? If not, what would you like to play?

75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

The 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was, as predicted, a loud, chaotic, crowded, raucous roar of motorcycles, riders, and passengers, all trying to navigate the twists and turns of the roads, vendors, and events that make up the Rally. We rode the Biker Chef’s 2003 Harley-Davidson Road King with just over 100,000 miles on it, and arrived on Friday, July 31, still technically pre-rally, with our traditional stop at the VFW in Sturgis for a burger and beer, then a ride out to the Jackpine Gypsies tent and raceway site for our t-shirts and patches.


The Jackpine Gypsies are the Motorcycle Club that started it all back in 1938 by holding races and games. It was a family event.

I wore my new Jackpine Gypsies t-shirt the day we road the Custer State Park and saw the large herd of buffalo.

As I say in the article I wrote on Ride to the Rally for the Lake Country Journal, the biggest reason that the Biker Chef, and many motorcyclists, like coming to the Hills is for the rides. We took all his favorite roads, saw wildlife, including buffalo and elk, and took in the sites. It was crowded, which added to the danger, and many motorcyclists try to go too fast. This is not a time for an inexperienced rider to try to navigate these roads and traffic. Last I heard there were nine deaths during the Rally, as of Wednesday. We saw a young woman on the side of the road on the Needles Highway. We don’t know if she was riding her own or a passenger. She was wearing shorts, a tanktop, flipflops, and a helmet. Her legs were all bloody, but she was moving. The paramedics had her on a stretcher. I know it’s hot out there, but you still need to dress for riding. Wear long pants and boots. Helmets are optional, but I prefer to wear one. We do take our leather jackets off when it’s hot, but usually replace them with a leather vest for a little more protection.

Test riding an Indian motorcycle. This one is a Vintage. They require you to wear a helmet during test rides. The Biker Chef was definitely tempted. I think he really likes the Dark Horse model.

We also saw a guy go down while we were at a gas station near Hayes, SD on Hwy. 14. He seemed to have braked too suddenly (maybe realizing he missed the turn), and turned too sharp. The bike rolled one way, and he rolled the other. I watched to see if he moved, holding my breath. The Biker Chef yelled, “Accident, call 911!” A woman got right on her bike to go help. A few others went over there. We didn’t know if any of them had EMT training. We saw him move, and when she came back she said, “He’ll be okay.” How terrifying, and what a horrible way to start your vacation and your day. It was about 8:10 a.m. He got up and was walking when we rode away. I’m sure he’s sore, and I have no idea what condition the bike is in.

During our tour of the Hills, we hung out with friends, saw some of our favorite sites as well as some new ones, and met people from all over. I’ll write more about that in another post on my website Play off the Page. On Wednesday morning, we woke up early in Deadwood, SD, packed up and headed back to Minnesota, not sure where we’d stop for the day. We took a supper break in the Chef’s home town of New Ulm, MN, and thought we might stay at a hotel there and ride the rest of the way home in the morning. We tried to check in and found there was no room at the inn, or any other hotel in or near the town because of a big event. We leathered up (put on our warmer gear) and headed north. We got home around 11:00 p.m. after riding 720 miles. We were sore, tired, wind blown, and ready for our own bed. I took a hot soak in the tub and fell asleep. I woke up and crawled under the covers. My own bed was dreamy…

Stage Kiss, playing at The Guthrie Theater

Quote of the Day: When I kissed you did it feel like an actor kissing an actor, or a person kissing a person? The character simply named “She” in Sarah Ruhl’s comedy Stage Kiss playing at TheGuthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN, July 18 – August 30, 2015. Take a look at the photo below. What do you think? Is it real, or are they faking it? And, maybe that is the question that begs answering throughout the show, and in real life. What character are you playing today?

Millie/Maid/Angela (Rebecca Hurd), Kevin (Grant Fletcher Prewitt), She (Stacia Rice), He (Todd Gearhart) and Husband/Harrison (Michael Booth). Photo by Joan Marcus

Millie/Maid/Angela (Rebecca Hurd), Kevin (Grant Fletcher Prewitt), She (Stacia Rice), He (Todd Gearhart) and Husband/Harrison (Michael Booth). Photo by Joan Marcus

On the surface, Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss, is a light, romantic comedy. A play that pokes fun at anyone who has ever been in the acting/theatre business. My sister Joy and I saw this show together, and we spent some time on our ride home comparing it to Michael Frayn’s Noises Off, a play we acted in together, several years ago in a AAAA community theatre production in Alexandria, MN. It’s a fun romp through the ins and outs of theatre life, on and off, the stage! As is the case of Stage Kiss. In the first act, two people, who are simply named “He” and “She,” are reunited onstage after a 20 year separation. They had once been lovers. The intimacy of performing together, night after night, on stage, rekindles the passion they felt for each other. The problem is “She” is married to someone else and has a teenage daughter. “He” is in a relationship with a school teacher from the Midwest. The Husband accuses her of falling in love with every leading many she’s ever been with on stage. Hmm. Sound like anything you might have heard out of Hollywood? In the first act, they are performing a play set in the 1930’s with all the gorgeous costuming, music, and set pieces. It is lovely and romantic. Everything is like one big, long honeymoon.

Todd Gearhart (He) and Stacia Rice (She) in the Guthrie Theater's production of STAGE KISS, by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Casey Stangl with set design by Todd Rosenthal, costume design by Devon Painter and lighting design by Tom Mays. July 18 - August 30, 2015 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Todd Gearhart (He) and Stacia Rice (She) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of STAGE KISS, by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Casey Stangl with set design by Todd Rosenthal, costume design by Devon Painter and lighting design by Tom Mays. July 18 – August 30, 2015 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“The second act definitely has a different feel,” were the first words my sister said as we exited the show. This time, He and She are playing much darker characters. She is a whore, and He is a violent member of the Irish Republican Army. They rehearse a fight scene where He beats her up. The costuming in this act is over-the-top, both humorous and jarring. Considering that the playwright Sarah Ruhl is a two time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, I believe she was very intentional in changing the mood. While we might be laughing, some of us at least, are cringing just a little at what is happening onstage. How far will any of us go for our art, our love, and our sense of self? What have we lost or compromised in the process? (The Guthrie did not provide any production photos from the second act. You’ll have to go to the show and see it for yourself.)

Full cast of Stage Kiss at the Guthrie Theater. Millicent/Laurie (Cat Brindisi), Kevin (Grant Fletcher Prewitt), She (Stacia Rice), A Director (Charles Hubble), He (Todd Gearhart), Millie/Maid/Angela (Rebecca Hurd) and Husband/Harrison (Michael Booth). Photo by Joan Marcus

Full cast of Stage Kiss at the Guthrie Theater. Millicent/Laurie (Cat Brindisi), Kevin (Grant Fletcher Prewitt), She (Stacia Rice), A Director (Charles Hubble), He (Todd Gearhart), Millie/Maid/Angela (Rebecca Hurd) and Husband/Harrison (Michael Booth). Photo by Joan Marcus

I enjoyed the set, which looks like a street and the inside of a theatre in NYC, or as I whispered to my sister as we sat down, “It reminds me of West Side Story.” (No photography is allowed inside the theater, not even when you are just taking your seats.)

Stage Kiss is playing at the Guthrie Theater McGuire Proscenium Stage now through August 30, 2015. On their Wurtele Thrust stage, you can see The Music Man. It didn’t work out for me to attend press night for The Music Man, so I don’t have a review for you. However, I will be attending it with my three teenage boys in August, towards the end of its run (which has extended to August 30). Will it still have it’s freshness? Will I still think it’s my favorite

Mary Aalgaard and Tracy Jo Blowers, online media reviewers, intermission of Stage Kiss at the Guthrie Theater.

musical? I’ll let you know in August! If you’d like to read a review ofThe Music Man, visit my friend Tracy’s blog. We met as online reviewers and connected in person, found we had much in common, and are now friends. We even hug and take fun intermission photos when we’re reviewing the same performance! Also, check out her podcast Eat This, Twin Cities, that she does with her husband Terry Daniels, for reviews and commentary about everything from restaurants, theater productions, the Minnesota Twins, and more!

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  Why do you think the playwright Sarah Ruhl chose not to name her two main characters?

Book Review of Shelterbelts by Candace Simar

Quote of the Day: Above the tree line, beyond the Hanson farm, the steeple of Tolga Lutheran poked into the clouds. The steeple showed from every corner of their farm. Tia looked toward the church many times a day while doing her work. She couldn’t put it into words, and would have been embarrassed to try, but she found a quiet strength in her faith. How else would she have gotten this far? Candace Simar, a excerpt from her book Shelterbelts.

An areal shot of my ruralhood and Bethany Lutheran Church with the red cross on top.

That was the line that connected me to Candace’s newest novel,Shelterbelts. I, too, grew up in a rural, farming community. Our church, Bethany Lutheran, has a red cross on top of its steeple, a beacon in the night, guiding many a traveler, especially during winter storms. Tia, whom I consider the main character, looks to her church for comfort. She is one of those farm girls who isn’t afraid to jump in a cow pen, perform a mercy killing on a deformed calf, or do any of the hard labor of the farm. In fact, she likes it. Her brother, Norman, is returning home from Germany at the end of WWII. He is not as sure about farm life, or any part of life, for that matter. Tia reminds me of my Godmother, who is my dad’s cousin, Iona. She was also a true farmer. I think she worked harder than anyone on her farm! Millie, the church organist, reminded me a bit of myself. She describes the way people are talking or feeling in musical terms.I pictured the old farmsteads in my home area while reading Candace’s descriptions, and saw my neighbor’s farmhouse, clear as day, when she wrote about Millie’s house where she lives with her dad because her brother died in the war, and her mother has already passed away.

Shelterbelts is about a farming community in Minnesota, around the Fergus Falls area. (I grew up near Ada, which is north of Moorhead). World War II has just ended. Some soldiers are coming home, while others never will. The folks who populate this rural area are, for the most part, Norwegian Americans, and the ones who aren’t stand out like a sore thumb. They have church socials, and a few superstitions, especially when it comes to farming. They are set in their ways and have hard dug furrows that define what women and men should be doing. Tia, for instance, won’t be going to ag school, which she’d love to do. Her brother Norman is expected to go, but he’s not so sure he’s interested in farming anymore. Candace includes a large cast of characters in her novel. We enter each home, and perspective, at various times, as the story is told from many angles. Sometimes, I had to stop and look back at how some people are related, and where their farms where in relation to each other. Although, Candace did a good job of coming up with a variety of names, considering most people in the ruralhood of Minnesota have last names ending in -son. We have a bumper crop of Andersons, Olsons, Hansons, Johnsons, and Nelsons. In fact, one clever writer called this “The Land of 10,000 Andersons.” Although, I’m sure there are many, many more than that! The main character is Tia Fiskum. My name comes straight out of the farm country of Norway, Aalgaard. But, most people take the name of their father, and add the -son.

I started reading Shelterbelts while relaxing on the sands of Lake Carlos, not too far from its setting in the Fergus Falls area of Minnesota.

Shelterbelts is a great read for anyone who likes historical fiction, particularly set in rural Minnesota, in the late 1940’s. It’s for anyone who is interested in farm life, and what it used to mean to be a family farm. It’s for anyone who likes to read about a community and how they live and work together, sometimes dropping everything to help a sick neighbor, and at other times, keeping them in their place with preconceived notions and strict religious and cultural beliefs. I loved reading Shelterbelts. I took my time, savoring the language, and living inside that community. It has become one of my comfort books because it feels like home. It sits alongside Jon Hassler’s North of Hope, and Lorna Landvik’s Oh, My Stars.

You can read more about Candace Simar and her award-winning Abercrombie Trail series at her website. Thanks for writingShelterbelts, Candace! You are a sister in the ruralhood! Shelterbeltswill soon be available as an audio book. When I attended her book launch here in the Brainerd area, the reader gave us a delightful sampling. His voice fits the story splendidly.


Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Where did you grow up? Is there a book that describes that area that you love to read?


Season Opener at Children’s Theatre Company

CTC Alumna and Broadway Actress Laura Osnes to Perform at 50th Anniversary Season Opener at Target Field; Free Ticket Lottery Open Now Through July 31

Frog and Toad photo by Rob Levine

Frog and Toad photo by Rob Levine

MINNEAPOLIS – Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) begins its 50th Anniversary celebration on August 9, 2015 with a grand-scale, FREE family Season Opener at Target Field. Just announced, CTC alumna turned two-time Tony®-nominated Broadway actress, Laura Osnes, will perform at the event that will also include interactive games, performances by CTC cast for the upcoming season, Theatre Arts Training students, and a jumbotron screening of the never-before-seen filmed theatrical production of A Year with Frog and Toad, based on the Arnold Lobel stories with the original Broadway cast in high definition. The event will begin at 5:30pm and end at 8:30pm.

 CTC Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius adds, “The entire CTC family is thrilled to welcome Laura back to Minnesota for this incredible event. We wished to do a large-scale celebration to give sincere thanks to our home community for supporting us for the last fifty years. The 50th Anniversary Season and Season Opener are meant to give back to Minnesota, because without this community, we wouldn’t be here today. We especially want to thank the Minnesota Twins for partnering with us and Target for making this event possible. ”

 Laura Osnes began her CTC career in Madeline’s Rescue in 2006, tap-danced as a penguin in Mr. Popper’s Penguins in 2007 and played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz her senior year of high school. She participated in Theatre Arts Training (TAT) Intensives performing inCabaret and Working. She then went on to become a Performing Apprentice the following year. Ms. Osnes began her journey to Broadway stardom when she competed on NBC’s Grease: You’re the One That I Want reality TV program and won the role of Sandy in the Broadway revival of Grease. From there, she went on to become a regular on Broadway stages starring in South Pacific, Anything Goes, and Bonnie and Clyde (nominated for a Tony Award® for Best Actress). Most recently, she was nominated for a Tony Award® for Best Actress for her role in Rodgers+Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

Frog and Toad, Photo by Rob Levine

Frog and Toad, Photo by Rob Levine

 The filmed theatrical screening of the perennial audience favorite, A Year with Frog and Toad is based on the beloved Arnold LobelFrog and Toad children’s stories. The production premiered at CTC in 2002 and played on Broadway in 2003 (nominated for Tony Awards® for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score, the same year CTC won the Regional Theatre Tony® Award). The production was filmed at CTC with the original Broadway cast in high definition and was produced by Bob Boyette.

 Tickets to the event at Target Field are complimentary and will be guaranteed to all 2015-2016 6 Play Subscribers and current donors of $250 or more.  A lottery system will be used to distribute all remaining tickets to the event.  The lottery sign up period is now through July 31. All winners will be contacted by August 3. Transportation will be provided free by Metro Transit.  To sign up for the lottery and for all complete details on the event, visit

 This event is sponsored by Target and made possible through a partnership with the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club. Media partners include the Star Tribune, KS95, My Talk 107.1 and ESPN 1500AM. Corporate partnerships are available.


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Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is the first theatre for young people to win the coveted Tony® Award for Outstanding Regional Theater (2003) and has welcomed more than 11 million people to performances and education programs over the last five decades. As one of the 25 largest theatre companies in the nation, CTC has created over 200 new works, dramatically changing the canon of work for young audiences.

CTC educational programs reach tens of thousands of young people of all ages, ranging from early learners to young adults. CTC’s Theatre Arts Training (TAT) program is designed to mold the next generation of theatre professionals in a guided, dynamic, studio-style program that is tailored to the needs of each individual student.

Steeped in our nationally-recognized Neighborhood Bridges philosophy, the CTC Community Engagement team creates models that arts organizations, schools and educators utilize to animate teaching and learning and develop critical thinking through creative writing, storytelling and theatre arts. Our three core programs include Neighborhood Bridges (currently serving grades 2-8), Building Bridges (serving Kindergartners) and Early Bridges (serving ages 3- 5). Our programming exists to promote accessibility and to deepen engagement with teachers and students locally and nation-wide.

Come Watch Steel Magnolias at CLC

Quote of the Day: Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. Truvy, in the tender comedy, Steel Magnolias


The quote pretty much sums up what it’s like to watch this play. These six women create a delightful cast, as we watch their stories unfold, as it can only be told amidst up-dos, manicures, comb-outs and cuts at the beauty shop. A salon like Truvy’s is much more than a place to get your hair done. It’s a place where you come together and share snippets of your life. I felt like I had my own cup of coffee in hand and was waiting for my turn in the chair. Being Southern ladies, they are full of color and spunk. They’re not afraid to say what’s on their minds, argue a little, gossip a lot, and run to each other’s aid when necessary. The witty banter keeps you chuckling. The real life situations, pain, and drama bring a tear to your eye. No one is exempt from the heartaches of this world, but with a few close friends by your side, and a good hair do, you’ll make it through.

steelmagnoliascoverThe cast includes Bri Keran as M’Lynn, Nicole Rothleutner as Shelby, Stephanie White Kloss as Truvy, Barb McColgan as Clairee, Deb Binda as Ouiser, and Margaret Thompson as Annelle. The production is directed by Patrick Spradlin. Set design is by Tim Leagjeld, with costuming by Dawn Marks and sound and lighting by Ben Kent. Sarah Broton is the production manager, and Marc Oliphant is stage manager. They were all marvelous in their roles, bringing life and heart to this story, based on the playwright Robert Harling’s own life.

You can see Steel Magnolias at Central Lakes College, Chalberg Theatre, in Brainerd, MN tonight, Saturday, July 18, 7:30, or next week, July 23-25. Call the box office, 218-855-8199 for tickets, visit their website, or come early and buy your tickets at the door. Seating is general admission. This is a well-loved show with many memorable lines and characters. Come out and support your local theatre! To read more about the play, see this article.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Where do you go to get your coffee, gossip, and emotional support?

The Cemetery Club at Cream of the Crop Theater in Randall

Quote of the Day: Some relationships are so strong; nothing could possibly break them… not even death. Beth Selinger, in her director’s notes for the current production of The Cemetery Club atCream of the Crop Theater in Randall, MN.

cemeteryclublogoThe old undertaker’s wife joke goes like this. The Merry Widows Club is having so much fun, I can’t wait to join them! This is not a line from The Cemetery Club, but I had a similar feeling as I watched the show. Here is a story about friendship that lasts through the decades, through thick and thin, through the merriment and the grieving. Three friends in a Jewish community have a regular date to visit the graves of their deceased husbands. What bonds them is their friendship, their history together, their grief. What makes them different is how they’re handling this major life change and how they may, or may not, move on from it. It is an endearing story, full of great lines, laughter, tender moments, and hope. Watching the three main characters interact felt like a true friendship. The women who play Doris (Rhonda Schmidt), Ida (Sharon Hartley), and Lucille (Janice Bear) seem to be really comfortable with each other onstage, like friends in real life. Sam (Dan Dambowy) waltzes in as a new love interest and throws the trio for a loop. He has a sweet demeanor, and is working through his own grief. He has a friend named Mildred (Gloria Weber) who brings a few extra laughs and twists in the plot line.

The Cemetery Club has three more shows left this weekend. July 18 & 19, 7:30, upstairs at the Randall Creamery Quilt Shop, and Sunday, July 20, at 3:00. Call 320-749-2420 for tickets.

During Sunday evening’s performance last week, the Storm of the Century ripped through the lakes area. The sirens went off, and the entire cast and audience had to “schlep” down the stairs – TWICE! Beth, the director said, “It was quite the scene, helping everyone up and down the stairs. They had planned to take photos after that performance, but it wasn’t good timing. Despite all that, the performance went on, and the audience members were troopers. One even stopped to snap this shot as she was leaving the theater.


Next up at Cream of the Crop Theater is auditions for Regrets, a play for and about high school students and the difficult challenges they face. Beth directed this play a few years ago, and I found it to be a powerful script. Auditions are for teens, ages 14-18, August 2, at 1:00 pm at the theater. Performances will be September 18, 19, 20. Cast members have come from Pequot Lakes, Brainerd area, Little Falls, and of course, Randall.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Write about one of your best friends?

Open Window Theatre, 2015-2016 Season

Quote of the Day: They open a door, and enter a world. C.S. Lewis, from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I am excited to announce that The Open Window Theatre in Minneapolis will be producing this show in December. I’d love it if our church would bring our youth group. I’ll volunteer to chaperone! Open Window is a fairly new theatre in the twin cities. This is the start of its 5th season. I sawLilies of the Field there spring 2014, and it quickly became one of my favorite plays. They are growing and thriving and have a wonderful line-up for this upcoming season.

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Open Window Theatre Announces 2015-2016 Season and Expansion Open Window Theatre enters its fifth season building upon a 45% jump in season subscribers last season and a current summer expansion that will accommodate 30-40% more patrons in its intimate black-box setting. “We’ve consistently seen growth in our audience base,” says Artistic Director Jeremy Stanbary, “and we’re proud to provide more amenities along with the memorable theater experiences our patrons have come to expect.” In addition to extra seating, audiences will also enjoy an expanded lobby and the addition of public restrooms within the space. Highlights of 2015-16’s Season Five include the Minnesota premiere of an award-winning play, a provocative true story by playwright Mark St. Germain, a return to a C.S. Lewis favorite, and a classic work known by theatre students but rarely seen on stage. The season opens with the winner of the 1996 National Play Award, Sister Calling My Name, by St. Olaf College alum, Buzz McLaughlin. McLaughlin is the author of The Playwright’s Process and founded The Playwright’s Theatre of New Jersey some 25 years ago. Sister Calling My Name is a thought-provoking tour de force that grapples with issues of faith and doubt, the strength of family ties, and the dignity of the mentally disabled. The show runs September 18-October 18, and the playwright himself will attend the first two performances of this Minnesota premiere. The holiday season will bring a non-traditional classic to the stage with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Open Window has found great success with iterations of works by and about C.S. Lewis, having producedShadowlands, Christmas in Niatirb (a new work by artistic director Stanbary, based on Lewis’s essays) and Freud’s Last Session, an imaginary conversation between Lewis and Sigmund Freud. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe runs December 4-30 and will be directed by Joy Donley. After the show, children will be able to meet Father Christmas and receive a small gift. The allegorical drama, Everyman, will start the new year. This treasured piece of theater history is an English morality play not often seen on today’s stages. Open Window will take a modern twist on the tale written by an anonymous author. It will run February 19-March 20. The theatre will be producing another Mark St. Germain play in the spring following the success ofFreud’s Last Session, which closed its Season Four to great acclaim.Best of Enemies is based on the remarkable true story of the friendship between black civil rights activist, Ann Atwater, and Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, C.P. Ellis. Their unlikely story exposes the poison of prejudice on both sides of the racial divide at a time when racial tensions are once again flaring up across the country. Best of Enemieswill be performed April 22-May 22. Season tickets are on sale now, singles go on sale August 1. 612-615-1515 or

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Jeremy Stanbary, Artistic Director, (612) 615-1515, email: Joy Donley, Publicist, (952) 454-7344, email: Website: Open Window Theatre Location: Open Window Theatre, Metropolis Minneapolis Building, 1313 Chestnut Ave #102, Minneapolis, MN.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Did you ever imagine walking through some kind of portal like Lucy did when she entered the Wardrobe in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?” What world would you enter?