Let Lake Superior Theatre propel your summer production

ctors in Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? rehearse for an upcoming performance. (Photo courtesy of Amy Malaney)

ctors in Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? rehearse for an upcoming performance. (Photo courtesy of Amy Malaney)

We often remark at how our casts and crews bring the boathouse alive with magic, and it seemed that this year it did not just come alive, it burst into our 18th season with a vibrancy that brought down the house! In our hearts we all want to be producers—producers of the best summer ever as we face the long winter ahead.

Unlike the producers in The Producers who wanted a flop, we want a hit of a summer. And so we hope for warm sunshine, fabulous Fourth of July fireworks, and sensational summer adventures at Lake Superior Theatre. So many of us miss great joys in life by always looking forward to a vacation, graduation, getting married, or some other event while failing to enjoy those special moments with family and friends during our all-too-brief summers. So we savored every moment of The Producers as we started off the LST season, and it was an astounding hit!

Wow just wow… The Producers was an amazing start to the 2016 Lake Superior Theatre season. One wonderful review stated, “Remarkable. The singing, the dancing, the actors, the comedy, the transitions from one scene to the next. Superb in every way, far exceeding anything you might expect. Something else that also comes through is the joy in these performances. The actors look like they are having one extremely good time. As a result, the audience does, too. That’s theater at its best.” The review, by Denise Clark, gave it a thumbs up, saying that it was “brilliantly cast, costumed, and sung, this production is funny, lively and creative.”

1608 A&H LST3 chairs facing stage

Directed by LST favorite Dave Dagenais, it was a show that raised the bar for productions at the boathouse; the talent in this show was just extraordinary and the choreography, devised by Jill Grundstrom, was amazing. With the limited space of the boathouse, the singing and dancing require inventive imagination and Producers delivered in a huge way. Everyone who saw the show kept saying that this was, without a doubt, the best show they had seen at LST.

We agree, and the sold-out crowds with wait lists each night of the show attested to the quality.

Suzanne Shahbazi did another terrific job on the costumes and LST recognized her with a place on the DonORE wall of honor for her contributions to our shows. As the review stated, “The costumes are eye candy, funny when they need to be, over the top when they need to be, and downright perfect.” The Producers generated a lot of excitement and buzz, capped off with torrential rains and tornado warnings on closing nights that our new enclosure survived quite nicely, thank you very much! If you missed The Producers, you have another chance to see many of the same actors in the August shows so get your tickets now before you end up on the extra seats or the wait, wait list!

Following Producers was our collaboration with Superior Arts Youth Theater, Roald Dahl’s James & the Giant Peach, Jr. This was an adventurous musical about courage and self-discovery directed by Susan Candey, who had to step into the rather large shoes of the former Executive Artistic Director Nikki (Nason) Soni. Candey delivered with a production that lifted our spirits and made our hearts sing. With the never-ending musical numbers and a cast that included grasshoppers, ladybugs, earthworms, spiders, centipedes and even seagulls, this was such fun! Our waterfront LST seagulls at times added to ambiance and made it seem that this production belonged at the boathouse.

Jill Vermeulen stepped up to make great use of the new wooden floor at the boathouse with her choreography—all of which was fun to watch from the new comfy seats and the risers that let everyone see the kiddos as they took an amazing journey across the ocean. Nikki Nason always used to say that her productions were great because of the great people that were involved, and we were all thrilled to note that the SAYT plays will continue to entertain and educate our upcoming theatre generation without missing a beat! The youth theatre has always served as a stepping stone to LST productions, so we are excited and relieved that the magic continues!

As August arrives we all get that panicky feeling thinking that summer is almost gone (because we often note that by August 20 it seems like someone turns the summer switch off). One of the delightful aspects of living in the U.P. is that you don’t have to trudge across the country—you can enjoy all of the national treasures right in our own backyard, making wonderful memories right here on a “staycation.” Yooperland is filled with incredible adventures and places you can visit without having to travel long distances, and it is implausibly economical. A family of four can share pasties at the picnic tables at LST before a Broadway-quality show for just over $50—how neat is that!

So on to your staycation. Just paging through this month’s Marquette Monthly will give you a huge start to planning your staycation. There are lots of suggestions in the advertisements and calendar and ways to make your summer production unique. Yes, we all have our favorite summer activities, but this year resolve to do something new. Stop by the Welcome Center on South US-41 and pick out a new adventure.

Start by checking out the local listings in the tourist magazines. Click on the official Pure Michigan website and review the official tourism pages. There, you will find a list of festivals and events you won’t want to miss. If you have children, try to make time for the things that really interest them. Start by doing some research on the web and you will be amazed at the connections. Think back to the happiest moments from other summer productions and use those memories to embellish your current production!

We are fortunate to have the opportunity to visit a variety of mining and art museums in our communities that often feature special events. Make sure the Marquette Maritime Museum is on your list for this summer as it celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. And if you need summer care for the kiddos, consider the youth theatre camps coordinated by SAYT. It is not too late to sign up your favorite actor or actress for one of the theatre camps.

Kids will learn about using their voice, facial expressions, body, and imagination in a fun-filled week learning about acting. Over the years we have watched our littlest ones grow in stature and confidence. Many of the stars you saw in The Producers started out with youth camps. And even if they do not stay with theatre, they will be much more comfortable speaking in front of a group and as well as other amazing skills. Camp dates and locations can be found in the MM calendar as well as the SAYT website and Facebook page. Students will sing, tell a story, or pick up some theatre technical skills as well as develop a live performance in a fun, safe, creative environment. In the fall, listening to the kiddos sharing their summer adventures at LST is always marvelous! For a week they will have put down their digital devices and engaged every one of their senses in a fun-filled and educational adventure.

And speaking of education, August features a musical that is sure to make you laugh and linger in those memories of going to school as a youngster. The eight students in Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? are attending a Catholic school and we follow their journey from elementary school through their senior prom and beyond. How many of you remember the growing pains and the trying moments of adolescence? Come to this show and relive them with your youngsters for an entertaining evening; then share some special moments with them after the show as you relive your coming of age.

It’s a series of sketches set in and around a parochial (although anyone who ever went to school, public or private, will be able to relate!) elementary school (Act I) and high school (Act II). Before the intermission, you will get acquainted with Sister Lee, played by LST favorite Monica Nordeen, wielding a ruler which, I guess, you need to be of a bit older to relate to or remember. During high school of course there is a teenage romance, which begins in Act II and ends on a note of inspirational uplift.

A special note here is that if you saw Producers and loved “the German guy,” he will be reinvented as Father O’Reilly. Oh and Mr. Bloom? He is back as Eddie! Another special note for this show is that the very talented and experienced daughters of Amy Malaney, Maggie and Mary, will join the production as Sister Helen on successive weeks. Last, but certainly not least, the spouse of the author, John Powers, will join us during the Tuesday, August 9, production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? for a talk-back session with other surprises in store!

Watch for details on our website lakesuperiortheatre.com and on our Facebook page.

Also watch our digital media pages for information about buying tickets for the matinees scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16, and Friday, August 19. Many of you have asked for matinees so you can travel home without having to drive in the dark, and we would love to have you join us for this show. Have lunch at one of our sponsors (Donckers or the Vierling) and enjoy an afternoon right on the water in Marquette in air-conditioned comfort in our new chairs!

Marty Martello has wanted to do Butterflies Are Free for a long time, and why not? He will deliver an outstanding production of the smash hit 1969 Broadway comedy. Bright, gently humorous dialogue, a likeable young couple to root for, and an obstacle for them to overcome in the form of the snappily funny Mom (Shelley Russell), provide a fanciful way to spend the afternoon or evening. And there is Mr. Bloom (Dorsey Sprouts) from The Producers again as Ralph Austin, and also Hanna Numinen from The Producers playing Jill. We have been incredibly fortunate to have these talented actors spend the summer with us, and we hope you will join them for the productions during your summer production!

If your summer production includes a bit of the Bard then do schedule tickets for August 23, 24 or 25 as the Westwood Shakespeare Company will present Julius Caesar in a wonderful collaboration at LST. After all it is a political year and while some of us are not too sure about the leaders of both tickets, we know that this timeless political drama is about the most famous leader in the world being assassinated in the most famous city in the world, transformed into a timeless journey with a noir feel. Tickets for the boathouse production are available at nmu.edu/tickets 24/7 where tickets can be printed at home or ordered for will call (you pick them up at the theatre the night of the show not at NMU).

Tickets are also available by calling 227-1032, or at the theatre starting at 6 p.m. the night of the show for any performance. If it is the weekend and you need assistance please call LST at 227-7625 and we will ensure that the curtain goes up on your summer production!

Complete your summer production with the fan favorite, Superior Music of the Night. On August 30 and 31, and September 1 and 2. Jeff Bruning compiles an incredible array of talent for an evening of song and dance (did I mention we have that new stage floor?) There will be some of the best Phantom music as well as the favorites of our talented and seasoned performers. This will be a magical LST grand finale, and I invite you to use it as the grand finale to your summer production. I promise you will have a great time, love the music, laugh a bit, and leave the theatre relaxed, happy and humming with your spirits lifted.

Here’s to a summer full of sunshine and superb adventures. As composer Stephen Sondheim told us, “All the best performers bring to their role something more, something different than what the author put on paper. That’s what makes theatre live. That’s why it persists.” That’s why it makes for magic when the lights and sound burst into the boathouse as the curtain rises. And that is why your summer production is unique…because you bring something to it. We hope your summer production includes LST, and while there, put a note on the survey sheet about what shows are on your theatre bucket list.

What shows do you want to see again? What show have you been hearing about but missed? Let us know which of your favorite historical, or original musicals you want us to bring back for our upcoming 20th anniversary celebration. Send us your thoughts also at LSTplayhouse@gmail.com. Enjoy your summer production—savor every minute of it—walk to the boathouse enjoying the beautiful blue water, watching the wind blowing life into the Ensign sailboats. Go Explore. Go Dream. Go Discover….it is not always easy to pull off but it is always worth it in the end. And thank you for coming to the boathouse and filling our seats for this great season. Thank you for supporting us with a donation or by buying a seat so we can continue to upgrade your comfort and viewing. Your rich in LST family and friends passionate supporter – see you at the boathouse!

— Peggy Frazier

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