THEATRE OPENS

LST will launch 2019 season with performances of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’

While stunning performances can be experienced with regularity inside the Lake Superior Theatre, so too can stunning views of Lake Superior be found at the theatre’s doorstep as it is located in the historic boathouse on the waterfront in downtown Marquette. (Photo courtesy of LST)

ARTS & HUMANITIES • By Peggy Frazier
Really? This is our summer after the long winter? It often seems when we are working at the Boathouse during June to transition into the theatre that we wished we had heating instead of an air conditioner. The sun beams down its warmth on the cold water; the fog descends and our view turns mystical.
As much as I love this opportunity to share my passion about Lake Superior Theatre, starting to write about it is always the hardest part. I wanted to write about how we welcome summer with a touch of summer tan, the opportunity to walk or ride the bike path, the Wednesday night Ensign sailors rounding the mark, and the smell of the lilacs blooming their little hearts out. This spring it was more about brisk breezes and the chilly winds.
I loved Heather Mlsna’s article in Marquette Neighbors about “Tell Your Story.” Her point—that our stories end when we do, but if we communicate with our families about our heritage our stories will live on—motivated us. We are going to add a page to our website for your thoughts. Share your story with LST and you might find it incorporated into a historical play!
This year brings more kudos for Marquette. BuzzFeed recently identified the “38 Most Beautiful Places in America.”  Marquette was listed as No. 34. A BuzzFeed contributor writes, “The cold weather just adds to the feeling of peace when you look out onto Lake Superior…The downtown area makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…It’s such a classic downtown, little shops and restaurants…It is one of the best cities on Earth…”
We are proud that LST has done its part to make the downtown warm and fuzzy as well as economically viable. Marquette also secured the top spot in a recent USA Today 10 Best Reader’s Choice contest. The recognition lauds Marquette County as the best Small Town for Adventure.
Wow, the recognition and awards just keep coming. People come here to experience Marquette rather than just read about it. They do so because reading is, while very enlightening, not a substitute for actually being there. And such is live theatre – you really have to be there.
People will bike and walk or drive to the waterfront to enjoy performances at Lake Superior Theatre. With the incredible harbor view, they will escape the digital world of cell phones, notebooks, computers and television and enjoy another year of 3D summer adventure.  As the Word on the Street website discussed, people are now clamoring to visit this humble little town that was once thought to be located “in a sterile region on the shores of Lake Superior destined by soil and climate to remain forever a wilderness.”
LST set sail on its 2019 season with its annual Lightkeeper event and we are grateful for those who attended and/or contributed; look for the names of these wonderful people in the program at LST. With more than 50 percent of our budget dependent on donations, grants from the MCACA and sponsorship, this is the kind of support that elevates LST excellence.
Our season opens July 9th with a heartwarming and timeless performance of Fiddler on the Roof. Director Amy Malaney brings a fresh take on this beloved masterpiece to life. Rich with musical hits you know and love, including “Tradition”; “Sunrise, Sunset”; “If I Were A Rich Man”; “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”; and “To Life (L’Chaim!)”, this production is fresh, funny, gorgeous and a reason for celebration. It is the heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives and life, love and laughter. Featuring live music, Fiddler on the Roof will introduce a new generation to the uplifting celebration that raises its cup to joy! To love! To life!
The show is, in a word, terrific. The cast that Malaney has gathered is amazing and includes an Equity actress. Being reliant on tradition and faith in times of change and turbulence is always a challenge. Tevye is the simple milk man who becomes, tenderly and lovingly, a hero.  He has a love of tradition while fearing the modern changes that his daughters are embarking on.  He rages against how impossible it is to halt progress which spills over to his relationship with his daughters and his wife.  He deals with all this “on the one hand….and on the other hand” which is in some small ways the way many of our lives work.  If only we all could have the ability to make the best of what we have which is often simultaneously so little and so much.  The story shows us how difficult it is to balance our lives. Like a fiddler on a roof, who could fall if he leans too far to one side, as life advances, we and the world must balance between acknowledging tired tradition and allowing growth for the ‘vulnerable’ young.

Attendees at the recent Lighthouse Keeper’s benefit for the Lake Superior Theatre were delighted to enjoy a sneak preview of the theatre’s upcoming season. Picture here at the event are young cast members from the upcoming productionof “Fiddler on the Roof” performing songs from the show. (Photo courtesy of Lake Superior Theatre)

Imaginative and magical, our spotlight on Marquette artists follows July 23-26.  Jack Deo and Jim Koski set sail with stories and images in a historical show that will step back in time celebrating our Maritime History – what’s up Doc(k)! Tuesday July 23rd as they share fascinating history about the docks and harbor. The show will feature a history of the docks, schooners, freighters, the fishing industry, shipwrecks and fires as well as vintage movie footage of the ore docks and harbor, too. One of my favorite stories about Peter White is as he wrote in his journal after a long day building a dock that would serve generations of the town to come. He woke up the following morning after a stormy night to document that “narry a twig remained.”
Fun and fresh and next on stage will be two nights (July 24 and 25) of performances by Lumi, Marquette’s fusion rock group that many think has a chance to be much more than just a local band.  Lumi is a homegrown, six-piece band based in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, fusing funk, dub reggae, progressive rock, and jazz to make tasty, groovy jams and we will be dancing in our seats.
Our last night Friday July 26th Jack Deo returns, sharing a Copper County montage of Superior View Studios people and places ‘back in the day’ which jump off the screen with amazing 3D effects! Using special digital technology, more than 100 historic stereoview photos will be projected on a giant screen, See local towns, mines, railroads, and scenery as you’ve never seen them before. This evening will feature a special treat with the memories interspersed with Marquette artists Jim and Ray.  Jim Pennell and Ray Dollar—have been performing together for more than 35 years, so their repertoire—primarily folk-rock songs, but also some rock and classical country—has grown continuously as different artists influenced and inspired them, said Pennell.  Listeners can expect plenty of familiar tunes—maybe by the Beatles, Jimmy Buffett, Simon and Garfunkel, Jim Croce, Tom Petty, Doc Watson, Neil Young and Johnny Cash.
Electrifying and supremely entertaining you will love this week.  We are planning some additional surprises including dessert after the show in the moonlight so stay tuned!
Our SAYT collaboration follows with a show we all love.   Directed by Taylor Koski and Nicholas Conroy.  Into the Woods takes the stage from July 30 to August 10 and reminds us to be careful what you wish for.  This seems to be the ongoing theme in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Brothers-Grimm-inspired musical.  This is an epic, enchanting musical saga about daring to venture into the woods as the baker and his wife seek to reverse a spell.   They meet Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk as they journey on their quest to fulfill a wish. Funtastic! Cast Two Little Red Riding Hood (Avonlea Kuhlman) performed at the Lightkeeper and we were all mesmerized by her talent.
On August 13-25 we are thrilled to present the return of the popular Steel Magnolias cast directed by (and this time including) Denise Clark. Pulling off a southern-based play can be a bit tricky, but the actresses dishing out “The Dixie Swim Club” are delightful as they share their good times and bad times during the course of their adult lives. These were five middle-aged southern belles who met in college as members of the swim team and continued their friendship through annual all-girl weekends at a beachfront cottage. The strength of the play is in the characters, and the strength of the characters is dependent on the actresses. To say these are strong southern women will get our attention is like the mosquitoes that got our attention in June?
We age with them to the end we all eventually face: old and worn out and scheduled to be replaced. There’s nothing so sad as a boarded up beach house, other than its good-time memories being lost to encroaching Alzheimer’s Disease. Thirty-three years later, the good times have all but run out, and at the age of 77, these women are running on empty, but they (all but one) are still running, albeit a good deal slower. This is a hilarious and touching comedy about friendships that last forever.
Last but certainly not least Dave Dagenais brings us Miscast Musical, collaborating with Monica Nordeen in a unique production. It’s your Broadway show tunes with a twist, when our performers let their inner selves shine and perform songs that maybe they were not meant to sing or could expect to be cast in. Octaves change, genders switch and fun follows.  Fabulous fun featuring songs from some of your favorite actors performing memorable Broadway shows.
As rehearsals fill the boathouse space we anticipate our great summer season. Complete schedules are available at lakesuperiortheatre.com, Facebook, the theatre, the Welcome Center, and rack card holders on the little lighthouse in the lower harbor.  You can visit the Berry Events Center for your tickets; call 906 227 1032, or book your reserved seat on line directly at tickets.nmu.edu. Please note that if you book on line and purchase an E-ticket (print at home or on your mobile device) there are NO additional charges. All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. except for the 3 p.m. Sunday matinees for Dixie Swim Club. Parking is in the lower harbor so you can soak in the Superior vistas and our million dollar lobby view. If you have need special accommodations for seating or parking be sure to let us know and we will make sure you are taken care of.
The LST love list is really a to-do list of visions of turning even greater excellence into reality and the support of all these entrepreneurs is a gift for which LST is eternally grateful. This is the also the time that LST solicits sponsors for the shows which helps to keep ticket prices affordable.
Our thanks to the MCACA (Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs), the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), the Frazier Fund, the Eagle Mine, Marquette Breakfast Rotary, Travel Marquette, Downtown Eye Care, The Vierling, Range Bank, Donckers, River Valley Bank, Mark Aho and Associates for their support. We encourage everyone to patronize these innovative partners. All of them live, work and play in our town and are creative forces in our community – they give back. We are proud to feature them on our wall of DonOars at LST and in our media.

The 2019 schedule for the Lake Superior Theatre.

The last 21 years have flown by with what feels like warp speed. Reflecting on those fleeting years, we know we have learned much and grown much in grace and gratitude. LST has been successful.  Why?  Because we have had amazingly talented people as directors, cast and crew.  They are really good at doing what they do and go the extra mile.  And they are relentless in their pursuit of the thing they do.  There is no trick to success. Connections help, luck helps, financial support helps but none of these things on their own or even together will push you over the edge.  You need to be the best at something and be relentless about it. Thank you for the opportunity we have each summer to present and preserve our past as we seek to make our waterfront a much more animated and economically vital destination.
LST could not have made it without you as your gifts help to keep ticket prices affordable and have a significant impact on what we are able to do.
Special thanks to the LST Board, donors, casts and crews who give up their precious summers to entertain audiences and thanks especially to the audiences who fill the seats and make all the hard work worthwhile. Stories are more than just a way to entertain … they are a way to connect with each other and create a shared human experience. Make memories. Have adventures.
Because I guarantee you that when you look back in the years to come you won’t look back on that new car smell, the latest apparel, or even your bathroom remodel. You will think about the beauty that took your breath away in a sunrise or sunset, sitting under the summer stars with someone you love, and the family and friends that gave meaning to your life. You will think about the magical moments at LST that touched your heart and made you feel alive.
See you at the boathouse!

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