Tales from the Booth with Stefan Kahlstorf

A lot of work goes into each and every production done at the Playhouse. It may sound cliche, but many hours of blood, sweat and tears really do go into each show. It’s a heckuva lot of work, but ask any of the actors on stage or crew members running things behind-the-scenes, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of putting on a production for hundreds (or thousands!) of people.

The Children’s Theatre season opener of ‘Sideways Stories of Wayside School‘ has a lots of cool technical elements to see and hear. If you haven’t already seen the show (which you should. Get your tickets here.) From eerie sound effects to laptop-exploding projections (again, you’ll have to come see the show to find out what we mean!), it’s all in thanks to our behind-the-scene helpers, like Stefan Kahlstorf.

Meet Stefan, and learn what it’s like being a part of the Playhouse.

Stefan Kahlstorf

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Audition Announcement: Willy Wonka, Jr. and Shrek: The Musical!

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Auditions are set for October 20 – 21 for the Children’s Theatre productions of Willy Wonka, Jr., and Shrek: The Musical! at the Playhouse Conservatory.

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Are You Ready For “Sideways Stories of Wayside School?”

30 stories, 30 students, 30 floors…What could possibly go wrong?

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Sideways Stories of Wayisde School’ is based on the 3-book series by Louis Sachar. The Children’s Theatre presents one of these books, Sideways Stories from Wayside School, adapted by John Olive. What makes this school worth telling about? Wayside School was supposed to be 30 classrooms, built one next to the other, but instead the classrooms were built one on top of the other.

What else? The characters range from crazy Mrs. Gorf, who turns her students into apples if they answer incorrectly, to Miss Zarves, who is a teacher on the 19th floor (but there’s not a 19th floor, so technically, there is no Miss Zarves!) Anything is possible in Sideways Stories from Wayside School.

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Wardrobe Wednesday: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Step into the green room and check out the costumes of ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’, now in its final weekend of performance at The Underground. Get your tickets while they last!

Hedwig's "Sergio Valenti" jean number.

Hedwig’s “Sergio Valenti” jean number.

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What’s ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ All About?

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In the words of the rock musical’s the writer: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is not about transgenderism or gender identity, because Hedwig defies gender labels. She’s not a man or a woman. She refuses to identify with absolutes. She is nuance,” John Camewron Mitchell said. “It’s a grey area. That’s a frightening place for people. People want labels. What are you? What are you into? Are you top? Are you bottom? Are you trans? Are you drag? Are you questioning? This is a story about love and a journey to freedom and happiness.”

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SYNOPSIS

Set in a bar, this is the life story in form of a monologue of Hedwig.

Her tale starts in East Germany, where she is a rock and philosophy loving boy with the name of Hansel. In comes Luther, an American soldier who falls in love with him and they decide to marry. At the time, marriage strictly consisted of man and a woman. In order to follow back his lover back to the land of the free and leave his communist nation, Hansel changes his name and has a sex change surgery, which leaves him with an “Angry Inch”. Hedwig, now married to Luther, moves to Kansas where a year later he leaves her for another man. Hedwig then forms a band which she names and “the Angry Inch”. She meets Tommy, a shy misunderstood boy and starts writing songs with him who in turn leaves her to become a famous rock star with the songs they wrote together.

In her search for love, freedom and happiness, Hedwig –and The Angry Inch – follows Tommy around and supports herself by playing in dive bars close to venues that are hosting Tommy’s performances.

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One Play, Two Couples

Louisa and Luke

At one point in her introduction to her future husband, Cheryl Skafte wrapped her arms around his knees and tried to physically lift him off the ground.

It was an audition for a play; Skafte was trying to convey playfulness.

She jumped on his back. She almost tripped him. Afterward, Skafte sent Luke Moravec an email: “That was the most fun audition I’ve ever had,” she recalled writing. “We should hang out.”

Less than three years later, the Duluth theater regulars — who ended up playing siblings in “The Three Musketeers” — were married.

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Theater Review: Jody Kujawa, this is the role of your life

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Jody Kujawa is Francis Henshall and Jason Scorich is Stanley Stubbers in the Duluth Playhouse production of “One Man, Two Guvnors.”(Photo: Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

In the middle of the first act of “One Man, Two Guvnors,” Jody Kujawa sternly warns a couple of audience members, “This is my show.”

Truer words have ne’er been spoken on the Playhouse stage.

The eye of a hurricane is the calm center of a massive swirling storm. But what if instead you discovered there was a tornado in the middle of a hurricane? Meteorologically that might be impossible, but it is an apt metaphor for the riotous comedy that opened the Playhouse’s season Thursday night with Kujawa in the role of a lifetime.

Kujawa plays Francis Henshall, an easily confused chap, who is employed by two men (aka “guvnors”), who also happen to be criminals: Rachel Crabbe (Cheryl Skafte), who is disguised as her dead twin brother, and Stanley Stubbers (Jason Skorich), her lover, who killed the brother and who is now in hiding, thereby setting the stage for comic confusion and complication galore. As gangsters go, these blokes are not exactly in the mold of the Sopranos, even if a recurring theme of the evening is trying to turn each of the males on stage into a lower-case one.

“One Man, Two Guvnors” is replete with a pair of twins, false names, mistaken identities, a really nice Heracles joke, a whole host of non sequiturs aimed directly at my funny bone and a passel of perpetual punch lines incessantly milked for all they are worth. At the center of all this chaos is Kujawa’s Francis, who keeps the audience apprised of his convoluted thought processes every step of the way, has a gem of a moment when he fights himself, and frequently enlists audience participation in both word and deed. It is these improvisational moments that play to Kujawa’s strong suit as a comedian and guarantee that no two performances of this show will ever be alike. If anything, I would suspect each performance will be funnier than the previous one.

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