We’re Officially A Century Old!

CELEBRATION

One hundred years ago, the original version of what is now the Duluth Playhouse opened with a production of George Bernard Shaw’s “The Dark Lady of the Sonnets.”

The American premiere of the play featuring a Shakespeare character played for a sold-out crowd and earned raves in the News Tribune’s Social Side of Life section.

“Members of the Duluth Center of the Drama League hoped that the opening of their Little Theater would be a success,” the News Tribune reported on Nov. 18, 1914. “It was more than that. It was a triumph.”

The Little Theater, now known as the Duluth Playhouse, celebrated its 100th birthday on November 17, 2014 with staff, board members, supporters, punch, cake and cookies at the Depot.

Mayor Don Ness proclaimed it Duluth Playhouse Day in the city.

“This is really quite an accomplishment,” he said, crediting the Playhouse with being a draw to people looking to relocate to Duluth.

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Are You Ready to Help Us Give to the Max?!

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Here’s the thing. We know you’re probably being bombarded with more than a few emails today asking you for donations, and you’re smart people. You know the drill about how to donate and the like. While ticket sales are our main source of revenue (thank you!), we still rely on fundraising for 35% of our overall operating budget.

Not only are we hoping you’ll help give to the max in support of the Playhouse, we too are also giving to the max. For every $100 donation to the Playhouse, we’re giving 10 free tickets to a local nonprofit service group.

We can’t thank you enough for a century filled with your support. Here’s to 100 more! (On that note, did you know November 17th is our official 100th birthday? We’re having a little party, and you should join us! Find details on our Facebook event.)

Ready to make your donation to the Duluth Playhouse? Click here!

Thank you! Merci! Gracias! Gratzzi! Danke! and Thank You about 1,000 more times! Keep on reading to find out more about what Give to the Max Day is and why it’s important.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Auditions

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A queasy feeling settles into your stomach. You’re surrounded by a group of softly (or boisterously loud) talking group of men and women sipping waters and coffees while asking each other which role they’re gunning for. Suddenly, the stage manager calls your name. “Break a leg in there!” they say, ushering you into a room where it’s you, the director, and the artistic director. *Gulp*

Auditions. It’s a word that can get you brimming with excitement or send you scurrying for the nearest hiding place. Auditions for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Guys & Dolls’ are almost here. Are you ready? It can be a nerve wracking process. If you’ve never auditioned before, you probably have a lot of questions. We want you to have the absolute best audition, and hopefully, the answers we have below will help calm your nerves and focused on your audition performance.

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Curtains for Rubber Chicken’s ‘Evil Dead’: Director says this year’s performance will be the last

Ric Stevens (from left) is Jake, Nathan Payne is Ash, and Anna Vogt is Annie in the Rubber Chicken Theater production of “Evil Dead: The Musical” at the Underground. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Ric Stevens (from left) is Jake, Nathan Payne is Ash, and Anna Vogt is Annie in the Rubber Chicken Theater production of “Evil Dead: The Musical” at the Underground. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

In the early 1980s, a low-budget horror flick grossed out the right people to become a cult film worthy of a nod from the genre’s biggies in the biz.

Stephen King once said of “The Evil Dead”: “(It’s) the most ferociously original horror movie I’ve ever seen.”

In recent years, a local theater company has staged semi-annual productions of the musical adaptation with similar results — it’s become a sort of cult favorite for gore-adoring theater-goers.

“We have people come from really far away and in huge groups,” said Nathan Payne, who has been involved since before the first show in 2009 and is directing the musical for the first time this year. “A lot of people make their own shirts and come in huge groups.

“It has a massive cult following.”

But fans beware: This is the last year the show will play, Payne said.

“I’m so happy with how this has gone,” he said. “I want to end it on a high.”

And this year, he insists, is the highest of high notes.

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Get Into Halloween with ‘Evil Dead’

Canadian Demons dance during the musical number “Do the Necronomicon” in the Rubber Chicken Theater production of “Evil Dead The Musical” at the Underground. (Clint Austin  caustin

Based on the popular Evil Dead film series, five college students spend the weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods. During what was supposed to be a weekend filled with fun, booze and shenanigans, they unleash a supernatural evil spirit that turns each and every one of our hero’s (Ash) friends into demons. There is no way out of the woods because the bridge that brought them to the cabin has collapsed. In this comedic version of 1980s horror film series, our main characters turned demons attack and try to kill each other while they sing and dance. And as seen in the movies, Ash is forced to attach a chainsaw where his evil hand used to be, and arm himself with a gun to slay his friends one by one. Imagine what the “Splatter Zone” will look like! All in all, Evil Dead has proven to be a hysterical musical mayhem that is fit for Halloween season!

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Best Bets: ‘Take it with You: Live Radio Theatre’

“Take it With You” is live radio theater that plays monthly at The Underground. Photo courtesy of Blake Thomas.

“Take it With You” is live radio theater that plays monthly at The Underground. Photo courtesy of Blake Thomas.

A Wisconsin-based country-folk band that was named one of Wisconsin’s 10 Bands to Watch by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel will be the musical guest for a Halloween-ish episode of the local live radio theater show “Take it With You.”

Count This Penny has appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion,” and The Onion’s A.V. Club said of the band: “It’s music steeped in old American traditions, but the concise form the songs adhere to and pop structures the band employs make the songs modern and streamlined enough to thrive far from the mountains where their inspiration first saw the light of day.”

“Take it with You,” starring two handfuls of biggies in the local theater biz, is set in a fictitious bar where Blake the Singing Bartender interacts with the regulars, the staff and those who pop through the front door.

The show has been likened to a mix of “Cheers” and “Austin City Limits.”

This episode promises to include Halloween elements.

Other guests include: Dawn Magnuson, Christine Stocke and Jill Routh, the owners of Zstudio. Mayor Don Ness continues to be a recurring character (except for the time Laura Ness subbed in).

GO SEE IT

What: “Take it with You: Live Radio Theatre”
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (October 28)
Where: The Underground, 506 W. Michigan St. (Follow the yellow line on the sidewalk towards the east side of the building. There will be signs, too.)
Tickets: $10 at the door, preorder at takeitwithyou.org, or purchase tickets through duluthplayhouse.org.

Review: ‘Evil Dead’ splatters audience with super-funny production

Nathan Payne plays Ash in the Rubber Chicken Theater production of “Evil Dead: The Musical” at the Underground in Duluth. Photo by Clint Austin | caustin@duluthnews.com)

Nathan Payne plays Ash in the Rubber Chicken Theater production of “Evil Dead: The Musical” at the Underground in Duluth. Photo by Clint Austin | caustin@duluthnews.com)

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who march bravely across a floor covered in plastic wrap in a pair of surgical-caliber disposable shoe covers for a seat in the Splatter Zone, and those who mentally compute the squirt power of a common diner-style ketchup bottle and then move to the farthest reaches of the theater, far, far from the Splatter Zone.

The former were rewarded with a face full of intestines and an exaggerated amount of blood-like substance during Rubber Chicken Theater’s high-camp, super-funny, sing-along production of “Evil Dead: The Musical” Thursday at The Underground.

Did they, the few, the proud, the stained regret their front-row status?

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