The Teen Intensive is a program offered by the Playhouse for teens ages 13-18 that allows kids to produce and perform in classic productions over the summer. They are expected to learn music, lines, light and sound cues, stage managing, advertising, and other important elements that go into a professional production. Aside from the directors, choreographer, stage manager, and music director, the shows are entirely run by the teens themselves, creating a multitalent-oriented atmosphere.
This year’s intensive features two classic shows: Thoroughly Modern Millie and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Set in the 1920’s, Thoroughly Modern Millie is a bombasticly fun musical about a young woman, Millie Dillmount, who aspires to be a modern woman in a big city, marrying for money instead of love. Millie checks herself into the never-boring Hotel Priscilla in New York City only to find herself being housed by the leader of a white slavery ring in China and no male suitors ready to take her hand. In contrast to the fun-loving Broadway hit is Shakespeare’s classic Hamlet, about Denmark’s royal family and the controversy over the suspicious marriage between the King’s brother and his widowed wife, only a few months subsequent to his sudden demise. When Hamlet’s father comes to him in spirit with news of his murder most foul, Hamlet takes it upon himself to show the truth to his mother and country, no matter what cost.
With spectacular leads, such as Joe Birdseye as Hamlet and Meghan Jarecki as Millie Dillmount (both long-time Playhouse family members) and an equally as amazing ensemble in both shows, these productions are a must see for the summer. Both productions showcase familiar faces, such as Maddie Nachtsheim (Dorothy Brown) and Simon VanVactor-Lee (King Claudius) but what makes this intensive different from previous years is the amount of new talent found in both shows. When asked what drew them to the Playhouse and what they like about the experience so far, Hamlet ensemble member Hans Arvidson-Hicks says, “I heard about the Playhouse from a few of my friends and I decided to try it for the sake of trying something new. So far I like the people, learning about Hamlet and trying to get out of my comfort-zone/becoming a better actor.” From the Millie cast, Annabelle Revak says this, “Our school drama club came to Duluth to see Anything Goes, which is how I found out about the Playhouse. I thought it would be a good experience to try something outside of Spooner, and so far it’s been great! Everyone here is so passionate about theatre and it’s inspired me to work harder. I feel like I’ve found my people, in a way.”
The intensive, and theater in general, creates well-rounded, able teens in our community prepared to take on jobs and careers at an early age due to the amount of responsibility they grow accustom to while putting together a production. The amount of talent going up on the Playhouse main stage this August is sure to overwhelm and excite: both shows are a must see!