Review: ‘Nine’ comes to life on stage

Photo: Nicole Modeen

Photo: Nicole Modeen

After seeing Nine, the musical that opened August 4, 2016 at the Underground, I am thoroughly convinced every woman on the planet should have a tambourine.

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REVIEW: ‘The Last Five Years’ back, better than before

When asked which shows I have reviewed are my absolute personal favorites I always name “The Secret Garden” and what I consider the best show you have never seen, The Last Five Years.

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REVIEW: “Superstar” cast makes the songs their own

Every single song in this show is being sung in a way you have never heard before. It starts when Evan Tyler Wilson as Judas launches into Heaven on Their Minds, and by the time Adam Sippola’s Jesus sings Poor Jerusalem, it becomes clear this approach is the rule and not the exception in this production. I would bet many an audience member was surprised at what song they were unexpectedly humming on their way home (for me it was Could We Start Again Please? because I was captivated by what Sara Wabrowetz’s Mary Magdalene was doing with the melody on the title phrase).

Photo by Andrew Benusa Photography

Photo by Andrew Benusa Photography

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Dorothy “Dottie” Danner is Back Directing the Rock n’ Roll Opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

[This is an excerpt from the original article ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ director boosts Duluth Playhouse production with impressive resume” written by Christa Lawler with the Duluth News Tribune.]

Fact: Jesus Christ Superstar was born as a concept album that toured as an arena show before the theatrical production opened in the early 1970s.

It’s the rock ’n’ roll story of the days leading to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, from the perspective of Judas (played locally by Evan Tyler Wilson). It’s a trickier production than Les Miserables because of its unconventional structure and its origin as an album, director Dorothy Danner said.

Director Dorothy Danner talks to actors during a recent rehearsal of the Duluth Playhouse’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (photo by Steve Kucera)

Director Dorothy Danner talks to actors during a recent rehearsal of the Duluth Playhouse’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (photo by Steve Kucera)

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Les Miserables – Meet Jean Valjean

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meet-valjean

PLAYHOUSE: Everybody knows that Jean Valjean and Javert are mortal enemies – have you and Jeffrey [Madison] done any special preparation to get into that mindset?

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Pictured: Adam Sippola as “Jean Valjean” left, Jeffrey Madison as “Javert” right at “Les Misérables” rehearsal at UMD.

ADAM SIPPOLA: For the last couple of months, Jeff and I have been randomly showing up in each other’s daily lives, singing threateningly in each other’s general direction, and then darting off.

Really though, it’s been thoroughly enjoyable to get to know one another off stage, and to enjoy each other’s work onstage. There’s a camaraderie and artistic trust that enables for good, honest work. Now watch, in reality, Jeff probably has a dart board with my face on it in his dressing room.

PH: The role of Jean Valjean is a coveted role in musical theatre history – what is it like to play him?

Adam: This role is one of only a few on the bucket list, so to have the opportunity to bring it to life on stage at the DECC, with this phenomenal cast, members of the DSSO, amazing crew, designers, and director, is pretty awesome, to say the least.

PH: What research did you do to prepare for Valjean?

Adam: I went back and re-read section of the book, watched some clips from old film adaptations, but as with other shows, I mostly look to the text, myself, my fellow actors, and my director.

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Adam Sippola as “Jean Valjean” at “Les Misérables” rehearsal at UMD.

PH: What was your biggest challenge in playing this role?

Adam: The greatest challenge has been to strip away preconceptions of Valjean, and to just allow myself to find the character in my voice and body, and in my life, regardless of how it’s been done before, or what expectations others may have.

PH: Tell us a little bit about what this production/role/opportunity means to you.

Adam: It’s an absolute honor, all of it. It’s a joy to play on stage every day and night with this cast and crew – there’s great love there. It’s both humbling and empowering to perform with such consistently high caliber musicians and actors, and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Ms. Danner, a beautiful person and wonderful director, continuing in my personal growth as a performer. Perhaps most importantly, I am honored to be a part of telling this story of love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness – to meet my fellow actors in this world of Les Miserables, and to go with them beyond the barricade.

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Adam Sippola as “Jean Valjean” left, Jennifer Graupmann Campbell as “Cosette” right at “Les Misérables” rehearsal at UMD.

PH: Any special thanks or shout outs?

Adam: My childhood cello teacher, Betsy Husby, taught me so much, not only about how to play the cello, but by example, how to carry myself as a musician and performer. Week after week, year after year, sitting in lessons with her, exploring music, I can see in retrospect that I was also finding my voice, and cultivating a passionate attitude for music performance, which became the foundation for how I sing and perform today. I am so thankful! And the serendipitous part is that Betsy is playing cello in the orchestra for Les Miserables, so after many, many years, we’re making music together again.

I’d also like to thank my mom, Carlene, for always being my biggest fan and supporter, along with my dad, John, for always singing with me, and for teaching me the art of listening. And thank you Nicole, Vali, and Anja, for your love and support.


Don’t forget to get your tickets, we open tonight! You can purchase in person at the DECC Ticket Office or online by clicking the button below. We’re expecting it to be busy at the door, so advance sales are always recommended. See you at the show!

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