Thursday, June 28, 2012

Seussical Musical Visits Bigfork

Poor Horton, no one can hear the plight of tiny Jojo and all the rest of the Whos in Whoville on a spec of dust that he is protecting, he also is trying to save Mayzie La Bird’s egg because she is not very responsible, all while facing challenges an elephant should not have to undergo. But Horton will not give up. What a hero… especially to Gertrude McFuzz, who never loses faith in him. And you get to see all of this and more in the musical SEUSSICAL on stage at The Edge Center in Bigfork.  It is presented by The Stages Theatre Company, STC of Hopkins, Minnesota on July 13 through 15. The Friday and Saturday performances are at 7PM and Sunday at 2PM. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

It is one of the most performed musicals in America and is the fourth time Stages (STC) has brought a production to Bigfork. The reason it is performed so much is that it is funny, cheerful, colorful and fun. But then, every time Stages comes to Bigfork they bring something special and this is their fourth visit. According to Artistic Director for Stages, Sandy Boren-Barrett, they keep coming back because they like the venue, which The Edge Center provides, and the community that provides the audiences.

SEUSSICAL the musical, is the creation of two Tony winners: Stephan Flaherty and Lynn Aherns whose credits include: Tony awards and nominations, Grammy nominations, Outer Circle awards, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. Their body of work includes RAGTIME, SEUSSICAL, LUCKY STIFF, MY FAVORITE YEAR, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND and the movie ANASTASIA. The music for SEUSSICAL is by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and the book also by them. SEUSSICAL is based on the works of Dr. Seuss. With this kind of talent and credentials, it is understandable why the result of their collaboration ended up in such a huge success in SUESSICAL. The above is a Tony Award winning photo: photo by Anita and Steve Shevette.

But we should not overlook the roots of SUSSICAL. In this case the source is a piece of Americana himself in the very special Dr. Seuss. Who was a very creative and entertaining person. So much so that on the 104th anniversary of his birth, he got his own U.S. Stamp.

He was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Massachusetts in 1902 and died in California in 1991. Between those dates he won a Pulitzer prize, three Academy Awards and wrote 44 children’s books under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo Leieg and Rosetta Stone. He graduated from Dartmouth, wrote training films for the Army during World War II, and received an early Oscar for the character Gerald McBoing-Boing.

Geisel’s publisher is responsible for Dr. Suess books using limited words. It started when Life magazine wrote a report in 1954 about illiteracy in school children. Among other things, the article reported that one reason children didn’t read much was that children’s books were so boring. Influenced by that, Geisel’s publisher sent him 400 words and challenged him to write a book using about 250 of them. He used 236 in writing The Cat in the Hat. Instant success!

He is said to have had an offbeat sense of humor, wrote books wearing strange hats and wrote his first book on a ship to the cadence of the ship’s engine noise. Interesting start to a very interesting career.

And finally, let’s end with a piece of advice from Horton. When facing a difficult road with challenges and pitfalls remember what he said, “This looks kinda... precarious. Well nothing to worry, obviously when they build a bridge like this they take into account that elephants will be crossing here.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bigfork Almanac Has Big Puppets, Shadows, Music, and Fun

The glaciers made Northern Minnesota look this way. Nature’s trees, animals and seasons helps it turn into a beautiful garden with a different look for each season. The people add character to its history. And “what’s happening” is why it is interesting. THE ALMANAC in Bigfork at The Edge Center this week mixes all this together into a really “different” story of this part of the world through the ages. It’s a play with fourteen-foot puppets, stories told in shadow, tall tales, cooking, music and games.

Puppet shows through out the world are not just for children. They are part of entertainment for all ages. Call it “devised”, call it collaborative, call it really original, or just call it fun. It’s still THE ALAMNAC and will be on stage at The Edge Center in Bigfork June 21 to 24. Thursday through Saturday performancea are at 7PM and Sunday at 2PM. Admission is $12 for adults, $5 for children and $3 student rush.

The people in the area created the incredible colors and caricatures in this production. The puppets were made by teams of students and adults, as was the story line over the past few weeks. This magic was created under the direction of Theresa Linnihan, a New York puppet master, teacher, and performer. It’s all part of The Edge Center’s mission to bring a variety of art forms to the community. There will be a question and answer period after the Thursday through Saturday shows where you can learn all you want to know about this special event.

THE ALMANAC starts with the Ice Age and includes tidbits about how hard it can be to farm here, what early pioneers brought to the Bigfork including American Indian legend Busticogen, why Blue Jays are so tough, recipes, poems, a booby-trapped John, some original music and much more. In short, it is an almanac of humor, history and original visual images. If you want a really “different” theatrical experience, this is it. Come and see for yourself.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Big Puppet Season in Bigfork: Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring Debut

Thanks to lots of work by The Edge Center volunteers and Bigfork School students, the Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring Big Puppets showed up at the Wilderness Days parade in Bigfork this Saturday. It’s the first time they have been seen in public and were a big hit. They were described as being like a little bit of the Mardi Gras in Bigfork. The next showing will be on The Edge Center Stage in Bigfork. The event will be THE ALMANAC production by The EdgeWild players from June 21 to 24. The “actors” in the production will include these puppets and more.

"Photos Courtesy of Mr.B. Feld"

THE ALMANAC story is from the history, legends, experiences and tall tales of the area mixed in with plenty of music. It gives a fun look at Northern Minnesota history from the time of glaciers to the present. It will be at The Edge Center Thursday through Saturday at 7PM and Sunday at 2PM. Admission is $12 for adults, $5 for children and $3 student rush.

Teresa Linnihan, a New York puppet master, teacher, and performer is creating and directing THE ALMANAC from ideas generated by the community. Theresa has had over 20 years of experience as a puppeteer, years of experience acting/directing theater, was director of the Newburyport Children's Theater at Maudslay State Park, and was an integral part of The Puppeteer’s Cooperative.


THE ALMANAC is truly original theater and starts with the Ice Age. It includes tidbits about how hard it can be to farm here, what early pioneers brought to the Bigfork area including American Indian ledgend Busticogen, why Blue Jays are so tough, recipes, poems, a booby-trapped John, some original music andmuch more. In short, it is an almanac.

THE ALMANAC promises to be a special event filled with laughs, music and good fun for everyone of all ages. Please join us for a fun event and get to see some fourteen foot puppets, Blue Jays swarming, shadow theather and have a good time.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Big Puppets Story Telling

Bigfork Almanac of the Seasons
Some big puppets are being made by Bigfork students for the community’s Wilderness Days parade and will star in The Almanac production on stage at The Edge Center later in June. What The Almanac is about and what these fourteen-foot characters do has yet to be decided. That is the next step in this special “devised theater” event by The Edgewild Players.
Devised or collaborative theater is usually developed by the performers as will be the case with The Almanac. The first step is on June 4th with two audition/brainstorming sessions from 2PM to 4PM and 4PM to 6PM where anyone can join in and help with virtually anything they would like to see shown on-stage.
Come with your stories, tall tales, recipes, local history, anecdotes, music poems or ANYTHING at all. All contributions will be considered. The themes will develop around the four seasons of the area like any almanac should. Participants can be any age, can participate in anyway they want and just enjoy the experience. Devised theater is just what it sounds like. The action, script, topics and results are created in the process.
The June 4th sessions will just be the start. From June 5th through the 8th, the ideas from the brainstorming sessions will turn into the action of the play. Participants will help build, write, sing and develop a finished product on June 9th which is the Bigfork Wilderness Days celebration. The puppets created by students will be in the parade as a warm-up to the June 21 to 24th performances.
Theresa Linnihan, a New York puppet master, teacher, and performer is already teaching and supervising the making some of the puppets by students in 3rd through 6th grade. But, if the developing story needs different ones, they will be made to order. This process is a truly “blank canvas” and The Almanac will be the art we put on it. If you have ever had a story you want told, a song you want sung, history you want recorded, poem you want read, here is a chance to get it done..
The results of all this will be four performances of The Almanac at The Edge Center stage June 21st to 24th with performances at 7PM and Sunday at 2PM. If this sounds different, that is because it is…we don’t know what will develop, but we know it will be lots of fun…come join in.
This event is for the pure fun of community theater. Age does not matter or experience. This is a good chance to learn and work at something you may never get a chance to do again. Sound like fun? Come to Bigfork on the 4th and find out.