Northern Fort Playhouse

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Aberdeen American News Article June 24, 2012

Meet the company of the Northern Fort Playhouse’s 7th season of summer theatre.  The cast members of the Northern Fort Playhouse are gearing up for the seventh season of theatre at historic Fort Sisseton. The two productions this summer will be a vintage musical by Cole Porter entitled You Never Know beginning on Friday, July 6 and a new farce by Playhouse favorite Ken Ludwig, The Fox on the Fairway beginning on Saturday, July 7. Performances continue in rotation for the next two weekends ending on Saturday, July 21.This year’s company is a group of six includes that veteran actors Yvonne Freese of Lanesboro, MN, Cory Niles of Aberdeen, Seth Honerman of Sioux Falls and Sarah Honerman of Sioux Falls as well as newcomers Kris Monroe of Spearfish and Haley Hubbard of De Smet.Although new to the NFP stage, neither Hubbard nor Monroe is a stranger to theatre. Hubbard has starred in several plays at De Smet High School, the De Smet community theatre, the Huron community theatre and even several plays at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant. She also participated in oral interpretation all four years of high school. Likewise, Monroe has starred in countless plays at T.F. Riggs High School in Pierre, the Pierre Grand Opera House, the Forney-Cronin Studio of Dance Arts and now NSU. He has also taken several years of dance classes.Newcomers and veterans alike are excited to spend the summer learning and working with a talented group of individuals. Hubbard says she is “looking forward to meeting new people and getting more acting experience.” As an incoming freshman, Hubbard will be a new face not only on NFP’s stage, but also among her coworkers. Similarly, Monroe is excited to work with such “an encouragingly talented group of people. The best part is, these exceptional people happen to be my friends.”While recalling past experiences at the Fort, Freese expressed her excitement for campfires after performances, accompanied by smores and laughter. Niles recalled a competitive game of flag football two summers ago; “I particularly remember how intense and competitive Yvonne Freese got” Niles stated. As for Seth Honerman, his memories are of the audience. “It doesn’t feel like its work and it’s so satisfying to hear the audience laugh and enjoy themselves through the work that we do onstage.”The advice of the veterans for the newcomers seems concise. Sarah Honerman advises the newcomers to “put forth their best effort and have fun. It can get stressful, but the reactions of the audience in the end are worth all the work.”Tickets are $12.00 for a single show, or season tickets for 2 shows are $22.00. Tickets are now available in person in Britton at the Tom Farber Insurance Agency, 705 Main St. (from 9 to 5 Mondays through Fridays) or by telephone at (605)-467-3247. Credit cards are accepted. Dinner theatre options are available for the three Saturday performances. The Playhouse website (www.northernfortplayhouse.com) has detailed information about menus for each Saturday.

The Northern Fort Playhouse is partially supported by a grant from the Britton Area Community Foundation.
The Britton Area Foundation through the South Dakota Community Foundation has awarded the Northern Fort Playhouse a grant of $7500.00 over three years. NFP is grateful for this valuable support of their efforts to bring quality arts entertainment to Northeastern South Dakota. Pictured here is NFP Board member and Treasurer Vivian Hove receiving the first installment of the grant from Brittion Area Foundation board member, Cheryl Swanson.

NSU 2011-2012 Outstanding Educator of the Year - Dan Yurgaitis, Artistic Director

STANDING OVATION: NFP would like to congratulate our Artistic Director Dan Yurgaitis on being named NSU 2011-12 Outstanding Educator of the Year!!! We are so lucky to have such a talented and outstanding director on our staff! Thank you for all you do for the arts in NE South Dakota and the NSU students!

June 26, 2011    Northern Fort Playhouse 6th Season, Opens July 8th
'Marvelous Wonderettes' featuring songs from the 50's and 60's

     The Northern Fort Playhouse opens its first show of its 2011 season at 7:30 p.m. July 8 with the South Dakota premiere of “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”  “Conceived and written by Roger Bean, it's a cotton-candy-colored, nonstop pop musical blast from the past,” according to  press release.  Featuring a collection of favorite songs from the 1950s and '60s, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School prom, where we meet the Wonderettes - Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy, four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts and voices to match.  “There are fights, giggles, confessions, lots of dancing and great songs as the girls entertain the prom audience as they work out their biggest problem - namely boy trouble,” according to the news release.
     The journey to the stage for the Wonderettes started more than 11 years ago in Wisconsin. In 1998, director Roger Bean was asked to write a new musical for Milwaukee Repertory Theater's black box space. He was drawn to his childhood memories of his mother, Lois Bean, and the many hours he sat listening to her collection of 45s from the 1950s and '60s. So Bean came up with an idea that would feature a group of girls, who were best friends and singers, performing at their senior prom.  The original one-act version of “The Marvelous Wonderettes” was the result. Over the next few years, the show was developed into a two-act musical. Bean took this version to theaters across the country with success and capped it off with a return engagement in Milwaukee.  The ongoing success of the musical did not go unnoticed, and with a new producing partner, David Elzer, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” began a two-year run at the El Portal Theater in Los Angeles. “The Marvelous Wonderettes” made its New York debut at the Westside Theater in New York City in September 2008, running until Jan. 3, 2010. It is enjoying a national tour and special engagements across the country.  The Northern Fort Playhouse is at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park near Lake City.
     “The Marvelous Wonderettes” is directed and choreographed by Northern Fort Playhouse artistic director Daniel Yurgaitis and features members of the 2011 Playhouse Company in the following roles:  Playing quiet Missy will be Sarah Honerman; tomboy Betty Jean is taken on by Emily Davis; dizzy Suzy will be played by Kelsey Leddy; would-be diva Cindy Lou will taken on by Yvonne Freese. Mary Marion of Aberdeen will again be the musical director and pianist for the show.  In addition to July 8, performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. July 10 and at 7:30 p.m. July 16 and 23. The latter two evenings are both dinner theater nights. The menu for the July 16 dinner theater night, catered by Tasteful Touch Catering of Webster, includes roasted pork loin.  On July 23, the menu includes smoked beef brisket and will be catered by The Bistro of Britton.  Tickets: $12 for adults, $29 for the dinner and show and $6 for children younger than 12; 605-467-3247 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Credit cards are accepted.Dinner theater reservations must be arranged by Wednesday of the week of each dinner theater night. Details: http://www.northern fortplayhouse.com.

A letter from our Artistic Director
Dear NSU Friend of the Northern Fort Playhouse,

     As Artistic Director, I am excited to announce our sixth year of presenting professional theatre at beautiful Fort Sisseton State Historic Park., and equally excited to recognize you as a true friend of the arts in northeast South Dakota. I want to personally thank you because through your attendance, the Playhouse has been able to keep costs down and quality up during these tough economictimes. The unique partnership forged between Northern State University and Fort Sisseton has made it possible for student actors to get professional experience and for professional quality theatre to be available at affordable prices for northeastern South Dakotans. The Playhouse is also excited about this summer’s offerings: First off we have the hit pop song musical comedy, The Marvelous Wonderettes, about a girl singing group with hearts and voices as big as their crinoline skirts. Our comedy offering will be Kosher Lutherans, which shares the hilarious antics of a childless couple and what they will put themselves through for that bundle of joy. I hope you will consider joining the Regiment's Corp. this year. Your continued attendance means a great deal to all of us at the Playhouse. We ask that you think about joining Regiment Corp. this season. Consider adding your support. For as little as $25 you can make a difference. Please mark your preference below and mail this form back to our office or call 605-467-3247 to place your order. Checks can be mailed to our address below, or if you wish to pay by credit card, just give us a call. Of course. all donations are tax-deductible. Each donor will receive recognition in the program, newsletter, and our web site: www.northernfortplayhouse.com. As our specia lthanks to you, we’ll also send you two complimentary tickets to the show of your choice (meal cost for dinner theatre available forpurchase separately) for the ranks of Lieutenant and above. We hope you’ll use these complimentary tickets to introduce newfriends to the Playhouse. Thanks for your continued support, and we hope to see you this summer at the theater! Thanks for your support, Daniel Yurgaitis, Artistic Director Northern Fort Playhouse  PO Box 129 - Britton, SD 57430                      605-467-3247          www.northernfortplayhouse.com
NFP Announces its Productions and Acting Company
     Sisseton, S.D. -- The Northern Fort Playhouse is excited to announce its productions for its sixth season of summer performances at Fort Sisseton State Historic Park. The season’s first opening night is Friday, July 8 with the 1950s-1960s musical comedy spoof The Marvelous Wonderettes which takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School prom where we meet the Wonderettes - Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy and Suzy, four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts and voices to match! As we learn about their lives and loves, we are treated to the girls performing such classic 50’s and 60’s songs as “Lollipop,” “Dream Lover,” “Stupid Cupid,” “Lipstick on Your Collar,” “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” “It’s My Party,” “It’s In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)” and many more! There are fights, giggles, confessions, lots of dancing and great songs as the girls entertain the prom audience as they work out their biggest problem- namely boy trouble! The production will be directed and staged by NFP Artistic Director Daniel Yurgaitis. Mary Marion of Aberdeen will be the musical director and pianist for the show. Performances are scheduled for Friday, July 8 at 7:30, Sunday, July 10 at 2:00, Saturday, July 16 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30, and Friday, July 23 at 7:30 (a dinner theatre night).
     The second opening night is Saturday, July 9 with Kosher Lutherans by William Missouri Downs and directed by Seth Honerman. Kosher Lutherans revolves around babies and faith. Franklyn and Hannah, a childless married couple in their thirties face a moral crisis over the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays when they realize that Allison, the unwed, pregnant, teen from Iowa whose baby they want to adopt doesn’t know they are Jewish, has never known anyone Jewish and what she's heard isn't good. Their best friends, Ben and Martha, are experiencing their own marital and childless crisis as Jewish Martha decides to try being Lutheran Martha. To solve these dilemmas, what do they do? Audiences will be surprised and delighted by the answers. Performances are scheduled for Saturday, July 8 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30, Friday, July 15 at 7:30, Sunday, July 17 at 2:00 and Friday, July 22 at 7:30.
     The 2011 summer company of six actors will include Shanon Patek, Yvonne Freese, Sarah Belfrage, Danie Jensen, Emily Davis and Brandon Sieck. Shanon Patek is a three year veteran of the Playhouse, having had roles in Dames at Sea, How The Other Half Loves, Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know and Almost Maine. Shanon's most recent role at Northern was the glamorous actress Janet Van De Graaf in last fall's The Drowsy Chaperone. Also returning for his third season is Danie Jensen, whose Fort appearances include You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Leaving Iowa and The Fantasticks. Danie is best remembered as one of last summer's hilarious Leading Ladies.  Second season returnees include Yvonne Freese, who appeared as Luisa in The Fantasticks and the roller skating waitress in Leading Ladies. Yvonne appeared in The Drowsy Chaperone and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee this past year at NSU. Sarah Belfrage returns for her second season, after appearing as the Mute in The Fantasticks and the confused heiress in Leading Ladies. This past year at NSU she played parts in The Drowsy Chaperone and Love's Labour's Lost.
     Fort newcomers include Emily Davis and Brandon Sieck. Brandon has just completed his freshman year at NSU and appeared in their production of The Drowsy Chaperone and Love’s Labor’s Lost. Emily Davis hails from Aberdeen and is well known to Aberdeen Community Theatre audiences having appeared last summer in their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as the Narrator.
     Creative personnel will include Seth Honerman as director of Kosher Lutherans. Playhouse audience will remember Seth as the Old Actor in last season's The Fantasticks. Ryan Puffer will take on a new Playhouse role, costume designer, for both shows. Audiences will remember Ryan from his onstage appearances at the Playhouse in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Leaving Iowa. NSU's Larry Wild will again design the lights and settings for both productions. Tom Benson of Tucson will again be designing the colorful roll drops for Larry Wild's sets.
     In their first seasons, Jason Honerman of Sioux Falls will be technical director and Ben Villa of Rapid City will be stage manager for both shows. Kyle Stugelmayer also debuts at the Playhouse as dance captain and house manager.
     The Playhouse will once again be offering two Sunday matinees at 2 pm. There will be one matinee for The Marvelous Wonderettes (July 10th) and one for Kosher Lutherans (July 18th). Evening performances will start at 7:30 pm. Dinner theatre options are available for the three Saturday performances. For menu details, contact the Playhouse office.
     Tickets are now available at the Northern Fort Playhouse office in Britton. Call 605-467-3247 where seats for regular performances and the dinner theatre nights can be reserved from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets are $12.00 for adults, $29.00 for the dinner and show and a special $6.00 admission for children under 12. Credit cards are accepted. Group rates and season subscription discounts are available. The office can provide more information. Days of performances, tickets will be available at the South Barracks Theatre. Check our webpage www.northernfortplayhouse.com for news, dinner theatre menus and ticket specials!
Summer Theater at the Historic Fort Sisseton
     This summer, the students from Northern State University’s Department of Theater will again bring theater to northeast South Dakota.
More specifically, they’ll bring the productions to Fort Sisseton Historic State Park, in the park’s stone South Barracks.  In its first heyday, the barracks served as the sleeping and living quarters for the fort’s soldiers. For every summer for the past six years, it has taken on new life as the setting for the Northern Fort Playhouse. True, it’s not your typical pairing, but this unique theater location features an ample stage, large seating capacity, easy parking, serene surroundings, and a very magical and classic feel for the play attendees.
“Every July the South Barracks transforms into a classic theater,” said Katie Ceroll, Fort Sisseton park manager. “The magnificent shows combined with the serene atmosphere and the natural beauty of the lakes and prairies surrounding the fort create a unique picturesque evening. It’s the highlight of our summer season.”
     The Northern Fort Playhouse is an endeavor between Northern State’s Theater Department and Fort Sisseton Historic State Park. The Playhouse Foundation creates and carries out summer performances and dinner theaters, with the actors and technical assistance provided from students and staff from Northern State University.  “The unique partnership has allowed students to get professional experience and to provide quality theatre for audiences at affordable prices,” said Daniel Yurgaitis, artistic director Northern Fort Playhouse. “Add to that the historic setting of Fort Sisseton and it is an unbeatable experience.”  Yurgaitis credit’s the theater for assisting many students in reaching their occupational goals by providing them with opportunities to learn everything from onsite set and prop creation to gaining valuable live performance experience.
     The concept of the Northern Fort Playhouse began several years ago, with the vision to provide unique, affordable and quality fine arts entertainment to the people of northeastern South Dakota. Since its first season in 2006, the Playhouse has entertained audiences with a mix of comedies and musicals that have kept patrons coming back again and again. Being in a rural region, the theater provides an experience that is rare to the immediate surrounding communities. Approximately 800 people attend the Playhouse performances each summer, including locals and those who travel from neighboring states.
     This July, theatergoers will have the opportunity to experience the 1950’s and 60’s musical comedy spoof The Marvelous Wonderettes and the comedy Kosher Lutherans.  The plays will be performed on Friday and Saturday evenings during July. To make the even more special, a dinner theater will be offered Saturday nights July 9, 16, and 23, with a gourmet menu prepared by two area caterers. There are also two Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. The varied performance schedule provides opportunity to catch both shows at convenient times.
“It has been pure joy bringing theater to the Fort for our company of actors and technicians and we can’t wait to return,” said Yurgaitis.  Fort Sisseton Historical State Park is located 10 miles southwest of Lake City, SD, off US Hwy 10. Fourteen original buildings remain intact, including stone barracks, officer’s quarters, powder magazine, barn, guardhouse, and hospital.
Leading Ladies takes separates the boys from the girls!
     The second show of the 2010 Northern Fort Playhouse season Leading Ladies by acclaimed comic playwright Ken Ludwig, opens on Saturday, July 11th. Ludwig has had a number of hits on Broadway, in London and throughout the world. He has won the coveted Laurence Olivier Award, London’s highest theatre honor, in addition to two Tony Award nominations and two Helen Hayes Awards. His work has been performed in over 30 countries in at least 20 languages.  His works include Crazy for You, which won the Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Musical, Lend Me a Tenor, which won two Tony Awards and the Olivier Award nomination for Best Play was produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and was recently called “one of the two great farces by a living writer” by The New York Times, Moon Over Buffalo, which marked Carol Burnett’s return to Broadway after 30 years, Besides Leading Ladies, his latest plays include Be My Baby, The Three Musketeers, which was commissioned by Bristol Old Vic (and also produced at NSU last February), The Beaux' Stratagem, which is an adaptation of a Restoration comedy begun by Thornton Wilder, completed at the request of the Wilder Estate, and An American in Paris, a new Gershwin musical.  Leading Ladies is directed by Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha.
     This is a hilarious comedy about two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, who find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing on the Moose Lodge circuit in the Amish country of Pennsylvania in the late 1950s. When they hear that an old lady in York, PA is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her beloved relatives and get the cash. The trouble is, when they get to York, they find out that the relatives aren't nephews, but nieces! Romantic entanglements abound, especially when Leo falls head-over-petticoat in love with the old lady’s vivacious niece, Meg, who’s engaged to the local minister. Meg knows that there’s a wide world out there, but it’s not until she meets “Maxine and Stephanie” that she finally gets a taste of it.
     At its premiere in Texas, the Houston Post remarked that "Ludwig’s newest comedy is so funny, it will make sophisticated and reasonable men and women of the 21st century cackle till their faces hurt," while the Houston Press added that "Leading Ladies is consistently funny - indeed, increasingly hilarious as it progresses, "and Variety announced "look for Leading Ladies to become a staple of summer stock and community theatres. And, mind you, I mean that as a compliment."
     Northern Fort Playhouse's Leading Ladies features members of the 2010 Playhouse Company in the following roles-. Adam Sahli and Danie Jensen play Leo and Jack who become Stephanie and Maxine, Sarah Belfrage plays the engaged Meg, while Seth Honerman plays the Reverend Duncan, the fiancé, and Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha plays Florence the rich widow in search of her heirs. Rounding out the cast are Yvonne Freese as the lovely Audrey, Cory Niles as Doc and Ben Kraft as Butch.

Performances are scheduled for Saturday, July 100 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30, Friday, July 16 at 7:30, Sunday, July 18 at 2:00
and Saturday, July 24 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30.

     Tickets are now available at the Northern Fort Playhouse office in Britton. Call 605-448-2772 where seats for regular performances and the dinner theatre nights can be reserved from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information about the dinner theatre menus can be found at www.northernfortplayhouse.com <http://www.northernfortplayhouse.com> . Tickets are $11.00 for adults, $28.00 for the dinner and show and a special $5.00 admission for children under 12. Credit cards are accepted. Group rates and season subscription discounts are available. The office can provide more information. Days of performances, tickets will be available at the South Barracks Theatre.

The Northern Fort Playhouse is partially supported by a grant from the South Dakota Arts Council, the South Dakota Community Foundation and the 2010 season sponsor Northern Lights Inn of Britton, South Dakota (www.northernlightsinn.net).

2010 Leading Ladies is directed by Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha.

     This is a hilarious comedy about two English Shakespearean actors, Jack and Leo, who find themselves so down on their luck that they are performing on the Moose Lodge circuit in the Amish country of Pennsylvania in the late 1950s. When they hear that an old lady in York, PA is about to die and leave her fortune to her two long lost English nephews, they resolve to pass themselves off as her beloved relatives and get the cash. The trouble is, when they get to York, they find out that the relatives aren't nephews, but nieces! Romantic entanglements abound, especially when Leo falls head-over-petticoat in love with the old lady’s vivacious niece, Meg, who’s engaged to the local minister. Meg knows that there’s a wide world out there, but it’s not until she meets “Maxine and Stephanie” that she finally gets a taste of it.

     Northern Fort Playhouse's Leading Ladies features members of the 2010 Playhouse Company in the following roles-. Adam Sahli and Danie Jensen play Leo and Jack who become Stephanie and Maxine, Sarah Belfrage plays the engaged Meg, while Seth Honerman plays the Reverend Duncan, the fiancé, and Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha plays Florence the rich widow in search of her heirs. Rounding out the cast are Yvonne Freese as the lovely Audrey, Cory Niles as Doc and Ben Kraft as Butch.

“Happiness is anything or anyone loved by you.”  By Marcia Forrester

     The six-member cast of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” proved that Saturday night at the Northern Fort Playhouse (NFP) at the theatre in the south barracks at Fort Sisseton State Historic Park.  Over 170 people attended the musical with many taking part in the dinner before the play and some took advantage of the buggy ride narrated by Curt Jones through the fort between the two events. Northern State University President Jim Smith and wife Connie Ruhl-Smith were in attendance and took part in all the activities.
     “What a great evening!” President Smith said. “It was a wonderful performance, a great meal and a very interesting tour of the fort. I am amazed what this part of the country has to offer.”  Dr. Connie Reuel Smith echoed his thoughts. “The whole evening was great fun,” she said. “It was very enjoyable. I hope everyone will take advantage of this theatre opportunity in this beautiful setting.”  Others in attendance had only compliments on the evening. Britton residents Peggy and Kermit Pearson thought it was a delightful show.  “The whole night was great,” Peggy said. “The meal was excellent and the entertainment was outstanding.”  Joan Storley from Roslyn was in attendance with 14 other Red Hat ladies. “We had a great time,” she said. “I liked it all very much.”  The musical and the play “Leaving Iowa” are heading into their last weekend of performances with “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” playing on Friday, July 24 at 7:30, and “Leaving Iowa,” the dinner (6:00) and show (7:30) on Saturday, July 25. Tickets can be reserved by calling 448-5474.
     The Rainbow Catering Service owned by Glenn and Sandy Lehr will cater the Saturday evening dinner and they are planning stuffed pork chops, sweet potato fries, crunchy cauliflower salad and pound cake topped with an apricot sauce for Saturday night.  The comedy “Leaving Iowa” is told in a flashback about a journalist who returns home to Winterset, IA, to find a resting place for his father’s ashes. He relives the summer vacations he spent with his family and father.  “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” features Charles Schulz’ belovedPeanuts characters in snippets from the characters’ lives well-known by all who faithfully read the cartoons throughout the years. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Sally Brown, Schroeder and Snoopy share their attempts to understand life and each other and show us, as Charles Schulz did, that we all have to learn to accept and care for each other in order to be at peace in this world.  Charlie Brown is portrayed by Ben Kraft from Mobridge. He’s in his first season in the summer theatre playhouse and will be a freshman at NSU this fall. The audience almost weeps with him as he tries to understand why he isn’t loved and blames it on being a “loser” at everything he tries, including trying to get the attention of the little “red-headed” girl in his class. Kraft does a terrific job as Charlie Brown as he begins to realize what’s important in life.  Sara Pillatzki Warzeha is in her third season at NFP and is headed to Minnesota State University Mankota to work on her Master of Fine Arts this fall. Her facial expressions and great voice give the audience Lucy at her best. Her attempts to keep her little brother Linus in line, talk Shroeder into being her boyfriend and to let Charlie Brown know he is a “loser” are hilarious.  Linus, played by Ryan Puffer, an English Education major at NSU, does an excellent portrayal as he proves that some kind of a “blanket” is used by everybody. His attempts to be honest to his sister and keep Charlie Brown from being completely depressed are what everyone remembers about Linus.Jennifer Waddle Rott comes on stage with a vitality in Charlie Brown’s sister Sally that shows the audience a fantastic voice and side-splitting facial expressions. Rott has been in 500 performances including work at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. She is fun to watch and a delight to hear.  Charlie Brown is portrayed by Ben Kraft from Mobridge. He’s in his first season in the summer theatre playhouse and will be a freshman at NSU this fall. The audience almost weeps with him as he tries to understandwhy he isn’t loved and blames it on being a “loser” at everything he tries, including trying to get the attention of the little “red-headed” girl in his class. Kraft does a terrific job as Charlie Brown as he begins to realize what’s important in life.  Sara Pillatzki Warzeha is in her third season at NFP and is headed to Minnesota State University Mankota to work on her Master of Fine Arts this fall. Her facial expressions and great voice give the audience Lucy at her best. Her attempts to keep her little brother Linus in line, talk Shroeder into being her boyfriend and to let Charlie Brown know he is a “loser” are hilarious.  Linus, played by Ryan Puffer, an English Education major at NSU, does an excellent portrayal as he proves that some kind of a “blanket” is used by everybody. His attempts to be honest to his sister and keep Charlie Brown from being completely depressed are what everyone remembers about Linus.  Jennifer Waddle Rott comes on stage with a vitality in Charlie Brown’s sister Sally that shows the audience a fantastic voice and side-splitting facial expressions. Rott has been in 500 performances including work at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. She is fun to watch and a delight to hear.  Brian Warzeha in his second season at the NFP plays Shroeder, an avid Beethoven piano player. He is an NSU grad in chemistry with an unbelievable voice who rallies everyone to give Beethoven the credit he deserves.  Then, there is Snoopy. Danie Jensen, a Wilmot native, is in his first season at the Fort and a double major in English and Musical Theatre at Northern State University. He does some great “puppy-dog” dancing and singing as he plays the infamous Snoopy. His great performance brings back so many memories of the renowned character.
     Turning this talented group into a fun-filled night of professional entertainment is artistic director Daniel Yurgaitis, theatre professor at NSU. In his fourth season of guiding the NFP, Yurgaitis exhibits the excitement of the fort theatre. The cast practices for two weeks and perform for three weekends.  “We have two great shows this year,” he said. “I like employing young people from South Dakota and want to show them that good theatre is possible and appreciated in this state. Hopefully, they will return and be theatre contributors in our state.  “Attendance has grown every year,” Yurgaitis noted. “The weather has really helped us this year since it’s been cool and our ceiling fans have kept our theatre very comfortable. We have great support from northeastern South Dakota. I want to show the great musical talent NSU has to offer.”The NFP Foundation Board of Directors includes Kristin Bennet, Executive Director (Britton); Tom Farber, president (Britton); Karen DeVine, vice-president (Britton); Linda Wegleitner, secretary (Claire City); Vivian Hove, treasurer (Britton); Daniel Yurgaitis, Artistic Director (Aberdeen); Mary Dunn (Eden), Diane Johnson (Sisseton); Dr. James Seeber (Aberdeen); Rosie Smith (Watertown); Margaret Trefz (Webster) and Katie Bogue, Fort Sisseton Park Manager.  The backstage crew consists of Erin Dahmes, a 2009 NSU elementary graduate; Ben Villa, an NSU sophomore majoring in Music Education and Musical Theatre and Mary Holm, an NSU junior majoring in Instrumental Music and Musical Theatre.
Last weekend for Summer Theater at Historic Fort Sisseton
Record-breaking audience numbers last weekend tell the story. You're a Good Man Charlie Brown - the Broadway Musical is not to be missed! One last performance will be this Friday night, July 24th at 7:30 pm. Take the kids, re-live your own childhood...don't miss Charlie Brown at beautiful Historic Fort Sisseton!  One more weekend for Leaving Iowa, with a special dinner theater performance Saturday, July 25th. Great family entertainment, beautiful summer evenings at Fort Sisseton - don't miss it!  Call 605-448-5474 to get your reserved seats.
Leaving Iowa takes audiences on a comical road
    The second show of the 2009 Northern Fort Playhouse season, Leaving Iowa, opens on Saturday, July 11th; it is the South Dakota premiere of the comedy. Playwrights Tim Clue and Spike Manton reach into the collective memories of Middle America in creating Leaving Iowa, at turns both funny and touching. The comedy makes an honest attempt to deal with the conflicting emotions found within families and how our perceptions of events can change over the years.
     Told in flashback, this hilarious sentimental comedy about a journalist who returns home to Winterset, Iowa to find a final resting place for his father’s ashes is a nostalgic ode to days gone by. As the journalist searches for the perfect spot to scatter the ashes, he relives the summer vacations he spent as boy trapped in the family station wagon en route to uninteresting historical sites with a well-meaning but naïve father. With a generous dollop of humor and a heart as big as the Midwest, Leaving Iowa shows us that the journey really is as important as the destination. Nominated for Best New Play by the American Theatre Critics Association, Leaving Iowa is guaranteed to keep you laughing and remembering the childhood vacations you tried to forget.  Talking about their childhoods, Tim Clue and his writing partner Spike Manton realized they shared a formative experience: the excruciating family vacation.  It's a form of torture common to most North American kids – interminable journeys in the family station wagon (or SUV, mini-van or subcompact) to places that mom and especially dad thought were a lot more interesting than their kids did.
     Leaving Iowa sprang from such memories. A bittersweet family story that toggles between past and present, it chronicles a man's coming to terms with his late father, his family and his youth as he attempts to lay his dad's remains to rest.Clue said he and Manton began comparing notes. "Spike and I both come from very small towns." (Manton grew up in an upstate New York burgh with 2,000 souls, Clue in a town of 6,000 west of Chicago.) "And we both had this experience of being cooped up in the back of some stuffy vehicle and taken to a place we didn't want to go, and we had no idea why we were going there."
     "We knew as writers that we could find a way to make the audience relive that experience, and we knew there was comedy to be mined there." Clue and Manton have been working on plays together for almost 20 years, so their process by now has become efficient. "It's a cliché, but we don't need to talk much. Each one knows what the other one is going to say before he opens his mouth."  Customarily, a Clue/Manton script goes through many different versions, and that can be time-consuming. Leaving Iowa was pushed along by the interest of film actor Jeff Daniels, who wanted to stage the play at his Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea, Michigan.
     "Jeff was seeking a play for the Purple Rose and came across an article about Leaving Iowa. His artistic director called us up and asked us for the script," Clue said. The story went through several revisions before the first performance at Purple Rose.The story follows Don Browning, a big time Boston columnist who has returned to his native Iowa for a baptism. While there, he realizes he has unfinished business – his father's ashes are still at the home, years after his death. In an effort to make amends for long-ago conflicts, Don decides to take the remains to his grandparent's old home, as his father wished.
     Of course, things don't turn out as planned and Don ends up on a two-day journey across the Midwest, trying to find the right place to bring his father home. All the while, his memories take him back to one memorable family vacation to Hannibal, Missouri, which eventually draws Don to the perfect spot. "The best part about our childhood family expeditions concerned the things that happened along the way. And the best stories are about journeys, aren't they?"  There are complications, of course, as in any good story. "When Don gets to his grandmother's house, he finds it has been torn down and the spot has been turned into a grocery store. So he's in a dilemma: how do you satisfy the final request of a man who has sacrificed everything in life to you?"  "We wanted it to be a fun ride, somewhat sentimental, but not a mawkish thing. I love the National Lampoon vacation movies, but that kind of comedy has already been done."   We produced it and directed it ourselves in Chicago, where it ran for over a year," Clue said. "That's my home turf. It was a unique and worthwhile adventure. Word of mouth made it keep going and going." The play has proved popular in other midwestern cities, including Madison, Des Moines, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
     What makes the play click is that it's a mix of personal and universal experience, Clue said. "I think a lot of good writing is autobiographical and fictional at the same time. If it's too autobiographical, it's indulgent. But if it doesn't have a spine taken from your own experience, the story's not specific and resonant. Finding that balance – that's the tricky part."
     Leaving Iowa is directed by returning director Doug Finlayson, who is remembered for his comic staging of How the Other Half Loves from our second season, and features members of the 2009 Playhouse Company in the following roles- Danie Jensen as writer Don Browning, Brian Warzeha as Dad, Jennifer Rott as Mom and Mary Holm as Sis. The many characters the family meets along the way will all be played by Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha and Ryan Puffer. Performances are scheduled for Saturday, July 11 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30, Friday, July 17 at 7:30, Sunday, July 19 at 2:00 and Saturday, July 25 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30. For menu details, contact the Fort. Returning for their third season of food service is Rainbow Catering of Britton.
Tickets are now available at the Fort Sisseton Visitor’s Center. Seats for regular performances and the dinner theatre nights can be reserved by calling the Fort at 605-448-5474 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

The Northern Fort Playhouse is partially supported by a grant from the South Dakota Arts Council
and the 2009 season sponsor is the Northern Lights Inn of Britton, South Dakota (www.northernlightsinn.net).

Final Weekend of the Northern Fort Playhouse Productions!

     You're a Good Man Charlie Brown amuses a full house Saturday night. "Great family entertainment!" A fun filled evening with singing and dancing with classic Schultz humor. Don't miss the final weekend of Northern Fort Playhouse productions. You're a Good Man Charlie Brown's final performance will be Friday, July 24 at 7:30 PM. The final performance of Leaving Iowa will be on Saturday, July 25 with dinner at 6:00 PM preceding the performance at 7:30 PM. Limited Dinner reservations are available. Call 605-448-5474.


For release Sunday 6/21/09

     The Northern Fort Playhouse is pleased to announce its productions for its fourth season of summer performances at Fort Sisseton State Historic Park. The season’s first opening night is Friday, July 10 with the hit musical comedy You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. It is "an average day in the life of Charlie Brown." A day made up of little moments picked from all the days of Charlie Brown, from Valentine's Day to the baseball season, from wild optimism to utter despair, all mixed in with the lives of his friends (both human and non-human) and strung together on the string of a single day, from bright uncertain morning to hopeful starlit evening. The production will be directed and staged by NFP Artistic Director Daniel Yurgaitis. Performances are scheduled for Friday, July 10 at 7:30, Sunday, July 12 at 2:00, Saturday, July 18 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30, and Friday, July 24 at 7:30.
     The second opening night is Saturday, July 11 with the sentimental comedy Leaving Iowa by Tim Clue and Spike Manton. Told in flashback, this hilarious sentimental comedy about a journalist who returns home to Winterset, Iowa to find a final resting place for his father’s ashes is a nostalgic ode to days gone by. As the journalist searches for the perfect spot to scatter the ashes, he relives the summer vacations he spent as boy trapped in the family station wagon en route to uninteresting historical sites with a well-meaning but naïve father. Returning NFP alum Doug Finlayson is back to direct this charming comedy. Playhouse audiences will remember Doug’s direction from season two’s How the Other Half Loves. Performances are scheduled for Saturday, July 11 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30, Friday, July 17 at 7:30, Sunday, July 19, at 2:00 and Saturday, July 25 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30.
     The 2009 company of eight actors will include Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha, Jennifer Rott, Ben Kraft, Brian Warzeha, Ryan Puffer, Ben Villa, Danie Jensen and Mary Holm. Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha is a veteran of the first two Playhouse seasons, having had roles in Sylvia and Plaza Suite during season one, and in Dames at Sea and How The Other Half Loves during season two. Most recent performance credits include the role of Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, and Izzy in Aberdeen Community Theatre’s production of Rabbit Hole. Jennifer Rott is an actress well known to Aberdeen area audiences and is making her debut at the Playhouse this summer. Jennifer has played roles in such Aberdeen Community Theatre as Babe in The Pajama Game, Anna in The King and I, Louise in Gypsy, Mona in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and multiple roles in the comedy Parallel Lives. Mary Holm returns for her second season at the Playhouse, this time on stage as well as backstage as tech director. This past year at NSU, Mary appeared in Fiddler on the Roof and The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
     Ben Villa is a student at NSU who is joining the Playhouse Company for his first productions. His past roles at NSU included parts in Fiddler on the Roof and Forbidden Broadway. Ryan Puffer returns for his second season, having been backstage crew his first season. Danie Jensen will also be making his first appearance at the Fort. His roles at NSU this past year included parts in Fiddler on the Roof and Eurydice. Returning for a second season is Brian Warzeha, who last appeared at the Fort in season two’s Dames at Sea. Brian has been seen in many NSU productions, including Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon and Fiddler on the Roof. Incoming musical theatre freshman, Ben Kraft of Mobridge will also be a newcomer to the Fort and will be seen in the title role of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
     The other creative personnel will include scenic designer Tom Benson, back after last year’s season. Tom has been the resident scenic designer and artist for the Gaslight Theatre in Tucson for over 30 years, designing and painting scenery for five original musical melodramas each year. He has designed and painted scenery for theatres from Vermont to southern California, including three seasons at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and has taught theatre design at the University of Arizona and at Penn State University. Angela Sahli returns this season as the costume designer for both shows. Audiences will remember Angela from her onstage appearances at the Playhouse in Sylvia, Plaza Suite and How the Other Half Loves, and her costumes for last year’s productions. NSU Technical Director Larry Wild will once again design the lights for both productions. The other company members will include Stage Manager Erin Dahmes of Aberdeen and Technical Director Mary Holm of Pierre.
     Continuing the tradition began last year, the Playhouse will once again be offering two Sunday matinees at 2 pm. There will be one matinee for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (July 12th) and one for Leaving Iowa (July 19th). Evening performances will start at 7:30 pm. Dinner theatre options are available for the three Saturday performances. For menu details, contact the Fort. Returning for their second season of food service is Rainbow Catering of Britton.

Tickets are now available at the Fort Sisseton Visitor’s Center. Seats for regular performances and the dinner theatre nights can be reserved by calling the Fort at 605-448-5474 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Tickets are $11.00 for adults, $27.00 for the dinner and show and a special $5.00 admission for children under 12 for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Group rates and season subscription discounts are available.


The Northern Fort Playhouse is partially supported by a grant from the South Dakota Arts Council and the 2009 season sponsor is the Northern Lights Inn of Britton, South Dakota (www.northernlightsinn.net).             

        2009 Leaving Iowa takes audiences on a comical road.  Playwrights Tim Clue and Spike Manton reach into the collective memories of Middle America in creating Leaving Iowa, at turns both funny and touching. The comedy makes an honest attempt to deal with the conflicting emotions found within families and how our perceptions of events can change over the years.

         Told in flashback, this hilarious sentimental comedy about a journalist who returns home to Winterset, Iowa to find a final resting place for his father’s ashes is a nostalgic ode to days gone by. As the journalist searches for the perfect spot to scatter the ashes, he relives the summer vacations he spent as boy trapped in the family station wagon en route to uninteresting historical sites with a well-meaning but naïve father. With a generous dollop of humor and a heart as big as the Midwest, Leaving Iowa shows us that the journey really is as important as the destination. Nominated for Best New Play by the American Theatre Critics Association, Leaving Iowa is guaranteed to keep you laughing and remembering the childhood vacations you tried to forget.

2009 You're a Good Man Charlie Brown amuses a full house Saturday night. "Great family entertainment!" A fun filled evening with singing and dancing with classic Schultz humor. Don't miss the final weekend of Northern Fort Playhouse productions. You're a Good Man Charlie Brown's final performance will be Friday, July 24 at 7:30 PM. The final performance of Leaving Iowa will be on Saturday, July 25 with dinner at 6:00 PM preceding the performance at 7:30 PM. Limited Dinner reservations are available. Call 605-467-3247

2009 The Northern Fort Playhouse is pleased to announce its productions for its fourth season of summer performances at Fort Sisseton State Historic Park. The season’s first opening night is Friday, July 10 with the hit musical comedy You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. It is "an average day in the life of Charlie Brown." A day made up of little moments picked from all the days of Charlie Brown, from Valentine's Day to the baseball season, from wild optimism to utter despair, all mixed in with the lives of his friends (both human and non-human) and strung together on the string of a single day, from bright uncertain morning to hopeful starlit evening. The production will be directed and staged by NFP Artistic Director Daniel Yurgaitis. Performances are scheduled for Friday, July 10 at 7:30, Sunday, July 12 at 2:00, Saturday, July 18 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30, and Friday, July 24 at 7:30.

 

The second opening night is Saturday, July 11 with the sentimental comedy Leaving Iowa by Tim Clue and Spike Manton. Told in flashback, this hilarious sentimental comedy about a journalist who returns home to Winterset, Iowa to find a final resting place for his father’s ashes is a nostalgic ode to days gone by. As the journalist searches for the perfect spot to scatter the ashes, he relives the summer vacations he spent as boy trapped in the family station wagon en route to uninteresting historical sites with a well-meaning but naive father.  Returning NFP alum Doug Finalyson is back to direct this charming comedy.  Playhouse audiences will remember Doug's direction from season two's How the Other Half Loves.  Performances are scheduled for  Saturday, July 11 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30, Friday, July 17 at 7:30, Sunday, July 19, at 2:00 and Saturday, July 25 (a dinner theatre night) at 7:30.

 

The 2009 company of eight actors will include Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha, Jennifer Rott, Ben Kraft, Brian Warzeha, Ryan Puffer, Ben Villa, Danie Jensen, and Mary Holm.  Sara Pillatzki-Warzeha is a veteran of the first two Playhouse seasons, having had roles in Sylvia and Plaza Suite during season one, and in Dames at Sea and How the Other Half Loves during season two.  Most recent performance credits include the role of Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, and Izzy in Aberdeen Community Theatre's production of Rabbit Hole.  Jennifer Rott is an actress well known to Aberdeen area audiences and is making her debut at the Playhouse this summer.  Jennifer hs played roles in such Aberdeen Community Theatre as Babe in The Pajama Game, Anna in the King and I,  Louise in Gypsy, Mona in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and multiple roles in the comedy Parallel Lives.  Mary Holm returns for her second season at thre Playhouse, this time on stage as well as backstage as tech director.  This past year at NSU, Mary appeared in Fiddler on the Rood adn The Music of Rodgers adn Hammerstein.

 

Ben Villa is a student at NSU who is joining the Playhouse Company for his first productions.  His past roles at NSU include parts in Fiddler on the Roof and Forbidden Broadway.  Ryan Puffer returns for his second season, having been backstage crew his first season.  Danie Jensen will also be making his first appearance at the Fott.  His roles at NSU this past year include parts in Fiddler on the Roof and Eurydice.  Returning for a second season is Brian Warzeha, who last appeared at the Fort in seaon two's Dames at Sea.  Brian has been seen in many NSU productions, including Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon and Fiddler on the Roof.  Incoming musical theatre freshman, Den Kraft of Mobridge will also be a newcomer to the Fort and will be seen in the title role of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.

 

The other creative personnel will include scenic designer Tom Benson, back after last year's season.  Tom has been the resident scenic designer and artist for the Gaslight Theatre in Tucson for over 30 years, designing and painting scenery for five original musical melodramas each year.  He has designed adn painted scenery for theatres from Vermont to southern California, including three seasons at the Utal Shakespearean Festival, and has taught theatre design at the University of Arizona and at Penn State University.  Angela Sahli returns this season as the costume designer for both shows.  Audiences will remember Angela from her onstage appearances at the Playhouse in Sylvia, Plaza Suite and How the Other Half Loves, and her costumes for the last year's productions.  NSU Technical Director Larry Wild will once again design the lights for both productions.  The other company members will include Stage manager Erin Dahmes of Aberdeen and Technical Director Mary Holm of Pierre.

 

Continuing the tradition began last year, the Playhouse will once again be offering two Sunday matinees at 2 pm.  There will be one matinee for You're a Good Man Charlie Brown (July 12th) and one for Leaving Iowa (July 19th).  Evening performances will start at 7:30 pm.  Dinner theatre options are available for the three Saturday performances.  For menu details, contact the Fort.  Returning for their second season of food service is Rainbow Catering of Britton.

 

TIckets are now available at the Fort Sisseton Visitor's Center.  Seats for regular performances and the dinner theatre nights can be reserved by call the Fort at 605-448-5474 from 10 am to 6 pm daily.  Tickets are $11 for adults, $27 for the dinner and show and a special $5 admission for children under 12 for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  Group rates adn season subscription discounts are avialable.

 

The Northern Fort Playhouse is partially supported by a grant from the South Dakota Arts Council and the 2009 season sponsor is Northtern Lights In of Britton, SD (www.northernlightsinn.net).