A Hootenanny Debut: Welcome Josiah!

By Josiah Robinson

Josiah Robinson
Josiah Robinson makes his first appearance on the Commonweal stage!

Hello folks! My name is Josiah Robinson, and I am playing Dennis Sanders in Sanders Family Christmas! I’m an actor and musician most recently from Chicago – but originally from the small town of Canyon, Texas. I graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in Musical Theatre. Lanesboro actually reminds me a lot of my hometown! It’s welcoming, friendly, and focused on local business and local art, which I very much appreciate. 

I’ve spent the last few years in Chicago, exploring the improv and theatre scene there. More recently, I’ve shifted my focus to just musicals, and more specifically musicals where I get to showcase my fiddle and guitar playing. Luckily for me, musicals and plays that feature actors who are also musicians are very popular right now. I’ve been able to go from working in one instrument focused show to another, which is how I ended up here in Lanesboro! 

I was able to connect with the director of Sanders Family Christmas, Alan Bailey, over Facebook, then sent in a video audition while I was on my last contract (all the way in Alaska of all places, but that’s another story), and now I’m here lending my musical talents to the great team at the Commonweal. 

Sanders Family Christmas
Sanders Family Christmas begins previews Nov 15th!

Anyone who has gone home for the holidays and experienced the joys and occasional trickiness of being around family will appreciate Sanders Family Christmas. There are really touching and tender family moments that I think are going to hit home for a lot of people. But, there is also a lot of fun, rip roaring country Christmas music that we have been working on. The music is so much fun, especially since I get to play some of my favorite instruments like violin and upright bass, which has made the rehearsal process both productive and a blast! 

I have been so delighted and impressed with the quality of work and the work ethic here at the Commonweal. Everyone bands together as a team to produce some incredible theatre, especially for a small town! I would have been so excited growing up in my small hometown to have had such quality theatre so close by. I’m proud to be a part of this theatre and this cast, and I’m excited for us to show all the Commonweal patrons a heartwarming holiday hootenanny with Sanders Family Christmas! Previews begin November 15th. I’ll see you at the Commonweal!

Trust us when we say you don’t want to miss Josiah’s work in Sanders Family Christmas! It will be a holiday treat for the entire family. For Tickets —> Performance Calendar

Music To Our Ears: The Sound Design of “On the Verge”

By Kelsey Heathcote and Caroline Hawthorne

Kelsey Heathcote (Sound Designer)
When we first read On the Verge as a company last year, I knew immediately that I wanted to do the sound design. This show is so fun and whimsical, and I knew that it would be very challenging. When we started the tech process Michael Dixon, the director, read the production team a list of qualities that he wanted to represent the show. A few of the words on that list were: imaginative, mythical, curious, whimsical, and surprising. Caroline and I went to work and began breaking down the show with this list in mind.

On the Verge closes November 10th!

As with many other shows, sound is used in a multitude of ways in On the Verge. One of the most important jobs of a sound design is to tell the setting of a scene. On the Verge passes through several very different locations such as beaches, jungles, and mountains, so establishing place was a major goal. We also worked hard to find sounds that would tug on the audience’s emotions, as well as their attention, during the monologues from the ladies to help focus on the important details that are discovered. One of the hurdles we jump constantly in sound design is adding emotion to the moment without distracting the audience or actor. Sometimes that rule is meant to be broken! Several scenes are built around popular songs, and are meant to be a comedic break to focus on the whimsical nature of the show.

This process was a huge learning experience for Caroline and I. I am very glad we were able to work together and face the challenges head on. On the Verge is a delight, and it was an honor to work with this very talented team!

A sample of what the sound program Q Lab looks like

Caroline Hawthorne (Assistant Sound Designer)
I was interested in helping Kelsey sound design for On the Verge, mainly because I have always been fascinated by how sound affects theatre. I will also be sound designing the apprentice capstone project, The Fox, so I wanted to gain some hands-on experience before we began working on it. Although I did gain new skills during this process (such as working with Q-Lab, the program which runs all of our sound), the main thing I gained through the process was an appreciation for those who work behind the scenes. As an actor, I work with people in technical disciplines, but I very rarely get to step into their shoes. With this experience, I have a greater idea of how theatre works as a whole, which I will always take me with, no matter what I am doing. 

Join the adventure! Hear both Kelsey and Caroline’s work in On the Verge! For Tickets —> Performance Calendar

Announcing Our 32nd Season!

By Philip Muehe

Yesterday afternoon we held our Season Announcement Gala! It was a great success, and was a wonderful time to reconnect with our patrons, and get the hype going for our 2020 Season. As I said in my remarks yesterday, there’s no way we could have have made it this far without the support of patrons just like you. Thank you SO much! I know you’ve clicked on this post for one reason, so without any further ado, I’m excited to let you all know our line-up for next season!

Our 2020 Season Announcement Gala, September 29
Our 2020 Season Announcement Gala was full of friends, food, and the reveal of a fantastic line-up!

I Ought to Be In Pictures

By Neil Simon
Directed by Adrienne Sweeney

Our season opens with a heartwarming comedy by one of America’s greatest playwrights. Take a road trip with Libby as she heads to LA to become a movie star—and meet the father she never knew in this poignant story about family and second chances.

Born Yesterday

By Garson Kanin
Directed by Craig Johnson

Next we will bring you a flashy send up of of politics, corruption, and preconceptions. When mobster Eddie Brock schemes to bribe a senator, showgirl Billie Dawn proves she’s not as dumb as she looks. Sparkling wit and plenty of heart will delight you in this classic—yet timely—American comedy. 

One Man, Two Guvnors

By Richard Bean

Things will really heat up in the summer months as we bring you this Tony Award-winning hit. All Francis wants is a good meal. So he gets a job. Then he gets another job. Then things really spin out of control! Fighting a mounting sense of confusion, Francis goes out of his way to serve both bosses. But how long can he keep them apart? Belly laughs abound in this side-splitting farce.

Doubt

By John Patrick Shanley
Directed by Michael Bigelow Dixon

With the changing of the seasons, we are proud to present a play that won both the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for Best Play. When a priest’s conduct is called into question, one woman launches an unrelenting search for the truth in this searing drama ripped from the headlines.

A Christmas Carol

By Charles Dickens
Adapted by the Commonweal Theatre Company
Directed by Philip Muehe

A holiday classic returns—in a brand new light! Associate Artistic Director Adrienne Sweeney brings a fresh perspective to the iconic role of Scrooge. Can she change her ways before it’s too late? Told with plenty of wit, charm, and clever theatricality, it’s a stocking stuffer that will delight the entire family!  

Philip Muehe at the 2020 Season Announcement gala
Our 2020 season has something for everyone!

Exciting, huh?! We are thrilled to bring these 5 fantastic productions to life next year. Now that the season is announced, that means it’s time for Season Passes! They’re now on sale, and there’s an Early Bird Discount that lasts until November 15. So right now, you can get your Season Pass and see all 5 of these shows for only $99! Give our Box Office a call at (800) 657-7025 for more details. We’ll see you at the Commonweal!