A Commonweal Farewell

By Eric Lee

Eric Lee
Eric Lee

To everyone of you who makes the Commonweal what it is, it’s time for me to share some news: Sanders Family Christmas is going to be my last performance as a Resident Ensemble Member.  My time here has been wonderful, and my life has been enriched by every one of you.

Five years ago, I was fresh from a year in LA. I was unsure of myself, and whether I wanted to even continue acting. I initially landed in Decorah and appreciated the beauty of the Driftless region, having grown up visiting. 

Jacob Marley (Eric Lee) tells Scrooge (Ben Gorman) his fate
Eric As Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol

Shortly into my acting “retirement”, I became restless, and remembered that my aunt and uncle had taken me to a professional theatre in the area when I was in high school. I decided to submit my materials and Hal Cropp called me up, and soon he was in Decorah and auditioned me. Within a couple of weeks, I would step on the Commonweal stage for my first time, in Arsenic and Old Lace.  

I appeared the next year in The Three Musketeers, and then was thrilled to be invited to join the Resident Ensemble for the 2016 season. Onstage, I’ve had so many incredible opportunities. From Megan Pence’s wonderful telling of A Christmas Carol, the gorgeous Silent Sky, and of course the great fun of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Commonweal professional resident ensemble member Eric Lee in the role of Peter Shaw in Silent Sky
Eric As Peter Shaw in Silent Sky

This year has provided one great opportunity after another, starting with the mysterious Holmes and Watson and ending here with the lovely Sanders Family Christmas. And Jeremy van Meter and I have had quite the season together – having been adversaries, comical lovers, and now brothers! 

Offstage, whether working on our marketing team, or just being out and about, I have forged so many relationships that I will deeply value. From serving with the Lanesboro Business Promotion Group, working with other folks in the area to get out the good word of Lanesboro, to having the honor of being the word pronouncer for the elementary school spelling bee, I have enjoyed my time in Lanesboro so much.  

What’s next for me? Well, I’m moving to the Twin Cities. I don’t know just what that will hold, but I do enjoy new opportunities. I am so very fortunate that I had the chance to develop professional relationships there while being at the Commonweal. As I venture once again into the unknown and unpredictable, please know that I am grateful for everyone of you that has made my time here so very special, and who contribute to making Lanesboro and the Commonweal such remarkable places. I’ll see you all soon!

Thanks for everything Eric, we all will miss you. Don’t miss Eric’s swan song in Sanders Family Christmas. For Tickets —> Performance Calendar

Why Get A Season Pass?

By Beth Regener

It was a Saturday in October, and my husband and I were meeting friends in Lanesboro for what had been dubbed “Commonweal Day.” We were slated to see both the matinee show of The Clean House and the evening performance of Dracula: Prince of Blood – a double header. A great day was in store for us as we walked around the quaint historical town taking pictures, laughing, and enjoying great food at Pedal Pushers Café.

Beth and friends with Black Stache
Beth with her many friends at a performance of Peter and the Starcatcher

This wasn’t my first visit to Commonweal. Before I moved to the area, a good friend of mine told me about a show he was in down in Lanesboro called Souvenir. It was the first I’d heard of Commonweal, and I was intrigued. My husband and I spent a summer weekend in Lanesboro camping, taking in the views, and visiting the theatre. Our little getaway left a lasting impression: mesmerizing performances and a newly sparked interest to visit Commonweal again.

I wouldn’t get another opportunity until that now memorable day in October. And for me, that spark I felt before returned the moment I walked inside. I began to appreciate many more aspects of what makes Commonweal, well, Commonweal: the unique interior, the intimacy of the performance space, the intriguing scripts, and the spectacular production value.

Beth and friends in the theatre
Be come a part of our Commonweal Family by getting your Season Pass today!

Turns out, I wasn’t the only person who saw that. After that Saturday in October, I took one look at my husband, and that was it. We became season ticket holders and never looked back. The 2020 Season is very exciting, so if you haven’t yet, I highly encourage you to get you and your loved ones a Season Pass.

What really stood out to me were the people. Everyone was kind and engaging; it was as if they were all genuinely happy to see us. I started following Commonweal on social media (like you do), and I saw a post – a picture of some of the company members proudly and happily crowded around a young kid, smiling and supporting him in his play at his school. And I thought: Wow. These are professional theatre artists, wholeheartedly investing in their families and community. That is rare.

You would be hard pressed to find a professional theatre company that offers the whole package: great shows, a welcoming atmosphere, and generous people. Please consider joining my husband and me next season. We’d love to meet you! And most importantly, the artists at Commonweal would love to meet you, too.

Use the code EARLYBIRD20 before November 15th to get your Season Pass for just $99! Join Beth in being a part of the Commonweal Family. Call our box office at (800) 657-7025, or order your 2020 Season Pass online —> Season Pass Purchase

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