A Milestone Season of Professional Live Theatre

30th Season Milestones

by David Hennessey

Scott and Stela read Love Letters to start
A notable year. Then others joined hearts
’Neath Salt-Water Moon.
Thereafter, we soon
Met three unsung women who learned to chart

Faraway stars: staring up at the night
We bathed, awestruck, in swirling points of light!
A fun change of pace
Brought the cut-throat chase
Of kids seeking spelling trophies. The sight,

In Clean House, of messes we can’t control—
Including sickness that will not let go—
Taught us gently how
To live in the now.
After years of writing, with heart and soul,

His masterful Dracula, Scotty thrilled
As we staged it with full suspense and chills.
Standing ovations,
Public sensation!
He basked in the glow of visions fulfilled.

When the day finally came he had to leave,
We celebrated him more than we grieved.
We dedicated
Our last show slated
To A Wonderful Life the heavens retrieved.

That Dracula script? It’s now winging high
In our lobby, soaring to Silent Sky.

Click any image below to view the full photo.

And what a season it has been! Your love and support have guided this company to the end of our 30th year producing professional live theatre in Lanesboro. This year, we logged a record number of season pass holders, welcomed well over 1,500 first time patrons, surpassed our fall donation campaign efforts and saw more than 21,000 people walk through the doors and take a seat in the theatre. On that strength and with renewed spirit and energy, we forge ahead to 2019 and our 31st season. Thank you for a fabulous year — if you like us, talk about us and we look forward to sharing more compelling stories with you next year. 

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy. 

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Divine Intervention On the Air

A Supernatural Redemption

by Philip Muehe

In the selection process for directors of productions for this year, Commonweal Executive Director Hal Cropp asked me to undertake a daunting task: a radio play version of one of the most beloved and famous Christmas movies of all time—It’s a Wonderful Life. There was no doubt in my mind that the Commonweal would gather immense talent for both on and offstage roles. However, conveying this story without making a carbon copy of the film was a trepidation I had from the start.

I spoke about these concerns to fellow company member Brandt Roberts late in 2017, as I was just starting to gather my initial thoughts. At the time, I didn’t know he would end up being in the production, but he is a resident expert on all things from days gone by, especially entertainment. He mentioned how radio storytelling is essentially a dead or dying art form. It’s not something we get exposed to very often. I couldn’t help but feel a pull to my own personal favorite Christmas story, A Christmas Carol. That’s when it all clicked…ghosts. The supernatural. Divine intervention. Mere humans have always been guided throughout the ages by spirits from beyond and the idea of extending that to It’s A Wonderful Life made perfect sense. Our modern-day George (in this adaptation named Jake) would stumble into an abandoned radio station, clearly at the end of his own rope much like George is in the story. The spirits of the building then bring the station back to life where they invite him to do this play with them. Through the redemption of George Bailey, the character he is reading, Jake himself is redeemed.

My major concern with the radio play aspect was that it removed most of the stakes from the story. If the action taking place wasn’t really happening, it becomes passive. It becomes actors reciting famous lines behind microphones with sound effects. And while that carries a certain charm of its own, I didn’t want the Commonweal experience to be a passive one. I wanted this story right in the laps of the audience; to be lived fully onstage and have real consequences for the characters involved. The concept we came up with bookends the show really well, and provides an “in” for fans of the film on all levels.

Of course, once I brought this into the rehearsal room the cast helped shape it into something better than I imagined. It wasn’t always easy, but to me directing has always been about discovering things together. No one has all the answers but I do believe that as creators, finding those answers is simpler when tackled as a team. I’m thankful for this amazing group of artists who trusted me, and for our audiences who are embracing this version so warmly.

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is now playing through December 22. 
GET TICKETS —> Performance Calendar

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy. 

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