News Column

Small town theater company opens with 'On Golden Pond'

July 16, 2014

By Kate Kompas, St. Cloud Times, Minn.



July 16--RANDALL -- Beth Selinger wanted to bring some theater to the small town of Randall. A self-proclaimed "New York City girl" who fell in love with "a Little Falls boy," Selinger says Randall residents and the people who vacation and visit there for the lakes wanted some entertainment.

With some seed money from the city and a lot of volunteer work, the Cream of the Crop Theater Company was born. Its first production, "On Golden Pond," premieres Thursday-Sunday. The first show already is sold out, with 60 tickets sold -- or "one-third of the population of the whole town," Selinger jokes.

The theater's home is in the Old Creamery Quilt Shop; theater director Selinger gives a lot of credit to Linda Thesing and Janelle Johnson, owners of The Old Creamery Quilt and Coffee Shop, for their help and generosity.

"It's a nice, small, intimate theater," Selinger said. "You've just got to get a little more creative with how things are blocked," adding "I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do '76 Trombones,' " an elaborate number from "The Music Man."

Any money that the productions earn will go back to the theater for improvements, with the hope to eventually do bigger productions, Selinger said.

"It's not a profit situation, and that's not why I put the theater together," she said.

Selinger also gives credit to her husband, who's been helping with the show. They've now been married for 33 years. "He's been by my side through this whole thing," she said.

And the town's residents "are so excited, they've been coming out of the woodwork" to help, Selinger said. "That's what I fell in love with, that community spirit. 'This is our town, we want to show people our town, what can we do?' "

Selinger says she picked "On Golden Pond" for the first production because of "the older couple coming back to their lake home, there's a lot of people who can relate to that around here." The 1981 movie version of "Pond" brought Oscars for actors Henry Fonda (Norman) and Katharine Hepburn (Ethel), as well as a nomination for Jane Fonda, who played their daughter (and, of course, is Henry's real-life daughter).

Meet 'Norman'

CJ Anderson has the plum part of Norman, who's one ornery character. (Anderson jokes, "I'm not a jerk, but I play one on stage.")

Anderson got his first acting job as a child; he's now 70. As for their latest venture, "this is fun. We're just starting from scratch," he said.

Anderson did double duty, too -- he was the show's technical director, a job he finished with last week. The building's historical status presented some challenges, but he said they made it work well.

And the support from the community has been strong, Anderson notes.

"It's amazing how receptive people here are," he said.

Brainerd company

There's a theater company boomlet going on in the lakes area. Kevin Yeager and Gary Hirsch have created the Stage North Theatre Company in Brainerd. Yeager said they hope to bring more East Coast/Broadway types of productions to the area.

Auditions will start in October for the company's first show, "A Christmas Carol," which will be in December. Its first season also will feature "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Wait Until Dark."

Brainerd also has the Central Lakes College performing arts program and other theater options in the area. Yeager was quick to note it's not about competition.

"We don't want to see any of that go away," he said. "We would like to just cultivate new people, both on the stage and in the seats. We're really looking forward to it."

Follow Kate Kompas on Twitter @copygirlkate.

If you go ...

What: "On Golden Pond," the first production of Cream of the Crop Theater Company.

When: 2 p.m. Thursday (sold out), 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.

Where: The Old Creamery Quilt Shop, 120 Superior Ave., Randall. The theater is located upstairs.

Tickets: $10 for 65 and older and under 11; $12 for others.

More information: Call 320-749-2420, visit www.oldcreameryquiltshop.com/theater. Tickets can be purchased online.

More online

See the Stage North Theater Company in Brainerd's website at www.stagenorththeater.com.

___

(c)2014 the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.)

Visit the St. Cloud Times (St. Cloud, Minn.) at www.sctimes.com

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Source: St. Cloud Times (MN)


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