Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer's Over Update

Okay, well as you know, summer is over. And as most of you already know, that means a BIG part of my year is done with. Yes, I had another great summer at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji, MN! Another summer, another 5 shows. Here's what happened:

Forever Plaid

the Plaids: Sparky, Smudge, Jinx, and Frankie

A small musical, but one of the best shows of the season. These four guys were in a car accident and died the night they were on the way to their first big gig. Now, they get to come back to earth to do the show they would have done that night. If you like music from the 50's and 60's, you would have loved this musical. It was pure fun! I really learned to love the music, and for a lot of our crowds, they were old favorites. It wasn't that hard a show to put up technically, but there were some fun challenges. The best part (other than the amazing vocals from our PBP star cast) was the lighting. We had a new designer this year for 2 shows, and he was wonderful. Considering our limited lighting ability in the space, he really made some WOW moments in the show. The reveal for the finally was amazing. Here:

"Rags to Riches/Shangri-La"

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The "Mechanicals" check to see if the Moon doth shine the night of the wedding.

This show was an unexpected gamble. Zach wanted to do one Shakespeare show before he left PBP, so he chose this one after last season. Little did he know at the time that the Theatre Dept @ BSU also chose to do that show for its season. Not only that, but somehow they both managed to try and do it the same way: steampunk. Well, Zach found out too late to change the show, but we were able to change the concept. So on top of those problems, we also had MN government shut down. That really hurt local businesses, and the Playhouse was no exception. Bemidji is such a tourist town in the summer, and a lot of our audiences just weren't there because of the shut-down. It didn't help that a lot of Bemidji had already seen the show this year, and also: Shakespeare and Bemdiji summer stock don't mix that well. Attendence wasn't terrible, but it was low compared to other shows. Still, it was an interesting show. We decided that the lovers would be regular modern, albeit a little romanticized. We also took out a bit of the slapstick with them. They were more serious. The fairies were straight punk - which made for some fun with the lighting. But the best part (by far) was the mechanicals. They decided the actors would essentially play themselves - as a PBP company. So, we had some fun re-writes, and threw in a lot of local humor. It was wonderful! Best prop of the show: light up flowers (see below)

Oberon enchants Titania with "Love-in-Idleness"

Lend Me a Tenor

"Italian bastard!" - the Opera Manager lets out some anger on the "dead" tenor

This one was pure fun! A true Farce! The great tenor, Tito Merelli is set to make his american debut performing "Otello" at the Cleveland Opera Company. But after an accidental overdose, the company gofer and aspiring singer gets roped into impersonating Tito onstage to save the company. Mistaken identities ensue, and well, you have to see it to appreciate it. My sides ached from laughing less then 15 minutes into the show. It was a hit!

the Otellos take a rest

21A by Kevin Kling

Ron, the bus driver of 21A

A one-man show written by a famous MN storyteller, starring PBP's own Artistic Director, Zach Curtis. This show was wonderful! The story takes place in the span of 15 minutes one autumn day on the MN busline. Told from the viewpoints of 8 of its passengers. I can't even begin to say how amazing this show was. Acting was phenomenal. The Set was simple, but gorgeous, with a fantastic cut-out of the Twin Cities skyline. So many favorite moments, so many great characters. Ron, the bus driver' Gladys, an old-lady; Chairman Francis from the Church of Democratic Progression; a Student; Not-Dave, no matter what anyone else says; Captain Twelvepack, a brand-new drunk; steve, Steve's invisible best friend; and Man with a gun.

Captain Twelvepack speaking to Not-Dave

The Full Monty

"It's a Woman's World!"

"God Bless their little g-strings!" Yeah, that's right. We finished the season with the musical of The Full Monty! What a show! Like the movie, only moved to Buffalo, NY in the 1980s, the show is about a group of umemployed steel workers who get the idea to strip to make some much needed cash. We thought the mostly conservative crowds would be a little apprehensive about this show, but Bemidji crowds LOVED this show. The women showed up in droves, and by the end of the evening, even the men were cheering for the characters to take it all off and bear their all. It was amazing!! By far the most challenging show of the season, but when all was finally done, it was worth it. And boy, did we get glowing reviews from the audiences!

"Let It Go" The men of Hot Metal

All in all, it was a great summer, and as this was the last season with Zach Curtis as the Artistic Director, it is likely that it will be the last year for me as well as the rest of the crew. I will miss all of them terribly, but I can look back at all I have done in the past 6 years and be proud of how much I have grown and how much I have learned. I haven't completely given up on PBP yet. I am planning on submitting my resume and a sample of my work to next season's Artistic Director for his consideration. I would like to come back as Production Stage Manager. It would be ambitious, but I figure that it is worth the try.

As for now. Well, here goes the rest of the update.

Ahren and I couldn't find a place in Bemidji that suited our needs to rent, so he asked me to move in with him. He lives in a trailer on his parent's farm. Not ideal, but not bad either. It's a camper more than a trailer. No working water or stove, so we're kinda limited. We use the bathroom and bake if we need in his parent's place. It sounds a lot worse than it is. They are wonderful people, so I don't mind it much at all. I got a cat out of it too. Ahren has a cat named Mittens, and while I like her, we're kinda butting heads a little. She doesn't think too much of me unless it is early morning and she wants to cuddle. Let me show you what I mean:

this is the look she gives me when Ahren is around

this is the look she gives me the rest of the time - ha!

Actually, we are looking into getting something else. There is a bigger trailer and a cabin that we looked at the other day. If the bank gives us an "okay" we might be looking at financing one of them. The trailer is cheap, but it needs a lot of work because of water damage. The cabin is from an old resort, so it is small and a little retro. It's been sitting empty for a while, so it really needs some TLC, but despite all of that, I kinda like it. So, we're looking at options.

Bad news: I am looking for a job again. I won't go into details, but I made a stupid mistake at Luekens and they let me go. Boo. I kinda liked it there, but the more that I think about it, the more it seems like it was best for me to go. What do I mean? Well, with the move, it made driving to Bemidji a 45min drive, and that just costs too much right now. So I'm trying to keep looking on the bright side of things. I'm looking around the area for jobs, nothing big yet, but I just put an App in for a position in a fabric company in a town not far from here, so I'm hoping that will go well.

On to better news: Ahren got a new job! He started looking for something else the moment Luekens started screwing around with him after he got sick. (Long story.) He heard about a mill in Kelliher that was looking for people, so he turned in an application and they contacted him right away with a job offer! He's loving it so far. The company essentially cuts wood for various crates/packing material, so he gets to come home covered with sawdust everyday. He smells great after a day of work :D He really likes it, and the pay is better, and it is closer, so he couldn't really pass up an oppurtunity like that. We're both loving his work hours 7-3:15, and he gets weekends off and paid holidays! He was working 6-2:15 (summer hours), which made for some early mornings, but neither of us minded so much. While I am not working, I am really enjoying playing housewife. I make his lunch every morning and when he feels like eating dinner we make it together (thank goodness for an electric skillet, microwave, and slow cooker!). On weekends we work on the trailer, cleaning and organizing and doing the week's laundry. We plan out our meals weekly, do grocery shopping together, and all sorts of everyday things. I LOVE IT!

Not much more to report. Now for the fun part: PICTURES! (Hey, I have to do something with my free time.) We've been having some fun exploring the area. I also got some pictures of his siblings and other random things. Enjoy! Ahren out at a local abandoned playground




flower in the pocket

Rosie Flower Face

More from the abandoned playground

Last but not least, I leave you with this picture of the McGriff men at work

Have a good day everyone!

love and kisses,


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