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. 

Things To Do…Commonweal’s Fall Favorites

Some Of Our Favorite Things About Fall

Okay, I am ready to admit it as I begrudgingly pull out my sweaters and scarves. Summer 2018 (boy, do I love summer) has officially passed as the crisp, frosty mornings are upon us. More than any of the other three seasons, fall brings to mind things to do in the great outdoors and/or indoors. Mainly because one can still spend a decent amount of time outside without the threat of frostbite. And so, I give you a quick list of fall things to do from some of your favorite Commonwealers.

Thomas White (Production Manager): I love fall food. Honeycrisp apples, hot drinks on cold nights. Soup season!

Lauren Schulke (Apprentice Company): Hiking right when the leaves are falling!

Ben Gorman (Actor; Marketing Associate): Read and share autumnal / Halloween / horror / wistful-seasonal stories. By candlelight. Maybe with a fire going.

Josiah Laubenstein (Actor; Marketing Associate): Sit down to a cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie.

Adrienne Sweeney (Actress; External Communications Director): I love to rake all the leaves into a huge pile and then have my dog Lucy run through them.

Hal Cropp (Actor; Executive Director): Take a fall hike through the leaves (but only if the Packers are not on TV).

Rachel Kuhnle (Actress; Administration Director): My favorite thing to do in October is going to haunted houses. I always try to go to Valley Fair in October when sections of the park are turned into haunted houses.

Philip Muehe (Actor; Director; Marketing Associate): Corn mazes and apple orchard adventures!

Brandt Roberts (Actor; Production Associate): Strolling through the woods on a crisp day.

Ian Sutherland (Apprentice Company): Watching horror movies/reading spooky stories/listening to horror podcasts.

Eric Lee (Actor; Marketing Associate): When the weather cools down, I can’t wait to start steeping my Lapsang Souchong! And if you’re not familiar, it’s a smoked black tea, and it’s like drinking a campfire in a cup. So if I’m around, and you think you smell something burning, hopefully, that’s just my tea!

Bailey Otto (Production Stage Manager): My favorite fall activity is listening to spooky podcasts while walking on the trail.

Jeremy van Meter (Actor; Communications Manager; Yours Truly): Finding a space for a solitary walk while listening to college football on the radio, yes, the radio. Go Hawkeyes!

There you have it. Some of the things we enjoy about the time of year we find ourselves in. One of the great things to do in Lanesboro right now is to take in one of the final six performances of Dracula: Prince of Blood.
Our world-premiere production from the desk of our own Scott Dixon must close Sunday, November 11. PURCHASE TICKETS —> November-December Calendar.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy. 

A Bloody Good Story

All of us at the Commonweal were thrilled when Ivey Award-winning director Craig Johnson agreed to join us this year to fill the director’s chair for our world-premiere production of Dracula: Prince of Blood by Scott Dixon. Craig’s sense of humor, timing, focused eye for creating beautiful stage pictures and his bold imagination are all ideal for a story such as Dracula. As we approached the opening of the production in early September, Craig shared his personal thoughts about the story, the characters and Scott’s original take on literature’s most seductive vampire. Here are those thoughts. 

An Iconic Horror Story in a Ripe Retelling

by Craig Johnson

Dracula: Prince of Blood director Craig JohnsonBram Stoker’s novel Dracula appeared in 1897, capping a century when prominent authors from Charles Dickens and Mary Shelley to Oscar Wilde and Henry James were turning out first-rate gothic horror novels, spooky ghost stories, and creepy tales of the supernatural. Critics praised Stoker’s imaginative narrative, but the novel’s iconic status came later as stage and screen versions of Dracula continued to thrill audiences decade after decade.

The story of the Transylvanian count may have its origins in the legends surrounding Vlad III Dracula, a Romanian folk hero who, in the 1400s, staved off the invading Ottoman Turks, killing perhaps as many as 100,000 enemies and earning the nickname “Vlad the Impaler.” While Stoker includes some historical references, his tale of the aging vampire needing to escape to England in search of fresh blood is entirely original. In fact, the intense yet courtly charisma of the title character was probably inspired by Bram Stoker’s boss—the great Victorian actor Sir Henry Irving, who employed Stoker as his personal assistant for many years.

That theatrical connection may be what makes Dracula so dramatically compelling on stage, why the story is always ripe for retelling, as we have with this premiere adaptation by Commonweal’s own Scott Dixon. The gripping plot is all here as is the vivid gallery of characters—the doomed Lucy, the wise (and slightly eccentric) Professor van Helsing, the tortured asylum inmate Renfield, and of course the powerful and seductive Count Dracula himself. Scott’s script has highlighted the psychological and thematic points of the story, so you can look for the tussle between science and faith, the restrictive role of women in society, the costs of repressing our sexuality, the guarded fear of the outsider. On the other hand, you can just lean back and thrill to a bloody good story!

And from the playwright:

When I first thought about adapting Dracula, I thought—there are hundreds of Dracula scripts out there, who needs one more? But the idea just wouldn’t let me go. I soon discovered that the enduring power of Bram Stoker’s story is that it’s like a jewel with so many facets, so many different ways of looking at it, and so yes, there is room for one more play about Dracula if you infuse it with some distinctive twists.

And it’s a task Scott is well-suited for. Besides being an accomplished playwright, he is also an author of horror and dark fantasy stories. News about all of his current and upcoming projects can be found online at Darkly Dixon or The Desk of Scott Dixon
Dracula: Prince of Blood plays Thursday & Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons through November 11.
GET TICKETS —> Performance Calendar
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.