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. 

Your Chance to Take the Stage

If you’ve joined us for a performance of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, you are well aware of the “volunteer” component of the piece. Four lucky, brave souls share stage time with Commonweal professionals to add combatants to the field and a whole lot of fun and laughter. Recently, Commonweal MDC member Kevin Kelleher tested the waters of the professional theatre stage by throwing his hat into the ring of volunteers. In this edition of Drama Unfolds, Kevin relives his debut. 

Make Your Professional Theatre Debut

by Kevin Kelleher

My friend Brian was the instigator. “When you go to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Commonweal just tell them you want to volunteer,” he said. “You’ll get to go on stage and be a part of the crowd,” he said. So, I volunteered! Up to the stage I go thinking I’d just be sitting there watching the action from the inside. Well, think again! The first thing I noticed was how dark the audience was, I could only make out the first couple of rows. When the actor/actress sitting next to me whispered “just follow my lead and everything will be alright,” I knew I was in for a more active time than I anticipated. My thoughts about how I should act quickly dissipated as the action on stage kept my full attention. When asked to spell bridge, I was afraid I’d blow it but it came out right. As the last “volunteer” left on the stage, I knew my time was going to end shortly. I made it through a word I’d never heard of but then the word their or perhaps there or maybe it was they’re, proved to be my Waterloo. Being escorted back to my seat falling into my friend’s arms pretending to be crushed thus ended my professional acting career. Thankfully for the audience and myself, I can now take that off my bucket list! The night was simply good fun and a learning experience to boot. Thanks for my professional live theatre debut, Commonweal!

As of today…Saturday, September 15…you have only five more chances to join us for a performance of the Bee and to “volunteer” to make your own professional live theatre debut. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee closes this month on Monday the 24th. Make plans now and perhaps you’ll make your own very special memory on the Commonweal stage!
GET TICKETS —> Performance Calendar
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre—Jeremy.

Becoming an Actor: The Process of Role Sharing

There are many facets to the life of an actor in the live theatre. One of those facets is taking on a role that you did not create in the official rehearsal process of a production. The theatre term for that is role sharing and it is the position that Lauren Schulke found herself in when accepting a spot in this year’s theatre apprenticeship class. She would be taking over the role of Marcy Park in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for outgoing ensemble member Abbie Cathcart. In this edition of Drama Unfolds, Lauren describes this tricky process for her and what it means for the entire production. 

An Actor Challenge: Role Sharing

by Lauren Schulke

2018-19 Commonweal Professional Theatre Apprentice Lauren SchulkeI am so honored and excited to have stepped into the role of Marcy Park—an overachiever with dreams of underachieving—in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch Abbie in the role of Marcy, and working alongside her to create my own version—or in theater terms, role sharing—has been a dream.

When I first got the call from Hal Cropp (Commonweal Executive Director) about my acceptance into the 2018-19 Commonweal Theatre apprentice class, I was offered the role of Marcy and a role in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. I’ll admit, I was ecstatic for the latter, but was slightly hesitant about the former. My early years of becoming an actor consist of a lot of musicals, but I really haven’t been in one for the last 5 years or so. So when I Googled the role and watched the YouTube videos, I was a little nervous and worried I may be in over my head. However, much like Marcy, I faced the challenge head-on, and unlike Marcy, I decided to go all-in. I called up a recommended voice coach to work on the music and I got a copy of the script and started memorizing.

Moving to Lanesboro was a big change! But I’m grateful I had some time to see Spelling Bee and really feel settled in before I jumped into rehearsals. I worked with Abbie to learn my blocking and the dances and I worked with Stela Burdt, our music director on getting the music in my head and in my body. I watched the show like 5 million times and had a wonderful cast holding me up on my first night.

The adjustment into a role that had already been crafted by Abbie was a balance. It was hard to not feel as if I was just copying someone else’s work and I found myself questioning some of the choices I was making. But after many conversations with Abbie, rehearsal with our stage manager, Bailey, and finally a few performances under my belt, I’m really starting to feel my own Marcy Park blossom. She’s a misunderstood kid who uses a spelling bee as a platform to finally start to understand herself. The exploration of her character has been a wonderful journey and I’m excited to see where it continues to grow over the next 3 months.

Seeing Lauren make the role of Marcy Park her own is just one of the many great things to do in Lanesboro. CWL ensemble member Brandt Roberts has another idea to add to that list, Silent Movies in the Park sponsored by Lanesboro Community Theatre. 
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is currently playing through September 24th alongside The Clean House
Get Tickets —> For Both of These Fantastic Shows!
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre.—Jeremy