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Duluth Playhouse presents "Scrooge the Musical"

By KEVIN SKALICKY
DCN Reporter

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Almost a hundred years into its existence, the Duluth Playhouse readies itself for another Christmas performance. Since the local theater was founded back in 1914, its estimated that they have done over 500 shows.

This year’s presentation will be “Scrooge the Musical.? Putting a creative twist on a beloved Charles Dickens story, the play has drawn a lot of excitement in the Duluth community.

“The entire show was sold out only days after the opening night,? said Christine Gradl Seitz, the executive and artistic director at the theater, who has worked there since 2000. “We hope to extend the show by at least one more performance,? she added.

The theater’s cast has shifted from community volunteer performers in the 1950s to mostly professional actors today. There are still plenty of opportunities for newcomers.

“We like to think that there’s something for everyone to excel at in theater. Whether they’re running lights, sound, building sets or performing, there’s a job for every kind of person,? said Seitz.

“We’re a gateway for beginning performers and also a place where experienced professionals can perform to refine their talent,? she said.

Over the past five years, the Duluth Playhouse has sold 20 percent more tickets and has tripled its production budget.

“This is a direct reflection on how much our community enjoys what we’re doing,? Seitz added.

The Christmas play, “Scrooge the Musical,? has attracted a lot of attention for its cast and its classic story. Some of the performers are known for their prior Christmas performances by the theater. The feedback from viewers was pleasantly positive and looks to be another great performance for the Duluth Playhouse.

“Walsh, who has essayed the title role before in a purely dramatic production, commands the stage and effects a believable transformation that ends with one of the merriest Scrooges in memory,? wrote Duluth News Tribune entertainment critic Lawrance Bernabo in a review.

A UMD student who saw the show on its opening weekend, Natalie St. Marie, loved what she saw on the show’s opening weekend.

“I especially liked the scene where they had the Marley brothers come flying down,? St. Marie said. “The whole play was well done, and I would recommend that people come see it with their family during the holidays,? she added.

The Duluth Playhouse has endured many challenges. It has survived many hardships from the financial struggles during World War I to a fire in 1971 that nearly destroyed the entire building. The only part of the building that wasn’t damaged by fire was the room containing their records, photos and other historical files.


ABOVE: The fire caused a great deal of damage to the Duluth Playhouse in 1971. Click on the image to enlarge. (Photo courtesy of "The Duluth Playhouse 75th Anniversary: 1914-1989" booklet)

It’s easy to see that the Duluth Playhouse is focused on being involved in their community. They now have another building in the downtown area called the Play Ground. The goal is to showcase the artistic talent in Duluth. Not only do they aim to display theatrical skills, but also dance, music, art, film and the spoken word. The Play Ground serves as a home to many of Duluth’s experienced and emerging artists.

“Our goal is simply to provide opportunities for everyone,? Seitz explained.

Don’t worry if you can’t get tickets for “Scrooge the Musical,? because they’ll be hosting four more popular plays this spring and summer.

For more information on dates, times and the theater’s history you can visit them online.


ABOVE: The advertisement for the Duluth Playhouse's upcoming "Scrooge the Musical" production. Click on the image to enlarge.