Theaters Along The North Shore Of Lake SuperiorBy Aliya Marxen
We need not travel to New York and Broadway to get your fix on great theater. We need only travel up and down the North Shore of Lake Superior, from Duluth to Thunder Bay, to find plenty of very entertaining stage productions.
As many who know me are well aware, I am a huge theater lover. I don’t care if it’s a perfectly preened performance on one of the Guthrie’s stages or a high school improvised skit, I’ll go, I’ll see and I’ll adore it. For fellow theater lovers out there, you’re in luck. You don’t have to travel to Broadway to get your fix. From Duluth to Thunder Bay there are plenty of stages to see while enjoying your stay in comfortable accommodations that are much more reasonably priced than in New York.
Duluth PlayhouseThe Duluth Playhouse is one such place. It was founded all the way back in 1914, when a group of women started their own theater group. They were called The Little Theater of Duluth, starting what they did not know would be a long lived career with Bernard Shaw's Dark Lady of the Sonnets.
Through wars, economic ups and downs, and plays both controversial and cutting edge, The Duluth Playhouse persevered. Dubbed such officially under the leadership of Ulmont Healy, who was director for nine years. In 1956, the playhouse decided to make use of the talented directors in the area, and hire more than one. This allowed them to perform a more diverse selection of plays. When fire ruined the original theater in 1971, the playhouse moved to occupy a club, then finally in 1977 moved to the space it occupies now.
The Duluth Playhouse offers a variety of plays all year round, from classics such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Christmas favorites like Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. They even perform several excellent children’s plays a year – Willy Wonka and Shrek: The Musical take the stage this year!
Lake Superior Community TheaterFor those who want to get out of the city, Lake Superior Community Theater is there for you. The theater was founded in 2002 in Silver Bay, MN and their first performance was Lil Abner in 2003. Over the years they’ve successful preformed favorites such as Grease, Fiddler on the Roof, and Little Shop of Horrors, a delightful production that I had the pleasure of seeing. Today they perform using both the stage at Silver Bay William Kelley High School, and Two Harbors Minnesota High School.
Grand Marais PlayhouseEven further north, located in Grand Marais, is the fittingly named Grand Marais Playhouse. Founded in 1971, the playhouse has produced over 200 plays – and that’s not even mentioning all the extra events! Not only can you enjoy theater, but the Playhouse also plays host to concerts, dance performances, film festivals, and more. A typical year at the playhouse has them performing six plays – a children’s play, a high school play, a fall production, as well as three summer showcases. Past performances have included Macbeth, Hamlet, Horton Hears a Who, Blithe Spirit, Shout!, Treasure Island and Annie.
One unique quality of the Grand Marais Playhouse is their dedication to the community. Auditions are almost exclusively open to the public, welcoming experienced actors as well as amateurs. They also put great effort into making sure everyone can enjoy the performances. The first Friday of every month you can get a free ticket with the purchase of one, and all you have to do is bring in five items to donate to the local food shelf! The first Sunday matinee is Donation Day, where you pay what you can to see the performance.
For anyone who loves theater, the North Shore is a treasure trove of playhouses and performances to be discovered. The long celebrated art can be enjoyed no matter who, or where you are. As someone who has both enjoyed, supported, and preformed in plays since childhood, I can’t speak its praises enough. Truly something the whole family can enjoy, a cozy trip to the theater should be a must do on everyone’s vacation lists!