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Bemidji Community Theater: Musical melodrama to open tonight at Lake Bemidji State Park

The cast of "Riders of the Golden Sphinx" will take the stage tonight at the Lake Bemidji State Park Amphitheater. Pioneer Photo/Patt Rall

A Bemidji Community Theater annual really silly, audience-participation musical melodrama for families will open tonight at the Lake Bemidji State Park Amphitheater.

"Riders of the Golden Sphinx" by Norman Bert features a cast of local teens and a few adults who will sing their way through this show with familiar melodies and lyrics written by the author. The audience will recognize the opening tune, "Down in the Valley" but listen carefully to the lyrics as the cast will sing the welcome and tease the plot.

Michelle Mountain, a senior at TrekNorth High School, will make her debut backstage on the electric piano on such familiar tunes at "Streets of Laredo," "House of the Rising Sun," "Comin' Round the Mountain" and "I Ride an Old Paint."

A few of the actors, like Luke Rogers, who plays Ed Rex, a student of classical Greek Literature and returns home to find his ranch in danger of being stolen by some questionable characters, is familiar to local audiences. Rogers is joined by some of his younger siblings: villain Joseph Rogers as "Slab 'Em Jack" the local undertaker; Jacob Rogers as a cow; and Hannah Rogers as the flower girl.

One of his enemies is Madame Jocasta, who is played by Lois Holleman, a former member of Bemidji Community Theater Board and local band singer.

"I needed something fun in my life, so I decided to audition because I am no longer singing professionally," said Holleman. "This is a fun show!"

Madame Jocasta is the owner of a show hall and casino with showgirls Lily Heltzer and Anna Kelly as Ah Sang So Hi. Both teens started their acting adventures with BCT in "Babes in Toyland." Don Hunt, the Masked Marauder, is joined by his daughter, Jadie Hunt, who plays Anne Tigony. Emily Miller, another cow, joins her mother, Laura Miller, who shares the role of Madame Jocasta. Chase Fillipi makes his debut in theater as the third cow. The cows don't say much, but their masks are eye-catching.

Under the direction of Deborah Heltzer with Kelly Kirk as production manager, the show time is 7:30 p.m. today, July 31, and Saturday, Aug. 1, and Aug.7 and 8. A free will offering will be accepted to offset production costs. Cars need a park sticker to enter.

These events are made possible, in part, by a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council through funding from the Minnesota State Legislature, as well as the collaborative effort of Lake Bemidji State Park and the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts.