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Pioneer Previews: Summer theater is heating up

Two musicals will open this week and both deal with the vagaries of life: at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, "The Full Monty" by McNally and Yazbek, and Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs at the Long Lake Theater."

In addition, Northern Light Opera's "The Music Man" continues through Aug. 6.

- What do out-of-work steel workers in Pittsburgh do to get badly needed money - why they would go the full monty, of course. At least that's how these six men seek to deal with their financial, marital and personal problems. The play deals with the "crazy" idea of getting a group of semi-talented, shy, scared and embarrassed men to be brave enough to face an audience (no pun intended) for a contest in which the prize money would signal a solution to many of their problems. The music is engaging and some of the tunes are soulful, as interpreted by music director Suzanne Reyburn. Craig Johnson is the director and Joe Chvala is the choreographer. Ryan Knox Parker, the only actor spending the entire summer season at the PBP, plays the lead, Jerry Lukowski. Other familiar faces -Zach Curtis, Paul Reyburn, Karen Weise- Thompson, Jonathan Mansk, Jessie Ladig, Michael Paul Levin Katherine Tieben and Nancy Brown-Colligan - will be joined by other actors to form a cast of 19 actors for this final show of the 2011 season and the last for current artist director Zach Curtis. Tickets for the evening performances are $22 for adults, $15 for students and $20 for groups of 10 or more. The 2 p.m. matinee performance on Sunday, Aug. 7 ticket price is $15. Call the box office at 751-7270 for tickets or on-line at This activity is funded in whole or in part by a Region 2 Arts Council grant through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund passed by Minnesota voters on Nov. 4, 2008.

- A charming, funny and poignant coming-of-age story opens at the Long Lake Theater in Hubbard with 3 p.m. Wednesday, matinees beginning Aug. 3 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday until Aug. 27. "Brighton Beach Memoirs" by Neil Simon is a semi-autobiographical - as is much of Simon's work - play about the coming of age in Brighton Beach (Brooklyn), N.Y. of Eugene Morris Jerome. Set in the late 1930s, Eugene, a young teen, fantasizes about being a shortstop for the New York Yankees and also of the girl of his dreams. Simon's play is a witty commentary about his middle class family and his trials toward attaining young adulthood. Directed by Mary Harrison, a veteran director at Long Lake Theater, the actors Jacob Froelich, Andrew Browers, Shannon Geisen, Brad Livingston, Shelley Mahowald, Jouannah Morgan and Michelle Farlee promise an evening that will make you laugh and cry. Tickets are $16 for adults and are available by calling 218-732-0099 or visiting

- Northern Light Opera Company presents "The Music Man" at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today, July 31, and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4-6 at Park Rapids Area High School. Julie Kaiser plays Eulalie Mckeckne, the River City, Iowa, mayor's wife; John Peterson, BSU graduate from Erskine, is a member of the bickering school board that forms the Barbershop Quartet; Brinn Krabbenhoft, a BSU music alum, sings the role of Marian the Librarian. Bemidji area musicians in the pit orchestra include David Murphy, Lynette Murphy, Beth Holzhueter and Vicki Magnuson. A cast of 44 of all ages will make River City of 1912 come to life, mirroring the energy that David Konshok brings to the role of Harold Hill.

Church Musicians

Bemidji Area Church Musicians will present Bemidji Symphony Horns at noon Wednesday, Aug. 3, at the St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, 1800 Irvine Ave. N.W. A free will offering will be accepted in support of the music scholarships given each year. A luncheon will be served following the concert for a nominal cost.


Sculpture workshop with Mary Williams will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 16 and 17 at Northwoods Bank, 1200 East First St., Park Rapids. Participants will learn to do quick studies of the female form with armature wire and then transform the armatures into plaster sculptures. To register or for information on cost, contact Karen Sharbo at 218-732-5630 - cell: 612-619-7506 or or check the Blank Canvas Gallery website

Upcoming events

"Playing the Bill," an original musical by Steve Sarri: Aug. 18-22 at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.

Announcements of arts and entertainment events may be sent to the Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56619-0455 or e-mailed to