BEMIDJI -- “Booing and hissing and laughing is encouraged.”
That’s not something you normally hear from the director of a play. But this play is different.
The Beltrami County Historical Society will present its second annual historical melodrama at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29 on the Marilyn Shutter Stage at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds.
It’s called “Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie! (He Can’t Corner You There)". The melodrama, written by by Shubert Fendrich, tells the story of Nellie, a good hand with a locomotive, but not much at catching the eye of her true love, rancher Sterling Worth. Those lead characters are portrayed by Sasha Almendinger and her husband, Josh Almendinger. Katie Carpenter plays Nellie’s mother, and Kevin Cease is the villain, with daughter Allison Cease as his accomplice.
“I just think the audience is going to have fun,” said director DeeJay Arens. “It’s a good old-fashioned melodrama. Expect some chuckles, and even some groans.”
The Historical Society started this tradition last year to rave reviews. That melodrama was "The Shagwood Secret or... Double Deal at the Dirty Dog Saloon."
“We wanted to do something during tourist season, for people who might be unaware of the historical society,” said Gary Rozman, the organization’s executive director. “The funds raised go to help us meet our twin mission of preservation and education. We’re a small organization but we represent the one historic museum destination in the Bemidji area.”
Rozman added, “Historical melodrama is a fun opportunity to time travel. This play will be peppered with local Bemidji area references to make it a little more personalized production. You have to sort of keenly observe and listen, but there might be a pertinent reference or two that will drive home the point.”
The melodrama is presented in conjunction with the Bemidji Community Theater.
A second, shorter melodrama, written by Bemidjian Roy C. Booth and Bemidji State graduate Michael Paslawski, also will be performed. “Grandpa Jim is Dead” is presented by special arrangement with Heuer Publishing. Arens and Vicki Stenerson make up the two-person cast.
“It’s funny, it’s silly, and we chose it because of the local connection,” Rozman said.
If you go:
What: Historical melodrama, a fundraiser for the Beltrami County Historical Society.
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29.
Where: Marilyn Shutter Stage at the Beltrami County Fairgrounds.
Tickets: Adults $25. Children, students and seniors $20. Available online at squareup.com/store/beltramihistory. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the ticket order button. Tickets may be picked up at the event. Space is limited. Tickets include specialty franks from Lucky Dogs. Cash bar provided by Brigid’s Pub.