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Nate Kruse, right, sings in his role as Jesus while chorus members react during rehearsal for “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Friday night at the Wolffe Cultural Center 2623 W. Second St. The rock opera, which opens March 14, includes a cast of 21. It is the first production by Superior Community Theater in its new space at the center. (Maria Lockwood)

Theater troupe lands a home

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Theater troupe lands a home
Superior Wisconsin 1226 Ogden Ave. Ste. 1 54880

After years of wandering, Superior Community Theater has found a new home in Duluth.

The move gives the troupe some roots. It also unites two nonprofit organizations focused on community, arts and youth in one building, the Wolffe Cultural Center in Lincoln Park.

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“It’s a place to build dreams,” said Wes Kruse, who founded the theater troupe with his wife Mondie in 2011.

One dream will be fulfilled when the group’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” opens next week.

Heather Green was 12 years old when she got hooked on musical theater. Although she always loved to sing, a date with her dad cemented her dream. It happened at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. With her father, Skip Bol, Green watched “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which presents the last few weeks of Jesus’ life. It became her goal to play the part of Mary Magdalene someday.

Not only did Green get the part, but she has been able to share the experience with the man who fueled her dreams. Bol lives in Eveleth, but he volunteered to step into the role of Caiaphas for the production.

“I love doing shows with my dad,” Green said, and her favorite parts of the show involve him. When he sings, she gets goose bumps.

The show actually encompasses three generations of the family — Bol, Green and her 5-year-old daughter, Heaven, who is a member of the chorus.

Relocating to Duluth gives Superior Community Theater stability after three years of travelling shows. The group’s first performances were staged at Marlee’s Caribbean Restaurant in Superior. When fire code issues forced the theater to leave, two churches opened their doors to the thespians — Faith United Methodist and United Presbyterian. With no available site for a production of “South Pacific” in 2012, the group performed outdoors at Superior’s Harbor View Park. In November, the group received nonprofit status and considered a fundraising campaign for a permanent home.

The Church of Restoration Twin Ports opened its doors three years ago at 2623 W. Second St. With donated wood, paint and sweat equity pastor Gabriel Green, his wife Heather and members of their congregation dug in to improve the site. Former owner Ray Wolffe handed Green the deed after seeing the good work he was doing. The pastor said Wolffe Cultural Center, located at the same building, was designed for the community, a place to embrace every culture and teach identity to young people.

The two nonprofit groups crossed paths during a fall production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” in which Heather Green performed.

“The cultural center was always about the arts,” her husband said. “God sent Wes at the right time.”

The move has transformed the lower level of the building.

“I love that this is now a theater instead of a gym,” Heather Green said. “I think theater encourages you to come out of your shell and be who you are.”

“Jesus Christ Superstar” kicks off the new partnership.

Those who attend are in for a treat, said Ric Stevens of Duluth, who plays the role of Judas.

“The music is great,” he said. “When it comes down to it, there isn’t a song in the show I don’t like.”

Kruse said he hopes the infusion of arts will change the community for the better, hopefully acting as a magnet for more artistic endeavors. He’s already launched an after-school video production class on Thursdays. Both Kruse and Gabriel Green said they hope to offer a full slate of summer classes for youth.

Performances of “Jesus Christ Superstar” begin at 7 p.m. March 14, 15, 21 and 22, and 4 p.m. March 16 and 23 at the center. A special handicap accessible performance will be held at 7 p.m. March 29 at Faith United Methodist Church, 1531 Hughitt Ave., Superior. A dinner will be served before the March 15, 23 and 29 shows, as well. Tickets are $10 for the show and $18 for dinner and a show. Reservations can be made at 218-393-0148.

Both groups need help to continue their work. To support Superior Community Theater, donations can be sent to SCT, 1919 Lamborn Ave., Superior, WI 54880. Donations for Wolffe Cultural Center can be dropped off in person, by mail or by donating funds to the center’s account at National Bank of Commerce. More information is available online at www.churchofrestorationtwinports.com.

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Maria Lockwood
(715) 395-5025
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