Outdoor venue suits ‘South Pacific’And now for something completely different. Superior Community Theater could borrow that “Monty Python” phrase for their upcoming production of “South Pacific.” The show will take place Aug. 13-19 in the open air at Harbor View Park, behind the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
And now for something completely different. Superior Community Theater could borrow that “Monty Python” phrase for their upcoming production of “South Pacific.” The show will take place Aug. 13-19 in the open air at Harbor View Park, behind the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center. The backdrop for the play, set during World War II, will be the waters of Superior Bay, Park Point, paddling geese and passing boats. Lighting will be, in part, up to Mother Nature.
“Every night the sunset’s going to be different,” said director Wes Kruse. The actors are ready to take the stage regardless of the weather, he said. If it’s sunny, they’ll add sunglasses to their 1943-era costumes. If it’s cold, they may slip on a jacket.
“This is our version of summer stock,” Kruse said.
Music director Mondie Kruse called the cast small but mighty, with some amazing vocal talent.
“Not just the acting but the singing will knock your socks off,” said Tim McGrady, who plays Capt. Bracket.
A core of SCT members spent Monday building the stage, which includes two sloping floors and a revolving turntable. It will remain up through the performances. McGrady worked side-by-side with his sons, 14-year-old Robert and Aidan, 11. Kruse’s sons, Jordan and Nate, worked on the set as well.
“It’s a family theater, that’s what it is,” Kruse said. Not only is SCT fare family-friendly, it draws family members to come play together. The “South Pacific” cast is no exception. Sisters Jessica Melander of Superior and Melissa Kliegle of Duluth play the roles of Bloody Mary and her daughter, Liat. Tim and Robert McGrady will both play military men.
“I love doing plays … it’s a really enjoyable experience,” Robert said. “Every play counts.”
Iron River siblings Michael and Lindsay Dean share top billing as Emile de Becque and Nellie Forbush, the romantic leads. The duo said there won’t be any kissing between their characters, but they keep the romance factor up by thinking about their movie crushes onstage.
“South Pacific” weaves the romantic tales of two World War II era couples together as they face the realities of war and prejudice. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical has memorable tunes, including “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Bali Ha’i.” It’s also filled with romance and comedy.
“The love story in it is very powerful,” said Sarah-Anne Kruse, who plays “naughty nurse” Dinah. And, she said, the comic lines still crack cast members up.
The thespians had their first taste of outdoor performance Saturday at the Broadway Community Gardens. Nine cast members belted out tunes in a space the size of an area rug.
“We learned we could perform through it,” Melander said. The key to holding the audience’s attention is to keep the energy level high, she said.
Audience members planning to attend the shows, which start at 7 p.m. Aug. 13-18 and 2 p.m. Aug. 19, need to bring their own blankets or chairs. Admission is free, but a hat will be passed around during intermission, with a suggested donation of $10 per person.
In less than two years, Superior Community Theater has produced nine shows, including “Funny Girl,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Steel Magnolias.” The first seven were housed at Marlee’s Caribbean Restaurant; the last two at United Presbyterian Church. When he couldn’t find a venue for “South Pacific,” Kruse didn’t fold or postpone the musical.
“The show must go on,” he said. So he approached the city of Superior’s parks and recreation department.
“This is the first time a group has performed theater in a park setting in my career,” said administrator Mary Morgan, who has been with the department for 19 years. Kruse met all the city’s special event criteria, so he got the green light to use the park.
“The performances of ‘South Pacific’ will be a fitting prelude to the Bong Veterans Historical Center Military Vehicle Show, which takes place on Aug. 18,” Morgan said. “The back drop of Superior Bay is perfect for this play.”
Kruse said the theater group will kick off a capital campaign to fund a permanent home next week in conjunction with the performances. And the theater is in need of a performance space for its upcoming shows — “Cinderella” in November and “Seussical” in June. Hopefully, people will see the quality of the theater company and step forward to support the troupe.
Cancelling the shows is not an option to Kruse.
“Can’t is not in my vocabulary.”
For more information on SCT, call (218) 393-0148 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.