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Theater group branches out with shop, show

Plans to host a Hot Dish Festival have been put on hold as members of Twin Ports Stage expand their reach into retail. Art on the Plaza, a new art and artisan marketplace, is set to open Oct. 1 at 126 Belknap St., the former AT&T storefront i...

Plans to host a Hot Dish Festival have been put on hold as members of Twin Ports Stage expand their reach into retail. Art on the Plaza, a new art and artisan marketplace, is set to open Oct. 1 at 126 Belknap St., the former AT&T storefront in the Belknap Plaza. The mission of the new shop is "to give artists space for the holiday season," said Victoria Main of Twin Ports Stage. The nonprofit theater company will staff the store, with artists renting space for their handcrafted wares.

"They keep everything they sell except the credit card transaction fee," Main said.

The group is looking for interested artists.

In addition to offering Art on the Plaza, Twin Ports Stage will bring "The Kitchen Witches" to the stage at Clearwater Grille, the former Lakeview Castle, in November. The comedy by Caroline Smith follows the fun when two cooking show hostesses who have hated each other for decades are paired in a new show. Local actresses Kathy Laakso and Ellie Martin, buddies in real life, step into lead roles.

After a busy two years, the group was prepping for a fall Hot Dish Festival when the retail and performance opportunities appeared.

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"It exploded, literally, within 24 hours," Main said, and the non-profit group rose to the challenge. With no home of its own, Twin Ports Stage is branching out all over the Northland. The group plans to hold a retro music event in early 2016 and a live reading of episodes 14 and 15 of the original radio soap opera "Twin Ports" next month.

"We’re doing all the same stuff we would do if we had our own space, we’re just doing it in four different spaces" Main said, which adds up to "a lot of running around."

Twin Ports Stage, a project of the John D. Munsell Legacy Fund, kicked off in June 2013. Despite lacking a facility, members have performed more than a dozen episodes of their radio soap opera, shot a number of videos, offered summer youth classes and a brought the play "Sealed for Freshness" to life on the University of Wisconsin-Superior stage.

"We’re all very happy with where we’re at, what we’re doing," Main said. "We’ve done well without a home."

The nonprofit group originally set its sights on buying and renovating the Dunbar’s building along Tower Avenue. That plan recently fell through, Main said, but the group’s committed to moving forward as it searches for a space of its own. Opening a Superior performance venue could be an economic boon for the city.

"I’ve seen what this kind of facility has done in a neighborhood and it’s tremendous," Main said.

Artists interested in featuring their work at Art on the Plaza can send an email and photos of their work to twinportsstage@yahoo.com . Everyone is invited to the free live reading of the original radio soap opera "Twin Ports" at 6 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Belknap Lounge. More information on Twin Ports Stage, including November performance dates for "The Kitchen Witches" and opportunities to donate to the nonprofit group, are available through the Twin Ports Stage Facebook page.

Superior Telegram

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