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Sneak a Peek Backstage!

With more than 50 scene shifts and countless fast-paced costume changes, Baskerville is a play on the move. Yet for all its vibrant set pieces and stylish getups, the audience only ever sees a percentage of the stage. What goes on behind the curtain? Stage manager Laura Topham and assistant stage manager Sam Diekman took us on a tour to explain the whirlwind process that makes a show like this all possible.

Image of Stage Manager Laura Topham

Stage Manager Laura Topham

“The stage manager is the only person who sees the show truly from start to finish – through its whole evolution,” Topham explains, “from the first production meeting to closing.” They’re the ones responsible for making the magic happen: for facilitating and maintaining the directors’ vision.

Image of Assistant Stage Manager Samantha Diekman

Assistant Stage Manager Samantha Diekman

That all-encompassing vision and dedication is invaluable, as every night, it’s the stage crew responsible for the show going off without a hitch. “If everyone else can do their job well,” Diekman says, “then I’ve done my job well.”

Baskerville in particular – with its rapid-fire comedy and breakneck pace – was a challenge. Among the moody shadows behind the stage is a maze of sets – so many that they can’t all be stored in the backstage area at once. Instead, the crew must swap out the set pieces between acts, meaning that more than many shows, the crew is working nonstop. They’re constantly moving behind the scenes, planning – and adapting – to best support the actors. But it was a challenge the team rose to immediately. The crew knew things would go wrong – and that they’d have each others’ backs when they did.

“Just having that attitude and that dedication across the board is what makes it worth it to me,” Diekman says. “If we’re not loving it and we’re not having fun, no matter how hard it is, why are we doing it?”

And seeing the show night after night (more than 25 times, according to Topham) is its own reward. “There are spots where I laugh every single night.” And with such a fun team to work with, it’s just elementary: Baskerville is an adventure both onstage and off.

Tickets still available for the final weekend.  Purchase them HERE. 

Want more? Watch the video tour: Backstage with Baskerville.

Tara Henderson is a marketing intern with Park Square Theatre and is currently studying at the University of Minnesota.

Connecting through Storytelling

When you’re young, most people grow up hearing the old adage “listen to your elders!” After all, they’re the ones with the best advice and the life wisdom, so why not? Though somewhere along the line, technology was introduced into our lives and now we have so much information at our fingertips, listening to our elders has sadly become a rare activity.  Thanks to the brilliant guidance of teaching artist Dane Stauffer, a group of older adults were able to come together for eight weeks, discover and craft an important story of their own, and ultimately perform that story for a captive audience of friends, family, and wisdom-seekers at Park Square. This was Park Square’s first foray into adult learning, and took place with support from the Vitality Arts program at Aroha Philanthropies.

I was lucky enough to follow the group from their shy, tentative introductions with one another to the culminating event, which involved a proud, confident performance in front of a live audience. Seniors who had come from all walks of life in a previous lifetime – engineers, teachers, managers, computer technicians – now retired. I had no idea how much I could relate to their journey at 32. I, too, ask the questions, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” and “what now?” or “what’s next?” These were all asked during that first introduction and continued through some of their stories; where one chapter ended, another was clearly beginning with endless possibilities in sight.

There are three things I’ve learned in the last two months from listening to these great individuals. 1.) Every story is important. Stories that make you laugh are just as powerful and meaningful as those that can bring you to tears. 2.) Never be afraid to tell your story. Words are only as good as the audience that take them in and an untold story can never truly be appreciated. 3.) Listen and experience every story older adults are willing to share. You’ll be surprised at the connections you can make with each other through storytelling.

The next Adult Theatre Workshop, Make ’em Laugh: Comedy Styles and Performance, is Sept 7 – Nov 5, taught by the inimitable Shanan Custer (Calendar Girls, The Liar, Sometimes There’s Wine). Space is limited, so register now! Click here for more information and registration.

 

Lindsay Christensen Park Square’s Group Sales Associate and a fierce freelance stage manager and graduate student pursuing a degree in Arts and Cultural Management at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. 

Eli Sherlock Sets the Stage

Yew Alley at Baskerville Hall
(White model by Eli Sherlock)

Who better to design the set for Park Square Theatre’s production of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery than Sherlock himself–that is, Scenic Designer Eli Sherlock (née Schlatter)? Using his impressive powers of deduction, Eli had to solve the tricky puzzle of how to set the stage to accommodate 31 scenes covering 18 locations. But anyone who’d caught a glimpse of Eli’s clever, wholly two-dimensional set design for last season’s comedy, The Liar, at Park Square knows that, without a doubt, Eli was definitely up to the challenge.

The moors at night
(White model by Eli Sherlock)

However, his task wasn’t for the faint of heart, requiring a relentlessly methodical approach. Eli combed the script for details: What’s the time period? What are all the scenic locations? How are they utilized? He did exhaustive research: What does the Manor of Manaton (a.k.a. Baskerville Manor) and its surrounding moors, thought to have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Hound of the Baskervilles, look like? What are the dimensions of the Proscenium stage to ensure that his design would fit and function well? Basically, as Director Theo Langason cracked open the script, Eli read it and began to determine so many of the choices that had to be made.

But one of the closest relationships for a set designer is with the director, who carries the vision for the play. Theo added his influence on Eli’s design via input on such matters as how to possibly incorporate puppetry into a key scene, whether the run crew who moves the set pieces should be visible or not, how the set design could contribute to the play’s comedic elements yet also make it feel spooky and scary and much more.

Set Designer Eli Sherlock

Eli’s training has, in fact, taught him how to manipulate how the audience feels. For instance, Holmes’ area tends to be on stage right for a good reason. Everything on the set–whether wallpaper pattern or color scheme–subliminally tells the story.

“It’s a fast process,” Eli said about set design. “On and off, I’m thinking for a couple of months, then creating the set for a couple of weeks. But the set has to be figured out before rehearsals start so the director can do the blocking.”

This heady combination of collaboration and creativity is what excites Eli about his chosen profession. His greatest thrill is to have created something that an audience hasn’t seen before and cause an unexpected reaction to a space.

“In Baskerville, new stuff will be popping up all the time,” said Eli. “And my hope is for the audience to wonder, ‘How did they do that?!?!'”

Then perhaps he’d flash a sly grin and reply, “It’s elementary . . . .”

Baskerville is on stage now through August 5! Tickets and information here.

Marika Proctor: the Pride of Saint Paul

McKenna Kelly-Eiding, Marika Proctor, and Ricardo Beaird. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

While this may be her first foray on the Park Square stage, Marika Proctor is no stranger to the Saint Paul playhouse, having been born and raised in the capital. Like so many actors, however, she’s experienced her fair share of travels – attending the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington and more recently, the professional actor training program at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky, home to the world-renowned Humana Festival of New American Plays, where she was featured in the play, You Across From Me.

This summer, however, Proctor returns to Minnesota and is excited to share the wild adventure of Baskerville with her home audiences. As for what they come away with Proctor says, ” I hope they feel they’ve had an excellent night of theater — imaginative and creative and satisfying.”

Those three words encapsulate the Ken Ludwig play, first performed in 2015, but making it’s Minnesota premiere at Park Square. For her part, Proctor is one of three actors tasked with the feat of portraying close to forty different characters! She is thrilled by how the play relishes the sense of fun and mystery.

I’m really excited by the sense of play that Theo’s [Langason, Director] brought to the room—I’ll definitely keep this in mind as I figure out how to jump from character to character to character.

Marika Proctor

It’s that sense of play and challenge that Proctor brings to all of her roles. Past Twin Cities’ credits include One Man, Two Guvnors at Yellow Tree Theatre where Lavender Magazine said, “Marika Proctor teases and delights in a crossgender turn.” She has worked with Savage Umbrella and several shows with Classical Actors Ensemble, including the direction of a Comedy of Errors that garnered positive reviews from the Star Tribune and City Pages.

With such a rich and varied background in the theatre, what else could Proctor possibly do to fill her time? She says she writes part time for a consulting firm specializing in archaeology, cultural planning and exhibit development for museums and national parks. If variety is the spice of life, then Proctor is doing something right!

You can come along for the ride too when you see her in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at Park Square this summer! The show runs now until August 5, so don’t wait!

McKenna Kelly-Eiding, Marika Proctor. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

New Video: The Women of BASKERVILLE

New Video: The Women of BASKERVILLE

Women have been winning over Holmes fans in recent years, and in our current production Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Park Square is continuing the conversation with women playing both Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.

Here is a sneak peak of this perfectly contrasting pair. As Lisa Brock in the Star Tribune writes, “McKenna kelly -Eiding perfectly embodies Holmes’ authoritative manner and sly condescension while Sara Richardson, one of the Twin Cities’ finest clowns, delivers a delightfully wide-eyed Dr. Watson.” Director Theo Langason shares what changes it took (or didn’t) to adapt the play for these two fine actors!

The game is afoot, hilariously! Get your tickets now to see these two in action for yourself!

Tickets and Information Here.

Flying Foot Forum presents two nights of Works in Progress

While in residence at Park Square Theatre with French Twist, their homage to all things Parisian, Flying Foot Forum will also be presenting two nights of Works in Progress. On Mondays, July 2 and 9, at 7:30 pm Flying Foot Forum premieres their film-in-progress Split Rock Shuffle and a new work-in-progress for the stage based on Dreamland: The Novel by Kevin Baker. Company members will also introduce their own works in progress on the Andy Boss Thrust Stage. The entrance to this event is pay what you can.

The Glamorous Vampires in James J. Hill House
(Photo by Steve Campbell)

For the last two years, Flying Foot Forum has been steadily working on a new film project called Split Rock Shuffle, which follows dancer Galen Higgins during a wild day spent chasing and being chased by various people. The chase motif serves as the common connector to scenes filmed at many well-known Minnesota locales, such as the American Swedish Institute, James J. Hill House, St. Olaf College, Canal Park Lighthouse, SS William Irvin Freighter, Lake Superior Railroad Museum and, most significantly, Split Rock Lighthouse.

The Silly Chefs of La Cuisine at St. Olaf College
(Photo by Steve Campbell)

With Steve Campbell in tow as collaborator and camera man, Flying Foot Forum’s founder and artistic director Joe Chvala initiated the adventure to make this low budget/low tech film, learning as they went along. But Joe was not totally inexperienced, having worked in Italy during the summer of 2015 as a choreographer and dancer on a new feature film, Smitten, written and directed by the Academy Award-winning writer Barry Morrow. From that gig, Joe had picked up some useful technical know-how while himself steadily becoming smitten with filmmaking.

A feast for the eyes in “Split Rock Shuffle”
(Photo by Steve Campbell)

Joe’s approach was further influenced by the cinematic genius of French filmmaker, director, writer and actor Jacques Tati, whom Joe described as “the Charlie Chaplin of France, but not.” Tati managed to raise sight-gag comedy to a level of high art in his total of six feature and seven short films. You can also spot his influence in Tati-admirer Wes Anderson’s movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, which garnered nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, in 2014.

Besides Split Rock Shuffle, Flying Foot Forum will unveil yet another new work in progress–this one inspired by Dreamland, author Kevin Baker’s work of historical fiction set in early 20th-century New York during the Dreamland (a Coney Island amusement park) and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fires. In this case, audiences will experience a barebones staged reading with no sets or costumes.

Dreamland is a very timely story,” said Joe. “It’s about immigrants and people who are treated as outsiders by society and the terrible conditions they must struggle through in order to live. It’s about the illusion of a land of golden dreams and what people do when they realize that the promise of a dream land is not the reality of the world.”

Throughout each Monday evening, company members also plan to introduce their own new works in progress. These include a piece set to folk music by Karla Grotting, a tap-ballet combination by Jeremy Benussan, a flamenco dance by Molly Kay Stoltz, a drumming duet by Rush Benson and Charles Robison and more.

Be sure to catch Flying Foot Forum’s French Twist – Playing through July 15 – Information here

Come prepared to see the unexpected!

Pogi’s Back – in Baskerville!

Park Square favorite Eric “Pogi” Sumangil returns to the Proscenium Stage in Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, playing both Inspector Lestrade and Sir Henry Baskerville, among many roles. He caught up with blogger Vincent Hannam to share what excites him about this play and working in Twin Cities theatre.

Eric "Pogi" Sumangil

Eric “Pogi” Sumangil

What was your path to the Twin Cities and Park Square?
I was born and raised in Minneapolis. I had some aspirations to go to college somewhere out of state, but ultimately decided to go to St. John’s University in central Minnesota. My freshman year, I wrote the annual comedy sketch at the Asian New Year celebration. Rick Shiomi, then Artistic Director of Theater Mu, performed at the same event with his Taiko group, and approached me afterward. I started taking workshops at Mu in Minneapolis over summer break and I stayed in touch until I graduated. I began auditioning around the Twin Cities, but for over a decade, getting cast in a show at Park Square eluded me. Suddenly, in 2016, I was cast in The Realistic Joneses, Flower Drum Song, and Macbeth in the same season.
What other work do you do around town?
I am a playwright and teaching artist, I also have done some event planning, marketing and social media, and administrative work, most recently for the Minnesota Theater Alliance. Otherwise, I work for a couple of food trucks around town as well: Bombon, and Fun Fare.

Sara Richardson, Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, and McKenna Kelly-Eiding. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

This isn’t your first show at Park Square, so what keeps you coming back? What excites you most about this show?
Park Square is one of the few places in the Twin Cities that features performers of color in non-traditionally cast roles with relative consistency. It’s an opportunity for me to perform roles for which I might not be considered at many other theaters. While I believe that the theater work that is centered around identity is important, I also believe that as someone from a community of color that is often assumed to be foreign, it’s important for me as an actor to be seen in roles that don’t specifically address my ethnic origins.

This show is a classic story with a contemporary feel. It has an American sensibility to the humor, and the challenge of playing so many characters is going to be a lot of fun. I’m also excited to work with a female Holmes & Watson because they’ll both bring great things to those roles.

Ricardo Beaird, Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, Sara Richardson. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

What do you hope people come away with after watching it?
Accessibility, and relatability. The film & TV world is now trending toward rebooting past shows and movies, but that’s nothing new in the Theater business; there are adaptations all over the place with a new take or different spin on familiar stories. I’m hoping that people come away with a renewed interest in something that they may have dismissed as being old and irrelevant.

Beat the heat this summer and see Pogi in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, playing until August 5. Tickets can be found here!

Baskerville graphic - red text on white background

Park Square Will Host Triple Espresso

Beloved “caffeinated comedy” crosses the river to the Boss Stage

logo for Triple Espresso - stylized coffee cup and hand drawn type in black, red, and grey on white background

 

Saint Paul, Minn., June 18, 2018 – Park Square Theatre is partnering with The Daniel Group to bring the 23-year phenomenon TRIPLE ESPRESSO — A HIGHLY CAFFEINATED COMEDY to Park Square’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage November 9, 2018 – January 13, 2019.

 

“This partnership brings together two amazingly loyal audiences to experience downtown Saint Paul’s parks, skating rink, restaurants, music venues and hotels when they are spangled with white lights and good cheer,” says Park Square Executive Director Michael-jon Pease. “Plus, this partnership makes great use of the Boss Stage during a time when we’re otherwise only performing in the mornings for school groups.”

 

Park Square and The Daniel Group had hoped to partner several years ago to present Park Square’s popular production of 2 PIANOS/4 HANDS at the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis, which was the home to TRIPLE ESPRESSO for 20 years. “We loved working together because as producers, we were on the same page,” said Dennis Babcock, the Executive Producer of TRIPLE ESPRESSO. “Both shows shared the amazing talent that is Michael Pearce Donley, but we couldn’t get the numbers to work. I’ve been a Park Square fan for many years and every time I get their marketing materials I think, ‘Yes, they know how to do it!’ I’m thrilled we could make this partnership work.”

TRIPLE ESPRESSO is a truly homegrown hit show. Early in 1995, while Bill Arnold was having breakfast with Michael Pearce Donley, and Bob Stromberg in Minneapolis, the three local solo performers decided it would be fun to write something they could perform together. As motivation to buckle down and write it, they booked a performance for four weeks later.

Using Arnold’s magic and comedy, Donley’s original music, and Stromberg’s physical humor, the three put together a show with elements of slapstick, vaudeville, and a touch of audience involvement. The next year, Dennis Babcock, former General Manager of the Guthrie Theatre, came on board as Executive Producer.

The show proved to be a hit and went on to become the longest running show at Music Box Theatre (April 3, 1996 – April 27, 2008 continuously; holiday productions 2009-2016); the longest continuously running show in San Diego (January 14, 1998-February 17, 2008); and the longest running show in the history of Iowa. Add productions and tours from Alexandria, Minn. to Dublin, Ireland and Ghent, Belgium and the show has played to more than 2 million people in 60+ cities in 6 countries in 3 languages.

 

Performance Dates:
November 9, 2018 – January 13, 2019

 

Ticket prices:
Preview on November 9: $25.
Regular Run: $39.50-$47.50 for theatre seats. $47.50-$52.50 for exclusive seating at cabaret tables.
Discounts are available for seniors, children, members of the military, groups, and ASL/AD patrons. Tickets go on sale June 21 at the Park Square ticket office, in person at 20 W. Seventh Place or by phone: 651.291.7005 (12 noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday). Purchase online at parksquaretheatre.org.

 

2018-2019 PARK SQUARE THEATRE SEASON TICKETS are on sale now (packages do not include TRIPLE ESPRESSO, which is an add-on event). Season packages range in size from all nine plays in the season to a choose-your-own series of three or more. Subscription package prices begin at $75.

 

PHOTOS By Anna Eveslage, PHOTOS no credit needed

 

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AAROOOOO–The Dogs of Baskerville!

Mavis the golden-doodle

Imagine pouncing straight at you–out of the dark, murky moors–a monstrous, demonic dog from legend known as the Baskerville hound, described as “a creature from a nightmare, with blazing eyes and dripping jaws” in Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. Baskerville–the very word elicits a spine-tingling shudder of terror, an urgent need to scream and, at Park Square Theatre from June 15 to August 5, an irrepressible desire to laugh.

Mavis and Keely Wolter

In the spirit of our very fun production of this classic Sherlock Holmes whodunnit, members of the cast, creative team and production department shared photos of their own hair-raising Baskerville dogs:

Beware of Mavis the four-year-old golden-doodle, who’s biggest threats, according to Dialect Coach Keely Wolter, are to sleep directly on top of her legs at night and attack unattended bowls of popcorn (her favorite).

Lilly and Laura Topham

If you’re not already scared silly, meet two-year-old Lilly. A German shepherd/Australian cattle dog mix rescued by Stage Manager Laura Topham, Lilly once scaled a five-feet-high chain link fence in hot pursuit of a rabbit.

Jasmine the boxer mix

Then there’s Jasmine, actor Marika Proctor’s “90% pitbull sweetness,” listed as a boxer mix at the Animal Humane Society. Doesn’t she look eager to–horror of horrors– lick your face?!?!

Actor Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, not a dog-owner himself, is an uncle to his sister’s pugs, Rupert and Lola. Rupert has since passed away but shared with Pogi the Instagram hashtag #Pugsimangot, which is a play on the Filipino word pagsimangot, meaning to frown or look grumpy. He was a bit deaf, very lazy and so mysteriously quiet.

Rupert and Eric “Pogi” Sumangil

Now it’s just Pogi and Lola mugging together. Unlike Rupert, she’s more active and mischievous, hopping up on chairs and eventually the table if no one’s looking, plus getting into things that she knows not to. Oh, and she’s stubborn to boot!

Lola the pug

Last but not least, is the most terrifying of all: honorary dog Ned, who may very well want to scratch my eyes out for deeming him as such. Proud black cat dad, Eli Sherlock (formerly Schlatter), Baskerville’s set designer, may also get slightly scratched up for describing Ned as a “weird and photogenic” cat of no specific breed that was initially found in a train yard and adopted by folks on the Barnum and Bailey circus tour; hence, earning Ned the affectionate moniker “Ned the Circus Cat.”

Ned the Circus Cat

What is the Baskerville hound? Is it even a dog? Is it even real? Or may it merely exist as a part of ourselves, as Holmes himself surmised (“The hound, he said, was deep in all of us, the part of our souls that is dark and troubling . . . .”)?

Presume nothing when you come to see Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville. Sit back and enjoy as you follow the scent with Holmes and Watson. You’re in for a doggone good time! Tickets and information here.

-By Ting Ting Cheng

 

 

 

A letter from incoming Artistic Director Flordelino Lagundino

Dear Park Square Fans –

Hello from New York!

I am extremely honored and excited to be the third artistic director of Park Square Theatre following in the very large footsteps of the incredible Richard Cook. He can never be replaced and I am looking forward to building on the accomplishments during his vital tenure; and, with Michael-jon, to lead the theater with adventurous, surprising, transformational, and thrilling productions (from classical to brand new contemporary work) that represent the whole of our community and are built with love.

Park Square Theatre's New Artistic Director Flordelino Lagundino, head and shoulders, wearing a grey jacket, white shirt, and black necktie, outdoor portrait

Flordelino Lagundino. Photo Park Square Theatre, 2018.

We all are part of an amazing theater that produces some of the most vibrant productions in the Twin Cities area and also has a world-class education program led by Mary Finnerty. And as the artistic director, I want you to know that this is your theater and I am looking forward to talking to you about Park Square’s civic role as a leader in creating dialogue and entertainment in St. Paul and Minnesota.

A little about me…I currently live with my wife Jenny and our baby girl Daryl in Brooklyn, NY at the end of the R line in beautiful Bay Ridge – three blocks away from the Verrazano Bridge. This has been my home for the last three years and I have worked with some amazing artists around the country as a freelance theater artist – some of them in the Twin Cities. One of the best experiences in my theatrical career was performing in Vietgone at Mixed Blood last year. It is a play that puts a very important point of view on stage and it was an opportunity for me to perform in an Asian American story. Before I came, I had heard a lot about Jack Reuler and Mixed Blood and their work on inclusion and it was a dream to be able to perform and work in the old firehouse. I then came back and had a wonderful experience as the assistant director on Blithe Spirit at The Guthrie Theatre and attended the The ten Thousand Things theater conference.

David Huynh and Flordelino Lagundino in “Vietgone” at Mixed Blood. Photo by Rich Ryan. 2017.

What I love about St. Paul is that there is a real feeling of community. One of the places that I’ve worked in my past that really shaped the way I think of theater was Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. There you would walk down the street and someone would talk to you about your acting, or ask you about the next season while you were getting coffee. I loved that sense of interaction with the audience and the ability to make an impact in people’s lives in a regional community. When I move to Saint Paul, I want to be at a ball game and someone complain to me about a set; walk down the street and have a government official share the joy of falling out of their chair with laughter; or walk into Trader Joe’s and hear about how Park Square Theatre has changed a life.

I’m currently here in tech at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and thinking a lot about Park Square and the adventure ahead. I can’t wait to meet all of you – at the theatre or at Trader Joe’s!

Best,

Flordelino

Learn More about Flordelino and the Artistic Director Search

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