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Young actors from the area, including those in high school, are currently rehearsing for the upcoming play "Romeo and Juliet." The play is being organized by Winterblue Theatre. Matt Suoja

A theater surge in Two Harbors

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community Two Harbors, 55616
Two Harbors Minnesota 109 Waterfront Dr. 55616

In the coming weeks, two local productions will get more area students involved in the theater process.

The Two Harbors Children's Theater has formed to create more opportunities for young actors in the area - they had auditions recently for the production "And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon," based on nursery rhymes with some songs. The show will be staged April 17-18.

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After directing a production "Henrietta" last year, Barbara Houle Schwanke saw a need for more children's-oriented theater events.

"I had so many people come up to me and say 'We really need something for kids,'" Schwanke said. She is a retired elementary school teacher, working in the Lake Superior School District for 33 years. "Fine arts enhance learning the most."

Schwanke said that fine arts activities are usually cut first when district's face budgetary restrictions. "The schools are required to have a production at each grade level," Schwanke said.

"We have no budget," Schwanke said. "The fee kids will pay ($50) will last about 10 weeks."

Schwanke is getting help from a committee overseeing the THCT, but other help is needed. She has tried to get grants, but so far has been unsuccessful.

"There are other people that have offered to work who are not part of the committee," she said.

Kids who showed up at the audition don't necessarily have to be in the play. They can also help with costumes and set designs.

Schwanke said she would like to have one production a year for the students. She also hopes that those students will move on to a bigger stage, such as Lake Superior Community Theatre based out of Silver Bay. "In no way do we want to step on their toes," she said.

'Romeo and Juliet'

Lon Church, who formed Summerblue Art Camp 14 years ago, has formed another group - Winterblue Theatre - which started last year.

Unlike the summer version, the winter one will focus on an adult and teen production.

The group will come together to put on a production "Romeo and Juliet" Feb. 19-20 through the help of Lake Superior School District Community Education.

"An opportunity came up to come here during the winter," Church said.

He wants to add more spice to the theater pot in Lake County. "I don't think you can have too much theater," Church said. He said the group in Silver Bay has been a good model to follow.

Church said that some people assume classic plays are for big-city audiences only. But he believes people in more rural areas also want a "challenge" in the theater.

The cast for the production is set and people have been volunteering to help with the set and costumes. Local resident Greg Hull, who owns a sawmill, is donating some of the lumber for the set.

Church is a Two Harbors native but now lives in Maine.

He returns to the area each summer to run the Summerblue Art Camp that began at Two Harbors High School.

Church purchased a 40-acre site across from Flood Bay State Wayside and established an outdoor stage in a natural amphitheatre for youth to learn theater and dance.

If you go

Upcoming plays

- "And the Dish Ran Away With the Spoon" will be performed at 7 p.m. April 17 and 2 p.m. April 18 at Two Harbors High School auditorium. Volunteer adults are always needed for the Two Harbors Children's Theater. Call Caren at 834-8221 (ext. 8432), Barb at 834-3660, or Katya at 834-2432.

- "Romeo and Juliet" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at Two Harbors High School auditorium.

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