Theater Review: Northern Lights Playhouse–summer theater in the northwoods

By Edith McCauley
Theater Critic

Summer theater is one of the joys of a week at the lake. My house on Little Spider Lake in Wisconsin is only a few miles from the Northern Lights Playhouse, and my guests often enjoy the performances. Founded 34 years ago, it continues to offer a variety of plays and musicals in a beautiful outdoor environment. Recently, a fire destroyed the buildings that housed the actors, and a fund-raiser is under way to help in the new construction.

The season opens in June and runs through September. The fall shows focus on children’s plays and weekend comedy. The actors come from all over the country. Many have toured, and most have university degrees in musical theater. Mark Eardley, producing artistic director, is based in New York City. A member of Actors Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreography Society, he is a highly-qualified professional.

We saw Nine on a recent Sunday matinee. Remounted on Broadway, it is loosely based on the Italian movie 8 1/2. Jason Schulof plays Guido Contini, a womanizer and movie director trying desperately to film a work that pleases his financiers and the woman with whom he is involved. Lindsay A. Woppert is his frustrated wife, and her numbers, “My Husband Makes Movies” and “Be On Your Own,” showcase her vocal ability well.

Kelly Brown is Carla, one of Guido’s lovers, a typical “sex kitten”—she is determined to become the one and only. A seasoned choreographer, her work in Nine at times replicates the ladies in Cabaret, sexually attired and seated on chairs. Jill Iverson plays Claudia, a stately lady with vocal talent surpassing everyone. In Nine, Travis Paul, still a student at Viterbo University in LaCrosse, Wis., is a member of the ensemble, but in the group numbers, his vocal ability stands out. During the season, he plays Chad in All Shook Up. We hope we will be able to see it.

Everyone has multiple responsibilities. Rebecca Rozzoni acts, sings and is the costume designer. The black and white worked well in this show, and the set uses the same palette.

The entire company is new to the theater this year. So many young people sacrifice financial rewards to follow their dream. Their summer in the northwoods will add to that experience. Northern Lights Playhouse is just south of Minocqua, Wis., in Hazelhurst, Wis., on U.S. Highway 51. For further information, call (715) 614-2615. Many people from Illinois spend time in this region during the summer. Add to your fun and attend a production at Northern Lights Playhouse.

From the July 28-Aug 3, 2010 issue

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