Star News » Arts & Entertainment http://erstarnews.com The Star News covers community news, sports, current events and provides advertising and information for Elk River, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman, Minnesota and their surrounding areas. Sat, 01 Aug 2015 16:39:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mainstreams: Shy kid climbs her way to theater production http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/31/mainstreams-shy-kid-climbs-her-way-to-stepping-stone-theatres-production-of-jack-and-the-giant-bean-stalk/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/31/mainstreams-shy-kid-climbs-her-way-to-stepping-stone-theatres-production-of-jack-and-the-giant-bean-stalk/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:36:01 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793021 by Sue Austreng

ECM Publishers

A shy kid and not one to make a scene, Shelby Swenson never imagined taking center stage. She preferred to blend in with the crowd, content to be a wall flower observing others’ antics and happily taking it all in.

Photo by Linda Swenson Shelby Swenson, a 15-year-old resident of Ramsey, plays the role of the Harp Lady in Stepping Stone Theatre’s production of “Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk.”
Photo by Linda Swenson
Shelby Swenson, a 15-year-old resident of Ramsey, plays the role of the Harp Lady in Stepping Stone Theatre’s production of “Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk.”

And then, her mom talked her in to singing with a performance choir, which led to auditions for family and community theater productions, which led to rehearsals and performance and a life at center stage.

Most recently, the 15-year-old Ramsey resident has been cast as the Harp Lady in Stepping Stone Theatre’s summer production of “Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk.”

“I just never thought I would ever do anything like this, but I love it and want to do more,” Shelby said.

Her mother, Linda Swenson, has taken a keen interest in her daughter’s evolution as an actress.

“She’s always been quiet and still is, but when she got her first starring role and got compliments and applause, her confidence really grew. She’s definitely come out of her shell,” Swenson said.

As Shakespeare said so long ago, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

Photos courtesy of Shelby Swenson Appearing on stage for her debut performance, Shelby Swenson played Danni Who, Cindy Loo Who’s little sister in North Star Family Theatre’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Photos courtesy of Shelby Swenson
Appearing on stage for her debut performance, Shelby Swenson played Danni Who, Cindy Loo Who’s little sister in North Star Family Theatre’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Now Shelby has reimagined her role on that stage.

“It’s been life-changing for me,” she said. “It’s something I always want to do now and I plan to go to college for musical theater,” said the straight-A sophomore who will attend Elk River High School in the fall.

For now, she’s inhabiting the role of Harp Lady in Stepping Stone’s “Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk,” a reimagination of the beloved fairy tale.

In the play, written by Linda Daugherty and with original music and song composed by Stephen Houtz, the audience sees what happens after Jack climbs that giant bean stalk into the sky.

Playing the part of Annie meant Shelby Swenson got in the act with a furry four-legged member of the troupe when Elk River Community Theatre did “Little Orphan Annie.”
Playing the part of Annie meant Shelby Swenson got in the act with a furry four-legged member of the troupe when Elk River Community Theatre did “Little Orphan Annie.”

The musical production tells the tale of a giant who has a wife (who really is tired of her husband’s fe-fi-fo-fumming), the chicken that lays golden eggs and has anxiety issues and the guitar in the corner that’s singing for its life.

And what about Jack’s father – the blue-eyed man who was lost at sea? Rumor has it there’s a captive in the giant’s dungeon. Could that be him?

As for her part in the play, Shelby called the Harp Lady a “sassy drama queen diva” who soothes the giant by singing and playing the harp as Jack comes to rescue her from the giant’s control.

Shelby Swenson played the role of Alice in North Star Family Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Shelby Swenson played the role of Alice in North Star Family Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

“It’s fun to play her. I worked with it, played with it until I found something I thought would work the best for the character. And it seems to be working. I’m having a great time with it,” Shelby said.

Shelby counts Ordway’s production of “Wicked” and the “Lion King” as among her favorite musicals but said her favorite one of all time is “Chicago.”

“I just loved all the dance, the story line, the songs. That’s my absolute favorite,” she said.

Her mother agrees that taking the giant theatrical step to perform with Stepping Stone Theatre has been a histrionic step for Shelby, to be sure.

As Dorothy in Elk River Community Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” Shelby Swenson took the stage in the first big role of her fledgling acting career.
As Dorothy in Elk River Community Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” Shelby Swenson took the stage in the first big role of her fledgling acting career.

“I am just so proud of her. This has been really so much fun to watch and she’s having so much fun. She just loves it,” Swenson said.

Shelby’s greatest dream is to perform on Broadway, she said, but for now she’s happy to make her mark on local stages.

“Jack and the Giant Bean Stalk” opened July 11 and runs through Aug. 2. For dates, times and tickets, visit SteppingStoneTheatre.org or call 651-225-9265.

The theatre is located at 55 Victoria St. N, St. Paul.

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‘Wizard’ has but three more appearances http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/31/wizard-has-but-two-more-appearances/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/31/wizard-has-but-two-more-appearances/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:15:20 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=793011 Elk River area theater-goers have a few more chances to see the Wizard.

There won’t be a yellow brick road to Zabee Theater, but North Star Family Theatre will present the last of seven performances of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Submitted photo by Stefany Janish Katelyn Kolyer plays Dorothy Gale, of Kansas, in North Star Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz,” with shows this weekend at Zabee Theater.
Submitted photo by Stefany Janish
Katelyn Kolyer plays Dorothy Gale, of Kansas, in North Star Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz,” with shows this weekend at Zabee Theater.

The cast has a performance tonight at 7 p.m. on July 31, and there are two shows remaining. They are a 7 p.m. showing Saturday (Aug. 1)  and then a 2 p.m. final showing Sunday on Aug. 2.

Fans of the classic tale are invited to come see Dorothy and her friends, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, as they journey through Oz to get Dorothy safely home to her farm in Kansas.

Tickets for “The Wizard of Oz” are available at nstartheatre.org or at the door and cost $17 for adults and $12 for children.

For more on the the play, click here.

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Video: Hometown Sound Episode 2 with Paul Imholte http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/29/video-hometown-sound-episode-2-with-paul-imholte-2/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/29/video-hometown-sound-episode-2-with-paul-imholte-2/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 18:50:06 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=792859

Old MacDonald may have had a farm, but Paul Imholte thought there was no reason he couldn’t have a banjo. The Saint Cloud native is singing and playing string instruments to songs like “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” and “You are my Sunshine” for young audiences.

After growing up near St. Joseph, Minnesota, he said he enjoys writing and performing songs about the region.

“I have an interest in writing songs about the Midwest, about Minnesota, about, well, kind of the five-state area and rural life, small towns from where I come,” Imholte said.

He got the idea for the “Old MacDonald Had a Banjo” album and tour after eating pizza with his family. He said he liked the idea that Old MacDonald could have something different than just a farm.

“He could have a banjo, but he could have an accordion or a penny whistle or a dobro, or a bag pipe or a tuba, or electric guitar or an orchestra, and all those instruments fell into this recording, and it was so much fun,” Imholte said.

He said back a long time ago he made a children’s cassette, and now people were asking to get a CD of the old tunes.

“Children that grew up with that cassette were asking for their children if they could get a recording, so I said, ‘Yeah, it’s time I re-record some of these songs,’” Imholte said.

Whether the concert is at a library or a festival, he hopes the audience is having a good time while learning about different instruments.

“I feel like I’m introducing string instruments and folk music to young people,” Imholte said.

Imholte became interested in learning instruments after playing with his grandfather’s fiddle as a young boy. He started taking lessons for the fiddle when he was around 10 years old, but he was ready to start learning other instruments.

“I was intrigued by cowboys, and cowboys played guitars, so a little bit later I got myself a guitar and those were the two instruments I played through high school,” Imholte said.

After that came learning the mandolin, which he says is a cross between a fiddle and guitar and uses techniques to both instruments. Throughout his life, he continued to take a few more music lessons and learned several new instruments. He now also knows how to play the banjo, violin, cello, mandola, mountain dulcimer, viola, harmonica, autoharp, jaw harps and spoons. While enjoying to play each instrument, he says he is best known for his skills on the hammer dulcimer.

“It’s a very ancient instrument, very beautiful instrument,” Imholte said.

He remembers learning the hammer dulcimer after his friend lent him the instrument.

“I learned a tune out of a book, and then I started adapting other things that I knew from the fiddle and playing guitar and started composing for the instrument,” Imholte said.

The hammer dulcimer is an instrument that originated from the Middle East and helped create the modern day piano. His trapezoid-shaped instrument has 74 strings that are doubled allowing him to play on three different octaves. He creates the tune by holding a hammer in each hand and striking the strings. The instrument can create a unique opportunity for harmony and melody to be played whether it’s in a folk, jazz or classical  song.

“There aren’t as many hammer dulcimer players as there are guitarists or violinists,” Imholte said.

Imholte has nearly 10 CDs, that are made up mostly of his original work. In the next 10 years, he said he hopes to spend more time working on composition.

“Music is my lifework, so you know making music, playing for people is very very enjoyable,” Imholte said.”

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2015 Sherburne County Fair parade video http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/25/2015-sherburne-county-fair-parade-video/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/25/2015-sherburne-county-fair-parade-video/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2015 10:56:11 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=792546

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HTS Episode 1: Time Atlas http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/22/hts-episode-1-time-atlas-2/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/22/hts-episode-1-time-atlas-2/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 20:08:14 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=792486

Grayson DeWolfe started off as a solo artist at the age of 14, but once he started playing with other musicians such as Kristoff Druva and Josh Bening he knew he wanted to start playing with them as a band. That is when DeWolfe, Druva, Bening, Adam Feuring, and Aaron Gates became Time Atlas. After receiving more than 90,000 views on their cover of Maroon 5’s song “Unkiss Me” they were ready to launch their own official music video. On June 7, The band released their new song and video on YouTube to their original song called “Falling.”

Time Atlas has a growing number of fans throughout the Twin Cities. The band hopes their music will satisfy a range of tastes. “We want to be pretty diverse about our songs so we can kind of touch you know people who like different genres and everything and I think we did a good job at that,” says guitarist Bening. They will next be performing on Friday, Aug. 14 in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.

“Get ready everyone,” says DeWolfe as they kick off their new adventures with their band members beside them. For more information you can check them out at facebook.com/timeatlas. For upcoming performances you can also visit their website at www.timeatlasofficial.com.

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HTS Episode 1: Time Atlas http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/22/hts-episode-1-time-atlas/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/22/hts-episode-1-time-atlas/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:53:27 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=792483

Grayson DeWolfe started off as a solo artist at the age of 14, but once he started playing with other musicians such as Kristoff Druva and Josh Bening he knew he wanted to start playing with them as a band. That is when DeWolfe, Druva, Bening, Adam Feuring, and Aaron Gates became Time Atlas. After receiving more than 90,000 views on their cover of Maroon 5’s song “Unkiss Me” they were ready to launch their own official music video. On June 7, The band released their new song and video on YouTube to their original song called “Falling.”

Time Atlas has a growing number of fans throughout the Twin Cities. The band hopes their music will satisfy a range of tastes. “We want to be pretty diverse about our songs so we can kind of touch you know people who like different genres and everything and I think we did a good job at that,” says guitarist Bening. They will next be performing on Friday, Aug. 14 in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.

“Get ready everyone,” says DeWolfe as they kick off their new adventures with their band members beside them. For more information you can check them out at facebook.com/timeatlas. For upcoming performances you can also visit their website at www.timeatlasofficial.com.

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Broken bones opened door to future http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/21/broken-bones-opened-door-to-future/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/21/broken-bones-opened-door-to-future/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 11:00:39 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=792289 by Britt Aamodt

Contributing Writer

It’s funny how something unlucky can turn out to be lucky.

Lianna “Lu” Erhart, of Ramsey, found out how true that was. In middle school, she took a tumble in gymnastics. She ended up with 10 broken bones.

Submitted photo  Lu Erhart is a 2015 honors graduate of the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley. This fall, she’ll be attending Florida’s prestigious Ringling College of Art and Design for computer animation.
Submitted photo
Lu Erhart is a 2015 honors graduate of the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley. This fall, she’ll be attending Florida’s prestigious Ringling College of Art and Design for computer animation.

“I couldn’t do gymnastics, so I started going to the library,” she said. “I stumbled on these drawing books. How to draw hands, facial expressions.”

She drew. And drew. She found other books. This drawing thing wasn’t half bad.

Then Erhart made a connection while watching Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel. Cartoons were animated drawings. That meant somewhere an artist drew them. She wanted to be that artist.

Erhart discovered the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley when she won an art award. The ceremony was held there. The budding artist picked up a brochure.

Erhart was going to be a high school senior. Should she stay at Anoka or should take a leap into the unknown?

“Hey, I might as well try that,” she told herself. “I have one life to live and I might as well make it worth living.”

Making life worth living meant pursuing animation at Perpich.

The arts high school was the vision of former Gov. Rudy Perpich and his wife, Lola. They fought hard and eventually the Legislature approved $6.5 million for the building. The first graduates walked across the stage in 1991.

What makes Perpich different from other high schools, said interim director Peggy Rader, is the emphasis not just on teaching art but also on teaching through art. Instructors find inventive ways to incorporate art into the study of math and history, for example.

Submitted photo  An advantage of attending Perpich, said Lu Erhart, was the small size of her classes. Perpich never has more than 310 students, so teachers have more time to spend with students and to workshop art.
Submitted photo
An advantage of attending Perpich, said Lu Erhart, was the small size of her classes. Perpich never has more than 310 students, so teachers have more time to spend with students and to workshop art.

Students pursue one of six concentrations: dance, literary arts, music, theater, visual arts and media arts (photography and animation). Perpich is a residential school, so students come there from all over. Most live in the dorms. Some commute.

Anyone can apply. A majority is accepted. But students still have to undergo an application process.

Because it takes effort to get into Perpich, said Rader: “We don’t have students complaining about being here. They want to be here. They’re students who have already self-identified as artists and are passionate about art.”

Erhart decided to live on campus. She moved in late summer 2014.

The year went by quickly. For the first time, Erhart could immerse herself almost totally in her chosen field. She still had to check off core requirements. But each afternoon, Perpich students were given concentrated blocks of time to work on art.

Submitted photo Lu Erhart literally broke into art. In middle school she broke 10 bones. Sidelined from gymnastics, she picked up drawing books at the library and found her connection to art.
Submitted photo
Lu Erhart literally broke into art. In middle school she broke 10 bones. Sidelined from gymnastics, she picked up drawing books at the library and found her connection to art.

Erhart could see her skill set growing and refining.

“We’d have discussions about, ‘Well, is that really in proportion to the rest of the body?’ The teachers were good at critiquing, looking at my drawings, fixing the lighting or composition,” she said.

The teachers expected a lot of the students. The students expected a lot of themselves.

Submitted photo  Lu Erhart conjured this compelling image for an antismoking project. Smoke City teeters among the bones and smokestacks.
Submitted photo
Lu Erhart conjured this compelling image for an antismoking project. Smoke City teeters among the bones and smokestacks.

“People have these ideas about art school,” Erhart said. “Oh, you create art. You get to have fun. You get A’s for it.”

There was fun but also long hours devoted to projects. When something didn’t work, the students got feedback and tried again. Then they decompressed in the common room with “Jurassic Park” or made a Target run.

The work paid off for Erhart. This spring, she graduated Perpich with honors. In the fall, she’ll be attending one of the country’s premier art schools, Florida’s Ringling College of Art and Design, for computer animation.

“The idea is practice makes perfect, even though perfect is out of reach,” Erhart said about the work it takes to become a professional artist. “Practice lets us know we’re improving. It’s a slow work in progress.”

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Hometown Sound Show Starting off on Right Note http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/20/hometown-sound-show-starting-off-on-right-note/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/20/hometown-sound-show-starting-off-on-right-note/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 19:23:59 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=792425

VIDEO: ECM Publishers, Inc. has launched a new web show called Hometown Sound, available on ECM websites starting this week. This weekly program will feature local artists and bands from around Minnesota. Musicians will share how music has affected their lives and also offer a sampling of some of their favorite songs. This is a great opportunity to check out some wonderful musical talent and discover interesting background on band members, before you catch their shows live at local venues. Hometown Sound will make artists’ voices heard across the company’s 20 local websites.

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‘Wizard of Oz’ about to land on Elk River stage http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/19/wizard-of-oz-about-to-land-on-elk-river-stage/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/19/wizard-of-oz-about-to-land-on-elk-river-stage/#comments Sun, 19 Jul 2015 11:00:09 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=792346 by Aleah Stenberg

Special to the Star News

Elk River area theater-goers are off to see the Wizard. There won’t be a yellow brick road to Zabee Theater, but North Star Family Theatre will present seven performances over two weekends of “The Wizard of Oz,” starting with a 7 p.m. show Friday, July 24.

Photo credits to Bill Bade and Aleah Stenberg “Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?” asks Dorothy (Katelyn Koyler) of the beauticians in the Emerald City, readying her to meet the Wizard.
Photo credits to Bill Bade and Aleah Stenberg
“Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?” asks Dorothy (Katelyn Koyler) of the beauticians in the Emerald City, readying her to meet the Wizard.

Fans of the classic tale are invited to come see Dorothy and her friends, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, as they journey through Oz to get Dorothy safely home to her farm in Kansas.

Tickets for “The Wizard of Oz” are available at nstartheatre.org or at the door and cost $17 for adults and $12 for children.

In addition to opening night there will be performances at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 25, and at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 26.

There will also be 7 p.m. shows on Thursday, July 30; Friday, July 31; and Saturday, Aug. 1. The final show will be 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2.

The Wicked Witch of the West sent the Jitterbugs (Anna Granlund, Shiloh Zoccoli, Lizzy Inselmann, and Trent Ramert) to impede the quest of the Scarecrow (Jeff Maas), the Cowardly Lion (Paul Olson), Dorothy (Katelyn Koyler), and the Tin Man (Nathan Mitchel) into the land of the Winkies.
The Wicked Witch of the West sent the Jitterbugs (Anna Granlund, Shiloh Zoccoli, Lizzy Inselmann, and Trent Ramert) to impede the quest of the Scarecrow (Jeff Maas), the Cowardly Lion (Paul Olson), Dorothy (Katelyn Koyler), and the Tin Man (Nathan Mitchel) into the land of the Winkies.
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Elk River Eagles will mark 50th anniversary http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/12/elk-river-eagles-will-mark-50th-anniversary/ http://erstarnews.com/2015/07/12/elk-river-eagles-will-mark-50th-anniversary/#comments Sun, 12 Jul 2015 11:05:51 +0000 http://erstarnews.com/?p=792057 Elk River Eagles 3264’s 50th anniversary celebration and membership drive will be held from 2 p.m. to close Saturday, July 25, at the Eagles, 824 Railroad Drive. The event will feature live bands, food and drinks, games and more. There will be outdoor music, weather permitting.

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