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Even though her plays are lighthearted, Collings ends every show with a song written for her first script called, “One gets what one deserves,” which is a life lesson, she said. The ditty has become familiar to many theatergoers, who often sing along, she said.
A sort of ‘Cheers’
St. Paul resident Peteria Cochran, who studied theater in college, said she appreciates the theater for keeping the genre alive. “No one does melodramas anymore,” she said.
As an actor, getting the chance to work directly with a playwright is a rare treat. At Collings, “If you’re wondering what a character is thinking in a certain line, you can ask the playwright,” she said.
Cochran, who stumbled upon the theater in 2006, also enjoys the familial atmosphere at Collings. “A lot of people are in the shows, over and over. It’s kind of like ‘Cheers,’ where everyone knows your name. It’s a fun, supportive atmosphere,” she said.
As a testimony to that, during a performance of “Wild West Women,” Bob Knoll proposed to actor Carol Blowers.
Minneapolis resident Chris Dexter, who has acted, directed and even helped with choreography, has brought along his two daughters and his dad. “The most fun is backstage. We establish relationships,” he said. “Everyone has such a great time.”
Mark Thistlethwaite, who lives in Brooklyn Park, was looking for something that he and his daughters could do “to bring us closer together” when he found out about Collings.
That was in the early ’90s. Being at Collings has made a difference in “how we relate to each other,” he said.
He credits the school for helping shape his daughters into “strong, confident ladies.”
Also, for him personally, the experience has brought out a side of himself he hadn’t realized before coming to Collings, he said.
Dave Thul, also a Brooklyn Park resident, said he, too, has found that Collings is a good creative outlet for him. On top of that, the theater experience has helped him grow professionally. In his job as a manager, “It’s helped me to be more comfortable speaking in front of people,” he said.
The beauty of Collings is that “it allows people to do something they wouldn’t normally do. It draws the audience in, in ways that other theaters don’t,” he said. “I said to my wife one day, ‘What would it be like if we hadn’t met these people?’ It has changed our lives and moved us in ways we never would’ve imagined.”
For more information about the Collings School of Fine Arts, check out http://collings melodrama.blogspot.com/ or call 763-560-4230.
Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer.