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Continued: A look at Anoka Lyric Arts Main Street Stage's new season

  • Article by: ANNA PRATT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 27, 2013 - 2:02 PM

For “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged),” a three-member cast runs through all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 97 minutes. The fast-paced show isn’t straight-up Shakespeare. “It’s very funny, with bits and pieces of Shakespeare,” which will appeal even to non-Shakespeare fans, she said.

“Junie B. Jones and Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” and “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type,” are both based on popular children’s books. Although aimed at the younger set, the shows are substantial enough to hold anyone’s attention, she said.

Also, in the in-between times, the theater is bringing back its Music in the ’Burbs concert series. Over the course of 10 concerts, musicians cover a wide variety of styles and genres.

A focus on collaboration

To help carry out the theater’s goals, it has restructured its staff and bulked up its production team, Johnson said.

Still, the theater’s mission to provide a nurturing, community-building experience for artists and audiences in an intimate, comfortable atmosphere, remains the same, she said.

Production Director Brian Proball said it’s his job to facilitate collaboration between the designers and directors. In the past, they didn’t necessarily “connect with each other” during the planning process, he said.

“Normally what happens is, designers design, and then they check with others to see if they match,” he said.

Now, they’re talking about it beforehand “so it’s not a happy accident, but more of a group decision,” he said.

It’s about attention to detail, and striking the right notes for each show. For example, in a period piece like “Hormel Girls,” “we want to make sure nothing is out of place,” he said.

The set for that show will incorporate real product labels from the company.

By contrast, “The Laramie Project” has a bare-bones set — a bunch of chairs, and “that’s it,” he said.

Scott Ford, a resident director at the theater, has offered input on artistic matters, led theater workshops and mentored artists of all ages. He’s also serving as an ambassador for the theater. “It’s easy for me to do, because I have such positive feelings about the work it’s doing,” he said.

He said he enjoys the supportive environment at Lyric Arts. “It’s great to feel like a part of a community of artists all headed in the same direction with the same kinds of goals in mind,” he said.

Likewise, the audience has a big part in the theater’s direction. “It’s a very audience-­centered organization. It’s part of what I like about them,” he said.


Anna Pratt is a Twin Cities freelance writer.

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