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History remade at LST

Caitlin Palomaki and Kyle Flickinger are shown in a scene of “Beacon on the Rock,” the show that’s opening the Lake Superior Theatre’s 20th anniversary season. (Emily Martello photo)

The 20th Anniversary at Lake Superior starts off the Summer Season with historic, poignant local favorite “Beacon on the Rock.”

Written by Northern Michigan University professors Shelley Russell of the Forest Roberts Theatre and music professor Robert Engleheart, the show deals with the impact that our heritage has on us yesterday and today and how we embrace and celebrate it. This particular recreation is guaranteed to make your heart sing.

As I sat in the audience taking in the story I was overwhelmed by the how opposite these characters act and react to each other from the world in today. One which we were forced to live in the past two years. “Beacon on the Rock” gives me hope that we can and will move on and succeed with the morals, ethics and values that make our peninsula and nation great. “Beacon on the Rock” has become a main stay for the theatre and has had several productions but this one seemed different in an artistic and cerebral way.

Russell has once again thoughtfully cared for every element in the production and the performers who participate in it. She was fortunate to have a mix of talented new-comers Lake Superior Youth talent and actors who returned to participate in the production again. Playing the same role or moving on to others. The ensemble numbers were a pleasure to listen to. Perfectly blended with harmonies and power. This is a musical troupe.

Orion Couling who originated the role of Hans portrays Tom Trenarry. He has the perfect foil to work off of in Kyle Flickinger. A highlight for both of them was the “Reach out your Hand” and reprise. I’ve seen various productions over the years and I can say The show would not be the same without the one constant, Nancy Irish as Mrs. Cummings.

Captain Petroff and Rudy Petroff are portrayed vibrantly, physically animated and vocally strong by another duo Devin Murphy and Griffin Pepin. Their timing was spot on and you could tell they were having fun.

Chandler Burr gives a moving performance as Hans who is torn between what his father wants him to be, a farmer, and his struggle to be his own man and live as a light keeper learning about Lake Superior and its surrounding land.

Complicating matter is his love for “Geeshik” played honestly by Audree Stephens. She is a delight to watch and pleasure to hear as she sings.

Other memorable cast members include, Abby Letts, Amber Christunas, Robert Smedman and Layla Wright-Contreras.

The technical elements were appropriate for setting the mood and atmosphere while at the same time became a multifaceted set that was used without changing. From a ship to cave and bedroom to rock cut. To mention a few.

The non-transitional transitions kept the show moving and was the perfect theatrical vehicle for the Boathouse stage. The traditional costumes by Helen Boburka are tailored to fit each individual character and culture represented.

The title song gives us all hope. A needed message in these anti-immigration times. Beacon on the Rock communicates what can be accomplished by a society of individuals who work together for the betterment of all.

The tribute to local friend of the theater Dr. James A Panowski is a tribute to the amount of people he touched on and off the stage. Also memorialized is Joan Steindler for the matching grant she established this summer. Joan was a friend and patron of LST.

The production rand last week and again today through Saturday. All performance are at 7:30 p.m. For more information you can contact LST at www.lakesuperiortheatre.com or call 227-ROCK. Get tickets early as all shows tend to sell out quickly. The 20th Anniversary LST season is family friendly entertainment. To quote the director, “‘Beacon on the Rock’ is the story of your home, and the musical of our stage.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Bobby Glenn Brown is a lifelong resident and graduate of Northern Michigan University. He holds an MFA in musical theatre from the University of Las Vegas-Nevada. He has served on several arts boards and has performed in a variety of professional venues throughout the nation. Brown is General Manger at Elizabeth’s Chop House.