Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Jan. 8, 2001

'Earl Tracy' musical is inspiration of former Howard Lake woman

By Lynda Jensen

Few may know that the play "Earl Tracy, the Man, the Mystique, the Musical," sprung from the mind of Howard Lake native Marienne Kreitlow.

Kreitlow wrote the play and composed the musical score for the production about Tracy, a charismatic man who lived in Cokato during the 1930s.

A friend told her about Earl Tracy, and she became interested in local history while she was performing in a concert, she said.

She composed a ballad about Tracy.

"Where I played that song, people responded to it," she said.

The musical is one of her first playwriting attempts, although her experience in writing music extends far back in the past.

"It was a wonderful revelation of my roots," she said. It took her five years to write the musical.

Kreitlow wrote her first song in Howard Lake as a seventh grader. it was about the Dustin massacre. In retrospect, it sounded sort of like "Gilligan's Island," Kreitlow said.

She played organ at St. John's Lutheran Church.

Kreitlow parents are Dorothy and Willard Kreitlow, Howard Lake.

Currently, she lives in LaPorte, Texas, with her husband, Jerry Ford. Ford designed the stage sets for the play as well.

This is the 110th play that he has participated in, he said.

"I worked on (the Tracy play) longer than any other," he noted.

"The most enjoyable aspect of the play was the music," Worcester said.

"I've always loved music," she added. Kreitlow knows how to play flute, guitar, piano and also performs as a vocalist.

She has made a number of recordings as well.

She graduated from Howard Lake high school in 1969. She received a bachelor of arts degree in religious studies at the University of Minnesota.

The lead character in the musical, Tracy was known for his charisma and acts of faith healing. He attracted a large audience of followers during Depression. He was covered in a story in the Minneapolis Tribune at the time.

Tracy had a major economic impact on the community, Kreitlow said. This is especially significant since it was during the Depression years, Kreitlow said.

Some branded Tracy as a fraud, although all agree that he is one of the most memorable people from the area.

For more information about the play, visit on the Internet.

To purchase tickets, call 320-286-2427.

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