By Jennifer Von Ohlen
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Dassel-Cokato’s Community Theatre FungusAmongus Players converted all of its rehearsal hours and local performances of “The Voice of the Prairie” into a single hour on stage at the Minnesota Association of Community Theatre Festival (MACT*Fest), which took place in Marshall March 1 though 5.
Their work paid off as FungusAmongus was named Best of Festival amongst the 11 festival entries.
“It was a pretty exciting weekend for Dassel-Cokato Community Theatre,” stated production assistant Deb Moen. “We are so humbled and proud for this amazing recognition.”
They, along with MN SkyVault Theatre of Rochester, who performed “On the Road to Verona,” advanced to the Region V competition of American Association of Community Theatre (AACTFest).
“The cast had probably the best performance they’ve ever done,” stated director David Metcalf. “They did a great job; I was very proud of them. Every one of them, from the veterans right down to the rookies.”
“Voice of the Prairie” is set during the early days of radio (1923), as storyteller David Quinn (played by Tom Langemo) shares on-the-air his childhood adventures as a hobo with blind runaway-girl Frances as his companion.
As Quinn tells his stories, Peter Dinius and Ellen Mielke re-enact the events as teenage versions of “Davey” Quinn and “Frankie” Reed.
Meanwhile, the now grown-up Reed (played by Shara Marquez) recognizes Quinn’s voice on the radio, and is reminded of their time together, and considers reconnecting with him.
“It is a beautifully written play by a playwright with Minnesota roots filled with warmth of emotion and appealing characters, and a sort of rustic Midwestern poetry to the language,” Metcalf stated.
The 10 other MACT*Fest competitors also delivered strong performances, causing Metcalf to describe the experience as being the most stellar it has ever been.
He was surprised some of the other shows did not advance, such as Cloquet’s “Mad Tea Party” adapted from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which had outstanding costumes and St. Cloud’s “BFG: Big Friendly Giant” adapted from Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, which included a giant-sized puppet.
Competing at the Region V AACTFest will be nine shows that were declared “the best” within seven states Iowa (two shows), North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Minnesota (two shows).
The festival will take place in Brainerd Thursday, April 27 through Sunday, April 30.
Of the shows competing, only one will advance to the national competition.
FungusAmongus is in the process of scheduling local performances to help raise funds for the competition. They hope their fellow advancee, MN SkyVault Theatre of Rochester, will be able to join them in fundraising.
Look for performance announcements in future editions of the Enterprise Dispatch.
For more information on the Region V AACTFest, visit www.mact.net.