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JULY 11 – AUGUST 18, 2018
Previews: July 11 & 12 at 7:30 PM
Opening Night: July 13 at 8:00 PM
Pay What You Can: July 18 at 7:30 PM
Wed/Thu: 7:30 PM
Fri/Sat: 8:00 PM
Sat Mat: 2:00 PM
Length: approx. 2 hours including one 15-minute intermission
Age Rec: 12+, children under 5 are never admitted
P.S. Don’t forget: Subscribers get $7 off additional regularly priced single tickets to Jewell Mainstage productions!
Taproot Theatre will produce the West Coast Premiere of the “heart-warming and heart-winning” (TwinCities.com) new musical, Sweet Land, book by Perrin Post and Laurie Flanigan Hegge, music by Dina Maccabee and lyrics by Laurie Flanigan Hegge. This soaring musical is based on the film Sweet Land by Ali Selim and the short story “A Gravestone Made of Wheat” by Will Weaver. Following its inaugural production and subsequent touring in Minnesota, Karen Lund will direct the new staging.
In this sweeping musical that soars like the Minnesota skies, a young German woman crosses the sea to marry a Norwegian man she’s never met. What should be their happy ending is met with suspicion and prejudice as friends and neighbors abandon them. But when hardship befalls the community, Inge and Olaf sacrifice everything to save their friends.
Lund, Taproot Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director, led the lauded new musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion for Taproot’s last season. Additionally, she’s directed the musicals Godspell, A Charlie Brown Christmas and Jane Eyre in recent years. Michael Nutting will music direct and Katy Tabb will choreograph.
The cast is led by Molli Corcoran (Taproot Theatre’s Joyful Noise) as Inge and Tyler Todd Kimmel (Taproot Theatre’s Godspell) as Olaf. The cast also includes Jenny Cross, Eric Dobson, Hugh Hastings, Pam Nolte, April Poland, Chris Shea, Daniel Stoltenberg and Michael Winters.
Following Sweet Land on the Jewell Mainstage is Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery playing September 12 – October 20, 2018. Scott Nolte, Taproot’s Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director, will direct.
Ever been on a blind date?
Tyler Kimmel (TK): Nope. I refuse.
Molli Corcoran (MC): Just one.
How did it go?
MC: Badly, of course! Do blind dates ever go well?
How many plays have you done with Taproot?
TK: Counting A Charlie Brown Christmas three times, Sweet Land is my sixth.
MC: This will be my third, after A Charlie Brown Christmas and Joyful Noise.
What got you started in the theatre?
MC: Honestly, I have no idea. I was in my first play at 6 years old. And I just never stopped.
TK: My grandparents got me involved in church plays as a kid.
What excites you the most about working on this play?
MC: The new music. And, any excuse to work with Karen Lund!
TK: I love playing roles that are different from what I’ve done before. I like a challenge. I’ve never played a Norwegian before and I love learning accents. The cast and crew is really fantastic. I’m very excited to work with them.
Have you ever lived in other places? What brought you to Seattle?
TK: California and Miami, Florida. I moved back here because I love it here! It’s my kind of environment. Love the water, mountains, our super accessible city, hiking. It’s cold and gloomy but when there’s blue skies they’re the best blue skies in the world!
MC: Bellingham and Toronto. For as long as I can remember I wanted to live and work in Seattle. My family is nearby so that helps!
What was it like being in a new city?
MC: I end up doing a lot of walking. Buses and trains make me really carsick, so when I want to explore a new city and I don’t have my bike I end up walking….a lot. When I lived in Toronto I averaged between 10-15 miles of walking per day.
TK: I loved it. I love new adventures and other cultures.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, theatrical or otherwise?
MC: Probably the best advice was a piece of advice about advice. Someone once told me, “You don’t have to take everyone’s advice.”
Why see this show?
TK: Because it’s about you! You are somebody in this play. I love trying to find the character I can relate to the most when watching a play, not necessarily in experience, but in heart. I usually end up learning something valuable. Come see it! You’ll learn something!
MC: Immigration is an issue that our nation has been debating since it’s foundation. I think this show is a window into a very interesting time. The parallels between then and now are overwhelming evident. From that perspective, it feels very contemporary. A contemporary musical that takes place in 1920, plus a beautiful love story, plus exquisite music equals a must see!
Will Weaver’s short story “A Gravestone Made of Wheat”, originally published in 1989, is the story of Olaf Torvik, an elderly Minnesota farmer who wants to bury his deceased wife, Inge, in his wheat fields. When the local sheriff protests, citing a law against burials on private land, Olaf is faced with a difficult decision. Does he honor the laws of the land or honor his wife’s last wish.
As he ponders this question, he thinks back to when Inge first arrived in America to be his bride, sight unseen. He also remembers the roadblocks placed before them and how the suspicions and prejudices surrounding Inge’s German nationality swept through their small rural community in the wake of World War 1.
Weaver paints a simple, yet vivid picture of Minnesota farm life and the struggles of immigrants in early 20th century America. It is a story of love overcoming resistance, a story about Olaf’s love of his family, his land and of his love for Inge.
In 2005, filmmaker Ali Selim adapted the story to make an independent film, called Sweet Land. The film focuses primarily on the backstory of Weaver’s tale: Inge coming to America to marry Olaf and the obstacles they encounter in their first year together. Expanding significantly on the original story, the film adds the character of Olaf’s best friend and neighbor Alvin Frandsen (charmingly played by award-winning actor Alan Cumming). It also adds a more direct representation of the community’s mistrust towards Inge in the form of Pastor Sorenson, and a secondary conflict from an antagonistic landlord who is threatening to foreclose on Frandsen’s farm. A hit in independent film festivals, the movie went on to win an Independent Spirit Award for Best Independent Film.
The quiet film relies heavily on characters who speak softly or with little English. The movie’s musical underscoring provides an emotional through-line and, thanks to the often silent manner of the two primary characters, simple phrases such as “She’s ducky,” “You took a bath,” “Banking and farming don’t mix,” and “Ducks dream,” stand out with added significance. Those simple, yet memorable lines later inspired
Minnesota playwrights Perrin Post and Laurie Flanigan Hegge and composer Dina Maccabee to adapt the film into a stage musical. The writing team expanded on many of the more memorable lines and key emotional moments by turning them into songs. After several staged readings and workshops, Sweet Land, the Musical premiered at the History Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota in the spring of 2017. It’s premiere was followed by a tour to theatres throughout Minnesota in the summer and fall of 2017. Now, just a little more than a year after it’s original production, Taproot Theatre audiences will be the first outside of Minnesota to experience this heartwarming and poignant new musical.
The Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. Photo by Scott Nolte.
When Inge sets out on her journey from Norway to rural Minnesota to marry a man she’s never met, she’s traveling to a world she doesn’t know. When she arrives, the heroine of Sweet Land, the Musical encounters surprising customs and traditions, and people with whom she can’t easily communicate. It’s a harrowing journey she must take alone. She is sustained by little more than faith and hope.
This spring, Taproot’s Producing Artistic Director, Scott Nolte, set out on a journey of his own. For several years he’d wanted to hike Spain’s Camino de Santiago and now he’s fulfilling that long held aspiration.
The Camino de Santiago (in English: The Way of St. James), is a 501 mile trail that leads from Southwestern France, through the Pyrenees Mountains and across Northern Spain. The path leads to the shrine of St. James at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galatia, where tradition says the remains of the St. James, the Apostle, are buried.
“It’s been a dream to do this crazy, risky adventure; a test of strength and spirit,” Scott said. “In 1996 I was teaching in Spain and, while visiting the cathedral in Leon, I noticed people with backpacks that I presumed were hitchhiking across the country. Years later, when I was watching the film The Way, I realized I’d seen pilgrims hiking the Camino. I was intrigued and then hooked.”
In many ways Scott and Inge’s journeys parallel one another. They are both stepping out of their homes and into a foreign land, without the aid of common language or pre-existing community. And, in both cases, there is no way of truly knowing what to expect.
For Scott, it’s a sabbatical, a chance to step away in the midst of 42 years of the CEO level responsibilities of running a non-profit arts organization; an opportunity to find new perspective, new vulnerability and a connection with fellow travelers, both current and ancient. For Inge, it’s a journey to a new home and a new life. She too is vulnerable, dependent on the hospitality of strangers and experiencing a profound shift in her perspective.
“It will take several weeks after getting home to frame and explain the inner lessons of faith, endurance, vulnerability and fellowship,” Scott said as he neared the end of his trek. “It’s the stuff that can’t be quantified, yet really happened and changes your perspective. The impact on me is yet to be measured or understood.”
In Sweet Land, the Musical, Inge’s journey challenges and changes her. But as she walks faithfully into this unknown future, her courage will also challenge and change those she meets and drive them to new perspectives as well.
Subscribers, your exclusive opportunity to be the first to pre-order Jewell Mainstage Christmas tickets is happening earlier than ever before!
In this witty sequel to Pride and Prejudice, bookish middle-sister Mary pounds her pianoforte alone until a curious visitor drops hints of being her intellectual match. Seizing the opportunity to be the heroine of her own story, Mary pursues her equal. This funny, smart and romantic comedy makes for a most stylish holiday outing.
Don’t miss your chance to reserve the best seats in the house starting July 2!
Taproot’s 2019 Season will be revealed Monday, July 30 at our Subscriber Sneak Peek Event! This event is only for 2018 Subscribers.
RSVP online at bit.ly/2019sneakpeek or call 206.781.9707
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Discount: 10% discount off your bill when you present your Subscriber Rewards Card.
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