Minot State Summer Theatre set for 54th season

Minot State University Summer Theatre is entering its 54th season with returning talent and first-time shows.

“This summer we have four shows that have never been seen at Summer Theatre, which is pretty exciting,” said Summer Theatre Artistic Director Chad Gifford. “One thing that is always exciting about starting a new season is bringing together many talented creative individuals and seeing those talents work together to create beautiful and entertaining theatre. We will have several states represented this summer, with performers coming from Indiana, Illinois and California to work on our stage.”

For nine of the past 10 summers, actor and director Brett John Olson has been involved in Minot State Summer Theatre in one way or another. This summer, getting back on the stage will be especially gratifying for Olson.

“Summer Theatre has really been my theater home since 2008,” he said. “In one way or another, I’ve contributed through set design from afar or shorter term carpentry work. I’m excited to get back on the stage, though it has been a few years since I’ve dug into a challenging role and Edward Bloom in ‘Big Fish’ is a dream role. Plus, ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ is going to be so much fun. It’s so iconic and Summer Theatre’s first adventure into a 10-performance run. I can’t wait to share it.”

Olson will direct “Beauty and the Beast,” the 54th season’s final performance set for July 24 through 28 and July 30 through Aug. 3.

“My passion is acting. It always will be,” Olson said. “But I find directing incredibly gratifying as well. Doing both in the same time frame will require significant balance. They are two different creative brains. Honest acting is so reactive; lovely directing is about producing moments – so the two are seemingly in conflict. I’m looking forward to it.”

Olson doesn’t plan to stray away from the traditional story line but is excited to see the production unfold each night.

“We are hoping to pay homage to a very iconic play. Our version won’t be wildly different from others,” he said. “The real draw is the fact that it’s live. No two performances will be exactly the same, and the art is fleeting. You won’t want to miss it.”

“Beauty and the Beast” highlights a lineup of all-new-to-Minot shows, beginning with “Mamma Mia,” June 12-17; “Cash on Delivery,” June 26-July 1; and “Big Fish,” July 10-15.

“Putting together four full productions in two months is a real challenge,” said Gifford. “Our company members will hit the ground running Memorial Day weekend with rehearsals twice a day and costumers designing and building costumes for over a hundred different characters, as well as hanging lights, setting up sound, and building and painting the sets.

While Gifford knows just how much work goes into a successful season, he wouldn’t want it to be any other way.

“Many of our company members start work at 9 in the morning and don’t finish until rehearsal wraps up at 11 that evening,” he said. “This kind of dedication just shows the absolute love we have for bringing theater to the community of Minot each summer.”

Tickets sales, which start May 30 at 9 a.m., will feature a new online system.

“Rolling out the new online ticketing system wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of our business manager, Peg Morris,” Gifford said. “She has been working with the university to make this possible for months, and we are finally about to see it in action.”

Tickets for each show are $16 for adults, $11 for seniors, active military, MSU faculty, staff, and students with current I.D., and $5 for youth 18 and under. Deck seats are $20. More information is available online or by calling 858-3228.

– Minot State University