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MSU Summer Theatre stage to be named in honor of Josh Duhamel

Andrea Johnson/MDN Chad Gifford, director of the MSU Summer Theatre, speaks during a press conference at Minot State University on Thursday. Actor Josh Duhamel, seen on the screen, made a sizable donation to the renovation project. The MSU Summer Theatre stage will be named in honor of Duhamel.

The stage at the newly remodeled Minot State University Summer Theatre will be named in honor of well-known actor Josh Duhamel, who made a sizable gift toward the renovation.

Duhamel, speaking via interactive video from California, said he was “humbled, honored, and kind of blown away that this is even happening.” The university held a press conference to announce the donation also attended by MSU President Steve Shirley; Rick Hedberg, vice president for advancement and executive director of the MSU Development Foundation; and Chad Gifford, director of MSU Summer Theatre.

Duhamel, who grew up in Minot and graduated from Minot State University, toured the summer theater last fall, saw what was being done and made a generous donation. He said he was not involved in Summer Theater when he was a student at MSU but played football. He remembers looking in the distance and seeing the amphitheater overlooking the campus. Now, having been an actor for a quarter century, he said he is interested in helping young people who are interested in the theater and is excited to see the finished project.

Nearly 500 businesses and individuals also gave gifts that have made the $2.8 million renovation project a reality.

Other prominent donors that have contributed to the project include the Minot Area Community Foundation, which donated to the plaza; Hook and Ladder Winery donated to the deck; Ryan Family Dealerships, which contributed to the driveway; Richard and Stephanie (Sabol) Strom, who contributed to the renovation of the now air-conditioned dressing rooms at the theater; and SRT, which made a donation to the box office and ticket website. Those locations will also be named in honor of the donors.

Chad Gifford, director of the Summer Theatre, said he is grateful for all of the donations and all of the people who came together to contribute to its completion.

“This wouldn’t have happened without the help of every single person who contributed to this renovation project. I hope to see all of them at a show this summer.”

Gifford said this will be the first “normal year” in a while for the Summer Theatre after the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing renovation. Tickets for the 57th summer season will go on sale June 1. He said the first play of the season will be “Something Rotten,” which will run June 17-20 and June 22-24. Other plays on the schedule include “A Taste of Things to Come,” which will run June 30, July 1-3, and July 5-7; “Moon Over Buffalo,” which will run July 15-17 and July 19-21; and “The Sound of Music,” which will run July 28-31 and Aug. 2-5.

Phase One of the project, started in October 2020 and completed last year, included integrating handicapped seating in each section, increased space for aisles and handrails, and replacing the upper-level deck.

Phase Two includes a complete renovation of the existing complex including bathrooms, ticket office, dressing rooms, and office space, along with a new plaza and drive-through, and lower-level concessions, according to information provided by MSU.

Most of the work on the project is now done. The university will add a digital entrance sign and donor board later in the summer. It will also add a canopy over the stage later this summer.

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