Monday, June 10, 2013

Radio Soap Opera Invites Public To Its Superior Premiere Next Week

Last night, as I reflected on the various plays and musicals I've attended since arriving in the Twin Ports in 1986, it dawned on me that I could not recall a single dud. Not only have the selections be super, their execution is repeatedly exceptional. My biggest problem is that I can't take them home and watch the darn things on DVD.

Nevertheless, I do try to get out when something catches my eye and this announcement did just that:

Twin Ports Stage and WI Public Radio present a live recording of the premiere episode of the radio soap opera "Twin Ports" at the Belknap Lounge in Superior. Featuring a cast of well-known local actors, the show will take place Wednesday, June 19th at 6:00pm (130 Belknap St., Superior). The show is the debut performance of the new Superior-based theatre company Twin Ports Stage, a project of the John D Munsell Legacy Fund.

I contacted managing director Victoria Main to do an email interview so that I could share a more complete picture of what to expect. The answers came back quickly, but with a caveat. "Lori (Kempton) and I both contributed to these answers." Initially I considered picking up the phone to get clarifying identification, but chose a different route instead. We're artists, and sometimes we write our own rules.

There is certainly a precedent for this kind of interview, established during the Cubist period when Pablo Picasso and Georges Braques created paintings with no identifying features to enable viewers discern who did what. Hence, my designation VM/LK.

EN: Who are some of the players in this soap opera?

VM/LK: The cast (so far) for the soap opera is: John Munson, Barbara Reyelts, Julie Ahasay, Lee Gundersheimer, Victoria Main, Chris Nollet, Brian Matuszak, Pat Castellano, Cathy Podeszwa, Jean Sramek. We will continue to cast locally as the storyline develops. There are many other roles that will appear in future episodes.

EN: Radio drama has a long history that precedes television and Garrison Keillor employs it a lot on his Prairie Home Companion program. What is it that makes radio drama so fun?

VM/LK: The soap opera is more of a comedy than a drama. There will be dramatic moments, as in all soaps, but much of it is very tongue-in-cheek and really plays up a lot of the quirky people and things about the Twin Ports. Sort of our weird little 'culture' which I love. Although it is set roughly in the contemporary, the style of it is very much a throwback to the old-time radio shows, with the commercials and the musical stuff that we've written to go along with the script. That's a big part of what we want to capture. The sort of sound and feel of the old shows. And, of course, we'll be taping episodes with an audience in locations in Superior and Duluth, so that interaction will be fun, too. A lot of the fun also comes from the inherent weirdness of the characters. Which is very much like reality. LOL

EN: What is the story line for “Twin Ports” and is it a contemporary drama or a step back in time?

VM/LK: The story line, like all soaps, has to do with what happens to the characters in the town. I don't want to give too much away, but there are some characters that are classic soap characters. Rich socialite lady, town stud, the couple that runs the tavern, there's kind of a wacky old lady who's very quirky... The story opens on a night when there's a terrible blizzard. So people get stuck in places they wouldn't ordinarily be and... stuff happens.

EN: Sounds fun. Tell me more about the new theater company you’re starting?

VM/LK: The radio soap opera is the maiden voyage of the new theatre company Twin Ports Stage. Lori and I have been working to put together a new theatre company for quite a while, and then after the death of John Munsell from UWS, we started talking to John's wife Suzie and other UWS alums, about creating a theater in John's name. And that's why Twin Ports Stage -- and the radio show -- is a project of the John D. Munsell Legacy Fund. Our primary mission once we're established is to provide live quality theatre in Superior, introduce the material of new local and regional playwrights, provide a stage/home for other performing groups, and most importantly, to pay our actors. It was very important to John Munsell that artists be paid for their work and we share that belief. We are determined to make that happen as well as honoring John by establishing a theatre in his name in Superior.

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EdNote: For what it's worth, a great way to stay in touch with what's happening in our local arts and theater scene is to follow Twin Ports Arts Align on Facebook. Vicki and Lori: thanks for filling in the details. Rain or shine I will be there. Thanks for the eVite.

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