Tag Archives: DalekoArts

Middletown: There’s a lot More in Between

Dear fellow human beings; fellow breathers –

Currently playing at DalekoArts is an off-beat and heartrending play called Middletown by Will Eno. Hard to define in certain terms, I will often describe it to people as “Our Town for the 21st Century”, even though I know that that doesn’t nearly complete the picture.


While both plays tell their stories though a “slice of life” framework – depicting real people in a real community – showing life as it is now, Middletown delves so much more into the subtle and truly undefinable moments of human interaction. Characters will converse and say nonsensical things, yet understand. Characters will mumble and murmur and mouth whole lines that manage to leave the audience scratching their heads yet nodding at the same time. Some scenes take place in outer space and some scenes take place in a household kitchen. Babies are born and people die. Eno’s point in all this is to show Life through every angle he can, with every literary technique at his disposal.

What you end up watching then is a two act play that manages to charm and knock your emotional socks off by the final blackout.

Even I as the assistant director, who’s probably seen the play about thirty times, never tired from the language and the actors speaking it. Therein lies the mastery of the playwright’s talents. Will Eno is really good at what he does! Despite being a late-bloomer to playwriting, he had run in with literary art in 1996 when he was invited to tune his fiction capabilities at an Edward F. Albee Foundation workshop in Montauk, Long Island. His first commercial success in New York was Thom Pain (based on nothing) in 2005. Citing Samuel Beckett as a huge inspiration, the play is a one-person monologue about trials and tribulations of life. Charles Isherwood, in his New York Times review, says it best:

Mr. Eno’s voice is so assuredly his own, simultaneously delicate and audacious in its measurements of poetry, philosophy and Monty Pythonesque silliness, that he should be allowed to speak for himself, in full.

Thom Pain went on to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize (bested by John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt) and another well-known play of his is The Realistic Joneses.

Actors left to right: Joe Swanson, Sean Byrd, Tom Karki.

As for our production at DalekoArts, director Anne M. Byrd and the team has struck upon Eno’s trademark philosophy and silliness. I’m certainly happy to return to New Prague after a couple stints as an actor (Wait Until Dark and Snowed Inn), and can’t wait for audiences to laugh, cry and scratch their heads this time around.

Tickets and information can be had here.

View the playbill here.


Merry Christmas, ya Filthy Animal

With the turning of the calendar into November, I guess you can finally say that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Especially if you’re in the theatre world, you’re either currently rehearsing a holiday show or determining when you can go see A Christmas Carol (I’ve got two right now – A Christmas Carole Petersen at Theatre Latte Da and A Christmas Carol at the Commonweal Theatre).

Gratefully, I am also in the first camp, although what I’m rehearsing is a little different than the familiar Dickens tale. This play is by Adam Hummel and called Snowed Inn. No, not Snowden, but Snowed_Inn. Not only is it a pun, but it’s also hilarious, telling the story of a disillusioned Hollywood screenwriter returning to his family inn in rural Minnesota on Christmas Eve, 1932. Like all good screwball comedies, of course, events quickly spire out of control when a mobster and his moll crash the party looking to run some hooch into Minneapolis. The play is a wonderful tribute to those romantic comedies of the ’30s as well as the classic gangster movies that I love so so so much!

In fact, I get to play the role of the gangster! His name is “Dutch” and he’s got his own work cut out for him; trying to keep his cool and get promoted up the ranks with no help from his dizzy dame of a girlfriend, Flossy. Although I don’t get to say any of the famous lines, I do get to wear a fantastic suit and play the part of so many of my favorite actors. Certainly James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, but I’d throw in George Raft, Humphrey Bogart and Paul Muni as well.

With that said, you can bet in addition to learning my part, I’ve taken this as a perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with those pictures. Back in high school I went through a phase and now own about a dozen of them. Classics like The Public Enemy, Little Caesar, White Heat, Angels with Dirty Faces, The Petrified Forest, and Each Dawn I Die. Whew, even the titles are enough to set your imagination running!

All that is to say, of course, that I’m really stoked about this one and want to share it with as many people as possible. It’s directed by Ben Thietje and is at DalekoArts in New Prague, Minnesota. It’s really not that far (this is where I did Wait Until Dark last year) and with a cast of goofballs having the kind of fun we are, it’s definitely worth it. With such a quirky mix of holiday cheer, fun and thrills how can you resist?

a DalekoArts original holiday show
by Adam Hummel
directed by Ben Thietje Nov 25 – Dec 18, 2016
Fridays & Saturdays @ 7:30pm
Sundays @ 2:00pm

After failed screenwriter Archie Ježek leaves the glitz and glamour of 1930s Hollywood to return to the small, Minnesota town where he grew up to run the family hotel, his dreams of a quiet, steady Midwestern life quickly devolve to madcap holiday hijinks and mayhem. Featuring a cast of zany characters and silver screen slapstick, Snowed Inn is a family-friendly Christmas card celebrating your favorite classic films and the nostalgia of holidays past.

It’s another DalekoArts original holiday show!

DalekoArts recommends SNOWED INN for ages 13 and up.

Bobby Gardner*
Susan J Gerver
Vincent Hannam
Lindy Jackson
Zakary Morton
Dann Peterson
Emily Wrolson

Jane Ryan (sets)
Kurt Jung (lights)
Elin Anderson (costumes)
Abbee Warmboe (props/scenic painter)*
Ben Thietje (sound)*
Janice Geis (stage manager)
Trevor Muller-Hegel (technical director)

*denotes company member

Wait Until Dark? But I Want It Now!


This Friday I am opening a production of Wait Until Dark at DalekoArts in New Prague, Minnesota. It’s a charming little theatre nestled in between brick facades on main street that just begs for you to take a peek inside. And what will you find in there? Well, right now I whole lot of lighting instruments, building material, sound equipment, the occasional empty pizza box and a team of devoted artists working tirelessly on this show to get it ready for opening. So come on opening night and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

You’ll laugh! You’ll scream! You’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat in this adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher, based on the Audrey Hepburn movie of 1967. I have not seen it yet myself, but I am very much looking forward to settling in one October night (so soon!) and putting it on. I hear it is actually quite suspenseful, which it better be because the play certainly is!

The first time I read it I was clutching my hair, eagerly anticipating the finale. Maybe I just love this type of pulp storytelling too much, but if you want to see theatre that is going to fill you with dread then this is it. Set in NYC in 1944, it tells the story of a group of professional thieves trying to get a hold of a certain MacGuffin that happens to be in the possession of a blind woman with enough cunning to give them a run for their money.


For my part, I get to play Sam, the husband. He’s a photographer who had a rough time over in Italy so he’s back in the States trying to hold down a career and keep his marriage together. To make things worse for the guy, he’s even in the way of the crooks, so they concoct a story to get him out of the picture. And wouldn’t you know it, the poor sap falls for it and leaves his wife alone to fend off the criminals. You’ll be on the edge of your seat just waiting for Sam to come home!

But honestly though, I couldn’t be having a greater time with this show. I love this genre and have always wanted to do something like this. I even get to light and smoke a cigarette on stage! An e-cig, sure, but these are things our imaginations can latch on to and end up having a heckuva lot of fun with. The cast and crew have been stellar, DalekoArts has really been superb to work for and our director, Anne Byrd, is top-notch. There is no good reason to not come out to New Prague between September 11 and October 4 and see Wait Until Dark.

OK, so the show takes a break between September 18-20 but that’s because there is a CZECH FESTIVAL in town so there’s still no excuse to not want to go to New Prague. Really. It’s not that far. There’s even a swanky little wine bar across the street where you’ll find yourself having as much fun as these guys.

And they know how to have fun.