Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By County Seat Theater Company
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

'Old Jake's Skirts' wins Best of Festival

 

The County Seat Theater Company's production of "Old Jake's Skirts" wins Best of Festival at the Minnesota Association of Community Theatres Festival held in Dassel-Cokato last weekend. The cast will move on to compete at the regional competition in Newton, Iowa, April 23-26. An encore performance is set for April 19 at 7 p.m. at the Encore Performing Arts Center in Cloquet.

The County Seat Theater Company's production of "Old Jake's Skirts" won Best of Festival at the Minnesota Association of Community Theatres Festival held in Dassel-Cokato last weekend. The cast will move on to compete at the regional competition in Newton, Iowa, April 23-26.

"It was a magical moment to hear and see the incredible response from the audience during our performance at the festival," said director Cheryl Kramer-Milder. "We believed we had something very special to show. All of the people we visited with were deeply moved by the story and had a great time with it."  

Old Jake, portrayed by Harold Haapoja of Moose Lake, is a lonely pumpkin farmer who is down on his luck, until he and his hound dog, Shoestring, played by Joel Soukkala, find an old trunk beside the road. They take the trunk home and soon discover it contains calico skirts that once belonged to a young mother. With every skirt - and the imaginative ways he uses them to fill his life - color begins slowly to creep back into Jake's world. When he meets the little girl who shares the secret of these skirts, he finds hope and laughter. 

"It is a sweet, sentimental story that never feels artificial or contrived, simply and simultaneously human and universal. One of the most remarkable aspects of the production is the way the elements - the music, the acting, the set and costumes, the creative storytelling - all balance and support each other," stated John Seipp, executive assistant for the Minnesota Association of Community Theatres. "It is exceedingly rare when a show comes together seamlessly like this one, where the sum is greater than the total of its parts, and these are pretty spectacular parts in their own right. Theatre, at its best, makes us see ourselves and humanity in a way we hadn't before and couldn't on our own. Through plenty of laughter and a few welcome tears (induced by artful playing upon our heart strings), 'Old Jake's Skirts' does exactly that."

In addition to Best of Festival, the production also won for Outstanding Achievement in Acting Ensemble. Director Kramer-Milder was recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design and Mike Jurek was awarded for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design. Actors Haapoja and Soukkala also won for Outstanding Achievement in Acting.

This is the second time the County Seat Theater Company has advanced to the Region 5 American Association of Community Theatres Festival. The first time was in 2011 with their production of "Wiley and the Hairy Man," a production that also advanced to the national festival and an international festival in Japan in 2012. Only eight Minnesota community theaters have ever advanced to the national level and only three of those have went on to international festivals.

"I am so proud of our cast and crew for their professional work. It will take a lot of effort to load up and travel again with the show, but I couldn't be more excited to bring our dear Old Jake and friends to new places," concluded Kramer-Milder.

The County Seat Theater Company will present an encore performance of "Old Jake's Skirts" at the Encore Performing Arts Center in Cloquet April 19 at 7 p.m. Proceeds from this show will be used for travel expenses to the regional festival. Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at (218) 878-0071 or online at http://www.countyseattheater.com.

Since 2008, the County Seat Theater Company has been located in the Encore Performing Arts Center, at 2035 Highway 33 South (on Frontage Road) in Cloquet. The theater offers a full season of local performances, as well as youth productions, musical acts and has an art gallery featuring work by local artists.

 

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