Information, reviews, and miscellaneous shorts focusing on professional, nonprofit theater—from a Southeast Minnesota perspective.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jon Hassler 10th Anniversary Season

John Hassler Theater

The Jon Hassler Theater marks 10 years of outstanding professional theatre in Plainview, Minnesota, boyhood home of Minnesota’s beloved novelist, Jon Hassler. To open a season-long 10th Anniversary Celebration, the Hassler comes full-circle with the return of Dear James, from the novel by Jon Hassler, adapted and directed by Sally Childs.

The Lyric Theater of Minneapolis, under the artistic direction of Sally Childs, brought stage adaptations of Hassler’s novels to Plainview beginning in 1997, when Dear James was presented at St. Joachim’s Catholic Church in front of a standing-room only crowd. Three years later, the Lyric Theater made the newly opened Jon Hassler Theater its permanent home, initiating the first season in 2000 with Grand Opening, followed by Simon’s Night in 2001.

“Ten years is a signal achievement for any non-profit enterprise, especially in view of the turbulent economy,” said Carter Martin, Jon Hassler Theater General Manager. “It’s definitely a milestone worth celebrating, and we could think of no finer vehicle than Dear James, the play that launched the Jon Hassler Theater.”

In its early years, the Theater focused on productions steeped in rural themes, including adaptations not only of Hassler’s novels but also of Boxelder Bug Variations by Bill Holm, Old Man Brunner Country, based on poems by Leo Dangel, and Bordertown Café, by Canadian playwright Kelly Rebar. As time went on, that vision expanded to include musicals in collaboration with Troupe America of Minneapolis, including How to Talk Minnesotan and Guys on Ice; challenging productions including Proof by David Auburn, Edward Albee’s Seascape, and The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh; high comedy as embodied in The Odd Couple by Neil Simon, Rounding Third by Richard Dresser, and Don’t Hug Me by Phil Olson; and Minnesota premieres including Honk! by Anthony Drew and George Stiles and Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol by Tom Mula.

Throughout its first decade, care was taken that the Hassler regularly return to its rural roots. “Our lodestar has always been the world of the small-town,” says Martin. “No matter how far into the wider world we progress, we always remember where our home is.”

The 10th Anniversary Season:

Dear James, by Jon Hassler
June 13 - July 12

The Hassler Summer Sampler:

Boxelder Bug Variations, a Tribute to the Late Minnesota Author, Bill Holm
Saturday, August 8th, 8:00PM

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up! By David Harris
Saturday, August 22nd, 7:00PM

Revelations of Mann by David Mann
Saturday/Sunday, August 28th/29th, 8:00PM

Leaving Iowa, by Time Clue and spike Manton
September 18 - October 18

Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol, by Phil Olson
November 5 - November 22

Visit the John Hassler Theater online for schedules and tickets:
Phone the Jon Hassler Theater at 507-534-2900.

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