“Sweet Land, The Musical” celebrates Minnesota, change and being the “other” at Anoka-Ramsey Feb. 14 - 22
February 12, 2020
Anoka-Ramsey Community College’s production of “Sweet Land, The Musical” opens Friday, Feb. 14. Performances are scheduled for Feb. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 at 7:30 pm at the Coon Rapids Campus Performing Arts Center. The production showcases the talents of Anoka-Ramsey students.
The musical, on its third production after debuting at St. Paul’s History Theatre and a run in Seattle at the Taproot Theatre, is an adaptation of the popular film, “Sweet Land,” and Will Weaver’s short story, “A Gravestone Made of Wheat.” The story follows Inge Altenberg, a German woman who comes to America to wed a local Minnesotan in an arranged marriage. Inge, who doesn’t speak English, is met with hostility and suspicion because of her heritage and native language. Playwrights Perrin Post and Laurie Flanigan Hegge call it, “a lyrical celebration of hard-won independence and a reflection of generations past, reminding us of who we are and where we came from.”
Anoka-Ramsey’s production of the musical is unique for both the college’s theatre department and the musical’s playwrights, who have met with the student-actors throughout the process leading up to the performance to discuss the background of the piece and their characters, and for a rehearsal to answer questions and give critiques.
“These students displayed incredible professionalism when we came in,” said playwright Laurie Flanigan Hegge. “They were curious and interesting. I remember when I was a student, having this feeling of utter commitment and of course, our professional actors were like that too, but there is something about students who are so into being there. They are so happy to be in the room and so happy to have you there. It’s such a joyful entrance into a piece.”
Flanigan Hegge and her co-playwright, Perrin Post will attend the production’s first performance to see their musical come to life in Anoka-Ramsey’s Performing Arts Center and to participate in a talkback with the audience following the performance.
“Communication with an audience is really important in the development of a new work,” said Flanigan Hegge. “We love hearing what audiences have to say about their own experiences and how it relates to our show.”
After feedback from the Seattle production, the playwrights restored a “magical moment” from the musical’s first production that was changed for Seattle but didn’t land as well as they hoped. They also added a new song, “Not Over Yet,” to the end of act one, which was originally written for the Seattle production.
“We are still tweaking things. We had a new song written for the Seattle production that was not fully realized and we expect that we will see it for the first time here at Anoka-Ramsey,” said Flanigan Hegge.
Flanigan Hegge and Post hope that the musical resonates with everyone in the audience, not just because of its location and for those of German-American heritage, something that was apparent when the production was brought out-of-state. The musical focuses on the broader theme of feeling like an outsider.
“I hope that it resonates with the audience here personally because of the location, and that they also see their family stories, whether or not their families are from Minnesota,” added Flanigan Hegge. “What we hope our audience relates to is the feeling of being ‘other.’ There are immigrants right now who are not German immigrants in a Scandinavian community who are being treated as ‘other,’ who have similar stories to the main character, Inge Altenberg. She comes into a community and is essentially shut out because she doesn’t fit in. So, even though the story has local roots and people respond to that Minnesota-ness of it, I think it’s universal enough that the audiences here see what’s happening in the present time.”
“Ultimately, we are so glad that we invested so much time in a story that could have so much meaning to so many people.”
For more information about the production of “Sweet Land, The Musical” , or the Theatre Department at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, visit: AnokaRamsey.edu/theatre
“Sweet Land, The Musical” Production
Feb. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22│7:30 pm
Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Coon Rapids Campus
Performing Arts Center
11200 Mississippi Blvd NW
Coon Rapids, MN 55433
$8 to the general public
Tickets are available online at anokaramsey.edu/theatre, in advance at the Coon Rapids Campus bookstore, or at the door one hour prior to performances.
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