April 1, 1996

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


The sound of standing ovations are fading into the ether.  For those of us who saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, it was a feast of life.  For those who could not get tickets, because it was sold out – my sincere condolences.  You are the poorer for it.

I was one of the fortunate ones.  I had a part.  Well, not a part on the stage.  I lack grace, voice and courage.  My part was that of Stage Dad.  I did not, however, call up Brooke Shield’s mom for pointers.  I don’t believe in living out your life through the success of your child.

For us, this was an adventure.  My two oldest kidlets have been taking Sucuki violin for many years.  Suzuki is based on memorization and constant semi-public lessons.  This helps kids get used to the idea of performing.  I took piano, as a kid, under the old system of private lessons.  Then at the end of the year came those traumatic recitals.  I was expected to play a piano on a stage in front of a million parents.  Dread, fear and a thumping heart are all I remember of that experience.  Suzuki is a big improvement. 

My children have reached a point where it is right for them to start using the talent they have in creative ways.  That is why we showed up last December at Joseph tryouts with their little violins in hand.  Neither Alexa nor Adria are up to full size violins.  Alexa’s first violin was no more than 12 inches long.  Now she is up to a violin that is ¾ the size of an adult violin.  Adria is at ½ size.  We did get a few stares as we entered the doors at VCC Fine Arts Theater.

I want to thank Dave Reimer and Sue Germek for the shepherding my girls through this complex creative experience.  The licensing company had sent Dave and Sue a fuzzy, poorly photocopied score with no violin parts.  Many of the other instruments were missing sections or had measures that did not match the rest of the score.  Dave and Sue had to rewrite sections of every song in Joseph.  Ely is lucky to have such fine musical talents as Sue and Dave.

The biggest motivator was our nightly visit after rehearsal to Vertin’s for a piece of pie.  It did not take long for the kidlets to get hooked into the mounting excitement.  I too, enjoyed sitting among the empty seats watching the meticulous work of John Artisensi and Johnnie Ferderber as they shaped up the cast.  Even the musical warm-up exercises that Susan Germek did were entertaining.

It was fun to see what new changes Peter Kess made to the set.  The additions and constant refinements of the costumes by Donna Kari and Laura Moberly were an added accent to the creative flow.  I enjoyed watching Joseph evolve toward perfection.  My kidlets enjoyed watching this creative chaos from behind their music stands.  They thought all the cast were friendly and talented.  From first timers to seasoned professionals, there was a sense of pride and dedication. 

As a child I can remember going to small southern towns in Minnesota for various family weddings and funerals.  A low point, at such occasions, would be the vocal talent called upon to sing a propitious song.  Chalk scraping on a black board would have been preferable to the flat tones and bad vibrato.  At funerals I envied the departed for their now being able to hear.  In moving to Ely, I had pondered if I would ever again hear good culture.  Would polka be the best I could hope for?  Gladly, I can say that Ely can hold its own with communities ten times bigger.  Indeed, I have not seen better singing, even at the State Theatre in Minneapolis.  I take my hat off to Ely.

If it were up to me, I would let it be spring forever, then we could have an endless season of spring musicals in Ely.  Ten sold out performances proves that Ely appreciates world class culture.  We are not back wood rubes, as some would portray our town.  Ely is a town with one foot in nature and the other in the arts.  My ovations to all involved!

Published April 1, 1996

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