We are beyond proud and excited to announce auditions for the fourth show in our 2015 season (we know, already!). This new musical premiered in 2012 at the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago. It was hailed as “emotionally powerful” by the Chicago Tribune, a “transcendent work of theatre” that is “fiercely original and wholly transfixing” by the Chicago Sun Times, and “remarkable” by Time Magazine.


The first production of this incredible new musical was at the 2011 Tony Award winner for Excellence in Regional Theatre. It’s second production? That’ll be right here at Renegade. We can hardly handle our excitement. We’ve lined up a fantastic production team – Director Peter Froehlingsdorf and Music Director Tyler Pimm – and now it’s time to give you the chance to be a part of this wonderful production and a part of the work of Renegade Theater Company.





Book by Andrew White
Music & Lyrics by Ben Sussman and Andre Pluess


Directed by Peter Froehlingsdorf

Performance Dates:

August 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 2015


WHEN: Tuesday, December 16th 7pm-9pm (5 min time slot)
CALLBACKS: Wednesday, December 17th 7pm-9pm (by Director’s invitation only) You may be cast in the show without needing to attend callbacks.
WHERE:Teatro Zuccone in downtown Duluth
PREPARE: Monologue for your gender/age, found below. 1 song selection from the show found below. Accompaniment will be provided as will sheet music provided. Adult men and women should use the finale of the show, “Only The River Remains” (download below).

Announcing The Cast of MURDER BALLAD



This past weekend we held auditions for the first shows of our 2015 season. We saw a lot of crazy talented local artists (as per usual) and we had some difficult decisions to make. But, we are beyond proud to announce the cast for the first show of our 2015 season, the regional premiere of the dynamite new rock musical, MURDER BALLAD!



Narrator - Maria DePesa

Sarah - Sara Wabrowetz

Tom: Pascal Pastrana

Michael: Abe Curran


We can’t wait to get started rehearsing this show, and are even more excited to introduce it to the Northland. Things are about to get very steamy and very bloody in the Teatro Zuccone!


If you’re excited about this cast, this production, our 2015 season and the work our local artists create each and every year, take a few minutes to pledge your donation for GIVE TO THE MAX DAY. Every dollar donated in the month of November goes directly to paying the local artists who fuel our productions with their time and talent.


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Rene’Giving 2014 – Our Directors





The goodness that was our 2014 season began with the ideas, talent, creativity and (let’s be honest) daycare-like-wrangling ability of our directors. This blog is our way of saying thank you to the people who took the creative reigns of the shows in our 2014 mainstage season.


BEFORE WE DO THAT: A reminder that we need your help to pay the artists who fuel our productions with their time and talent. Please DONATE today!


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Directed by Andy Bennett


Eh…he’s okay.



Directed by Katy Helbacka


One word … DIVA!



Directed by Robert Lee


Robert brought ludicrous levels of creativity to this production, adding live music, hilarious projections, and a never-to-be-forgotten surreal dream sequence complete with oversized masks of the show’s star, Mary Fox and a 90′s medley.


He also carefully crafted his version of this smart comedy about big love, big dreams and Big Pharma. He found the right balance between satire and romance and walked the line between the humor and the heart found in Kate Fodor’s fantastic script.



Directed by Anika Thompson


Anika has, over the years, proven to be about as vital to our company as possible. She has developed a well-deserved reputation for being a true actor’s director. She digs deep into the text and works with her casts to create three-dimensional performances that are consistently among the community’s best. She also brings a strong eye to design and makes sure that every aspect of her production adds to or accentuates her vision.


And that’s all beyond the work she’s done as a costume, set and props designer, fundraiser, passionate advocate and current board president. We’re one of her biggest fans.



Directed by Amber Burns and Evan Kelly

The cast of THINGS TO RUIN got spoiled on this show, getting two great directors for the price of one:


Evan has been with us from the very, very beginning. He’s worn many hats over the years, both behind the scenes and on stage, and he’s another one (like Anika) that has proven to be crucial to our continued success. He’s turned in great performances, helped us connect with the business community, built or designed tons of sets, and directed the hell out of a few shows, as well.


Amber, meanwhile, took a turn in the director’s chair for the first time with this show. She’s been a part of the Renegade family for years as an actress and choreographer, and is partly responsible for some of our most memorable musical moments. With THINGS TO RUIN, she took the next logical step and we think she’s going to have a lot of success in the future as a director.


Together, they tackled the killer songs of Joe Iconis and turned the Teatro into the coolest party in town.



Directed by Julie Ahasay


We love working with Julie Ahasay. She’s smart, passionate, creative and a wonderful person to boot. She’s game for anything, and has helped us tackle some monster shows.  With GRACE, she helped turn a potentially divisive script into a powerful, heartbreaking and thought-provoking tour-de-force.


She always gets great performances from her cast, but people may not see or realize the wonderful way she works with designers and crew to develop a complete production from start to finish. We love working with Julie and can’t wait to do it again.




We’ve been fortunate to work with an impressive roster of directors since 2008, and we want to take another second here to acknowledge each of them. Every single name on this list below has had a hand in making Renegade what it is today.


Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We love you guys.


Julie Ahasay:

Stones In His Pockets, The Woman In Black, Circle Mirror Transformation, Ghost Light and Grace


Andy Bennett:

A New Brain, The Who’s Tommy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Spring Awakening, All New People


Amber Burns:

Things To Ruin


Nate Carlblom:

The Beauty Queen of Leenane


Peter Froehlingsdorf:

The Burnt Part Boys


Lee Gundersheimer:



Katy Helbacka:

The Search for Vainomoinen, Wonder of the World, The Sparrow, Parade, The Nutcracker, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Next To Normal


Joshua Hinke:

Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Matt & Ben


Evan Kelly:

Reefer Madness, Company, William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead, Things To Ruin


Jenna Kelly:

The Wild Party


Kelli Latuska:

Sex Change


Robert Lee:



Molly O’Neill:

Summer and Smoke


Nikki Swoboda:

Reasons To Be Pretty


Anika Thompson:

The Pillowman (both times!), The Crane Wife, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Bug, The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, In the Next Room, Or the Vibrator Play, Red


Nick Violante:

A Steady Rain

Rene’Giving 2014





We’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year. 2014 was a great season – 6 mainstage shows, over 150 improv performances, thousands of people coming through our doors and the work of dozens of local artists on display on our stage. We’re going to be spending the month of November posting on this blog about all the wonderful people we worked with this past season, and how their contributions have made our theater company and the Northland’s theater community better, stronger and more vibrant. Be sure to stay tuned.


But, we’ve also got a favor to ask. As great as 2014 was, we want 2015 to be even better. Even bigger and bolder. More importantly, we want to pay those wonderful people better.  The local artists who fuel our productions with their time and talent do so for a stipend that doesn’t even come close to the true value of their work. And we want to take steps towards changing that.


We’re setting a goal of $5,000. That goal starts today and ends on Thanksgiving. AND EVERY DOLLAR DONATED BETWEEN TODAY AND NOVEMBER 27TH WILL BE USED TO PAY OUR ARTISTS.


We mean it. Every. Single. Dollar.


You can donate through PAYPAL, through CAUSES, through NETWORK FOR GOOD, even through the MAIL. Or, you can visit the GIVEMN site and pledge your donation for “Give To The Max Day.” Or just do it below. Couldn’t be easier. Hell, you can find us on the street and hand us the change in your pockets.


We say it again: EVERY DOLLAR DONATED BETWEEN NOW AND THANKSGIVING GOES DIRECTLY TO LOCAL ARTISTS. Please help us show the talented people who live and work in our community just how special they are.





Why You Should Audition for “The Great Gatsby”



This Sunday, November 9th, Renegade is holding open auditions for the first two productions of their 2015 season,MURDER BALLAD and THE GREAT GATSBY.


The Great Gatsby is a new adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel – widely considered to be one of the greatest works in literature. It’s also the only stage adaptation authorized by the Fitzgerald estate. Artistic Director Katy Helbacka will be at the helm of this one and is working with choreographer Matthew Wagner to bring this classic tale of excess and moral bankruptcy to imaginative, explosive life. Feats of stagecraft will combine with dazzling choreography, jazz music, gorgeous costumes and some of the most breathtaking language ever put to paper, all in a production designed to re-introduce you to this most classic of American tales.


It doesn’t matter to us if you’re an actor with years of experience or someone who’s just always wanted to give it a try – we’d love to have you come audition. All roles are up for grabs and we’re looking to cast not only the principal characters but also a dancing, partying ensemble. Auditioning for a show at Renegade is a fun, laid-back (hopefully) good time. Here’s all we need:


YOU – Show up 10am to read either the male monologue or the female monologue. Memorize it, print it out and read it, write it on your hand and try to trick us into thinking it’s memorized – we don’t care. Just come down at 10am and perform this short monologue. And then stick around, because at 11am, Matthew Wagner will lead you through a fun dance call designed to see how well you move in the Jazz age style.


WE – Will invite those of you we need to see more from to attend the callbacks at 4pm (you can absolutely be cast in the show without needing to attend the callbacks, by the way). At the callbacks we will cold read scenes from the script. That’s it. That’s all. Couldn’t be simpler.


Please join us at 10am on Sunday, November 9th – we’re always looking for new people to welcome into the Renegade family!


Why You Should Audition for MURDER BALLAD

Murder BalladUnion Square Theatre


This Sunday, November 9th, Renegade is holding open auditions for the first two productions of their 2015 season, MURDER BALLAD and THE GREAT GATSBY.


Murder Ballad is a brand-spankin-new rock musical that you may or may not be familiar with. But we can tell you one thing for sure: If you’re a musical theater performer, you will want to audition for this show.


Featuring a mere cast of four and some of the most bad-ass music to ever grace the Renegade stage, this show is what happens when you put an opera, a rock concert, late-night Cinemax and a Johnny Cash song in a blender. It’s sexy, violent, funny and wicked and it’s going to open our 2015 season with a bang.


If you’ve ever thought about auditioning for a Renegade show but haven’t, now’s the time. If you’ve worked with us before, come on back. We need 4 dynamite performers and we’re hoping to cast the net wide. Auditioning for a show at Renegade is a fun, laid-back (hopefully) good time. Here’s all we need:


YOU – Show up at noon in clothes you feel comfortable moving in. Matt Smith – our choreographer / fight choreographer – will lead you through a few combinations designed to see how well you move. The dancing in this show is less jazz hands and more fist fight. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we don’t care if you have 15 years of training or zero. We just want to see you move.


YOU – Then sign up for a time (email to do that) and come in to sing for us. We’re looking to hear 32 bars of a belt/uptempo song from a Broadway musical, plus 32 bars from a Murder Ballad. If you’re not clear what we mean by a Murder Ballad, click THIS. It’s a whole sub-genre of music. And here’s a few of our favorites:





OKAY. We know what you’re thinking. Things are getting more complicated. I gotta figure out what a Murder Ballad is, get the sheet music, and then bring it in and sing it?


No. No you don’t.


We’d love it if you did, but we will love it just as much if you come in and sing Happy Birthday a’capella. We just want to hear your voice and get an idea of your range. You prepare what you can prepare and you come and sing it. With sheet music, without sheet music, in frigging German. Just come down and let us hear you sing.


WE – will hold invitation-only callbacks right after the general auditions at 2:30 pm. At that point, we’ll teach those of you at call backs some music from the show and have you sing it for us. That’s it. That’s all. Couldn’t be simpler.


If you’re still wondering if this is a show you want to audition for, check out this video. And then SIGN UP!






2014 Season Wrap-Up!

We can hardly believe it. Another Renegade season is in the books. 2014 was a great year for us, and we want to take a little blog time to look back and thank the artists who brought the six shows we produced this season to electric, energetic life.


IMG_7394Our 2014 season kicked off with the hilarious ALL NEW PEOPLE by Zach Braff.



Charlie – Joshua Stenvick

Emma – Katy Helbacka

Myron – Zachary Stofer

Kim – Nikki Tatge

Badger/Kevin – Cory Anderson

Ramona – Tonya Porter



Directed by Andy Bennett

Stage Manager/ Board Op – Tonya Porter

Set Design – Evan Kelly

Lighting Design – Jon Brophy

Prop Design – Erin Ohland

Sound Design – Andy Bennett

ASM – Dereck Williams

Crew – Alexander Houlson

Photographer – Andy Miller

Trailer Director – Matt Helbacka

Original Music by Nikki Tatge / Lyrics by Zach Braff




IMG_8535Next came the heartbreaking, soul-stirring musical, NEXT TO NORMAL.



Diana Goodman – Carolyn LePine

Her husband – Andy Bennett

Her son- Andy Frye

Her daughter – Maria DePesa

Her daughter’s boyfriend – Joey Brueske

Her doctors – Adam Sippola



Patrick Colvin – Piano

Doug Quance – Percussion

Cory Clay – Guitar

John Cox – Bass

Rebecca Farmer – Violin, Synthesizer

Macaulley Whitlock – Cello



Directed by Katy Helbacka

Music Director: Patrick Colvin

Stage Manager/Board Op: Tonya Porter

Choreographer: Andy Frye

Set Design: Evan Kelly

Lighting Design: Jon Brophy and Andy Bennett

Prop Design/Board Op/Scenic Painter: Erin Ohland

Sound Design: Jon Brophy

Sound Engineer: Nick Gosen

ASM/Crew: Dereck Williams

Crew: Alexander Houlson

Projections: Adam Sippola, Andy Bennett

Photographer: Andy Miller




Pillow TalkIn May, we introduced the Northland to the romantic comedy, Rx.



Meena Pierotti – Mary Fox

Phil Gray – Cory Anderson

Allison Hardy – Katy Helbacka

Simon/Ed – Zachary Stofer

Frances – Cathy Berggren

Richard – Blake Thomas



Directed by Robert Lee

Stage Manager/Board Op – Kaci Brock

Choreographer – Andy Frye

Set Design – Evan Kelly

Lighting Design – Michael Cochrane

Sound Design – Andy Bennett and Blake Thomas

Costume Design – Mary Fox

Projections – Robert Lee and Matt Helbacka

Crew– Kyle McMillan, Rylee Kuberra

Photographer – Andy Miller


Bon Ton


IMG_3049-28 Next came the Regional Premiere of the Tony Award-winner RED.



Mark Rothko – Jody Kujawa

Ken – Paul LaNave



Directed by Anika Thompson

Stage Manager/Board Op/Prop Design – Tonya Porter

Set Design – Evan Kelly

Contributing Artist – Andy Frye

Lighting/Sound Design – Andy Bennett

Costume Design – Anika Thompson

Crew – Jamie Lind, Kyle Anderson

Photographer – Andy Miller


10535588_750333968339210_7110486527371970090_oThen, we turned the Teatro Zuccone into a nightclub for the Nortland Premiere of THINGS TO RUIN



Cory Anderson

Vanessa Barr

Bryan Burns

Jake Caceres

Maria DePesa

Tyler Goebel

Kristen Parizek

Sara Wabrowetz



Tyler Pimm – Piano

Doug Quance – Percussion

Tyler Kaiser – Guitar

Kyle Anderson – Bass



Co-Directed and Choreographed by Amber Burns and Evan Kelly

Musical Director: Tyler Pimm

Stage Manager: Tessa Bakken

Assistant Stage Manager: Hallie Rogers

Set Design: Evan Kelly

Lighting Design: Jon Brophy

Sound Design: Nicholas Gosen

Photographer: Andy Miller




graceFinally, we closed out our 2015 season with the powerful, thought-provoking GRACE.



STEVE: Rob Larson

SARA: Mary Fox

SAM: Zachary Stofer

KARL: Jack Setterlund



Director: Julie Ahasay

Stage Manager: Jamie Lind

Assistant Stage Manager: Hallie Rogers

Set Design: Evan Kelly

Lighting Design: Jon Brophy

Sound Design: Andy Bennett

Prop Design: Tonya Porter

Photographer: Andy Miller




improv0911cPLUS, there were over 130 live performances from Renegade Improv. That’s a lot of funny.


Add it all up, and that’s a lot of people dedicating their time and talent to our productions and our company. We simply wouldn’t exist without them. Each and every one of our cast and crew is like family to us. Thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do in support of Renegade’s mission to be the home for the boldest and bravest theater in the region.


And then there’s everyone who bought a ticket to one of our shows this year. Suffice it to say we’re beyond grateful to all of you, as well. You’re part of the Renegade family, too.


We’ll see you in 2015. And we can’t wait.


Auditions for “Murder Ballad” and “The Great Gatsby”

2015 is going to be a very good year here at Renegade. We’ve got a killer season planned, and if you’ve ever wanted to get involved with all the fun happening down at the Teatro Zuccone, now’s the perfect time! We are pleased to announce open auditions for the first two productions of our 2015 season:


Murder BalladUnion Square Theatre


Directed by Andy Bennett

Performance Dates:  
Feb 5-7, 12-14, & 19-21, 2015


WHEN:   Sunday, November 9th, 2014
Dance Call Noon-1pm / General Auditions 1pm-2:30pm
WHERE: Teatro Zuccone in downtown Duluth
CALLBACKS: 2:30pm till 4pm
PREPARE: 32 bars Broadway rock musical belt + 32 bars of a murder ballad
Sign up for a 5-minute time slot by emailing




Directed by Katy Helbacka

Performance Dates:  
April 2-4, 9-11 & 16-18, 2015


WHEN:   Sunday, November 9th, 2014
General Auditions 10am-11am / Dance Call 11am-Noon
WHERE: Teatro Zuccone in downtown Duluth
CALLBACKS: 4pm (by Director’s invitation only) Not all roles will require callbacks. You may be cast in the show without needing to attend callbacks.
PREPARE: Male Monologue / Female Monologue


“Grace” – Creating a Character

Here’s the deal: Tech week is intense.


For the month or so before, the actors rehearse in an empty room with folding chairs standing in for couches, tape on the floor standing in for walls and doors and Altoids cases standing in cell phones, revolvers and microphones (those cases are curiously strong stand-in props).


Then, tech week comes. And the actors are thrown into the fire. Costumes are yanked onto them, tugged and adjusted. They are pushed out under hot stage lights and forced to stand there silently while the technicians make subtle adjustments. They’re given a prop gun and asked to point it at a friend of theirs and pull the trigger.


And, if you’re Zach Stofer, you’re given a box full of makeup and told to make yourself look like you’ve been in a horrible accident where half of your face has been scraped off.


Like we said: Tech week is intense.


Thankfully, Zach Stofer – in addition to being an infuriatingly talented actor – knows his way around a makeup kit. And he was kind enough to have some photos taken of the several hour-long process he goes through each night to create his character of Sam in our Regional Premiere of “GRACE” by Craig Wright


Step 1


Zach starts by putting on a little Barry Manilow (you know, the hits) and doing some deep breathing. Then, he makes himself a nice cup of English Breakfast, slips off his shoes and makes fists with his toes.


Okay, actually, the first step is applying a base layer of liquid latex. That stuff’s the shit.


Step 1 part 2


Zach REALLY likes liquid latex.


Step 2


Step 2 Part B


Next, Zach works out some aggression on helpless cotton balls by ripping them into strips and shoving them onto his face while he screams “this is what you deserve!”


All of that is true except one part. Guess which.


Step 2 Part C


Then, he puts some liquid latex on top of the cotton ball shreds. Not cause he has to, just cause he REALLY likes liquid latex.


Step 3


Then, he pretends his hair dryer is a microphone and belts out “Mandy.” He also uses the hair dryer to dry the liquid latex and make a firm adhesion between the makeup and the cotton.


But mainly it’s about singing “Mandy.”





Then it’s time to do a little face painting. Zach uses a palette of various skin tones along with shades of red to accentuate the peaks and valleys of the scar tissue, popping out the highlights and deepening the shadows to make the texture deeper and more pronounced.


When he’s all done, he ends up with a finished product that looks a little something like this:




One final piece is added to this look, which we won’t spoil here. Let’s just say we owe a great deal to the fine folks at Hanger Clinic right here in Duluth, who helped us out in a huge way. So thank you, Hanger Clinic. You all rock.


And it’s only AFTER this final secret piece is added that Zach heads out on stage and spends 90 minutes systematically breaking your heart.


Honestly, guys: “GRACE” is one of those shows that we can point at and say, THIS is who we are and what we do. THIS is Renegade.


So, please. Come see this show.


You’ll Need To Talk About “GRACE” – We’ve Got You Covered



Nothing against those kinds of shows, but GRACE isn’t a show you watch passively. It’s not something pretty with good music and a nice, happy romance tied up with a bow and some jazz hands. We here at Renegade believe the best view is always from the edge of your seat. And GRACE is a show that makes you lean in, give your date a few “did that just happen?“ looks and, after it’s over, it’s the kind of show you want to spend the rest of the night talking about.


In other words, GRACE is the kind of show we here at Renegade love.


And every Thursday night during the run of GRACE, Renegade is pairing with Zeitgeist Arts to make sure our audience has an outlet for their need to discuss this incendiary piece of theater. Each Thursday evening of the show’s run – October 9th, 16th and 23rd – Renegade is gathering local leaders from both the faith community as well as the atheist/agnostic community to engage the audience in informal, frank and friendly discussions regarding the themes the play presents, and their responses to those themes. Just a few of the people joining us for these discussions are: Lawrence Lee, Pastor at the United Church of Two Harbors; Ryan Bauers, Spiritual Facilitator at Blue Waters Church and David Bard, Pastor of First United Methodist Church.


And even the Zeitgeist Arts Café is getting in on the act, by offering New Belgium’s Lips of Faith limited-edition brews on tap for the run of GRACE.


This production is gearing up to not only be a jaw-dropping production of a thrilling new play featuring some of the finest local talent our community has to offer, but also a means to bring a divisive topic out in the public square and give all sides a chance to hear and be heard.