“Things To Ruin” In Rehearsals Now!

We’re about a month out from opening night of the Minnesota premiere of the new rock musical, “Things To Ruin!” We’ve got a lot of surprises in store for you at this show, and we’ll be spilling all the beans in the coming weeks. But, for now, take a sneak peek at rehearsals for the show, already well underway!

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Vanessa Barr, Kristen Parizek, Cory Anderson, Bryan Burns and Jake Caceres study their music hard.

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Tyler Pimm works his Musical Director magic while Cory Anderson belts one out and our wonderful Stage Manager Tessa Bakken keeps things running smooth.

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Evan Kelly has a very unique directing style.

Oh, and are you still wondering what this show is going to sound like? Here’s a sneak preview of that, too, featuring the cast backing up Sara Wabrowetz!


Buy One Get One For ANY Performance of RED!


“One does not paint for students or historians, but for human beings.”



We couldn’t agree more with Mark Rothko. As he felt about art, we feel about theater: It is not made in a vacuum. It is meant to be seen. It is made for you, the audience.


Rothko was also of the firm belief that art should be available to everyone – not just for the wealthy. Again, we couldn’t agree more.


Which is why we’re thrilled to announce our Red Summer Special. Buy one ticket to ANY performance of RED and receive one ticket free.


All you have to do is go online or visit our box office and use the code word Bowery. Buy one ticket, get one free. Buy 10, get 10 free. Period. End of story. No catch. No restrictions.


So…what are you waiting for?



“RED” – Notes from the Director


by Anika Thompson


In researching the artist Mark Rothko and his work, one of the most interesting discoveries was that, though he had reached the height of recognition within the art world, due to the nature of his work, he was never satisfied and lived with the uncertainty that his paintings were not ready for viewing.


His pictures were not stagnant, they moved – they pulsated as the play is so oft to say – emanating and radiating in different tones and moods, dependent on their surroundings and the audience.


In this way, a Rothko painting is very similar to theater.  We work to create a finished piece, but it’s never really done.  We release it to the audience and wait to see how they will respond.  And no matter how much study has gone into it, or hours spent in rehearsal, it changes, each night, depending on the energy the audience brings and the mood that the theater provides.




That is the beauty of live theater, it fluctuates, so it is never static, never the same and always an adventure.


redforweb2And this similarity is the brilliance of John Logan’s Red.


It embraces two art forms and shapes them into one, living work of Art.  In it we witness the process of a painter, the journey and spiritual awakening of his assistant and we get to feel a part of both.


The opening line, “What do you see?” draws the viewer in, asking for their engagement, pleading with them, not only for the artist or the paintings but also for the actors’ sake, to not just watch the show, but rather to lean into it, contemplate what Art is and why it matters.


Red by John Logan is a confrontation of mortality; it asks the question of what it is to be human and what role Art plays in that life.


“Everything is not fine” and that’s ok; a reaction, any reaction as long as it is true and human and contemplative, is what is required.





RED by John Logan

Directed by Anika Thompson

Starring Jody Kujawa and Paul LaNave

June 19-21 and 26-28 at 8pm



Meet the Cast of “Rx!”

PrintListen, we get it. We know we have a reputation here at Renegade Theater Company. One we’ve definitely earned over the years. Yes, we love plays with swears. We also love the sex stuff, the violence, the drugs and the loud music. But that’s not all.


We’re also just a big bunch of softies.


We love a good cry every now and then, too. And there’s nothing better than a really good romantic comedy. Like the one we have opening this Thursday, “Rx” by Kate Fodor! So, we thought we’d take some time today to not only introduce you to some of the stellar cast and crew of our show, but also ask them what they’re favorite romantic comedy movie is, and why:


ROBERT LEE (Director): “The Jerk”

The movie gives hope to all us idiots who are looking for love. And the movie is completely ridiculous and hilarious.


MARY FOX (Meena): “When Harry Met Sally”

Oh man….Ummm….I think I would have to say When Harry Met Sally…Or Annie Hall. I love them both so much! The sharp quick dialogue! Actually, let’s go with When Harry Met Sally. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan circa 1989…Need I say more?


KATY HELBACKA (Allison): “Bridget Jones’ Diary”

The whole movie is great – Hugh Grant’s entrance, the blue soup scene on Bridget’s birthday, the hunky fight in the fountain. My roommates and I watched it more times than I can count. And who doesn’t swoon every time Mark Darcy tells Bridget that he likes her very much “just as she is.”


BLAKE THOMAS (Richard): “Harold and Maude”

The first “ROM-COM” movie that jumped to my mind was “Harold and Maude.” One of the many reasons I like this film is because the comedy (the COM, if you will) comes from a place that makes us have to look at how strange and uncomfortable true love and happiness can be. Or, how normal and completely comfortable they can be. Or both, or whatever. It’s tricky… And it makes you laugh sometimes. Also the Cat Stevens soundtrack is pretty much perfect.


MICHAEL COCHRANE (Lighting Designer): “The Princess Bride”
I’m not sure if I know many romantic comedies…..but I love the Princess Bride, because it’s sweet, funny and it’s “Inconceivable!” not to.


KYLE MCMILLAN (Crew): “Groundhog Day”

My favorite romantic comedy has gotta be Groundhog Day.  Because Harold Ramis films are awesome. That, and, the idea of repeating a day over and over blows my mind.  Scholars maintain that Phil lived Groundhog Day 12,395 times, or, for 33 years and 350 days (see here: http://whatculture.com/film/just-how-many-days-does-bill-murray-really-spend-stuck-reliving-groundhog-day.php/5).  We now know how long it at actually takes to trick a woman to fall in love with you.  So, if I play my cards right… I should finally have a girlfriend somewhere around Easter, 2048!  Oh, and BFM.


RYLEE KUBERRA (Crew): “PS I Love You”

My favorite romantic comedy because Gerard Butler is a beautiful man and they go to Ireland. Also, Lisa Kudrow is my spirit animal.


Opening Night Deals to “Rx!”


Pssst…hey you. Yes, you! Come here!


Wanna see opening night of Renegade Theater Company’s latest production – the Northland premiere of the hilarious romantic comedy “Rx” by Kate Fodor?


What am I saying, of course you do.


And now you can see it for just $10!


To get your TEN DOLLAR tickets to OPENING NIGHT of “Rx” just click the button below, select the number of general admission tickets you want, hit the “next step” button and enter in the code 9 to 5. It’s just that simple!



Or, if you don’t have access to a computer (how the hell are you reading this, then?) or just want to speak with a human, call 218-336-1416 and leave a message for Andy with your name, number of tickets you want, your phone number and the code. He’ll take care of the rest.


See you there!


Hate Your Job? We’ve Got The “Rx!”

PrintWe’re just under 2 weeks away from opening night of the next show of our 2014 season, the brilliant and beautiful romantic comedy, “Rx” by Kate Fodor!


Over the next several days we’ll be spending some blog time giving you a chance to meet the cast, take a sneak peek at our production and maybe even hear about some of the special surprises we have in-store for you (hint). But, first, we wanted to talk about your job. And how you probably hate it.


How do we know that? Well, turns out almost everyone in America hates their job to some degree. And while the magic pill in our play – the one you take daily to make you love your job – doesn’t exist (yet) we can maybe make your work day a little brighter through commiseration. So here’s the top ten reasons why you and your fellow working brothers and sisters hate your jobs, in order from least to most obnoxious, according to Linkedin and the Huffington Post. The corporate lingo speak is also theirs. (source)


10. They think the grass is greener someplace else. If your employee’s friends are having an amazing experience at another company, why wouldn’t they be envious? The transparency of employee benefits and perks at other companies can sometimes lead your employees to dream about working elsewhere. Keep an eye on what other companies are doing and try to match where you can. Sure, your company’s perks aren’t going to be on par with Google, but why not try to give your employees something worth bragging about? They’ll be more motivated, eager to spread the good word, and you’ll benefit from an improved company culture.


9. Their values don’t align with the company. Dissatisfaction is bound to take place if your employees aren’t sold on the same things you are. If your company values creativity and collaboration, it’s in your best interest to make screening for these values a mandatory part of your hiring process. Regular feedback and reviews can help you stay in tune with employees’ values and how they align with what the company needs and values most.


8. They don’t feel valued. If you aren’t taking the time to pat your employees on the back, it’s bound to impact employee happiness. Recognition breeds feelings of value and loyalty. What are you doing to show your employees they’re valued members of the company? This doesn’t mean giving monetary rewards for every accomplishment–instead, regularly utilize verbal praise and offer the occasional gift or reward for awesome performance.


7. Job insecurity. It’s easy to dislike your job when you’re worried whether you will still have it a few months or a year from now. If your company is going through hard times, the instability may be taking a toll on your employees. Remain transparent and work on keeping spirits high and your team engaged…or they might end up leaving you out of fear.


6. There’s no room for advancement. What’s your company’s policy for promotions? Many employees end up feeling stuck when there’s no chance of advancing within their company. This often leads to job hopping. Your company may be small, but it’s important to create a plan for employees to grow with you.


5. They’re unhappy with their pay. Nothing extinguishes passion quite like the feeling of being paid less than you deserve. Evaluating the salaries of your employees can be unrealistic at certain times, but you should consider asking your employee what they feel they should be making — their honesty may surprise you.


4. There’s too much red tape. Rules may be ruining your team. Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to make your own decisions. Boost the autonomy of your employees by giving them room to accomplish goals. This establishes a healthy level of trust, productivity, and benefits the company as a whole.


3. They’re not being challenged. Your employees are on a constant search to advance their skills and improve through their work with you. A lack of meaningful, challenging work is certain to breed disdain. Find out whether your employees feel like they’re learning or advancing their knowledge. If they’re not becoming better, they will go someplace where they feel they can improve.


2. The passion’s gone. There’s a huge difference between living to work and working to live. Do your employees love what they do? The current job climate has led many people to take on jobs they don’t love. Focus on hiring thoroughly passionate employees and giving them a purpose to maintain their passion throughout their time on the job.


1. Their boss sucks. Poor management can ruin even the most passionate and well-paid employees love for their job. Don’t let your awful management and leadership skills ruin the drive of your workforce. Do you micromanage and criticize? Are you a bad communicator? If you have unhappy employees, the first thing you should look at is your management habits. The next thing to do is actually talk to your employees to get to the bottom of the problem.



Next To Normal – The Stars Of Our Show That You Won’t See On Stage

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It’s here. Opening night of “Next To Normal!”


We’ve spent the past week or so introducing you to our stellar cast, and we adore them all. But today, as we get ready to open the doors on this fantastic musical, we want to shine a light backstage. To the people working behind the scenes to bring this show to life. This blog post is all about the unsung stars of our show. The designers, crew and band who make this show run like clockwork, and who don’t get a chance to bow at the end of the night.


That photo up there? Pretty bad-ass, right? Without our team of designers, our cast would be working on a bare stage in the dark. Without our band, they would be singing a’capella. Without our crew, none of what you see here would be happening. Hell, without our staff photographer, you wouldn’t even have this photo. We are blessed with the hardest working group of theater artists in all the land, and a lot of them work off stage.


And we couldn’t do a damn thing without them.


So here’s to:

  •  Our band. Led by the brilliant Patrick Colvin on piano (who also is responsible for teaching the cast 2 solid hours of difficult music) and featuring Cory Clay on guitar, John Cox on bass, Rebecca Farmer on violin and synthesizer, Doug Quance on percussion and Macaulley Whitlock on cello. They sound amazing. They make the cast sound amazing. They are just plain amazing.
  • Our booth crew. Production Stage Manger Tonya Porter not only runs the show like a seasoned pro, she also makes sure everyone is where they should be when they are supposed to be, coordinates everything you can think of (from buying bread and batteries to navigating the murky waters of tech weekend), AND runs the light board. She’s got a hell of a co-pilot in the booth in Erin Ohland, who designed the props, painted the backdrop, and runs sound and projections. Good lord, ladies. Stop showing off with your awesomeness.
  • Our backstage crew. Alexander Houlson and Dereck Williams make our scene changes fly, make sure the cast has the right costume on and the right props in hand, and never lose their cool. They are rock steady and a blast to have backstage. Again, we work with the best. We are damn lucky.
  • Our designers. Holy crap our designers. Evan Kelly on set. Jon Moyer-Grice on lights. Nick Gosen on sound.  Erin Ohland on props. Not to mention Andy Frye, Andy Bennett and Adam Sippola pulling double duty as cast members and designers. Andy Frye is the show’s choreographer, Adam is our film director and editor on the production, and Andy Bennett assisted on the lights and projections! We could talk about how great all of our designers are, but if you come see the show, you’ll KNOW how great they are. It will be right there in front of your eyes.
  • Our photographer, Andy Miller, who somehow has figured out the magic formula that translates the excitement of live theater into still images.
  • Our incredible House Manager, Colleen Smith – who not only manages our box office and treats our audiences with total class, but also donates time to help paint our set.
  • Ken Pogin with Duluth Event Lighting who has the gear and the care for local arts that lets our wildest lighting dreams come true.
  • Anne Stephen, who came through in a pinch with some vital costume pieces.


Seriously, that’s a long list. And that’s just ONE show.


When you buy a ticket to “Next To Normal,” you aren’t just buying 2 hours of entertainment. You are supporting the artistic efforts of over two dozen people who have chosen to live and create right here in Duluth.


So you deserve a big thank you, too.



Katy Helbacka, Artistic Director

Next To Normal – Meet The Cast – Part 5


You guys. We open…TOMORROW!


The Northland premiere of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical NEXT TO NORMAL hits the stage at the Teatro Zuccone at 8pm tomorrow night and tickets are flying fast!


Pssst…hey students, did you know that you can get into any of our Thursday night performances for just $10 when you get student rush tickets at the door with a valid student I.D.? Cause you can!


Speaking of students, let’s spend today’s blog introducing you to one of our very favorite students. She’s done a few shows with us now, and each one has been a blast. She’s sweet, funny, crazy talented … and is leaving us soon. This will likely be her last show with us. Which makes us sad.


So come see her blow the doors off the place and put your heart through a meat grinder before she heads off to continue her studies in Chicago!


Meet Maria DePesa!


Why did you audition for this show?

Natalie is my dream role so I knew I had to give it a shot!


Have you seen this show before? Auditioned for it before? Did you write it? Are you Tom Kitt?

I’ve been in love with Next to Normal for years, so when I found out Renegade was going to do it I cried for a week. And then I started learning the music for my audition.


Why is this different than other musicals you’ve worked on? What makes this particular show unique?

The story is amazing. They cut out all the bullshit and give you a down-to-earth, realistic view on mental illness, love and family.


What’s your favorite or most embarrassing story from your time in theater?

My first stage kiss in high school was my first kiss ever. I was really nervous (since I also had the biggest crush on the boy I had kiss), so when it was time to do it, I ran up to the boy, totally missed his mouth and pretty much head-butted him. It was really romantic. AND if you’re reading this: Hi, Sir. Huppert. You’re still a hottie.


Convince someone reading this blog to buy tickets right now using only one sentence.

I’ll love you forever if you come.





Next To Normal – Meet The Cast – Part 4

Adam Sippola

3 days until opening night!


We had a full run with lights, sound, band, costumes, the whole shebang last night. And man was it fun. We cannot wait to let you all see this show.


But first, we have a few more cast members to introduce. Next up is a Renegade MVP who will be spending his summer playing Jean Valjean in Les Miserables at the DECC. But first, he’s playing with us in NEXT TO NORMAL!


It’s Adam Sippola!


Why did you audition for this show?

I listened to the music, and immediately loved the story and score. This show explores some very difficult subject matter (mental illness, loss, grief) in a way that hopefully offers a glimpse into a reality that many are struggling with. Also, any chance to work with Katy Helbacka and the wonderful folks at Renegade.


Have you seen this show before? Auditioned for it before? Did you write it? Are you Tom Kitt?



Why is this different than other musicals you’ve worked on? What makes this particular show unique?

It looks through the eyes of a woman struggling with mental illness, and because it’s a musical, with absolutely stunning music, the heightened reality unique to musical theater compliments the story in a very poignant way.


What’s your favorite or most embarrassing story from your time in theater?

Once, during a final dress rehearsal… (insert story here) …only to find out he had already eaten the last one!!!!


Convince someone reading this blog to buy tickets right now using only one sentence.

Carolyn LePine will blow your mind (that rhymed).