Hey. So, THE BURNT PART BOYS opens tomorrow. That’s pretty damn exciting. Man, we can’t wait for you guys to see this show. But, before all the opening night hoopla we want to take this last pre-opening blog post to introduce you to two very special members of the show’s creative team. Basically the two people, without whom, there would be no show.
And it also gives us a chance to thank them publicly for the incredible work they’ve put in on this show. We love them both very much and can’t wait to work with them again.
It’s the show’s Director, Peter Froehlingsdorf, and the show’s Stage Manager, Tonya Porter!
I have lived and worked in Duluth for a majority of my life. I attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior for my undergraduate degree and have a Masters of Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth. My first profession is being an educator, but I also wear a few other hats. I’m currently waiting tables for the Va Bene Cafe, I occasionally write for The Woman Today magazine, and direct and act in the Duluth community scene. When it’s not summertime, I reside in Helsinki, Finland and work for the International School of Vantaa.
How did you first get involved in theater?
I have a long history in theater. Like many others, I got my start early, in 7th grade at Virginia High School where I was cast in a musical called Teen. I played boy #1. I was hooked! I continued to do other high school and community productions while on the Iron Range. I was asked to direct my first show as a senior in High School for a neighboring town. I was really green, but somehow managed to bring people into the door. When I moved to Duluth I continued to act and direct at Ordean Middle School. Before I knew it, I was running a successful theater program with over 100 students auditioning for shows. The overwhelming support by the community validated my work both on and off the stage. I directed my first community show 13, The Musical, at the Duluth Playhouse several years ago and was asked back the following year to direct Les Miserables. That was an incredibly rewarding experience. And now, here I am at Renegade Theater working for the first time not only directing students but adults as well. I could have not asked for a better place to create this piece of art.
What drew you to this show?
I remember hearing The Burnt Part Boys at the kitchen table early one Saturday morning last summer. After listening to the opening song, God’s Eyes, I knew that this was a show that called my name. I wanted to tell this story. It has a strong message and the music and story are really well written. Often times you get a musical that is strong in one area or the other, but not both. This was certainly not the case with this show. It equally showcases soaring music and fantastic storytelling. After doing some extensive research and and speaking with the originally director of the off-Broadway production, the deal was sealed. Renegade was kind enough to hear my passion about the show asked me to produce it as part of their season. And after a year of playing with the show while in Finland, here we are!
How has the experience been?
Directing comes with a lot of ups and downs. It is not without work. A good director does their homework and makes sure they are set up for success from the start. The success of this show is mostly due to the amazingly talented group of actors and musicians I have on stage and the people sitting at my right side keeping me on track. I cannot say that there is a weak link in this chain. I have never had so much fun getting to know my company of actors and musicians in any show I have ever been part of. We have become a “Burnt Part” family. Rehearsals go by so quickly. They are the best part of my day. I cannot remember leaving a rehearsal feeling down-hearted or disappointed in any way. I know that the folks on stage who are continuing their journey in the theater have amazing things ahead of them. I would be honored to work with anyone of them again in anything I was to be directly involved in. I am a very lucky man.
Why should people see this show?
It’s about family and friends. We all have those right? The message will leave doors open for families to talk about issues that sometimes are not so easily dealt with. The theater is a wonderful avenue to allow open discussions for touchy subjects, especially ones like the death of a family member. I also know that people who love bluegrass pop-infused music will really walk away humming what they have heard on the stage. The Burnt Part Boys is really a show not to miss this summer. I can guarantee you are in for a fantastic journey as these 5 friends make their way to the Burnt Part.