If Duluth feels like home,
it's because it could be.


Dennis O'Hara


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and connects people to Duluth, showcasing its unique quality of place.


Our Vision is to see people filled with a deep sense of belonging and identity with Duluth.


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Duluth’s Winter Village Charms Holiday Shoppers

Photos submitted by Duluth Winter Village


Inspired by Quaint European Christmas Markets, Duluth Winter Village is December 2-3 (on Harbor Drive by the DECC & Irvin ship).

The tradition of the European Christmas market evokes images of twinkling lights, delightful aromas of hot beverages and delicious food, joyful holiday music, and the excited sounds of children in the air.

That tradition has been part of the holiday landscape in Duluth since 2016, first on the grounds of Glensheen Mansion, and, for the last two years, behind the DECC. This year, the Winter Village is back again on December 2 and 3.

Lucie Amundsen, DECC Communications Director, said, “This will be the DECC’S third year of hosting the Duluth Winter Village, right by the bay and in front of the Irvin freighter (which happens to be painted a festive red).”

“This indoor/outdoor winter market is designed around small businesses and this scenic city. It came from the idea of making it fun and easy to support Duluth and regional businesses during the holidays. The event features 50+ local small businesses selling unique, curated goods out of custom-built wooden cabins. It’s just a wonderfully festive vibe,“ Amundsen noted.

Gia Bellamy is one of the co-founders of Duluth Loves Local. “I have been involved with the Winter Village since 2016. We plan the event, find vendors, create the vision for the experience, and work with all the businesses to make it happen.”

Mallory Moore, the other co-founder of Duluth Loves Local, said,  “The DECC is a great home for the Winter Village. Our event wouldn’t be possible without the location and the team that works there. We also have a number of sponsors who give their time or financial support to make this event possible.”

Tasty Treats

The Winter Village offers something for any appetite with a variety of everything from tacos to gourmet marshmallows. Some vendors offer food that can be purchased for gifts as well.

Hungry Hippie Tacos General Manager Casey Gillard, said, “We have had a blast at the Winter Village before and are excited to be back!” They will have a few new specials, as well as items from their varied restaurant menu.

They make tacos that “embrace the spirit of the Northland,” featuring puffy homemade taco shells and house-smoked meats from their Duluth restaurant at 1810 W. Superior Street.

Amy Sirois, owner of The Minnesota Marshmallow, said, “We love coming to the Winter Village. We have sold out before, so this year, we are bringing more bags of our holiday varieties of marshmallows.”

She said that people buy her small-batch gourmet marshmallows not only as an immediate snack but by the bag to give for gifts and to use as stocking stuffers.

Her unique flavors for sale include North Pole Peppermint, Santa’s Sugar Cookies, Mike & Jen’s Cocoa, Boozy Bailey’s, Chai Spice, and Ginger Snaps.

Other food vendors include Duluth’s Best Bread, Love Creamery, Scenic 61 by New Scenic Café, TBSP Waffles, Yes Cheese, and many more.

Shopping Galore

Winter Village vendors have “cabins” filled with shopping ideas for gifts and holiday decor. Vendors include Superior Blooms, Frost River, Wintergreen Northern Wear, Ivy Moon, Duluth Pack, Duluth Flower Farm, Pebble Spa, Whimsy, Bailey Builds, and many more.

Whimsy owner Alyssa Carlson said, “We enjoy all the holiday spirit and meeting new people. We are excited to have people see what we offer for children—from babies to ‘tweens’ from our Fitger’s store.”

She added, “In addition to our unique clothing, we will have lots of gift and holiday ideas such as plush toys, ornaments, and decor. Our mittens and hats sell well as people find they want warmer clothing for the kids.”

Anna Bailey, owner of Bailey Builds, with art and handmade items made from wood, has been a Winter Village vendor since the festival began. Her cabin will be filled with some of her statement one-of a-kind art pieces, holiday decor, a “Make your own Winter Village” kit, and other DIY kits.

Bailey said, “The Winter Village is a great representation of some of the unique stores and makers that Duluth has to offer. It is the best of the best, all in one weekend in one spot.”

Yule Hall and Candy Cane Lane

Moore noted, “Our Yule Hall hosts all of our food and beverage vendors! It’s fully inside of Pioneer Hall with lots of choices and space to unwind. There’s seating, a 25-foot tree, a photo wall, and a family area for babies and parents by Duluth Moms.”

Candy Cane Lane will have a large hands-on activity area, a corn pit, “hug a hen,” a 5-minute portrait artist, and a holiday movie playing on an inflatable snowman.

The Yule Hall has the entrance to the new Candy Cane Lane kids’ zone and the Hucklebeary store’s new shop called Hollybear.

Emily Ekstrom, Hucklebeary owner, said, “We are excited to try something new this year with our Hollybear store made especially for kids’ shopping, Kids can come into a child-sized store to pick out a gift for their adult with help from one of our Santa’s Helpers.”

The gifts will be prepackaged and wrapped. Ekstrom said they will have some of their other holiday items and ornaments for sale in the mini-store as well.

More Fun

“There will be live animals,” Moore said. “Cooks Country Connection plans to bring Sophie llama, Arty the alpaca, Benny the mini horse, and Poppy or Taco for a mini donkey— along with Trixie the goat and her son Tater. We also will have Locally Laid bringing hens!”

Free ice skating is back with festive lights, free skates rental (limited availability), and a live DJ from 2 pm – 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. The Duluth East Choralaires will be performing on Saturday.

Bellamy noted, “My favorite part of the event is seeing it become an annual tradition for families and groups of friends. We’re honored to be part of the magical holiday season, where guests can gather with their loved ones, and local businesses get the support and love they deserve. We’re lucky to have them, and this event is a celebration of that.”

“I am always charmed by the cabins and seeing how each vendor decks them out as their own. Going to a German Christmas Market has long been on my bucket list. Duluth Winter Village has gotten me that much closer,” added Amundsen.

Duluth Winter Village Details
Saturday and Sunday, December 2 and 3, 2023
Open 10 am until 5 pm both days, Skating 3-5 pm in the DECC
Free to attend – no admission fee
$10 DECC Parking

For more information, visit:
The Duluth Winter Village website and Facebook page, and the DECC's Facebook page


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Shop Local Bookstores - Give the Gift of Books

“Buying a book is not about obtaining a possession . . . but about securing a portal.”  Laura Miller, books and culture columnist

As we approach the holidays and then hunker down for the long winter months ahead, browsing in a local bookstore is a must as a place to buy books and gifts for family, friends, and even for yourself.

Zenith Bookstore
Old and New Favorites and Hidden Gems

The storefront at Zenith Bookstore inspires wonders of treasures within. Photo submitted.

Bob and Angel Dubrow opened Zenith Bookstore at 318 N. Central Avenue in the heart West Duluth in July of 2017. They have always loved books,  and some of their own vast collection became part of the inventory for their store.

Bob and Angel Dubrow are the owners of Zenith Bookstore. Photo submitted.

As the couple describes it, they had a lifetime dream of opening a bookstore “to establish a place that celebrates a passion for books and reading while fostering inclusiveness and community.”

“The ‘meat and potatoes’ of the store is our fiction section including everything from sci-fi and fantasy to mysteries. We also have a strong children’s section, as well as regional/local authors, history, biography, and more,” said Bob.

Special Events

Zenith Books has an active calendar of “meet the authors” events and book releases. One exciting event this fall was their evening with popular Minnesota author William Kent Krueger, featuring discussions, passage readings, and book signings, of his The River We Remember.

Shoppers who enter Zenith Bookstore are greeted with a vast array of books to explore. Photo submitted.

Held at the Depot Theater, this event was co-sponsored by Zenith, the Duluth Public Library and Foundation, and the Depot, with Angel Dubrow as the moderator.

Another recent big event was their Northern Waters Smokehaus cookbook release of Smoke on the Waterfront by Mary T. Smith. It was held in the new Smokehaus space, formerly occupied by the Amazing Grace Café in the Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace.

Bob and Angel love hosting author events every week, including Minnesota authors such as Alex Messenger, Margi Preus, Joshua Mohling, Mindy Meja, and Jess Morgan.

Reader Services

Zenith takes in customers’ “gently used” books, (including from estate and large collections), and gives people store credit that can be used for anything in the store – just like cash. This gives Zenith a wide selection of used books for their customers to purchase at great prices.

For the holidays and year-round, Zenith has gift cards that are easy to purchase and use online. Gift cards may be redeemed in-store and online, and they never expire. They also have a customer rewards program.

Besides their new and used books, other beautiful gifts include art-style bookmarks, journals, book bags, magnets, book lights, watercolor pencils, plush toys, puzzles, store-logo clothing, cribbage boards, and much more.

The Dubrows are also excited for their annual Jólabókaflód (Yule Book Flood), an Icelandic tradition of gifting books and cozying up to read with family and friends on cold winter nights.

Jólabókaflód (Yule Book Flood), is an Icelandic tradition of gifting books. Photo submitted.

For Jólabókaflód, Zenith is partnering once again with the Duluth-based Mike & Jen's to offer their delicious, all-natural cocoa with gift-wrapped book purchases. The event continues through December. Gift wrapping and free shipping are also part of the store’s services.

Zenith offers discounts for educators and a classroom and school order discount of 20%. K-12 educators, home-schooling parents, and librarians receive a 10% discount for individual purchases.

Another fun opportunity for customers are Zenith’s meetings once a month for a book club, for poetry lovers, and for a national book club for children’s books enthusiasts.

“When we were getting ready to retire, we looked all over the country for a place to live and a place to open our bookstore. We are so happy that we chose Duluth for our home and the home for our store,” said Angel.

Faithful customers love Zenith as a hidden gem, with a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and a cozy atmosphere,

For more information about Zenith Bookstore, call (218) 606-1777, follow them on Facebook on Instagram @zenithbookstore, or visit their website at zenithbookstore.com

The Bookstore at Fitgers
A Readers and Shoppers’ Delight

Shoppers are greeted with a festive holiday window display at The Bookstore at Fitger’s. Photo submitted.

The Bookstore at Fitger’s is located on the first floor of the Fitger’s Mall Building at 600 E Superior Street. They are a full-service, locally owned, independent bookseller.

According to store manager Jennifer Jubenville, roughly half their shoppers are tourists, and the other half are locals. Shopping at The Bookstore, along with many other small businesses and restaurants, all located under one roof at Fitger’s, adds to the shopping experience.

Jennifer Jubenville is the store manager at The Bookstore at Fitger’s. Submitted photo.

Jubenville appreciates the charm of the Fitger’s Building. “I love books, and I love working in this old, historic building,” Jubenville said.

The Bookstore’s collection of books features the history, cultures, nature, lifestyle, cuisine, activities, and folklore of Lake Superior, the North Shore, and the Northwoods of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Customers appreciate their great variety of books, including unique regional titles such as Bettys Pie Shop Cookbook, Lost Duluth, and a great selection of mysteries with local settings.

According to Jubenville, in addition to regional titles, they curate the best selected fiction and non-fiction titles, catering to a variety of interests and tastes. Their children’s section is overflowing with books for all ages, and toys, dolls, games, and more, making it a fun pace to to buy kids’ holiday and birthday gifts.

Special Events

The Bookstore is proud to host a variety of authors for book signings, discussions, and author readings. This fall, area poets Bart Sutter and Linda LeGarde Grover were featured.

Past author events have included Dr. Bill Himango, an area retired neurosurgeon, with his book Provenance, and Mark Munger, a local lawyer and District Court Judge, with his new book Boomtown.

This past spring, Fitger’s also welcomed Duluth native and Olympian Kara Goucher who gave an author talk on her new book, The Longest Race.

Recently, The Bookstore hosted authors Patty Wetterling and Joy Baker who spoke about Dear Jacob: A Mother's Journey of Hope. WDIO anchor Darren Danielson moderated the event, and the authors also signed autographs after the discussion.

Authors Patty Wetterling and Joy Baker talking with Darren Danielson. Photo submitted.

Reader Services

For the perfect present for the readers among your family and friends, The Bookstore offers gift certificates in any amount for any occasion. They will mail gift certificates along with your personal messages in beautiful greeting cards. Certificates always “fit” and never expire.

Shoppers will appreciate their potpourri of quality gift items including puzzles, coffees, Abdallah candies, socks, journals, holiday ornaments, note cards, journals, calendars, greeting cards, Fitger’s branded merchandise and more.

“We are working on getting a Book Club going,” added Jubenville. Bulk discounts are available on a case by case basis.

The Bookstore offers an educator discount with 15% off the entire regular-priced purchase when the teacher shows an ID.

Jubenville added that they are in the process of establishing a rewards program. The also have ongoing discounts from a number of different publishers; shoppers should check their website for information.

Supporting Local Bookstores and Local Authors

On the importance of shopping locally and reading local authors,  Jubenville added, “When you spend money in local stores, you are placing a vote saying ‘this is important to me.’ You are saying you appreciate the local stores and local authors. And you appreciate how much local businesses give back to the community.”

For more information about The Bookstore at Fitgers, call 218-727-9077, follow them on Facebook on Instagram @fitgersbooks or their website at www.fitgersbookstore.com


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Fitger’s Brewhouse – It All Started Here

Fitger’s Brewhouse – It All Started Here
Duluth’s First Brewery Also Serves up some Pretty Tasty Grub

The entrance to Fitger's on Bob Dylan Way.

Any beer brewer worth their salt would agree: quality water makes all the difference. And no water on Earth brews up a tastier batch of suds than fresh, pure Lake Superior water.

The fine folks at Fitger’s Brewhouse know this to be true. As Minnesota’s oldest brewpub – and Duluth's first brewery – Fitger’s was founded by Sidney Luce in 1857. It has been owned by local businessman Rod Raymond (who also owns Duluth hotspots Burrito Union, the Rathskeller, The Barrel Room, and The Oliver Inn), since 1995.

In addition to brewing up some tasty craft beers, the Brewhouse also offers a wide variety of delicious food. Appetizers, wraps, burgers, soups, salads, chili, and even desserts offer something for everyone. Patrons can sip a cold one while enjoying a good meal (and some epic people-watching) in the historic Fitger’s complex.

Please join us for this edition of Eat & Drink Duluth, where we sip some suds and munch on some delicious pub grub!


Fitger’s Brewhouse combines the relaxed ambiance of a mountain brewery (it was inspired by the beer brewing scene out west) with an uncompromising dedication to quality. The Brewhouse has established a tradition of offering Duluth craft beer, fantastic local pub food, and excellent live music on Lake Superior's North Shore.

Every year, Fitger's Brewhouse brewery produces over 1,500 barrels of beer in over 50 varieties. Fitger's Brewhouse carries a rotating combination of 20 unique brews, including cask-conditioned ale and award-winning Duluth beers such as Witchtree E.S.B. and Big Boat Oatmeal Stout.

The extensive menu includes many delicious pub fare, and its stage hosts live music from local and touring entertainers. If you like craft beer, local food, and live music, this is one Duluth restaurant you won't want to miss.


The vibe at the Brewhouse is an interesting mix of old (think bluestone walls, dark trim, and vintage signs) and new (stickers everywhere, chalkboards, trendy exposed ductwork). During our visit – which was happy hour on a Friday – the Brewhouse was definitely hoppin’. Pun intended.

The many varieties of Fitger's Brews.

Amongst the other patrons, we encountered a large wedding party, couples, parents with kids, and plenty of iterations in between. The Brewhouse is a popular, high-energy place that will likely be pretty busy anytime you go.

Seating ranges from high-top tables, low-top tables, booths, and an upstairs loft area – you can even belly up to the bar. And if you’re into live music, this is the place to be.


The Brewhouse serves up plenty of flagship beers, along with several rotating seasonals. On the day of our visit, there was even a pumpkin varietal – Devil’s Track Pumpkin – on tap.

After some consideration, I opted for the Apricot Wheat. From the menu:

A marriage of American wheat ale with apricot. The spicy wheat balances the fruit flavors perfectly with a light body and a dry, crisp finish.

Mike chose the Lighthouse Golden. From the menu:

Our lightest ale that is the perfect introduction to craft beer. With more flavor than an American lager, this beer is golden in color with subtle maltiness, light flavors, and light body.

Both beers were exactly as advertised. I love a fruity beer, and the Apricot really hit the spot. The beer was just mildly sweet; however, the sweetness was enhanced by my meal choice, which I’ll get to in just a bit.

And the Lighthouse Golden is of the crisp, easy-drinking variety. As advertised, it is a great way to dip your toe into the delicious waters of craft beer.


I opted for one of the Brewhouse’s three wild rice burgers, the Classic, hold the mayo. From the menu:

The wildly popular Fitger's Brewhouse Wild Rice Burger.

Our classic vegetarian wild rice burger patty topped with cheddar cheese, Roma tomatoes, sprouts, red onion, and garlic mayo.

Brewhouse burgers are served with your choice of beer-battered French fries, blue corn chips with salsa, coleslaw, carrots & celery, or steamed broccoli. Or, you can select salad, soup, chili, or onion rings for an extra charge. I decided to live dangerously, and upgraded to their onion rings.

For those who don’t know, Minnesota wild rice is a local delicacy. Locals use it in everything from casseroles (or “hot dish,” as we say) and soups, to breads and entrees, including meatless burgers.

This burger was surprisingly thick and hearty, and I would add - almost “meaty.” It was flavored with the perfect blend of herbs and spices. Fresh, crunchy sprouts were an interesting but delicious addition, adding to the flavor profile. The tomato slice was firm and the red onion was crisp. A generous piece of cheddar covered the entire burger, and it was all served on a toasted, buttered bun.

And the onion rings were deliciously beer battered and crisp. I was glad for the upgrade. I dipped everything in ketchup, but now I’m thinking a side of creamy ranch might be a good choice for next time.

The sweet apricot flavor from my beer was enhanced by the salty, rich flavor of the burger. A delicious pairing that I would highly recommend.

Mike ordered the Brewhouse beer-battered fish. From the menu:

Fitger's Brewhouse Beer-Battered Fish.

Three cod fillets fried until golden brown, and served with tartar sauce.

And, Mike opted for the classic beer-battered fries as his side.

The beer batter on the cod was crisp and flavorful, and the fish was tender and mild. The crunchy beer-battered fries were on the thinner side, with a slightly chewy, soft inside. The tartar sauce featured large chunks of sweet pickles – a tasty complement to the fish.

The Lighthouse Golden provided a great accompaniment to this classic pub meal.

Both of our menu choices were indicated with a star, which means they are Brewhouse best-sellers.


Our server, Teresa Kunes, has worked at the Brewhouse for 18 years, and spoke highly of the establishment. She shared that she loves the atmosphere, her co-workers, and her boss. In fact, her husband, two sons, and daughter all work here, too!

18-year veteran server Teresa Kunes.

Teresa gladly answered all of our Brewhouse questions with the breezy casualness that comes with 18 years of practice. She was polite, professional, and personable – an alliterate trifecta of perfect hospitality.


Fitger’s Brewhouse is a wonderful place to grab an artisanal brew, eat some delicious pub food, and people watch. The vibe is fun and energetic, and the service is even better. It’ll be a point of pride to tell all your friends that you kicked it with a beer at Minnesota’s oldest brewpub – and Duluth's first brewery.

And if you don’t live here – yet – but are visiting Duluth, make sure to explore the entire complex of establishments within the Fitger’s complex. There are lots of unique niche shops, and plenty to see and do.

To learn more, please visit fitgersbrewhouse.com.

Andrea Busche is a Duluth and regional freelance writer credited with over 1,000 bylines in local print and digital publications. Her food column, Local Pairings, was first featured in Duluth.com magazine, and later published in the Duluth News Tribune from 2016-2018.


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Artist Profile Series: Alyson Enderle Stars in The Sound of Music

Artist Profile Series:
Alyson Enderle Makes Each Role Her Own

Alyson Enderle is a 2018 UMD Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate.

In describing her personal view of theater, actress Alyson Enderle said, “It’s always about community: first with the cast, then with the whole production team, then with the audience. So, your community you’ve built around a show builds and builds, and the circle of people that experience it gets wider and wider.”

Alyson is about to widen that circle again by playing the role of Maria in an upcoming production of the beloved classic The Sound of Music.

Finding Theater

Alyson, born and raised in Mankato, Minnesota, was not one of those who decided at an early age that she was determined to make acting her life’s work.

“My sister and I did a bit of Prairie Fire Children’s Theater. I think the first show I was in was Snow White when I was five, and I just remember being absolutely terrified,” she said. “But I must’ve liked something about it because every summer, I wanted to do more and more of them.”

Alyson with Steven Grant Douglas in a production of Once at the Playhouse in 2022. Photo by Terry Cartie Norton)

She explained she didn’t get back to theater until high school with a memorable production of With Their Eyes, a show about 9/11, and then when she was cast in one of the leading roles in Elton John’s musical Aida.

“If there’s one thing that hooked me about theater, it was probably collaborating with a group of like-minded individuals to create our best version of a story,” Alyson said.

UMD Training

Alyson entered UMD in the fall of 2014 as a musical theatre major and received her BFA in 2018. At UMD, she was cast in Legally Blonde: The Musical, Alls Well That Ends Well, One River, She Loves Me, Marvins Room, Charlottes Web, and Into the Woods.

She explained, “I graduated having done three completely different types of musicals, a children’s show, a Shakespeare, a devised piece, a contemporary drama, as well as a couple of dance concerts. “

While Alyson said she has had several important mentors, she singled out Tom Isbell. “Tom was my main acting professor at UMD and continues to be my mentor and friend. He also was the officiant at my wedding!”

She stated, “From my very first audition in front of him, Tom has believed in me and my abilities wholeheartedly. Sometimes, I’m shocked by how much he does. I literally couldn’t tell you what he saw in me when I auditioned; I was a random kid from southern Minnesota with very informal training. “

Alyson under the marquee of the historic NorShor Theatre. Photo submitted.

“It’d be difficult to list all the capacities he’s mentored me in because there were probably at least a hundred small ways. I will say he’s just always down to talk. We’ll talk about theater, about the news, about coffee, the crossword puzzle, Noel Coward, pancakes, books!”

She added. “So I guess he really just mentored me to become a well-rounded person. His teaching style is all about finding your personal brand of acting, but also finding out who you are as a person. Tom’s always understood that the best actors have an intimate understanding of who they are and that can often be their greatest strength.”

After graduation, Alyson acted in various Minnesota theatres, including the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, Lyric Arts, Daleko, Artistry, Phoenix Theater, and Zeitgeist. After college, she lived and worked mainly in the Twin Cities area until 2021, when she and her husband and fellow actor, Phil Hoeslcher, moved back to Duluth.

Alyson with husband Phil Hoelscher at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Photo submitted.

“Phil and I decided to move back to Duluth to help us plan for the wedding (we were set to get married at the Greysolon Ballroom). We love Duluth, and the theater scene always inspired and impressed us while we were in college, and we both had several opportunities to be a part of it.”

“Having the chance to do more work in Duluth, now that we had had some professional experiences in the Cities, was very appealing and exciting to us,” she added. “We felt that not only did we have something to offer the community, but that the community would teach us and help us grow in return.”

On the Home Front

“Phil and I didn’t get to work too much together until we moved back up to Duluth, and since then, we’ve been in eight shows: Spamalot, The Thanksgiving Play, Footloose, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Heroes of the Fourth Turning, Young Frankenstein and now Sound of Music, and I like to count Once as well because he came on as an emergency understudy for the final week when we had someone out due to COVID.”

Alyson and Phil in a production of Ghost Tour at Daleko Arts in New Prague. Photo submitted.

She added, “We have a Belgian Malinois named Pip who is about the goofiest dog you’ll ever meet. We like to spend a lot of time at home with him when we’re not working, and we love to cook. We also enjoy traveling to see friends and to see theater.”

Phil works for a class-action lawsuit administrator, and Alyson teaches voice lessons and an occasional class at the Duluth Playhouse. She also works at Great Harvest Bread Company. “I started at Great Harvest when I was in college and went back when we moved. That place and my coworkers have been so supportive of me over the years that I can’t not mention them.”

The Hills Are Alive

Preview of Alyson in The Sound of Music

Alyson is very excited to be playing the iconic character of Maria in the Playhouse’s holiday show, The Sound of Music with a talented cast of 40 performers, including two separate casts of the von Trapp children.

“My goal with Sound of Music is to tell the story and be my own authentic version of the character of Maria. It is the most commercially well-known musical I’ve ever done. When you do theater, you do a lot of shows that people either have heard of and never seen or they have no idea what it is, so it’s nice to be in a show that doesn’t need to be described to people.”

She added, “I’d say this show is challenging in the same way all theater is challenging: it requires a lot of energy, a lot of focus, and a lot of play. The ‘play’ aspect might not sound too hard, but that’s just because it’s as fun as it is difficult,”

Another Opening, Another Show

After the Sound of Music, Alyson is playing the lead in Kate Hamill’s adaptation of Pride & Prejudice at Zeitgeist in February. Her husband is also in the show which will be directed by Justin Peck.

The Sound of Music Information

The Duluth Playhouse presents The Sound of Music

The NorShor Theatre.  211 East Superior Street, Duluth

December 1-17
Thursdays – Saturdays @ 7:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday Matinees at 2 pm


Box office at the NorShor Theatre
Monday through Friday 10 am-5 pm,
Call 218-733-7555 or visit:


About Sheryl Jensen - Arts & Entertainment Editor

A retired educator with the Duluth Public Schools, Sheryl Jensen has been a theater director of over 60 school and community productions. Her production of William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew at East High School won the National High School Theater award from the BRAVO television network.

Having written theater, music, dance, and opera reviews for the Duluth News Tribune for many years, she now is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for Destination Duluth.



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Itinerary for 7 Holiday Attractions Weekend

Itinerary for a 3-day holiday weekend in Duluth, creating memories that will last a lifetime!

Duluth offers SO many exciting activities to celebrate the holiday season. We've narrowed the list to seven attractions reoccurring each weekend during this holiday season. We suggest taking Friday off as a 3-day weekend of holiday wonders in Duluth.

Here's a quick and easy itinerary with links for info and tickets, followed by more details and links for each:

Don’t wait: start planning for your best Duluth holiday weekend today!

First, to do it all, you gotta take Friday off and make it a three-day weekend!

THURSDAY EVENING: – Bentleyville
(Thursdays are an excellent choice to avoid the weekend crowds)

Photo by Dennis O'Hara.

Join Bentleyville as they celebrate their 20th anniversary with the biggest and best light display EVER!

The annual walk-through holiday light display - features over five million lights, live characters, cookies, coffee, hot chocolate, popcorn, smores, and a large variety of themed displays. Children under 10 can visit Santa and get a stocking hat. Best of all, admission, refreshments, hats for kids are ALL FREE! (Parking nearby is $10)

In 2022, Bentleyville won first place in the Reader's Choice USA Todays 10Best Public Holiday Light Displays. They have been nominated to repeat the title in 2023. Vote for Bentleyville HERE.

Bentleyville typically welcomes an astonishing 300,000+ visitors per year. While many are local residents, others, including global tourists, visit Bentleyville from far and wide.

Founder, creator, and "Mayor of Bentleyville" Nathan Bentley, shared what’s new this year:

  • Free live performances and extra events every single weekday night this year, to help celebrate our 20 years.
  • Chris Hawkeye will perform a free live solo performance at Bentleyville on Friday, December 1st at 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 pm.
  • Fireworks - Wednesday, December 20th, for our 20th Anniversary celebration.
  • Retro Week – We are bringing back all the nostalgic things about Bentleyville, starting December 18th, and going through December 22nd.
  • More photo opportunities than any time in the past 20 years.
  • Live Reindeer night - December 4th.

Bentleyville will be open evenings from November 18th – December 26th, 2023 (Including holidays!) They provide a planning guide and tips at  bentleyvilleusa.org. In case of inclement weather, announcements are made on the Bentleyville Facebook page.

FRIDAY MORNING - Great Lakes Aquarium

The folks at Great Lakes Aquarium shared that they will have two interesting highlights during the holiday season this year.

SCUBA Santa will be making his appearance on-site at the Aquarium every Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 am, from November 25th - December 17th. You can find SCUBA Santa in the Isle Royale exhibit.

And, the Aquarium’s annual holiday membership drive begins November 20th, and runs through the end of the year. During this time, the Aquarium will offer perks and bonuses for new or renewing members.  Special bonuses and incentives for use at area businesses and attractions (to be announced) will be included with purchase.

To learn more, please visit glaquarium.org, or follow them on Facebook. They are open 10 am- 6 pm daily, excluding holidays. 

FRIDAY AFTERNOON - Christmas at Glensheen

Christmas at Glensheen Mansion is an immersive experience, perfect for all ages. Christmas at Glensheen was #2 in the country in the 2018 USA Today 10Best Holiday Historic Home Tour, (behind Elvis' Graceland). Glensheen is nominated again in the 2023 USA Today's 10Best contest. Vote for Glensheen here.

Last week, we featured a full story on Christmas at Glensheen.

Mike Mayou, Marketing Manager at Glensheen, shared several highlights:

  • 27 beautifully lit Christmas trees
  • Many original ornaments from the Congdon family will be on display
  • Several themed rooms - including a candy cane room, a gnome room, and rooms decorated in monochrome, such as the blue room and white room
  • An elf hunt, where little visitors can search the mansion for a variety of plush elves hidden throughout
  • During the Christmas season, Glensheen will be playing classic holiday tunes – all from 1950 and earlier
  • Guests can take home a copy of Clara Congdon’s sugar cookie recipe
  • This year, Glensheen’s special candlelight tours will be expanded. People can choose from the “classic” candlelight tour, where they can explore the first three floors of the home. Or, folks can choose to tour the entire five floors of the mansion - all by candlelight.

All of Glensheen’s Christmas tours will be self-guided, and folks can go at their own pace. But plenty of staff will be on hand to answer any guest questions that arise.

Christmas tours at Glensheen will take place from November 17th – January 7th. Please visit glensheen.org to learn more.

FRIDAY EVENING: - Lake Superior Zoo

This year, the Lake Superior Zoo will host their third annual Zoo Lights event, which is back and better than ever with three brand-new giant inflatable animals. Guests will enjoy a magical walk-through experience featuring holiday light displays, larger-than-life animal inflatables, free s'mores, visits with Santa, and more! LS Zoo’s main building and Primate Conservation Center will be open to see the animals and warm up on a cold night.

Zoo Lights start on November 24th, and runs every week (Friday-Sunday), from 5:00-7:30 pm. (Closed on 12/24 and 12/25).

SATURDAY MORNING – Winter Fun at Spirit Mountain 
After Thanksgiving, conditions permitting

Photo by Explore Minnesota

Spirit Mountain offers 22 Alpine runs, 175 acres of skiable terrain, 700' vertical drop, 5 chair lifts, and 3 surface lifts.

They also offer fat-tire biking, tubing (ages 3 and up) and the largest terrain park and half-pipe in the Midwest, with fabulous views of Lake Superior from all runs.

For cross-country skiers, Spirit’s Upper Nordic center features 22km of groomed Cross-country ski trails (classic tracks and skating) are mostly intermediate and run through dense hardwood forest.

For more information and tickets, go to Spiritmt.com

OR, if you prefer shopping, go to Duluth Winter Village - Dec 2-3 at the DECC

SATURDAY AFTERNOON – The Sound of Music (2:00 PM Matinee) Dec 1-17

Duluth Playhouse.

See the most beloved musical of all time – The Sound of Music – in a theatrical production by the Duluth Playhouse, presented at the historic NorShor Theater.

Duluth's favorite holiday tradition continues with the iconic Rodgers & Hammerstein collaboration that has become the world's most beloved musical.

Featuring a score of cherished songs, including "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," and "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," The Sound of Music won the hearts of audiences worldwide, earning five Tony Awards and five Oscars. This inspirational story, based on the memoir of Maria Augusta Trapp, proves that love and family can overcome the darkest of times.

For all the show times and tickets, go HERE

SATURDAY EVENING – Take the Christmas City Express with the North Shore Scenic Railroad

The Christmas City Express is a storybook experience recommended for families with children under 10 … and for the young at heart.

The performance begins in the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, where you’ll be treated to a book reading of the new Christmas City Express story. Guests will also enjoy carolers, and a visit from a special guest.

Then guests will climb aboard the train for a short 30-minute ride up to Lake Superior. Once onboard, guests will enjoy complimentary hot chocolate, cookies, and holiday tunes.

Space is limited, and early reservations are strongly encouraged. Get info and tickets here.

Additionally, The Bentleyville Shuttle Train (which is separate from Christmas City Expres) operates on Saturdays, departing from Fitger’s. Learn more and purchase tickets here.

Start Making Plans Today!

There you have it! A packed three-day holiday weekend tour with memories that will last a lifetime!


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CSS's The Comedy of Errors Is Filled with Double Trouble

CSS's The Comedy of Errors Is Filled with Double Trouble

The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) opened their run on Friday night of William Shakespeare’s first comedy and one of his earliest plays, The Comedy of Errors.

Comedy has a preposterous plot with ridiculous complications, all devolving into complete and utter chaos. Shakespeare requires that the audience to suspend disbelief that identical twin brothers and their two identical twin servants, shipwrecked and separated as young children, would all end up in the same town a few decades later. Each pair of brothers is meant to be dressed exactly alike, and each is completely oblivious to the presence of the other.

As it is Shakespeare’s shortest play (Friday night it ran 75 minutes, without intermission) and with its broad comedy and colorful characters, it is accessible for audiences and also for younger and sometimes less experienced actors to give it a go. Its mistaken identities, broad gags, and crowd-pleasing nonsense make it a popular choice as “entry-level” Shakespeare.

According to the CSS Theatre Program Mission Statement, included in the show’s program, they are “distinguished from professional actor preparation. programs in that the production selection is firmly grounded in academic, not populist plays.” It also states that they look at theatre as a component of a liberal arts education.

The cast of CSS alumni and current students have a broad range of majors from computer science to nursing, biochemistry to social work. None of them is planning on life in professional theatre with a major and a wide variety of supporting coursework.

With that in mind, I applaud that the cast had obviously worked diligently on their line memorization and acting choices and were truly earnest as a group to tell the story to the best of their abilities. Shakespeare is not easy—the Bard is hard, and it was obvious that the cast and team had done a lot of work to get to opening night.

Playing the two “rich” brothers, Tom Rajcula (Antipholus of Syracuse) and his counterpart Jacob Barto (Antipholus of Ephesus) had the best facility with the language. Both were commanding and mature presences onstage, and while they did not look all that much alike, they were convincing in their roles.

The two beleaguered twin servants, Dromio of Syracuse (Dawson Ness) and Dromio of Epesus (Michael Schmidt) seemed to be having the most fun onstage and by extension gave the audience the most to laugh at.

The two actors portrayed well the bewilderment and confusion of trying to complete the tasks assigned by their masters, while each was the wrong servant for the wrong master at the wrong time.

Audrey Eklof (Luciana) had wonderful facial expressions and had a good grasp on her unmarried sister role, who finds herself attracted to her sister Adriana’s husband when it is really his long-lost brother. Rylan Klomp (Duchess Solinus) with her elegant costume, was also strong in her role as the stern, but benevolent leader of Ephesus.

More creative and dynamic approaches to design and direction, however, could have made the show more vibrant. Blocking, staging, setting, and costume period choices were, at times, limiting in terms of showing something new for this play and its audiences.

It would have helped to more clearly establish the setting. The seaside setting was the one word “Mediterranean” in the program, a few sound effects at the beginning of the show of seagulls and water, and some line references. Perhaps, a hectic port marketplace with wildly costumed Bohemian-style vendors plying their eclectic wares in overbrimming stalls, would have given a vivid setting in which to place the action.

Underscore music could have also made the atmosphere more dynamic, helped to create excitement, and also added to a sense of time and place.

As an audience, do you need to understand all the intricacies of iambic pentameter, blank verse, and antiquated references that your hard-working English teacher tried so hard to make you care about to enjoy Shakespeare?

Decidedly and emphatically no.

Shakespeare can be enjoyed as a look at the foibles of al aspects of human nature even in modern day America. And giving audiences any chance to laugh in these difficult times is another way that theatre still remains relevant and important.

Show Information

The CSS Theatre is located on the campus of The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. The building is located directly behind Tower Hall.

November 3, 4, 9*, 10, 11 AT 7:30 PM
November 5, 12 AT 2 PM
*ASL interpreted performance

Tickets available online at boxoffice@css.edu

Or at the theatre box office phone number 218--723-7000

All Seating is General Admission
$15.00 Adults
$10.00 Students and Sr. Citizens
$5.00 CSS Students

Next CSS production is The Rabbit Hole  by David Lindsay-Abaire.

February 23-March 3, 2024



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Celebrate Like a Congdon With Christmas at Glensheen

Photos courtesy of Glensheen


Glensheen Mansion. Photos courtesy of Glensheen.

Glensheen Mansion, located at 3300 London Road in Duluth, is truly a sight to behold.

Constructed in the Jacobean revival architectural style - a type of English Tudor - the house was built over the span of three years: from 1905 – 1908. Upon its completion, Glensheen became home to one of Minnesota’s, and certainly Duluth’s, wealthiest men – attorney and capitalist Chester Congdon.

And, although today it is known as a “historic house museum,” Glensheen was the private home to Chester and Clara Congdon and their family for many years until it was donated to the University of Minnesota in 1979.

The magic of this classic home shines brightest during the holiday season. A Christmas visit to Glensheen is simply a “can’t miss it” Duluth activity.


Christmas was a significant time for the Congdon family. Through the astute management of Glensheen’s staff, the home still retains this holiday magic today. The Christmas season is perhaps the best time of year to visit Glensheen.

“Our Christmas experience is magical and enchanting,” said Glensheen’s Marketing Manager, Mike Mayou. “Of course, we have the historical house with so much history, such as the original furniture and artwork dating back to the Congdons.

“But we are also trying to meld the past with the present by offering things like themed rooms, Christmas trees with different colors, and an ‘I spy’ activity for children to locate the plush elves hidden throughout the house.”

Look for the hidden elves.

“At Glensheen, we celebrate Christmas because that’s what the Congdons did,” noted Mayou. “But it’s an experience for everyone. We want to provide a place for folks of all denominations and all backgrounds to experience the season as a whole.”


Glensheen and the surrounding property are immense and require a lot of effort to prepare for the holiday season. Glensheen features 27,000 square feet - and 39 rooms - of living space. There is also a gardener’s cottage, a boathouse, and many stunning gardens - all set on twelve gorgeous acres.

The Breakfast Room.

Glensheen Mansion closes eight days in November so staff can prepare the home and property for the holiday season. It closes for another four days in January, so employees can take everything back down.

“It’s all hands on deck,” noted Mayou with a chuckle. “It takes all of us to hang the lights, garland, ornaments, and put up all the trees. But it’s a great bonding experience for the staff.”

Once complete, it’s a fully immersive experience well worth the effort. There are 27 beautifully lit Christmas trees at Glensheen, with the main attraction being an immense 15’ tree in the main hallway. Many of the original ornaments from the Congdon family will be on display – both on the trees themselves and in display cases so guests can get a better look.

The view from the top of the grand staircase.

Several themed rooms will be prepared for guest enjoyment, including a candy cane room, a gnome room, and rooms decorated in monochrome, such as the blue room and white room. As noted, Glensheen’s youngest visitors will enjoy doing the elf hunt, where they can search the mansion for various plush elves hidden throughout.

Guests of all ages will enjoy Christmas music during their visit, too. During their holiday season, Glensheen will be playing classic holiday tunes – all from 1950 and earlier.

Glensheen's 15 fireplaces are decked for the holidays.

Classic Elements

In many ways, Glensheen will be decked out similar to how the Congdon family would have decorated in the early 1900s. This includes many original ornaments and stockings. The dining room will also be staged for a holiday meal, and guests can see some of the Congdons’ original silver collection on display adjacent to the dining room table.

Guests can view the family’s unique cookie cutter, which can cut twelve cookies at once. Guests can even take home a copy of Clara Congdon’s sugar cookie recipe.

The Glensheen library.

New this Year

This year, Glensheen’s special candlelight tours will be expanded. People can choose from the “classic” candlelight tour, where they can explore the first three floors of the home. Or, folks can choose to tour the entire five floors of the mansion, all by candlelight.

Glensheen’s Christmas tours will be self-guided, and folks can go at their own pace. But plenty of staff will be on hand to answer any guest questions.

Candlelight tours are available.


Mayou shared a couple of personal stories about Christmas at Glensheen, as told by members of the Congdon family.

“A Congdon family member has told us that the Congdon children would line up from oldest to youngest to receive their gifts. This happened in the living room on the main floor.

The formal dinning room.

“And, we know that every Christmas, Clara Congdon would call her sister on the phone from the staircase landing. All of the children would gather around to listen to the holiday greeting.

“To me, this story really transcends time,” he added. “Now with today’s Zoom calls, we can all relate to getting together remotely to celebrate.”

Quintessential Duluth Experience

Whether you’ve lived in Duluth all your life or are just passing through, visiting Glensheen Mansion at Christmastime is simply a must-do experience.

“From the moment you walk on the grounds, you’ll feel the magic of the Christmas season at Glensheen,” Mayou said. “Visiting on a cold, snowy day will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. People say that they love Glensheen because it doesn’t feel like a museum - it feels like a home.

“It’s so amazing to have this incredible historic home right here in Duluth,” he added. “As someone who has lived in Duluth my whole life, I recognize what a special asset Glensheen is. It has stood the test of time.”

Christmas tours at Glensheen will take place from November 17th – January 7th. Please visit glensheen.org to learn more.


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Aurora inspires composer Wendy Durrwachter “like the universe was just handing the music over to me.”

Wendy Durrwachter

Wendy Durrwachter - Composer’s Musical Journey Takes a Giant Leap

Composer Wendy Durrwachter's piece will be performed at Saturday, November 4, 2023 DSSO concert. Photo submitted.

Growing up Green Bay, Wisconsin, Wendy Durrwachter didn’t realize that some of the seeds were already being planted to have her become an accomplished pianist and eventually a music composer, with a piece to be performed by the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO).

“I don’t ever remember a time in my life when I was NOT captured by music.

I remember at age 3 when my grandmother’s piano was shipped to my house so my 7-year-old brother could start piano lessons,” Wendy said. “I remember pulling myself up on that big bench and being fascinated with the sounds, feel, and even visual pattern of the keys. I said I wanted piano lessons, too, and so I started then with Suzuki for a year.”

Wendy started making up her own “compositions” at age 8, remembering when a friend overheard her having her dolls sing to each other. When her friend sang the song back to her, Wendy didn’t recognize it as a song she had ever heard. Without knowing it at the time, her composing journey had begun.

Expanding on her early interest in the piano, she went on to other piano teachers and music training. She attended various music camps through middle and high school and the Piano Academy at Indiana University Bloomington. In high school, she competed in piano concerto competitions.

Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in piano performance and composition at the U of MN-Twin Cities in 2000, Wendy recently attained a Master of Music in Film Scoring from the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program at the Seattle Film Institute.

She said, “I became quite terrified of composing before college and have always struggled with improv. At a young age, I think I just didn’t trust myself to come up with anything interesting, so I tried to avoid it at all costs.”

When she took a composition class in college and got positive feedback from her classmates and professor, she began to have more confidence in trying to compose music.

“I was always seeking out new and strange music to play, and I noticed that I had developed an urge to find music in styles and sounds that just didn’t seem to exist. I was wishing that one composer’s work had some elements from another composer’s work and wondering what it would be like to combine those elements.”

She took a year of orchestration with Judith Lang Zaimont at the U of M, a composer, teacher, and mentor. Wendy explained, “She also guided me for my senior project, which was to compose a piano toccata. That was my first official piece. I also composed several very short orchestral pieces in her orchestration class. That was where I realized I didn’t have to be able to play all the instruments to be able to write for them.”

Right after college, she had her first child and then her second, and gave up writing for several years. “One day, I was making dinner, though, and I noticed that I had been repeating a strong melody in my head for a while. I analyzed it and realized that I’d never heard it before, so I wrote it down on a little index card and set it on my piano. It remained there mostly forgotten until several years later after I had moved to Duluth.”

Wendy and her daughter and son. Photo submitted.

Musical Odyssey Continues

When Wendy moved to Duluth in 2007, she was inspired to write tone poems, titled “Meditations on Lake Superior.” She explained, “They mostly were just a few symbols on a page that only I could understand as I played them for my own enjoyment.”

In Duluth, Wendy became a favorite show pianist working with several theater organizations in town. She also got a job with Peace Church serving as the choir pianist for Jim Pospisil, the DSSO principal horn player.

“Jim started asking me to perform things I had written. Over time, I eventually developed them into finished form and performed one in a church service every so often. The response I received from people was really encouraging, so I just kept writing and Jim kept giving me opportunities to have things performed there. I got to form relationships and network with his orchestral music friends which then led to new works of mine being performed at small concerts.”

At Sacred Heart Concert Music Center, Wendy, Erin Aldridge and chamber group receive a standing ovation. Photo submitted.

In January 2018, Wendy received a Career Development Grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, which supported a concert and recording at Duluth’s Sacred Heart Music Center. The concert included the premiere of her violin concerto Ultra Vice with soloist Erin Aldridge, DSSO concertmaster, and Elegy for the Erased, her work for cello and bass.

She recorded her The Two Trees: A Yeats Song Cycle with tenor Adam Sippola and herself as pianist in 2019. In the same year, her first symphony was commissioned by the Chequamegon Symphony Orchestra. Inspired by the landscape of the Chequamegon Bay region of Lake Superior, its premiere was delayed by COVID.

Wendy, Adam Sippola, and chamber group at Sacred Heart. Photo submitted.

In November 2020, Opera-Oriented Project Sponsorships in Minnesota (OOPS MN) commissioned her to compose an aria to a chocolate chip cookie recipe with libretto developed by Pulitzer-Prize winning librettist Mark Campbell. It was performed by MN Opera soprano Tracey Engleman and pianist Jared Miller.

DSSO Opportunity and Lake Superior Muse

A few years ago, DSSO Music Director Dirk Meyer reached out to Wendy via social media to have coffee to discuss a future commission. Wendy said, “A very generous donor and new classical music enthusiast, Dr. Michael Mollerus, wanted to commission a work by a local composer, and my name had been tossed around for it. Dirk very generously gave me only one stipulation – that it be influenced in some way by this local region.”

Wendy began writing down musical ideas at the piano right after receiving the commission. In a press release from the DSSO, she explained, “With this piece, I aimed to capture the essence and grandeur of Lake Superior’s historically evolving formations and the waterways that surround us. The audience will embark on an emotional journey, immersing themselves in the fluidity and power of these iconic waterways.”

“I recall one night this past winter, I was really fleshing out the part that depicts an aurora borealis. I sat at the piano for a couple hours jotting down musical ideas to weave together for it and finished about midnight,” Wendy stated.

“I remember thinking it was strange that I had started hearing quite a bit of traffic on my road (the Scenic Highway). I noticed on social media several reports that one of the most spectacular aurora shows was happening right then. I was able to walk across the street down to the lake atop two feet of deep snow that had a very convenient icy crust on top. I just lied down in the snow and watched the colors change and pulse. Of course, I then stayed up late writing down more musical ideas. It felt quite surreal, like the universe was just handing the music over to me.”

With Laurentia, a symphony in three movements, Wendy is thrilled to have her musical odyssey make this next step forward. “I am still pinching myself! It is something I’ve dreamed of accomplishing since college, and the day is finally approaching! I still sort of can’t believe it, yet I can also believe it because I’ve worked very hard and passionately for this event to happen.”

Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Concert 3
Nordic Images Bring a Night of Musical Splendor

DSSO Masterworks Concert 3 “Nordic Images”

Saturday, November 4 at 7 pm

DECC Symphony Hall

Laurentia; Commissioned new work from area composer, Wendy Durrwachter
Concertmaster Erin Aldridge, soloist, Henryk Wieniawski: Violin Concerto 2
Jean Sibelius; Symphony No. 2

DSSO Ticket Office at 130 W Superior St. Suite LL2 - 120, Duluth, online at www.dsso.com or by calling 218-623-3776.






























































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Student Lisa Scott Setting the Scene at UMD Theatre

Artist Profile Series - Lisa Scott, Setting the Scene at UMD Theatre

A cake built for UMD’s Singing in the Rain, by Cody Burgoon, assistant technical director,  painted and decorated by Lisa Scott. Director Matthew Wagner Photo submitted.

Every fall, the Twin Ports community grows dramatically with the large number of students coming here to attend one of several colleges, universities, and technical schools in the area. These students become a rich part of the fabric of life here, making contributions both on campus and off and adding to the vibrancy of our communities.

One of those students is Lisa Scott, a UMD Theatre student, who will be receiving her BFA degree in Theatre/Scenic Design this spring. Lisa grew up in Eden Prairie and graduated from Eden Prairie High School. Not sure of her career path after high school, she worked a variety of jobs while in her twenties, and saved her money to travel as much as she could.

She explained, “In order to broaden my horizons, I went to Normandale Community Technical College and received my Associates of Liberal Arts in 2018.” It was in 2019 that, as she explained it, she first “stumbled into theatre” doing some volunteer scenic painting at Theatre in the Round in Minneapolis.

“It was something constructive I could do with my creative energy. It was work I could do that impacted something larger than myself. It is art that helps tell a story, and it helps bring people together to a place where they can laugh together or cry together or be filled with whatever emotion it is that a show is trying to bring out of us. That’s what made me realize I wanted to do this for a living.”

She came to UMD in 2021 to pursue a further college degree as a “non-traditional” student, being older than the typical student coming from high school.

“Adjusting to being a full -time student again has been a challenge, especially doing it in my thirties. I had become used to working a 9 to 5, having free time, and a disposable income. It’s funny too, sometimes I forget that I am a decade older than many of the students and much closer in age with some of the professors here; it sometimes feels like I exist in a sort of liminal space between the two worlds.”

Lisa has had a variety of assignments in the UMD theatre department. She explained, “I have been an assistant scenic designer on School for Lies, Main Street, and Singing in the Rain. I did props for Silent Sky, was the scenic charge artist for Twelfth Night, and I did lighting design for a piece in last year's dance production Dancing Home. I also work in UMD’s scene shop and have done work on most of UMD’s productions during my time here, whether it’s building, painting, or installing scenic elements.”

Lighting design by Lisa Scott for Dancing Home concert. Choreography by Emily Cox. Photo submitted.

A cake built for UMD’s Singing in the Rain, by Cody Burgoon, assistant technical director, painted and decorated by Lisa Scott. Director Matthew Wagner

“It was such a fun process to be a part of Singing in the Rain this past spring. There were so many talented people working to bring it all together. It was rewarding seeing it evolve from start to finish. UMD Associate Professor Curtis Phillips designed the architecture, and I helped develop the individual locations of the scenes, alongside Sheridan Cornett.”

The finalé scene from Singing in the Rain. Designer Curtis Phillips. Scenic design elements by Lisa Scott. Photo submitted.

She added, “It has been helpful to work as assistant designer with Curtis Phillips and see his design process as I am getting to know myself as a designer and figuring out what my own personal process is.”

Besides her work at UMD, she has also helped with some scene projects at the Duluth Playhouse. “I have worked the past few summers picking up hours at the Playhouse doing scenic painting and learning various techniques from Hannah Baldus, the resident scenic artist there. This summer, I helped with Newsies Jr, Kinky Boots, Addams Family, and most recently Misery at the Lab.”

Lisa added, “Hannah Baldus, the scenic charge artist at the Playhouse, has been a strong mentor to me when it comes to scenic painting. She has taught me a lot, especially when it comes to trusting myself and the process.”

Sense and Sensibility

UMD’s Sense and Sensibility is the first show Lisa has designed herself.

For this show, she explained, “I went a more abstract route with my design, choosing to let the actors take up the space more than any architectural elements.”

“In my interpretation of the script, there is a lot to be said about propriety and the versions of ourselves that we show to society, which are often not our genuine selves” she said. “The lives of the main characters are uprooted, and chaos ensues. I wanted to bring this feeling of chaos in such a rigid society into my design and find a way to metaphorically represent this idea of stifling our true selves for what we think society wants us to be.”

“For my design, I wanted the actors to be the main focus. It is a quick paced show with a lot of location changes, and we wanted to utilize as many entrance and exit points as possible, having the actors fly in and out of the space, right past the audience. I think this brings some fun energy to the already hilarious show.”

Of her design she noted, “The stage is decorated with empty frames thrown about in a topsy-turvy way, like the identities of the characters who were caught up in this whirlwind of change that they suddenly have no control over.”

Sense and Sensibility will be performed in UMD’s black box Dudley Experimental Theater space. A black box theater is a flexible performance space, well-suited to productions with more limited sets and technical requirements. They provide a more intimate, acting-focused experience.

Explaining the impacts of designing this show in a black box setting, Lisa said,

“Designing in a black box theatre is a lot of fun because of the inherent intimacy of that small of a small space, but it also brings a long a lot of challenges.

The sight lines from the audience’s perspective vary quite a bit, so you have to be intentional with the design and what people are going to be looking at. I wanted design elements off to the side or floating above the actors. This gets very tricky because the rigging that would be available on the Mainstage doesn’t exist in this space.”

Jenna Soleo-Shanks, UMD theatre department assistant professor and director of Sense and Sensibility, said, “Lisa is a wonderful collaborator. She really got the world of the play and the tone I wanted to set for our audience, and I was so impressed with her imaginative choices to bring that world to life. She created a dynamic and beautiful environment for the actors to play in.”

Lisa noted, “There is a feeling of community and acceptance within the world of theatre that I have not experienced anywhere else in the professional world,” she said. “Collaboration is a buzzword many jobs I’ve had in the past like to use but it truly is the backbone of theatre.”


Sense and Sensibility
Written by Kate Hamill
Based on the novel by Jane Austen

UMD’s Marshall Performing Arts Center
Dudley Experimental Theatre

Nov 3rd, 4th | 7:30 PM
Nov 5th | 2:00 PM (ASL Performance)
Nov 8th, 9th, 10th | 7:30 PM
Nov 11th | 2:00 PM & 7:30 PM

Tickets and Information:
General admission seating
Call 218-726-8561
Online at: tickets.umn.edu








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Cheryl Skafte Returned to Duluth For a Life of Service, Theater, and Community 


Cheryl Skafte. Photo submitted.

A hometown girl, Cheryl Skafte, like many people who grow up in the Twin Ports, went away to college, and to work elsewhere, but found herself drawn back to where she knew was the place she wanted to be, in Duluth.

After graduating from high school in Hermantown, Cheryl attended Hamline University in St. Paul where she earned a BFA in Urban Education, History, and English. She later went to UMD and earned her master’s degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership.

After graduating from Hamline, she moved to Baltimore, Maryland, to serve in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, and worked at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “It was a life changing experience, and I was able to do some amazing work and meet amazing people,” Cheryl explained.

“One of my favorite memories was taking a group of middle school students to Washington D.C. to meet with some Senators on a bill that addressed the treatment of unaccompanied refugee minors,” she added. “We were able to sit in on the bill’s hearing, and we were recognized by Senator Ted Kennedy who invited all the students to sit on the dais.”

Moving to New York City in 2003, she worked at the Four Seasons Hotel in the gift shop. “I am a huge fan of the movies, and I legit get starstruck very easily,” she said. “I loved all the celebrities that I met working at the hotel, including Sylvester Stallone, Beyoncé, Morgan Freeman, George Clooney, and Muhammed Ali.”

She came back to Duluth in 2005 because her sister was getting married. She noted, “My intention was to stay for six months and then move back to the East Coast. That never happened. Duluth is home.”

Since moving back to Duluth, she has mainly worked in the field of volunteer management and public service with different organizations, including the Duluth Area Family YMCA, Head of the Lakes United Way, and the City of Duluth Park Maintenance Division.

In 2020, Cheryl was recognized with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s Outstanding Community Partner Award. Cheryl was nominated for this award for her outstanding work following the October 2019 storm. She helped to identify needs within Duluth and matched those needs with volunteers throughout the state.

“Currently, I am at the University of Minnesota Duluth as the Public Engagement Coordinator,” Cheryl said. “It is a new role, since January 2023, and it’s very exciting and dynamic. I work to promote, support, and advance campus-community partnerships.”

Cheryl has been married to Luke Moravec since July 2012. She met Luke, a fellow actor, doing Three Musketeers, and then went on to do other shows together including Amadeus, Hamlet, and One Man, Two Guvnors.

Luke was recently seen in Misery at the new Lab theater space at the Norshor. He hosts Northland Morning for 103.3 The North.

Cheryl and Luke have two “curious cats,” Cairo and Kenji. Cairo’s name is inspired by the couple’s 2019 trip to Egypt.

“I love to travel – and recently went to Utah to check out Bryce and Zion National Parks. I got to see the annular eclipse in Bryce with two of my high school girlfriends that I used to do theater with!” Cheryl said.

Cheryl and Luke on vacation in Egypt. Photo submitted.

She added, “I also do various ‘side hustles!’ I coordinate volunteers for Bent Paddle’s volunBEER program and Festiversary. I host trivia a couple times a month at Wild State Cider. I have worked the past two summers giving tours for Viking Cruise guests visiting Duluth. This past summer, I worked concessions at the Huskies games with my 15-year-old niece.”

In her spare time, Cheryl loves reading mysteries and enjoys running Grandma’s Half Marathon. She said, “I have run it every year for the past seven years. I love spending time near and in Lake Superior!”

Rich and Varied Theater Experiences

Cheryl performed in a number of shows in elementary/middle school through the Hermantown summer program. She also started doing shows at the Duluth Playhouse, which consumed every summer.

“I did all the theater I could at Hermantown. My favorite role in high school was Nora in A Dolls House. I participated in the One Act competition all four years – going to state twice. In college, I did a handful of shows, including one of my favorite productions, Waiting for Godot.”

She explained, “It’s hard to pinpoint what hooked me about doing theater. I think that I found a strong sense of belonging in the theater. I loved to play. I loved to memorize lines. I loved to tell stories. I loved the adrenaline. I loved the applause and the lights. I loved being able to pretend to be someone else.”

“Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve gotten involved in the local theater scene. I think that is something else I’ve loved about theater –It’s a way to give back to the community, to get involved.”

Cheryl has acted at many area venues including the Playhouse, Underground Theater, Zeitgeist, and Wise Fool. Some of her favorite roles are Sabine in The Three Musketeers; Constanze in Amadeus; Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables; Babette in The Arsonists, Logan in The Thanksgiving Play; and Viola in Twelfth Night.

Cheryl playing Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables (Wise Fool Theater) 

Since moving back to Duluth, Cheryl has taught theater classes for the Duluth Playhouse, directed a few Family Theater shows, and performed in shows where the cast are adults but the audience is children. Some of her notable roles include Pinocchio in Pinocchio, Roo in Winnie the Pooh, and Sally in The Cat in the Hat.

“I love performing for children. They are so excited to be there, and they get so into the show by responding to what is happening on stage with passion and intensity,” she said.

For several years, Cheryl has narrated the Christmas City Express at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. “Now, I don’t just ‘read,’ the story – I ‘tell’ the story.  Every holiday season, I get to tell this magical story to thousands of people, and the innocence and joy of the young people in the audience give me so much happiness.”

Cheryl and Luke are ready to board the train with Santa for the Christmas City Express. Photo submitted.

“In terms of theater mentors, I would mention Jean Olson, Diane Bean, Pat Castellano, Neil Witikko, and so many others who encouraged me when I was in high school. They gave me opportunities, supported me, and instilled in me a love of theater that persists to this day.”

“I am also so grateful to the core women in my life - my mom, Mary Skafte, my grandmas, Evelyn Hon and Marge Skafte, my sisters, Lynn Whalen and Krista Ringsred. While my grandmas aren’t here anymore – I carry the lessons they taught me with me every day.”

What the Constitution Means to Me

Cheryl is next playing the role of the play’s author, Heidi Schreck, in What the Constitution Means to Me.

“I’ve never been in a one-woman show! While I share the stage with the amazing Chris Nollet and Larisa Miller, the play is largely Heidi talking and telling her story. My theatrical goals with this show are to be authentic and honest, strong and vulnerable, and share this award-winning script with a Duluth audience.”

Cheryl Skafte is playing the role of Heidi Schreck in What the Constitution Means to Me, Nov 3-5 at Fitger's Spirit of the North Theatre. Photo by Krista Ringsred.

She said, “Memorizing over forty pages of text has been a blast! It was interesting working through the show. The stories were relatively easy to get into my brain but memorizing text from the Constitution took forever!”

“I love that Heidi Schreck crafted a script that is raw, funny, and touching – but it’s not easy telling some of the stories. Some of them are very difficult and painful – and knowing that they are based on true events, makes them even more difficult and painful,” Cheryl said. “We are living in a very volatile time, politically, environmentally, socially. The Earth is on fire. There is so much war. Divisiveness is rampant. Gun violence is a daily occurrence.”

“I hope people who see the show think about what the Constitution means to them . . . how it has impacted their lives personally. I know I didn’t think about it very much before working on this show. But this document is a foundational document that is used to negotiate our basic human rights. I hope that people are challenged by the questions posed in the script – most specifically, is this document doing what we need and want it to do? Why hasn’t the Equal Rights Amendment been ratified? Who gets to interpret this document and what are the consequences of that?”

Just in time for election season, Rubber Chicken Theater is staging the Northland premiere of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award Best Play nominee What the Constitution Means to Me.

What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck
This production contains mature language and themes.

Spirit of the North Theater in the Fitger's Complex
600 East Superior Street, downtown Duluth

Friday and Saturday, November 3 & 4 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, November 5 at 2:00 pm


$25 per person. Seating is general but call-ahead seat reservations are accepted. Seats are held until ten minutes prior to curtain.

(218) 213-2780

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