Jason Vincent Brings New Life to Spirit of the North Theater

Journalist, entrepreneur, restauranteur, travel agent, producer, and now theater director, Jason Vincent has a fascinating resume. As he takes the director’s chair for A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol, he looks back on his career path and ahead to the opening of this show. 

Jason Vincent. Photo submitted.

After growing up in Wyoming. Minnesota, and graduating from Forest Lake High School, he went to the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

For the next decade, Jason’s journalism career as a reporter, anchor, and eventually news director, took him to Mankato, MN, Fargo ND, Duluth, and Cedar Rapids, IA.

Focus on Great Food in Two Harbors and Duluth

“Once I made the decision to leave the news business in 2013, I knew moving back to Duluth was the best option. That’s when my second career as an entrepreneur started. I purchased Vanilla Bean Two Harbors in 2014, then opened Boat Club Restaurant in 2017 and Vanilla Bean Duluth in 2018.

Vanilla Bean’s locations both serve up a delicious and varied brunch menu. “Vanilla Bean Duluth is the same concept as Two Harbors, but we wanted to expand that brand with a great neighborhood location in Duluth,” he said.

Jason in front of the Vanilla Bean in Two Harbors. Photo submitted.

“Boat Club Restaurant pays homage to our great shipping history, our beautiful Lake Superior right out our dining room windows, and the former Duluth Boat Club. We actually wanted to name it Duluth Boat Club, but the name was not available for licensing,” he added.

Boat Club, known for their fine dining experience. is located on the lower level of the historic Fitger’s Complex. Jason said they are proud to serve fresh fish, seafood, pasta, and steak entrées, with a separate brunch menu (7 am-3 pm) and their dinner menu (4 pm to close).

Jason making one of the Boat Club's legendary Bloody Marys. Photo submitted.

On the Home Front and Traveling

In 2015, Jason married Jeff Anderson. “We have one dog named Stuart who loves to come to the office with us,” Vincent said.

At a Minnesota Vikings game, Jason and Jeff cheer on the team. Photo submitted.

Building on their own love of travel, in January 2021, the couple bought JayBee Travel, a company that was founded on the Iron Range and has been in operation for fifty years. When the woman they bought it from wanted to retire, the timing worked out for them to be able to take over and help rebuild the company's legacy.

Vincent explained, “We are an exclusive group tour operator, meaning we put together customized group tours to join and see the world  We also help people book cruises on all major cruise lines, and are certified through the Cruise Line Association.  Our custom group tours always include a tour escort from JayBee Travel, which is most often myself!”

Whether for his travel agency or for a private trip, Jason loves travel. Photo submitted.

Upcoming, they have an extensive list of trips planned including to New York City, Puerto Vallarta, Savannah Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, Italy, Washington DC,, and cruises to the Panama Canal and Caribbean, Alaska, and a   fall New England cruise.

Their theatre packages are also popular, both for touring shows coming to Duluth and for shows in Minneapolis. Vincent often does a package with a meal at the Boat Club before the shows.

Early Dreams Fulfilled

“I have always had an interest in theatre since I was in junior high school and performed in my first play, Taming of the Shrew,” Jason noted.” From there, it continued to grow as I performed in more shows throughout my high school career.”

Jason enjoying a fireside outdoors. Photo submitted.

When Jason came to Fitger’s he saw, that except for the occasional rentals of the space, no one was using the Spirit of the North Theater as a theater company with an entire season of shows.

He said, “The Spirit of the North Theatre inside Fitger’s is one of the most intimate and special theatres in Duluth. It was a shame when I first opened Boat Club in 2017 that the theatre was sitting dark most of the time. That needed to change,” he said. “It was also one of the first theatres where I went to see a show after moving to Duluth and saw a production of Cabaret.”

“I did not have any other roles within the theatre community before starting Boat Club Productions in 2021. It was a leap of faith to start our production company, but I knew we had such enormous talent in this community to help make it happen,” Jason explained.

He added, “Back in college, my best friend from high school and I had a dream of opening a theatre company. We even drafted business plans. Clearly that didn’t go anywhere, but this gave me the opportunity to eventually live out that dream.

For Boat Club Productions, Vincent has produced On Golden Pond, Nunsense, Tuesdays with Morrie, A Don't Hug Me Christmas Carol, Always Patsy Cline, and Love Letters.

A Don’t Hug Me Christmas Carol and Theatre Gala

Jason said they had such an amazing response from Dont Hug Me Christmas Carol last year that they decided to reprise it this year, this time with him as the director. “I wanted a show that didn't take itself too seriously. This gives me the opportunity to still explore many great elements of directing live theatre, with a challenging musical score, choreography, and great comedic timing.”

He added, “Directing is not easy, and I tip my hat to all those fellow directors who have the skill, drive, and vision to bring a show to life. That has been the biggest learning curve for me,  being able to see the bigger picture of bringing a musical to life.”

Jason is also excited about 'For the Love of Theatre,” Boat Club Production’s Gala on Friday, February 9th in the August Fitger Room and Spirit of the North Theatre.

“We will have an amazing 3-course dinner, our 2024 season unveiling, a live local showcase of theatre talent, and lots of fun!  Everyone who loves theatre, and supporting live, local theatre is welcome!” Tickets will be on sale soon at boatclubproductions.com.

Show Information for A Don't Hug Me Christmas Carol
When: December 8-17, 2023
December 8-9 7:30 pm | December 10 2:00 pm
December 14-16 7:30 pm | December 17 2:00 pm
Where: Spirit of the North Theatre, Fitger’s – 3rd Floor
Tickets and Information: Box Office Phone Number: (218) 623-7065
Tickets Online at boatclubproductions.com

Synopsis: A hilarious Minnesota spoof of Charles Dickens’ famous A Christmas Carol. It’s Christmas Eve in Bunyan Bay, Minnesota, and cantankerous bar owner Gunner Johnson gets in an argument with his wife, Clara. Following a snowmobile accident, Gunner comes back in his dream and is visited by the Ghost of Christmas past, present, and future! But will Gunner come out of his coma and find redemption with Clara?

Note: This production does contain adult humor and may not be suitable for young children.

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