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Tapping into New York cast: Theatre L'Homme Dieu puts wrap on season

Theatre L'Homme Dieu was founded in 1961, making it Minnesota's oldest summer stock theater. Typically the professional actors it brings to Alexandria have a Minnesota background, and often hail from the Twin Cities.

For its final show of the season, Theatre L'Homme Dieu's executive director, Nicole Mulder, has broken new ground. For the first time, she has brought in a full production from New York City.

"Broadway's Next Hit Musical: An Improvised Musical Comedy," the last of the half-dozen shows to take the stage this summer, starts its five-day run Tuesday, Aug. 7.

"This is our first tour coming out of New York City," said Mulder, who had to improvise herself to find a way to bring seven members of the traveling show — four actors, a piano player and two behind-the-scenes members — to Minnesota.

What made it possible was working with the Paramount Center for the Arts, which is bringing the show to St. Cloud the following week.

"That's how we were able to afford to bring in this group," Mulder said.

Improv is king

In two of Theatre L'Homme Dieu's shows for 2018, the lead actor has also been the playwright. That happened with "String," the first one out of the box in June, and "From Ava to Eternity," a play chronicling a portion of Frank Sinatra's career.

With "Broadway's Next Hit Musical," the cast will in essence feature all four playwrights, since the show is always improvised.

"It's an improv show, so every show is different. Every single scene is different; every song is fresh," Mulder said, adding that the show is billed as the Tony Awards meets "Who's Line is it Anyway?" It is described as a totally-unscripted theatrical awards show.

"They work with the audience, and write and present a musical right on the spot," she said. "It came highly recommended from my colleagues across the state, and I think our audiences will fall in love with it."

The theater has hosted improvisational shows before, and Mulder said they have been well-received in the community. Because of the spontaneity, audience members have been known to return to the theater to take in another performance.

"The one thing we know they will get is a spontaneous performance," she said. "There will be music, there will be humor, and beyond that, you never know what's going to happen with it."

Mulder, who is partial to closing the season with a musical, is currently working on finding out what is going to happen with the theater's 2019 lineup.

"I see every show I possibly can. It's an incredible process. I'm already viewing shows for next year, making sure the formula fits what I think is best for our audience," she said, explaining the goal is to assemble a variety of types of shows for each season.

"Some of it's funny, some of it is musical, some of it is challenging, and some of it is all of the above," Mulder said. "Our audience has grown to trust us to bring them the very best programming that we can. It's quite an honor, really."

If you go

WHAT: Broadway's Next Hit Musical: An Improvised Musical Comedy

WHERE: Theatre L'Homme Dieu, 1875 County Road 120, Alexandria

WHEN: Tuesday-Saturday, Aug. 7-11, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 12, at 2 p.m.

INFO: For tickets or for more information, go to www.tlhd.org or call 320-846-3150

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