There's a show behind the show
The Alexandria area may be well acquainted with the little theater sitting on the shores of Lake L'Homme Dieu, but what the public may not know is the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes.
Theatre L'Homme Dieu has undergone a couple of changes this summer, which changed the production process.
First, the theater is no longer paired with long time partner, St. Cloud State University (SCSU). It now brings in four different theaters from throughout Minnesota.
Second, a new manager has taken over at the theater. Chris Denton, a long-time theatrical producer and director in Minneapolis, has come to Alexandria.
"I'm very excited to get some artistic, challenging work and pull in shows people will enjoy," said Denton.
Because SCSU members are no longer staying on the 12-acre lot of land for the summer, changes have been made to accommodate the needs of both the theater and the actors and actresses coming from around Minnesota.
"There was a lot done to the lodges so it would save us money and give the incoming theaters room. We had to find a happy medium that would benefit both groups," said Denton.
Other changes include downsizing the kitchen, moving things into storage, taking things to the dump, creating room for people to sleep, and making the theater's realm feel like home to newcomers.
Change were also made in the pace of putting on productions. On Monday morning, a truck delivers the set of the play to be performed that week. Actors and actresses from around the state also arrive. They have been practicing these plays for weeks before at their own studios, preparing to perform them to audiences.
The cast and crew do a technical run through that night and one more dress rehearsal the next day, Tuesday.
"A lot of work goes into these productions. Since we provide the lighting and sound, we have to do a lot of adjusting for every group that comes in," said Denton.
Tuesday night is opening night for the theater and the Sunday matinee is the final performance. After that, the cast and crew pack up and leave, the theater management cleans up and prepares for the next group coming in the following morning, and the process happens all over again.
Everyone working at the theater this summer has had a love of it for a long time.
"Most of the staff here are past students of SCSU who have performed on the stage," said Denton. "They all have a lot of passion for theater, which helps a lot with making things happen."
Changes have been made this year to adjust to the new lifestyle of the theater. Although there is no longer a university to help support the theater, Denton stays confident in what the summer delivered.
"This summer we were actually able to find out what audiences wanted to see, comedies and musicals, and collect theaters that are producing that type of theater.
"People want to be entertained," Denton added, "I guarantee this season if they come out to the theater they'll have a blast."