Imagine Northeast Iowa

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Community Theatre Thrives in Decorah
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Community Theatre Thrives in Decorah

Decorah's community theatre company, the New Minowa Players (NMP), is a place where family, friendships, and a sense of community is cultivated and encouraged. Their next performance, the musical The Secret Garden, is appropriate for the entire family. With both evening and matinee performances over two weekends this January, 2015, you’ll have many opportunities to find a time to savor live theatre, watching words and scripts come to life in an intimate, 46-seat theatre.

Evening performances of The Secret Garden are 7 pm on Thursday, Jan. 22; Friday, Jan. 23; Saturday, Jan. 24, Friday, Jan. 30; and Saturday, Jan. 31. Afternoon matinees are 2 pm on Sunday, Jan. 25 and Sunday, Jan. 31. All performances are at the New Minowa Players Theatre at 906 S. Mill St. in Decorah, Iowa.

If you haven't found time to take your kids to a live performance, you should. Researchers from the University of Arkansas recently published, in the winter issue of the journal Education Next, results from their study on student field trips to live theatre, where they determined that live theatre "enhance[s] literary knowledge, tolerance, and empathy among students." In addition, lead researcher Jay Green states "Plays are meant to be seen performed live. You can’t always take a kid to see a play, but if you can, you should." Decorah native Chelsey Christensen, herself a former NMP member, concurs. Christensen currently lives in Washington, D.C., working at Imagination Stage where nearly 120,000 children and families attend professional performances, and participate in classes and student productions. Christensen states: "I couldn't agree [with this study] more. Through my work at Imagination Stage, I've seen first-hand the positive effect theatre can have on children."

The New Minowa Players performance of The Secret Garden is directed by Sheryl Scheffert, with musical direction by Zach Busch. The mission of the New Minowa Players is to provide opportunities for youth, adults, families, and friends to be involved in the performing arts. It is easy to see this mission in action, as the cast of The Secret Garden draws from the local talent of the northeast Iowa community. (For a full listing of cast members, see the NMP press release.)

The musical is based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 classic novel, where the themes of friendship, fresh air, and transformation are as relevant today as they were over one hundred years ago. The book for the musical is written by Marsha Norman, with music and lyrics composed by Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman.

The New Minowa Players have presented over 120 plays, musicals, reviews, cabarets, and melodramas since organizing in 1975. In this, their 39th season, they have have two additional shows remaining in their line-up; Leaving Iowa in April, 2015 and Les Miserables in summer, 2015.

Tickets for The Secret Garden are now on sale at the Oneota Community Co-op: $10 for adults; $5 for children 12 and under. Any remaining tickets will be available at the New Minowa Players Theatre (906 S. Mill St., Decorah) one hour before showtime. Historically, New Minowa Players productions are sold out performances, so don’t wait to get your ticket(s)!!!

This production of The Secret Garden is generously supported by Decorah Bank & Trust Company, A&J Petersburg-Insurance and Real Estate, Family Table Restaurant, Pizza Ranch, and Rubaiyat Restaurant.

Photo credit: NMP

  1. Driftless Travelers
    Driftless Travelers
    Final matinee is Saturday, January 31, and not Sunday, January 31.

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