Prepare to be entertained with new ACT play

Published 10:30 am Friday, February 12, 2016

Stage Right, By Tim O’Shields

As Minnesotans, we live in a beautiful state! We have many towns and places to explore. Have you ever been to Bunyan Bay, Minnesota? Well, this is your chance to go! Albert Lea Community Theatre is ready to take you there with eight performances of the award-winning musical romantic comedy “Don’t Hug Me, I’m Pregnant.” I was honored with the opportunity to enjoy an advance screening of the show. It was written by Minnesota brothers, Phil Olson and Dr. Paul Olson. When you go, prepare to be highly-entertained and to laugh a lot. The show has a comedic rhythm that grips you from the beginning and never lets you go until the end. However, there is a touching message about love and priorities in life that will warm your heart as the story develops.

Tim O'Shields

Tim O’Shields

The show is set in a bar, The Bunyan, in Bunyan Bay. The bar is owned by Clara and Gunner Johnson. Clara is 8 1/2 months pregnant with their first child. The Johnsons are eagerly waiting for the arrival of the guests for Clara’s baby shower when the Mother of All Snow Storms strikes. A “tsnownami” has occurred! The cast is snowed in! Clara goes into labor. Gunner’s worst nightmare comes true when he delivers the baby in the bar. Don’t worry, I am not giving the story away! There is plenty of action, comedy and original songs that lead up to the blessed event!

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Don’t miss this production at ACT! We are very fortunate to have the great ACT organization in Albert Lea. This production reflects the standard of excellence and professionalism of the entire ACT team! Director Sue Jorgensen assembled a winning cast and crafted a show where her own standard of musical excellence reads loud and clear.  The passion for her craft is evident and translates directly into the stellar performance. I asked Sue why she was committed to ACT and why she regularly directs plays. With genuine conviction, Sue replied, “It is in my blood. An addition! I love it!”

Barb Lang, musical director, wrote most of the arrangements for the performance. A professional musician, Barb runs the orchestra pit. Hats off to Deb Cooper for her excellence in the pit. The cast includes fives experienced actors who have undeniable stage synergy! Their ensemble vocals are truly outstanding! You will leave humming several of the catchy numbers. There are standout performances by the leads! Rebecca Griffen plays Clara. Rebecca is a convincing pregnant lady, and her vocals are truly amazing. Jason Howland, president of the ACT board, returns to the ACT stage as Gunner. His vocals are truly outstanding, and his stage presence is undeniable! The other support cast delivers super performances. Gordy Handeland plays bar regular Kanute. Gordy has great vocals and often gives the audience the comic relief that makes this a great show. Lauren Severson plays Bernice and Luke Zacharias plays Aarvid. They both give great vocals and have great chemistry in the show. When you attend this show at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center on Broadway, you are coming to a beautiful and professionally-equipped theater.

The sound board and lighting control panel in the control room look like the flight control panel on a Boeing-757.  Neil Lang himself is hands-on in the control room with sound and lighting, and it shows in the professionalism of the productions. I cannot neglect praising the set! It has presence and quality. I overheard someone in the orchestra pit say, “I could live in that set.” I suggest that you just visit the set when you attend this outstanding production!

Tim O’Shields lives in Albert Lea, MN, and serves as the Minister of Music and Worship at First Lutheran Church.