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Opening Oct. 31, DLHS fall musical offers classic song and dance

Tess (Emilie Freeman, upper left photo) resists the advances of Bela Zangler (Rok Juricic). BRIAN BASHAM/DL NEWSPAPERS1 / 2
Lank Hawkins (Caleb Howard, center, left photo) schmoozes British tourists Patricia and Eugene Fodor (Kendra Gilsdorf and Mason Wentz) during their visit to Deadrock, Nevada. BRIAN BASHAM/DL NEWSPAPERS2 / 2

The first thing audiences might notice about the Detroit Lakes High School fall musical, “Crazy for You,” is all the different accents that can be heard, from southern drawls to 1930s, upper crust New Yorker — not to mention the occasional British traveler, and even a Hungarian.

One thing they might not realize, however, is that one of those accents is pretty close to being authentic: The role of Hungarian producer Bela Zangler is being played by Rok Juricic, a Croatian exchange student.

Juricic, who is attending classes at DLHS this fall, is an aspiring thespian.

“I come from an artistic family,” he says, adding that his mother is a professional actress and his father, a musician.

“I don’t remember ever not wanting to be an actor,” he added.

Juricic is embracing the opportunity to be a part of a full-scale musical production like this one.

“I love it,” he said, adding with a smile that he is particularly enjoying the opportunity to be in a situation where “no one is making fun of my accent.”

“I do play it (the accent) up a little on stage,” Juricic admitted.

“He’s naturally very funny,” adds Kathryn Larson, the musical’s director, noting that this year’s cast is filled with actors and actresses who have a gift for all aspects of musical comedy — and accents.

Kendra Gilsdorf and Mason Wentz, in particular, are having a blast portraying the roles of British tourists Patricia and Eugene Fodor — of Fodor’s Guide fame — who are in New York on a quest to find all the best places to eat, drink and be merry.

“The voice is my favorite part,” says Wentz, who is taking part in just his second musical as a DLHS student, though he has been a part of a few other theatrical productions in the past.

“I really love the British accent,” Gilsdorf agreed.

“I enjoy my character very much,” Wentz said, adding that it’s fun portraying someone who is “so chipper and happy” all the time — almost to the point of being obnoxious at times.

He is also enjoying the chance to work with Gilsdorf, who plays the role of his wife Patricia. “The two of us come as a pair,” he said.

“We get really excited about everything,” Gilsdorf added. “It’s fun to play someone who’s always so upbeat and positive.”

“We really love their accents,” said Emilie Freeman, who plays the role of Tess, the dance director of the Zangler Follies. “They’re so cute!”

Tess is the love interest of Bela Zangler — a romance that’s complicated by the fact that Bela is married.

“Zangler is in love with Tess, but he’s married,” says Mark Everson, the musical’s assistant director, “so she tries to resist his advances.”

Freeman says it’s fun to play a role that lets her be “sassy, bubbly and loud.”

“Most people would classify me as loud,” she added with a laugh, noting that she also sees Tess as “a spitfire” — so it’s not all that difficult to see why Zangler would fall in love with her.

“I just really like acting,” Freeman continued. “It gives me freedom. Kathy and Mark give me the freedom to play around with her a little.”

“She really gets to draw on her creativity (as Tess), which she loves to do,” Larson explained.

Besides being pursued by Bela Zangler, Tess is also very good friends with Bobby Child, the musical’s leading man, who is portrayed by Jacob Kempenich.

Though Child is the heir to a banking empire — part of the New York social elite — all he really wants to do is be a Broadway actor, which is why so many of his friends are dancers, singers and directors, Everson explained.

“Bobby wants to dance and sing on Broadway, but his mother Lottie (played by Missy Larson) is a banker, and wants him to follow in her footsteps,” Everson added. “So she sends him to Deadrock, Nevada, to foreclose on a theater that has fallen behind on its (mortgage) payments.”

“I enjoy playing Lottie, because I feel like she’s the total opposite of how I really am,” Larson said. “I like playing the antagonist. It’s a challenge, but it’s really fun.”

Almost as soon as he steps off the train in Deadrock, Bobby meets Polly Baker (McKenzie Mann) — “and he instantly falls in love, as you only can in musical theater,” Larson said. “He immediately begins working on a plan to save the theater.”

In order to impress Polly, Bobby pretends to be Bela Zangler, and plans to bring the Follies show to the theater in Deadrock, as a last-ditch fundraiser to save it from foreclosure.

His friend Tess brings her Follies girls to Deadrock for the show, and unfortunately, Bela follows — as does Irene Roth, Bobby’s erstwhile fiancée of five years.

Portrayed by Alexa Anderson, Irene is a socialite who is so arrogant, she can’t conceive of the idea that Bobby won’t eventually give up his dreams of Broadway, marry her and settle down to live out his destiny, as one of the social elite.

“She has a guest list of 900 for their wedding,” Everson said. “She figures he (Bobby) is her perfect match, but he doesn’t want any part of it, or her.”

“I’m a socialite, and really stuck up — I think I’m smarter than everyone,” Anderson said of her character. “I love it — she’s so much fun to play.”

When she arrives in Deadrock, Irene meets Lank Hawkins, played by Caleb Howard, who is the proprietor of the town’s only hotel and saloon.

“He’s a real jerk,” says Everson, noting that Irene and Lank are “the comic leads” of the show.

“When they cross paths, fireworks happen,” he added. “They’re a perfect match.”

In fact, during a recent rehearsal, Howard was the victim of a bit of a practical joke: While he and Anderson were on stage, rehearsing a romantic scene, someone hacked his Facebook page and posted, “I love kissing Alexa Anderson.”

“It was while we were kissing for the first time on stage,” Anderson laughed.

Such hijinks are all part of a typical day’s rehearsal, Larson said.

“This is my 20th show (as high school musical director),” she said, adding that it’s the talent and creativity of each year’s cast that has kept her doing it for so long.

It’s also the second time that she and Everson have tackled “Crazy For You,” in large part due to its amazing songbook.

“It has musical number after musical number that people will recognize,” said Everson, citing “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Embraceable You,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It” as just a few examples.

And it’s also “a huge dance show,” Larson said, with seven full dance production numbers — which is where choreographer Grace Lindquist steps in. 

A senior at DLHS, Lindquist is taking her second turn at choreographing the annual fall musical; her first try was last year’s production of “Footloose.”

“This show is a lot different from ‘Footloose,’” she said. “Being that the musical is set in the 1930s, I had to do a lot more research for it. But it’s been so much fun. I love everything about everything in it.”

She said that it’s a running joke amongst her and the other “Follies Girls” in the show that “we should have been born in this era.”

“We play showgirls,” she explained. “There’s a lot of big, flashy movement, a lot of showing off. There are moments during rehearsal when we just burst out laughing.”

Lindquist, a 14-year veteran of Center Stage Dance Academy, has aspirations of being a professional dancer; choreographing a big dance show like this will really help her achieve that goal, Larson noted.

It’s also a good career stepping stone for stage manager Frankie Hutchinson, who said she has plans of going into the music production industry.

“I like being behind the scenes,” she explained.

“She locates props, actors, changes out their mic packs — there are just a multitude of things,” Larson said, adding that it would be impossible for her to continue to do big musicals like this without the talent she gathers behind the scenes, as well as on stage.

“Crazy for You” opens on Thursday, Oct. 31, at 7:30 p.m., on the stage of George Simson Auditorium at Detroit Lakes Middle School.

Additional performances are set for 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 1, 7 and 8, with a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. on Nov. 3. Tickets are $10, and may be purchased at Central Market or at the door.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Crazy for You Cast

Alexa Anderson: Irene Roth 

Olivia Anderson: Perkins

Sadie Boeckel: Follies Girl Barbara

Anthony Boehm: Cowboy and Bartender Pete

Sierra Braukmann: Follies Girl Mary

Mckenzie Braukmann: New Yorker

Tatum Doppler: Follies Girl Dorothy

Tyler Edvall: New Yorker

Diego Erickson: Cowboy Custus

Sami Foltz: Follies Girl Joan

Nathan Francis: Cowboy Wyatt

Emilee Freeman:  Tess, the Follies Dance Director

Zane Freeman: Cowboy Billy

Colton Friesen: Cowboy Harry

Carly Fritz: Follies Girl Helen

Greta Fritz: Follies Girl Joyce

Jacob Fritz: Cowboy Mingo

Kendra Gilsdorf: Patricia Foder

Madison Gjersvig: New Yorker

Dawson Grimm: Cowboy Little Joe

Devin Hagen: Cowboy Walt

Madison Hagen: New Yorker

Katie Heyer: Follies Girl Sheila

Anna Hokanson: Follies Girl Margie

Andrew Holzgrove: Cowboy Junior

Anne Holzgrove: Follies Girl Susie

Caleb Howard: Lank Hawkins

Isaac Howard: Cowboy Ike and New Yorker

Katelyn Johnson: Follies Girl Elaine

Tristan Johnson: Everett Baker 

Morgan Johnston: Follies Girl Louise

Rok Juricic: Bela Zangler and Cowboy Louis 

Ellie Kalberer: Follies Girl Virginia

Jacob Kempenich: Bobby Child

Brady Labine: Cowboy Roy 

Sarah Labine: Follies Girl Francis

Missy Larson: Lottie Child and Follies Girl Lois

Naomi Larson: Follies Girl Jean

Sarah Larson: Follies Girl Mitzi

Elizabeth Lembke: New Yorker

Madeline Lembke: Follies Girl Vera

Grace Lindquist: Choreographer and Follies Girl Betsy

Megan Lysford: Follies Girl Doris

McKenzie Mann: Polly Baker

Mia Martinez: Follies Girl Ruth

Kennedi Mercil: Follies Girl Marilyn

Madison Ring: New Yorker

Grace Olson: New Yorker

Grace Schulberg: New Yorker

Dillon Spurlin: Cowboy Sam

Alex Swanson: New Yorker

Dalton VonRuden: Cowboy Jack

Kalley Waller: Follies Girl Patsy

Austin Weber: Cowboy Moose

Mason Wentz: Eugene Fodor and Cowboy Butch

Leiana-Lavette Woodard: New Yorker

Artistic Staff

Kathryn Larson: Director/Producer

Mark Everson: Assistant Director/Light Design

Grace Lindquist: Choreographer

Heather Trowbridge: Pit Orchestra Director

Carol Nustad: Production Manager/Scenic Artist

Rachel Windloss: Scenic Artist/Light Technician/Properties

Emily Wold: Sound Design/Engineer

Greg Mueller: Set Design/Master Carpenter

Mike Nustad: Master Carpenter

Chris Heyer: Master Carpenter

Hans Gilsdorf: Car Design/Master Carpenter

Costume Design/Seamstress: Michelle Norby, Madalyn Sukke & Kari Williams: Costume Design, Seamstress

Shirley Holzgrove: Seamstress/Production Assistance

Paul Heisler: Accompanist

Karen Bimberg: MT Pit Operator

Paula Boehm: Property Mistress

Frankie Hutchinson: Stage Manager

Nicki Martinez: Publicity

Barb Steger: Barbara's Hair and Body Care

Julie Morben, Cindy Fritz: Makeup Design

Pit Orchestra  

Bret Berger

Ricky Borash

Logan Conklin

Brittney Ginnaty

Samantha Hagerman

Jazzmine Hamm-Coyne

Emmalee Hienrichs

Sadie Herman

Tristan Johnson

Katriana Mehlhaff

Noah Mercil

Karlee Stalberger

Ben Tjepkes

Byron VanGerpen

Kayla Wendt

Ryan Wendt

Backstage Crew

Taylor Alger

Lindsey Baker

Devyn Becker

Breanna Buck

Sam Champa

Abby Coder

Dylan Johnson

Sarah Klein

Sarah Monson

Anna Nickolauson

Desire Noel

Baehlee Ruchti

Hannah Spry

Taylor Van de Streek

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454