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NYC-based theatre company to stage 'Macbeth,' 'Great Gatsby' at Detroit Lakes' Holmes Theatre

The Historic Holmes Theatre will be hosting back-to-back theatrical shows this coming weekend, March 12-13, with William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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Actors Joshua Liburd and Austin Lewis in a performance of Aquila Theatre's "Macbeth," which will be presented at Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre on Saturday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Darryl Estrine / Special to the Detroit Lakes Tribune
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William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" and F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby": They're both dramatic plays with tragic endings, but since they were written 300 years apart, they're not often paired together.

Yet these were the two plays chosen by traveling theatrical company Aquila Theatre to present on successive days at Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre. "Macbeth" will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12, while "Gatsby" will be presented as a Sunday matinee on March 13 at 2 p.m.

Aquila's visit to the community is funded, in part, through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Legacy Amendment.

"I’m delighted to bring Aquila Theatre to Detroit Lakes," said Amy Stoller Stearns, executive director of the Holmes. "With the pandemic and all the related challenges, it’s been a very long time since we’ve been able to have a professional theater company from New York City on our stage. Aquila’s a unique group because they travel with both shows... So that’s why we’re offering 'Macbeth' on Saturday night and 'Great Gatsby' on Sunday afternoon."

Desiree Sanchez, the executive artistic director of Aquila Theatre, said she was looking forward to bringing her company to Detroit Lakes.

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Though the two plays chosen by the group for their touring shows this year were written a long time ago — Shakespeare penned 'Macbeth' in 1623, while Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby" was released in 1925 — their themes felt "weirdly relevant" in a modern context, and worked well together, Sanchez said.

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Actors Aamira Challenger, left, and James Lavender star in Aquila Theatre's touring production of "Macbeth," which will be staged at Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre on Saturday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Photo by Darryl Estrine / Special to the Detroit Lakes Tribune

The tragedy of 'Macbeth,' she explained, clearly illustrates "the depravity of a lust for power, and how when we put our sights solely on a superficial goal, one that is exterior to what's really important — community, and a sense of family, and an obligation to help one's fellow humans — it's very disruptive, both to the people aiming to achieve that goal and to everyone around them."

'The Great Gatsby,' meanwhile, is "a story that needs to be told right now," Sanchez added. "I think it's very interesting that people assume it's going to be a story about the 1920s, and the glitz and the glam...(but) it's very much an American tragedy."

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Actors Connor Keef and Joshua Liburd in a scene from Aquila Theatre's touring production of "The Great Gatsby," which will be staged at Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre on Sunday, March 13 at 2 p.m.
Photo by Darryl Estrine / Special to the Detroit Lakes Tribune

The themes it explores, like equality, and "insiders vs. outsiders," are extremely relevant in the present day, she said, and very relatable for most people, even if the story is set against a glamorous backdrop of wealth and privilege on a level very few get to experience.

Great Gatsby publicity photo 2.jpeg
Actors Palmyra Mattner and Connor Keef in a scene from Aquila Theatre's touring production of "The Great Gatsby," which will be presented at Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre on Sunday March 13 at 2 p.m.
Photo by Darryl Estrine / Special to the Detroit Lakes Tribune

Both of these works and their related themes will be explored in depth at a special "Behind the Story" preview event set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, in the Holmes Art Cellar.

Led by local actress and teacher Lorraine Bahr — a veteran of both stage and screen — the two-hour event is intended to be an informal discussion rather than a formal presentation.

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Actress Lorraine Bahr will host a "Behind the Story" discussion of Aquila Theatre's upcoming productions of "Macbeth" and "The Great Gatsby" at the Holmes Art Cellar on Sunday, March 6 at 3 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
Photo courtesy of Lorraine Bahr / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"I'm seeing it as a relaxed and fun conversation," Bahr said, adding that they will "probably have some snacks" on hand for the discussion as well.

"I thought we could read a couple of scenes from each play aloud," said Bahr, adding that if those planning to attend have their own copies of the scripts from either, or both plays, they should bring them along. "There's no performing required, just reading out loud together."

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There is no admission fee to attend the March 6 event, and there are a limited number of complimentary tickets available for the Aquila shows, as well.

"We really want people to attend, so if there are any financial hindrances, please don’t let that stand in your way," Stearns said. "Due to the grant, we are offering free tickets to students at the high schools in the area, but we’d be happy to extend that to others, too, if needed."

If you go

What: "Macbeth" and "The Great Gatsby" by Aquila Theatre
When: "Macbeth" — 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12; "Gatsby" — 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13; "Behind the Story" preview discussion — 3 p.m. Sunday, March 6.
Where: Historic Holmes Theatre, 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes
How: There is no cost to attend the March 6 discussion; tickets to each show are $25 for adults and $12.50 for students, with a limited number of complimentary tickets available for each. Call the Holmes Box Office at 218-844-7469 or visit dlccc.org/holmes-theatre.html for more information.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at vgerdes@dlnewspapers.com.
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