Favorites from Paul Bunyan Playhouse patrons

Favorites from Paul Bunyan Playhouse patrons

By Laurie Swenson Swenson Laurie 2009

Special to inMagazine

(This post is continued from the 2015 summer edition of inMagazine.)

Laurie’s top five memorable plays: 

Forever Plaid, 2011: A spot-on ensemble, visually stunning, with wonderful music and four guys who worked together beautifully. Daniel Lundin’s transformation from paralyzing stage fright to over-the-top crooning in his rendition of “Cry” is probably my favorite Playhouse scene. You start out laughing at poor Jinx and end up blown away by how he brings it home. I’ve watched many YouTube videos of this, but have never seen a version that captures the full range that Daniel did. If I could have a video of any stage song, it would be this.


Dracula, 2010: An incredible performance by everyone. Matt Sciple as Renfield was brilliantly horrifying. It set the tone for the whole play, and I’ll never forget that character.

The Boys Next Door, 2010: An earnest and poignant look at the lives of mentally handicapped people in a group home, this play and everyone in it stole my heart forever.

Gypsy, 2010: This was my first look at the amazing Karen Wiese-Thompson, who was stunning as Rose, the desperate stage mom who sets her hopes on daughter Louise, played convincingly and poignantly by Kristen Husby. Paul Reyburn was wistfully adorable in this gripping tale as Herbie, who tries so earnestly to help.

The Full Monty, 2011: This was a delightful burlesque romp that brought out a lot of Bemidjians, lots of them ladies. It was a bold choice for the Playhouse, but the approach was so playful your grandma might have loved it.

Favorites from Playhouse patrons: 

Mitch Berntson mug shot

Mitch Berntson

“My favorite play at PBP would have to be the first one I ever saw there.  It was 1993, and two of my friends took me to see “Noises Off!” They knew the play, but I went in as a ‘virgin,’ not knowing what I was about to see. That show was all about such beautifully choreographed chaos and razor-sharp timing. Walking out at the end, I knew that I had to one day be a part of that. For me, that dream came true last year.” (Bernston played Frederick Fellowes in the PBT production of “Noises Off!” in 2014.)


Chuck Deeter

Chuck Deeter

“She Loves Me” (1991), in the Playhouse’s final season at Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge. Deeter played the head waiter. “We had a great cast, we had a blast doing it, and I was the lead of my own scene. I played the head waiter with a haughty attitude and got to chase someone through a crowded restaurant. Fun stuff!”



Ernie Rall mug shot

Ernie Rall

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (2013): “In a word – AWESOME! The story’s adaptation by Jeffery Hatcher, the artistic direction by Zach Curtis, the lighting design by Grant Merges, and a top-notch cast of Randall J. Funk, Erin Mae Johnson, Joel Raney, Matt Sciple, Peter Simmons and Katherine Tieben-Holt will draw you in to the fast-paced drama. The staging with its lights, sounds and scenes of a tortured soul will have you on the edge of your seat. Aside from a fine production, the show is an experience! A MUST SEE!”

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