Youth play tells story of Father Marquette for statue fundraiser
A group of young local playwrights took curiosity about the man for which the town of Marquette is named to a fun conclusion: They wrote a production for Lake Superior Youth Theatre which will be performed this month in conjunction with a fundraising event for the Father Marquette statue restoration project.
The Father Jacques Marquette: Man of Discovery fundraiser evening will be held at 7:00 p.m. May 20 at Kaufman Auditorium, and will feature an introduction by Peter White Public Library Director Pam Christensen, the Lake Superior Youth Theatre original production, titled A Man Named Marquette, a slideshow by Jack Deo, and closing remarks by Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee members Barb Kelly and Emily Lewis.
The purpose of the event is to create awareness and raise money for the Father Marquette statue restoration project in celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the statue in its present location in Downtown Marquette’s Lakeside Park.
Kelly and Lewis, along with Sara Cambensy of Kaufman Auditorium, approached Nikke Nason of Lake Superior Youth Theatre about the writing of an original play by youth in conjunction with a slide show presentation by Deo. This project was designed to assist in the telling of this history to elementary school students and community members. A student matinee will take place at 10:00 a.m. and the day will conclude with an evening performance and fundraiser for the community. There is a suggested donation of $10.00 for the general public and students ages eighteen and younger are free. The L.G. Kaufman Endowment granted the MBRC a grant to assist with transportation of students and production costs for the event.
Lake Superior Youth Theatre put together a team of eight authors, from ages six to twenty-one. They began their research in mid-March and finalized the first draft of the script in mid-April.
Ella Kyle, eight, and one of the authors of the play, said, “I really like working on this project because you get to see what goes into writing a play. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. The research took us a lot of work and time, but it was fun once we were able to start writing the play.”
Research consisted of time spent at the Peter White Public Library and the J.M. Longyear Research Library located in the Marquette Regional History Center. The young authors read books, newspaper clippings, brochures, and various documents located in the archives.
LSYT Artistic Director Nikke Nason said, “Searching through the archives at the J.M. Longyear Library provided us with new ideas and facts to incorporate into our script. We were able to link President Richard Nixon with Father Jacques Marquette while finding one particular document. I don’t want to give it away, but if you’re curious about why President Nixon is in the first scene of our play, I recommend that you come to see it.”
Audiences will be taken on a journey from the 1960s in the United States to 1647 in Laon (France) to 1666 in New France (Quebec, Canada) to 1897 in Marquette. Mike Kangas, who is assisting in the project, said, “This show is definitely something refreshing, to go from a regular play like we usually do to actually digging into some research and writing the play of our own. It’s rewarding to create an atmosphere of what it was like in the 1600s and really fun as well. Working with the LSYT youth is much more rewarding than anything.”
Various characters featured in the production include historical figures Father Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet, President Richard Nixon and local historical figures Peter White, William Burt, Robert Graveraet, Colonel Kaufman, Miss Frances E.Q. Jopling and Jacob Houghton among others. It also features two dance numbers, including one occurring on the voyage of Marquette and Jolliet.
Author Iris Sloan, eight, said, “Writing the play has been challenging because you had to research first, then you had to type it all up, and then the show could begin with auditions. It was a lot of work just to get a script but it was fun because we got to write a scene with river monsters.”
The project has been rewarding for the youth to work on. Author Ella Davis, nine, said, “Working on this project has been really fun but also very challenging. It’s been fun to do all the research and after we were done, just chilling out was fun because we were just relieved to get it done.”
The age of the participants hasn’t hindered their involvement. Six-year-old Emma Spade is the youngest author working on the project with the Lake Superior Youth Theatre.
“The writing part of the show has been really fun because I like to know what we’re going to do so I can try to remember everything,” said Spade. “I think that it’s going to be a great show because it sounds good so far and I really like it.”
The event wouldn’t be possible without support from the Shiras Institute, the Marquette County Community Foundation, the L.G. Kaufman Endowment, Kaufman Auditorium, Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee Inc., and Lake Superior Youth Theatre. The evening also will allow community members to pledge their support for the restoration of the Father Marquette statue in Lakeside Park.
More events will be occurring throughout the summer of 2013.
Lake Superior Youth Theatre also will be holding auditions for its upcoming summer production of the Musical Theatre International’s Honk Jr.
Auditions will be held May 20 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. and May 21 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Those auditioning only need to attend one day and will be seen in the order of arrival. Those auditioning for dancing roles will have an additional audition May 21 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. for third grade and younger, and from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. for fourth grade and older. Please arrive fifteen minutes prior to the dance auditions. All auditions will take place at the Graveraet School on the third floor, located at 611 North Front Street, Marquette.
Audition callbacks will be held May 28 at 5:00 p.m. at Graveraet School on the third floor.
Youth ages preschool to twelfth grade are eligible to audition. Youth actors, singers, gymnasts and dancers all are needed for a variety of parts. Please be sure to wear comfortable clothing and bring dance shoes. Those auditioning will be asked to read from scenes, sing a song, and dance. A pianist will be provided. Those who do not wish to sing a song at auditions may choose not to do so. There is no cost to audition but there is a registration fee to participate in the production. There are special family rates and scholarships are available from funding provided by the L.G. Kaufman Foundation and Phyllis and Max Reynolds Foundation.
Honk! Jr. is a contemporary retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. It is the story of Ugly, whose odd, gawky looks instantly incite prejudice from his family and neighbors. Separated from the farm and pursued by a hungry cat, Ugly must find his way home. Along his rollicking and harrowing journey he not only discovers his true beauty and glorious destiny, but also finds love and acceptance in all its forms. Since the Lake Superior Theatre boathouse is home to several families of ducklings during the summer, this should be a delightfully ducky adventure.
The show is directed by Moire Embley with choreography by Jill Grundstrom and Jill Vermeulen. The show is produced by Lake Superior Youth Theatre Executive Director Reatha Tweedie and Artistic Director Nikke Nason.
Performances will take place at the Lake Superior Theatre August 1 to 4 and August 7 to 10.
Those who are unable to attend the audition times must contact LSYT before auditions to set up an alternate time.
For more information, please call 362-6453, visit Lake Superior Youth Theatre on Facebook, email lakesuperioryouththe email@example.com or log on to the theatre’s new website at www.lsyt.org
Former NMU president Vandament dies
William Vandament, the tenth president of Northern Michigan University, who served from 1991-1997, died Saturday, April 20, at his home in Signal Hill (California). He was eighty-one.
After teaching psychology for a few years, Vandament had a long career as a university administrator. At Ohio State University, he was vice president for finance and planning. He went on to become senior vice president of administration at New York University. On the West Coast, he was provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs for the California State University System at Long Beach. In 1989, he published Managing Money in Higher Education.
Vandament came to Northern Michigan University in June 1991 as interim president; he was asked by the Board of Trustees to become full-time president in the spring of 1992. His time as president was marked by significant budget cuts. There was a $1.3 million cut to state appropriations that led to tough decisions such as whether to open the Superior Dome as planned. Ultimately, he had to cut $2.8 million and eliminate forty-nine jobs.
Even with this level of cuts, Vandament was respected throughout NMU and the Marquette community. He valued transparency on campus, encouraged input from the entire campus community and asked repeatedly for the community to come together during the tough financial times. Students liked him, too, because of his willingness to spend time with them, including participating in student activities such as playing with the pep band during hockey and basketball games.
“Bill Vandament was an exceptional leader of Northern Michigan University during a challenging time,” said NMU President David Haynes. “I worked closely with Bill during his tenure as president and I always admired his integrity, ability to bring people together to make strong decisions, his vision and his sense of humor. He was such a dear friend to so many of us at NMU and in the community, and he will be missed. The NMU family and those who knew him throughout the Upper Peninsula will be thinking fondly of Bill and sending our prayers and deep sympathy to Margery, as well as their daughters, family members and friends.”
Also during Vandament’s tenure as NMU president, he implemented the flat tuition rate, a tuition structure for students that continues today. He also maintained a strong relationship with the Michigan legislature. Other important contributions by Vandament include putting up recognition plaques across campus for the people for whom each building is named. This effort earned him a Dwight B. Waldo History Award in June 1996 for the preservation and promotion of Upper Peninsula history. He established a temporary office at NMU to assist community leaders in jump-starting the process of converting K.I. Sawyer to civilian use. He also initiated contracts with South African universities to make study abroad possible for NMU students.
When Vandament retired and left NMU, the campus community came together to celebrate his time at NMU and his contributions. At the May 1997 commencement ceremony, he and his wife, Margery, received honorary degrees. Students gathered a month earlier and presented a gift of $1,200 to create the Vandament Scholarship Fund. In July, they presented an additional $65,000 toward the scholarship.
“I think the relationships between the university and community was so strong when he was president and the attitude on campus was one of pulling together,” said Mike Roy, former NMU interim president from 2003 to 2004, and the vice president of finance and administration under Vandament. “I think there were a lot of positives during that time about what the university was doing and, to a great extent, that was the way Bill did business. He was very unassuming and very easygoing. He was a good mentor and a good coach for me and I think other people on campus, too. He was just that kind of person.”
Vandament was born in Hannibal (Missouri) on September 16, 1931. He received his bachelor’s degree from Quincy College and his doctorate in psychology from the University of Massachusetts. He and Margery (Lampe) are the parents of Lisa and Jane.
No services are planned. In lieu of flowers his family would appreciate contributions to the William and Margery Vandament Endowment Fund, Northern Michigan University Foundation, 1401 Presque Isle Ave., Marquette, MI. 49855.
–– Cindy Paavola
Boathouse theatre’s summer season will be ship-shape
As we begin our fifteenth season, we are reminded of how far we have come as a live theatre. It all began when we presented Shelley Russell’s Beacon On The Rock to celebrate Marquette’s sesquicentennial in the Frazier boathouse in 1999. It seemed fitting to present a story about the settling of the Upper Peninsula right on Lake Superior’s southern coast in Marquette.
After deciding tents would be blown away by a south wind gust and the late darkness would make lighting extremely difficult, we converted the boathouse into a theatre taking full advantage of the catwalks and the ambiance, set up folding chairs, hung lights, built a stage and set, added a sound system and let the magic begin.
Attendees exiting the boathouse imagined themselves in a time when schooners filled the harbor, when long dresses dragged through muddy streets, and when English was one of perhaps twenty-five languages you might hear on a busy day. Without cushioned seats, air conditioning, professional sound and lights, and a false floor, things were a bit rough.
However, we have, over the years, made considerable improvements to the boathouse although we have kept the rustic charm. We invite participants to enjoy a picnic or dine in one of Marquette’s fine restaurants, then enjoy the spectacular view, watch the boats in the harbor, and enjoy our Superior lake before and after the show. As we hoped that first year and again this year, guests will talk about how their ancestors arrived at this great land and share stories that will preserve our precious past.
Our ancestors braved this new land at great physical peril. Karl Bohnak told the story of the winter shipping challenges on Superior as Marquette was being settled.
Back before ice breakers cleared a path for ships, the first trip up to the U.P. could take a while. Young Peter White was recruited by Robert Graveraet from Mackinac Island to come to Marquette and help build the new iron-mining-based town.
White recalled years later how the steamer Tecumseh “got inside the Detour (into the St. Marys River off Lake Huron) and there met with solid ice, two to three feet thick.” The party bound for the Iron Mountains came up against the remains of the long, hard winter of 1848-49.
“The boat was run about half her length into the ice,” said White, “when some passengers debarked and ran up it in all directions.” A suggestion was made to chop a canal through the ice with saws and axes. That idea was abandoned after it was realized the ice would probably melt faster than they could cut through it. The next day the steamer backed up and took another channel through the Straits. Instead of twelve hours, it took ten days for the little boat to hammer her way to the Sault. During the long, tortuous trip there was “a bread riot, an insurrection, and once the boat sank to her deck, full of water.”
Tecumseh might have gone down were it not for the skills of a strange old man the passengers and crew had christened “Old Saleratus.” It turned out the eccentric fellow was a ship carpenter. After the boat was unloaded and bailed, the carpenter found the leak and repaired it with a new plank. Tecumseh and her cargo and crew finally limped into the Sault with the greater part of her journey still ahead.
Marquette pioneer and weather observer L.P. Crary recalled the first arrival at Marquette Harbor each spring was a cause for celebration.
“The coming of the first boat was something that was the sole topic of conversation for days,” he remembered. “No man ever had more than one eye on his work after the ice began to go out, as the other eye was turned lakeward in the hopes of seeing a sail.” Finally, as the first boat made port, bells rang, whistles blew and everyone made as much noise as possible.
“When the first boat arrived,” explained Crary, “it was considered excusable to get ‘loaded’ and nearly everyone availed themselves of the privilege.” He went on to recall that the small boats of the bygone years carried less weight, so there were more of them.
“I have seen as many as sixty or seventy little craft in Marquette Harbor at one time. That brought lots of sailors and made things lively on occasions.” While the first boat hardly deserves a mention at Lake Superior ports these days, it’s still a sign, like peepers, that spring is here.
This year seemed like the winter that had no end. That old cliche about ten months of winter and two months of tough sledding almost seemed to be more reality than a joke. I remember my dad telling me that it was a lot colder when he was growing up. “Peggy,” he would say, “When I was growing up, words froze in the air. If you wanted to hear what someone said, you had to grab a handful of sentences and take them in by the fire.”
I thought that was pretty silly, of course, but I did hear this winter it was so cold that Downtown Eye Care was giving away free ice scrapers with every new pair of eyeglasses. And then the leaf pickup in April had to be postponed. While the harbor has less ice there is still snow waiting for the warmth of summer. Spring break has come and gone and the winter season is almost over, we hope. We already have seen the first ship in the harbor and we are looking for birds to reappear although many of them appear to have delayed their return (smartly) to Yooperland waiting for warmth to return.
One year when we presented Beacon we had the opportunity to take the cast out to Granite Island, due to the gracious support of Scot and Martine Holman. On the return trip, the waves had picked up considerably and with the wind’s direction the slower boat returned in the trough wallowing all the way. Those with tender tummies were so happy to set foot on land––much like some of our early immigrants must have felt.
That cast always had a new appreciation of the Captain’s story about Resolution, the Beacon schooner that brought so many to Marquette to work in the mines and the trips on Superior.
Today we have the opportunity to envision the journey of so many when we take a cruise of our shoreline on the Isle Royale Queen III. If you have guests visiting this summer, plan a day they will long remember and love: a cruise on the Queen followed by a trip to the Maritime Museum, then Beacon on the Rock at the boathouse.
From July 5 to 14 this musical celebration of our diverse heritage and the human spirit will provide an unforgettable evening. It is a story about people who came to this isolated region and found a way to survive the natural and social challenges. It is a story of courage, of desperation, of vision. It is also a story of hope, of pride, of laughter and tears, of the past and the future. It is about individual freedom and communal ties. Most of all, it is about the thousands of families who left their homelands to carve out a home in unforgiving wilderness.
Directed by Shelley Russell and Denise Clark with musical captain Rob Engelhart on board, we suspect this will be the best Beacon ever. It is a wonderful story. At the opening, we are introduced to a group of high school kids on a field trip. They know why their ancestors came to this harsh isolated region. They wondered why they stayed. We meet the families and celebrate their joys and watch nervously as the men risk everything for a job in the mines and a chance at a better life. Families and individuals, all seeking a future in a land that gives nothing away for free. And did I mention the music? The incredible songs will lift your spirit and are guaranteed to leave you humming.
And speaking of music that leaves you humming, we again are fortunate to have musical direction from Rob Engelhart for The Pirates of Penzance July 17 to 28. Long before Johnny Depp swaggered his way across the Caribbean, a band of swashbuckling (but tenderhearted) pirates set hearts aflutter with their high seas hijinks.
This Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera fairly explodes across the stage with damsels in distress, a sexy Pirate King, a delightfully dotty Major General, and a score you will hum all the way home. A celebrated comic opera that has been transformed from stage to Broadway to film and back again, the characters include the orphaned Pirate King, the ever-dutiful Frederic, a band of tender-hearted pirates, young and unattached Mabel, and, of course, the very modern Major General.
This frolicking, family musical has love stories, sword fights, dancing, plot twists, and plenty more to make The Pirates of Penzance a treasured experience for every age and walk of life. LST favorite Jeff Spencer is the Captain and we welcome his talents aboard with this ship shape musical.
Auditions for all ages will take place for Beacon and Pirates April 28 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. and May 13 and 14 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Please prepare a short song cutting and monologue. Scenes will be available for reading and an audition pianist will be provided.
The music continues with Honk! Jr. presented by Lake Superior Youth Theatre from August 1 to 10. Honk! Jr. is a contemporary retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. It is the story of Ugly, whose odd, gawky looks instantly incite prejudice from his family and neighbors. Separated from the farm and pursued by a hungry cat, Ugly must find his way home. Along his rollicking and harrowing journey he not only discovers his true beauty and glorious destiny, but also finds love and acceptance in all its forms.
Since the boathouse is home to several families of ducklings during the summer this should be a delightfully ducky adventure directed by Moire Embley, with choreography by Jill Grundstrom and Jill Vermeulen.
Lake Superior Youth Theatre will hold auditions for its upcoming summer production of the Musical Theatre International’s Honk Jr. on May 20 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. and May 21 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Those auditioning only need to attend one day and will be seen in the order of arrival.
Those auditioning for dancing roles will have an additional audition May 21 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. for third grade and younger, and from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. for fourth grade and older. Please arrive fifteen minutes prior to the dance auditions.
All auditions will take place at the Graveraet School on the third floor, located at 611 North Front Street, Marquette. Youth ages preschool to twelfth grade are eligible to audition. Youth actors, singers, gymnasts and dancers all are needed for a variety of parts. Please be sure to wear comfortable clothing and bring dance shoes. Those auditioning will be asked to read from scenes, sing a song, and dance. A pianist will be provided.
Those who do not wish to sing a song at auditions may choose not to do so. There is no cost to audition but there is a registration fee to participate in the production. There are special family rates and scholarships are available from funding provided by the L.G. Kaufman Foundation and Phyllis and Max Reynolds Foundation. Those who are unable to attend the auditions times must contact LSYT before auditions to set up an alternate time.
For more information, please contact LSYT at 362-6453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Last, but certainly not least, is Superior Broadway, August 14 to 16, directed and arranged by Denise Clark. Superior Broadway will celebrate the songs and scenes that have been favorites of LST audiences for the last fifteen years, pairing them with the amazing talent in our community. A historical cabaret will feature songs and scenes from past LST historical productions including Haywire, Points North, Superior Heroes and Beacon On The Rock, along with popular U.P. songwriters and historical events.
Historical tidbits will make this an enjoyable evening you won’t want to miss as we tell stories about our ancestors as they descended upon this rough and rugged land.
A multimedia presentation will make this more than just a cabaret and special treats during intermission for those attending will continue an LST celebration tradition.
It is hard to believe 2012 has evaporated and that 2013 is well underway. This year marks LST’s fifteenth year so we are planning a special Lightkeeper event on June 13 to kick off the season. Watch the website: lakesuperiortheatre.com, or our Facebook page and your snail mail for more information, or call us at 227-7625.
We are working on alternative sites if the weather stays chilly so don’t worry, you will be warm. Stand on the edge of the lake this summer after a show and watch the sun drop while the city lights brighten. Listen to the loons calling in the distance and be glad, so glad, this is where you live and how lucky we are to have this vibrant landscape, clear blue water and the special water and land creatures we share it with.
The power, purpose, and passion for our inclusive celebration of our heritage this summer is brought to you by an incredible cast and crew supported by the hardest working board ever. We are so fortunate to have the support of area businesses and community leaders who keep our ticket prices affordable.
Enjoy the incredible views of the Marquette Harbor at the best little theatre with the big shows this summer. Join us in our converted boathouse bursting with nautical artifacts for the best in live entertainment and adventures on the Superior seas. Forget the opera glasses, laugh, shed a tear, and feel like you are on Broadway in easy, intimate air-conditioned comfort.