For Immediate Release
Contact: In-Fin Tuan, 651-292-4328 firstname.lastname@example.org
History Theatre at Home streaming Sweet Land, the Musical Experience the poignant, lyrical celebration of land, love online
SAINT PAUL, MN (July 14, 2020) – History Theatre at Home is proud to present Sweet Land, the musical from the writing team of Perrin Post (book), Laurie Flanigan Hegge (lyrics and book), and Dina Maccabee (music). This moving new musical will be available to stream online October 9-22. For details, visit historytheatre.com.
The musical is based upon the the movie “Sweet Land,” a beloved indie feature by filmmaker Ali Selim, which was in turn inspired by A Gravestone Made of Wheat, a short story by award-winning Minnesota author Will Weaver. The musical’s touching love story follows Inge Altenberg, a German immigrant who, in the wake of WW I, arrives in Minnesota to marry a Norwegian bachelor, sight unseen, and is ostracized by the community. The critically acclaimed musical has been called “…a thoroughly human story of enduring love…,” “…a beautiful story of love, community, and connection to the land…,” and “…a heart-warming and heart-winning piece of musical theater.”
“The story of Sweet Land belongs to all of us,” said Hegge. “Our ancestries may be different, but each of us has a story about where, how, and why our families came to be. Many of our families were considered ‘other’ at some point. We want to believe we are loving and accepting when welcoming outsiders into our communities. The truth is, we often fall short.”
“In 1917, Germans represented the single largest ethnic group in Minnesota. With the outbreak of World War I, the environment towards German Americans turned deeply hostile. Suddenly, loyalties were questioned, civil liberties suspended. A network of spies informed the newly-formed Minnesota Commission of Public Safety on the ‘patriotic attitudes’ of recent immigrants. Fear was institutionalized. This is the world that Inge stepped into when she arrived at Olaf Torvik’s farm.”
This stream is a closed-captioned recording of the innovative 2017 world premiere production directed by Perrin Post with musical direction by Jason Hansen and choreography by Joe Chvala at the History Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota. The production stars Ann Michels as Inge Altenberg and features an ensemble cast of thirteen actors and musicians.
Post is also known for her work as Artistic Director and Producer with Buffalo Gal Productions, where she created such hits as Broadway’s Legendary Ladies, Monsters, Witches & Freaks, and Vixens. Hegge’s work includes her WWII spy musical Dirty Business, a collaboration with Robert Elhai which premiered at History Theatre in 2019, as well as Hormel Girls and 20 Days to Find a Wife at History Theatre and Loose Lips Sink Ships, See Jane Vote and Boxcar at Northern Sky Theater in Door County. She serves as the Twin Cities Regional Representative for the Dramatists Guild. Composer and violinist Maccabee has been an Artist-in-Residence at Headland Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA and Byrdcliffe Colony in Woodstock, NY. Her most recent instrumental album, Land So Sweet, was created as a companion piece to Sweet Land, the Musical and features Dina on fiddle in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and Sweet Land film composer Mark Orton. (Available for download at dinamaccabee.com.) The musical’s score was orchestrated by Robert Elhai, a prolific, award-winning orchestrator for film and stage who was Tony-nominated for his orchestrations for Broadway’s The Lion King (www.robertelhai.com).
The movie Sweet Land was recently named by Forbes as one of “Amazon Prime’s Top 250 Best Free Movies to Watch in Lockdown, According to Rotten Tomatoes” and stars Elizabeth Reaser, Tim Guinee, Lois Smith, Alan Cumming, Alex Kingston, Paul Sand, John Heard, Tim Guinee, Ned Beatty, Patrick Heusinger, and features Twin Cities actors Stephen Pelinski, Raye Birk, Stephen D’Ambrose, Stephen Yoakam, Patrick Coyle, Barbara Kingsley, Wayne A. Evenson, and Kirsten Frantzich.
Selim’s film about Scandinavian immigrant farmers reminded Post of the stories she had heard from her Finnish grandparents. Post (who also directs the musical) recalls being so touched by the movie that she wrote a note to Selim, who shared it with Weaver. “I still don’t know why they chose me except that I was passionate about it and really cared about this simple and quiet story.”
“Inge and Olaf’s union was more than a piece of paper—it was more about the love in their hearts. When she arrives in Park Rapids, Inge doesn’t speak English, but this musical gives us the opportunity to hear her thoughts. A musical will stop, take a moment in time and elaborate, and give us a brilliant opportunity to really listen to the story,” shares Ann Michels, who plays Inge. Maccabee’s lush and haunting music helps to transform the sweeping fields of Southern Minnesota farm country into a reflective symbol for memory, family and history.
In addition to Ann Michels, the cast includes Robert Berdahl, Tinia Moulder, Jon Andrew Hegge, Michael Gruber, Norah Long, James Ramlet, Matt Riehle and musicians fully integrated into the acting ensemble: Colleen Bertsch, Randall Davidson, Josh Ackerley, Jason Hansen (music direction) and Dylan Younger. Design team includes Paula Post (costumes), Erica Zaffarano (set), Mike Grogan (lighting), C. Andrew Mayer (sound), and Lee Christiansen (properties), Robert Elhai (orchestrations) and Joe Chvala(choreography).
Sweet Land the musical premiered April 29-May 28, 2017 at History Theatre.
For more information, visit www.historytheatre.com.
About History Theatre
Since 1978, History Theatre has been one of the nation’s most prolific incubators of original plays. In recent years, History Theatre has staged new works by Jeffrey Hatcher, Lee Blessing, Melanie Marnich, Craig Wright, Kim Hines, Dorie Baizley, John Olive, Kira Obolensky, and more. From the celebratory Wellstone! to the dark, complex Piece of the Rope about Minnesota’s first public execution and the hilarious Glensheen: The Musical about an infamous Minnesota murder, History Theatre has moved Minnesotans to rediscover, relive, and respect every piece of their history. A fourtime IVEY Award-winning theater, History Theatre has produced brave, entertaining explorations of all the histories that make up our diverse community. Each year History Theatre produces a season filled with excellent plays and musicals while developing new scripts through workshops and staged readings. More than 200,000 students have connected with history through matinee performances and theatre arts residencies led by History Theatre actors and teaching artists.
Sweet Land, the Musical
Perrin is also the Artistic Director & Producer of Buffalo Gal Productions since 1996. Buffalo Gal’s shows have been produced at The Loring Playhouse, Ordway, Bryant Lake Bowl, and John Hassler Theater. Sweet Land productions include The History Theatre premiere, Minnesota Tour, Theatre L’Homme Dieu, Anoka Ramsey College and Taproot Theatre in Seattle, Washington. Her upcoming writing projects include Big Island and Eloise & Me workshops; plus two more musicals in the research stage. sweetlandthemusical.com
Laurie Flanigan Hegge
History Theatre Premieres: Dirty Business, Sweet Land, the Musical, 20 Days to Find a Wife Hormel Girls, and Tales Along the Minnesota Trail. Other work includes Loose Lips Sink Ships, See Jane Vote and Boxcar for Northern Sky Theater in Door County, WI. As an actor she most recently appeared onscreen in the critically acclaimed Zoom production of Diary of Anne Frank at Park Square Theatre, and on stage at History Theater in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Radio Man, and Baby Case. Laurie is the Twin Cities Regional Rep for the Dramatists Guild of America and serves as Artistic Associate at History Theatre.
Dina is a composer, songwriter, and violinist/violist who works in variety of styles, from traditional music to contemporary experimental composition. She was a founding member of Real Vocal String Quartet and company composer for Berkeley’s Just Theater, and she has performed internationally with Julia Holter, Vienna Teng, Feist, and many others. Current projects include her songwriting duo Ramon & Jessica’s original, staged a cappella musical storybook for children based on text by Gertrude Stein, and a solo performance project of songs for viola, voice, and electronics.
Joe is the founder and artistic director of the highly-acclaimed percussive Dance Company, the Flying Foot Forum. He has directed, choreographed, and been commissioned to create new works for a variety of venues including the Guthrie Theater, Walker Art Center, Ordway Center, Minnesota Opera, Children’s Theatre Company, History Theatre and Park Square Theatre. He has received both the Ivey and Sage awards for theater and dance as well as numerous awards, fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Target and the McKnight Foundation.
Robert arranged Chan Poling’s music for History Theatre’s Glensheen, and Lord Gordon Gordon. Most recently he composed the music for History Theatre’s production of Dirty Business, Nautilus Music Theater’s production of Twisted Apples and Theater Latte Da’s C. He has arranged the music for many projects around the world (collecting a Tony Award nomination for his work on The Lion King) including over 150 film scores by A-list composers such as Elliot Goldenthal (the Oscar-winning score to Frida), Michael Kamen (Band of Brothers), Brian Tyler (The Fast and Furious movies) and Klaus Badelt (Pirates of the Caribbean). robertelhai.com.
Now in his 25th season as Artistic Director, Ron has commissioned over 90 playwrights and composers and produced more than 70 original works, including the popular Sisters of Swing and Beyond the Rainbow. He has alsocommissioned and directed Jeffrey Hatcher’scritically acclaimed scripts A Piece of the Rope and Tyrone & Ralph. He commissioned The Incredible Season of Ronnie Rabinovitz fromEric Simonson after directing his Broadway-hitplay Lombardi in 2012. He has directed over 175professional productions with such companiesas Florida Stage, Riverside Theatre, PennsylvaniaOpera Theater, Mixed Blood Theatre, OldCreamery Theatre, and the Minnesota Opera.Ron holds an M.F.A. in Directing from theUniversity of Minnesota.