Entertainment Briefs - Nov. 26

Free staged reading event planned in Nisswa NISSWA--Award-winning Los Angeles playwright Phil Olson will direct a free, staged reading of his latest work in-progress, "A Nice Family Christmas" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Journey Church at Nissw...

Photographer Amy Hanfler depicts the remains of a spiral staircase at what once was the Hennepin Paper Mill in Little Falls. (Submitted)
Photographer Amy Hanfler depicts the remains of a spiral staircase at what once was the Hennepin Paper Mill in Little Falls. (Submitted)

Free staged reading event planned in Nisswa

NISSWA-Award-winning Los Angeles playwright Phil Olson will direct a free, staged reading of his latest work in-progress, "A Nice Family Christmas" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Journey Church at Nisswa.

Olson's humor is familiar to audiences in Pequot Lakes through productions such as "Don't Hug Me," "A Don't Hug Me County Fair," "Mom's Gift," and "Crappie Talk."

Minnesota native Olson, who is also a screenwriter, has published 13 plays that have been staged in more than 300 productions around the country as well as in Canada and Australia. Some, published by Samuel French, have been staged by Pequot Lakes Community Theatre.

The event is sponsored by Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts.


Seven actors from the area will perform the quirky, comedic satire. Olson is looking for feedback from audiences as he finishes the latest script. He will invite comments and questions from attendees following the show.

For information, call Pequot Lakes Community Education at 218-568-9200.

Music General holiday show planned

Music General Dance Studio presents "The Year Without a Santa Claus" with two shows Dec. 5 at Tornstrom Auditorium. Showtimes are 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Pre-show tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children. At the door, $9 for adults and $7 for children. Go online at or call 218-829-0076 for tickets.

Ring of Kerry to perform in Little Falls

LITTLE FALLS - Great River Arts presents Ring of Kerry in a concert titled "A Celtic Christmas" at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 as part of the Fridays' Concert Series. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $15 available by phone, online at or in person.

Based out of St. Cloud, Ring of Kerry performs traditional Irish and Scottish music with a mid-American sensibility. For the past 15 years the band has appeared at concerts and festivals throughout the Upper Midwest. The group takes its name from a drive in southwestern County Kerry, Ireland. Their music entices the crowd to sing along, stomp their feet and join in merriment, while also serenading the audience with acoustic sets.


For their Christmas show, Ring of Kerry draws upon traditional Irish Christmas music, winter themes, Irish dance tunes and audience favorites. One selection on the program is John McCutcheon's "Christmas in the Trenches" which tells the story of the Christmas Eve truce of December of 1914.

Ring of Kerry is a blend of Paul Finegan Cotton playing the bodhran, Paul Blondell on the fiddle and mandolin, Charlie Roth's songwriting and guitar, Paul Imholte playing the hammered dulcimer and mandolin and Karie Oberg's flute, pennywhistle and beautiful vocals.

Morrison County exhibition planned

LITTLE FALLS - Great River Arts presents Faces, Places and Traces of Morrison County, a collaborative photography exhibition made possible through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council. This exhibition features black and white photographs from Amy Hanfler, Doug Jenkins, Christina Johnson, Chuck Norwood, Emily Saehr, Bethany Schilling and Lisa Sherwood. The show will be on display in the Great River Arts Main Gallery through Jan. 2, 2016, with the opening reception from 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

Great River Arts is an artistic hub in Little Falls, striving to offer accessible artistic experiences to the community. This exhibition allows residents and visitors to Morrison County the opportunity to witness the unique people and places of the region through the lens of an artist. Photographers were each given lists of names and locations that were collected over a two month time span through community recommendations. Each artist spent time with community members, travelling throughout the county to capture moments and memories that will resound with anyone who visits the show.

"We really tried to reach every inch of the county," said Sam Bruno, GRA program support specialist, as she rattles off a list of pioneer communities that no longer exist on maps. "This exhibit recalls the precious history of this dynamic county; from logging, to railroads, to boats and snow plows Morrison county has quite the interesting story."

Exhibition highlights include: the Freedhem Store, which has been operational for over 100 years, the Train Trestle in Little Falls, a portion of which collapsed in 1974, Lloyd Boeder of Pierz and the Blacksmith Shop in Little Rock that was moved from Dixville according to local historian Horst Hannken who is also pictured in the exhibition. The information and images are rich and filled with stories.

The photographers and the GRA staff and board will be at Saturday's reception which is open to the public. Charles Gilbert Kapsner will celebrate the closing of his exhibition "Generations" from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday in the GRA Front Gallery.


Chamber Singers to perform concert

The Chamber Singers will host a concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Chalberg Theatre at Central Lakes College in Brainerd. Admission is free for all ages.

The concert is titled "Saints and Sinners" and includes songs from Mozart to musical theatre. The repertoire represents a wide variety of music eras and styles, including classic choral works like Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus," "Ain't Got Time to Die," "When the Saints Go Marchin' In," and popular tunes from Broadway like "I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair," "And All That Jazz."

The Chamber Singers are accompanied by Sarah Gorham on piano, and many of the singers will be featured as soloists.

Gross to speak at next Cultural Thursday program

Central Lakes College's next Cultural Thursday event will feature Bob Gross, interim superintendent of the Brainerd School District, who will speak on his administrative experiences overseas.

The presentation will be held at noon Dec. 3 in E471, on the Brainerd campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Gross spent eight years as superintendent of schools at the Singapore American School in


Singapore from 1999-2007, one year in 2012-13 in Abu Dhabi as superintendent at the American Community School and one year in 2013-14 in Vienna as superintendent at the American International School. He also spent five years from 2007-12 working with the Office of Overseas Schools, US Department of State, calling on international schools in Western and Eastern Europe.

As a part of this Cultural Thursday event, Gross will compare and contrast the American educational system with the Singapore Educational System. He will speak about the Singapore justice system and give some examples of how the Singapore government functions. In addition, Gross will address how the Singapore healthcare system compares to that of the United States. He will also share how Singapore assimilates different nationalities within their country.

Gross will share insights on his time in Abu Dhabi and Vienna, as well as on his work with the Department of State Office of Overseas Schools.

For more information on this or other Cultural Thursday events, contact Tracey Kloeckl-Jiménez, CLC Spanish Department at 218-855-8183.

St. Francis Community Chorale presents annual Christmas concert

LITTLE FALLS - The St. Francis Community Chorale will present a Christmas concert, "Can You Hear the Angels?" at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 in the Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent in Little Falls.

The Chorale will present Christmas music of various styles. Included in the program will be "Can You Hear the Angels," "A Midwinter Carol," "See the Baby," "Noel Fantasy," "Nutcracker Jingles" and "And The Stars Will Dance, "along with several other Christmas favorites.

A special treat at the concert will be songs performed by the St. Francis Children's Choir. This 18-voice choir is conducted by Vicki Spofford and they'll perform "Child of Christmas," "Children Still Believe" and more.


The Community Chorale is directed by Barb Stumpf and accompanied by Vicki Spofford. This concert will also feature special guest conductor, Joan Wingert. Also appearing in the concert will be Isaac Olson on flute and Madelyn Wright on violin.

The concert is free and open to the public. The St. Francis Chorale groups are sponsored by a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council through funding from the Minnesota State Legislature. For more information, go to or call St. Francis Music Center at 320-632-0637.

Brainerd area natives perform in Gustavus Adolphus College's concert

Baxter native Caitlin Steffen and Brainerd native Brendan Hermerding will perform Dec. 4-6. in Gustavus Adolphus College's Christmas in Christ Chapel worship services. The Dec. 5 performance will be streamed online at beginning at 7:15 p.m. central time. The annual Christmas in Christ Chapel worship service at Gustavus evokes wonder through music, poetry, prayer and dance performed by more than 350 students. This year, Christmas in Christ Chapel will take the audience on a journey, joining the global travelers and the residents of Bethlehem, Palestine, to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace and to give voice to shared hope for shalom, salaam, peace in this world.

HSO holiday concert planned

CROSSLAKE - The Heartland Symphony Orchestra continues its 39th season with winter concert selections depicting a "Winter in Vienna" with concerts at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Crosslake Lutheran Church, Fellowship Hall; at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Charles D. Martin Auditorium; at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd.

Performing under the direction of Maestro Chun-Ming Chen, the HSO features music by Johann Strauss Sr. and Jr. and Josef Strauss, opening their concert with the Radetzky March, continuing with five lively polkas, before slowing into intermission with the Emperors Waltz. Leading off the second half, the orchestra performs "A Christmas Festival" by Leroy Anderson, moving into the "Skaters Waltz" by Emile Waldteufel, followed by "O Magnum Mysterium" by Morten Lauridsen. The orchestra closes with "There's Christmas in the Air" by Carl Strommen and an audience Christmas Sing-Along, arranged by Bob Cerulli.

Tickets may be purchased at the door, online at or by calling 1-800-826-1997.


HSO is a 50-piece volunteer, nonprofit, community orchestra located in and serving the central Minnesota area of Brainerd, Little Falls and the surrounding rural communities. Musicians, from amateurs to professionals, come together once a week from all over the region to rehearse and perform three full-length orchestral music concerts each season in both Little Falls and Brainerd.

Special guest artists and conductors, local soloists and ensembles, area youth concerto winners and charming repertoire commentary all help to make each concert entertaining. The HSO also contributes its service to communities through music education programs, special events, and ticket giveaways. For more information about upcoming concerts or to get involved either as a player or HSO sponsor, email or call the HSO office.

Area students to perform in Concordia College concert

Several Brainerd area students will take part in the 89th annual Concordia College Christmas Concert.

The Concordia Christmas Concert is one of the best-known events in the Midwest, with thousands attending each year. The concerts are staged with lighting and a full-sized mural that will illuminate the theme, "Let Every Heart Awake and Sing."

Nearly 450 student musicians in The Concordia Choir, Chapel Choir, Cantabile, Männerchor, Bel Canto and The Concordia Orchestra will create a collection of Christmas music heard during the holiday season. This year's concert explores the theme of celebration and rejoicing in the splendor of God's creation.

The Moorhead concerts on Concordia's campus will be in the Memorial Auditorium: at 7 p.m. Dec. 4; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 5; and 2 p.m. Dec. 6. The musicians then travel to Minneapolis for concerts held at Orchestra Hall at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Dec. 10.

Area students performing are Allison Bergman, Troy Bialka and Amanda Randall, all of Baxter; Caled Christensen, David Jensen and Kacey Finch, all of Brainerd; and Janey Walquist, Little Falls.

Free variety show at AHS

AITKIN - The Aitkin Education Foundation will present their fourth annual variety show Saturday in the Aitkin High School auditorium. Partnering with the Fish House Parade activities on Friday, the Saturday event will feature returning Aitkin High School graduates and staff, along with current students and other volunteers to raise money for the foundation.

Local talent, including former Miss Aitkin and 2014 Miss Minnesota talent winner Emily Lundgren, will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday. Other individuals highlighting this year's talent will be Melanie (Anderson) Olson, class of 2000; Erin Bremner, class of 1992; Jack Gilbertson (retired business teacher/ athletic director) with his daughter, Randi Lind, class of 1999; and Marie Gordon, current teacher, Andrea DelZoppo, current teacher, Sampson Perrine, AHS senior and Caleb Curtis, AHS junior and David Curtis, AHS sophomore.

This year the event will also include a silent auction featuring donated artwork from current students and Julia Reak, AHS art teacher. Reak will be retiring at end of this school year and will donate pieces that she has created during her career as examples for students. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. to allow people to participate in the silent auction.

Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5 to the Aitkin Education Foundation. All proceeds will benefit the nonprofit whose mission is to enhance the quality of education in Aitkin schools.

Established in 2011 by a group of local volunteers, the founding donors of the Top 25 Club contributed the initial gifts needed to create an endowment with Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. This endowment is a permanently invested fund where only the earnings are used to make grants, ensuring the donors legacy and AEF's mission will be carried on far into the future.

So far the earnings from the endowment, supplemented by locally held funds raised through

previous variety shows, have been used to award classroom grants such as snowshoes for

Rippleside Elementary, reading materials for Mrs. Fountaine's sixth grade classroom, iPads and Kindle Fires with audio eBooks and a camera lens for the school newspaper.

To learn more about the Foundation to to or contact Jim Call, AEF board president.

Book-signing at Coco Moon

Author Jon M. Nelson of "Brightness From the Shadows," will appear for a book-signing, 1-3 p.m. Friday, Coco Moon Coffee Bar.

Nelson is a multiple award winning poet and songwriter.

"Brightness from the Shadows" is a collection of poetry. Passages in Nelson's book include: "We're all unique in our own way, But we're all human at the end of the day. Too many people seem to lose sight, That's why there's always a conflict or fight."

Nelson's tries to bring home the point we are all part of the human race. Thinking of the problems the world faces today, Nelson writes poems to address the issues and tries to make a difference with them.

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