In the short time Amber Rae Bernhardt has been Executive Director of Dakota Stage, LTD., she has literally jump started the organization by adding comedy, a film series, acting classes and more. Her part time Artistic Director, Brian Brady, recently retired and Bernhardt felt it was time to bring on a full time person to help her take Dakota Stage to the next level.
A nation-wide search found Christopher Zinovitch in Seattle, Washington, and he recently arrived with no pre-conceived notions about what can be done in this community. “He believes we can get new, and more, talent, sponsors, actors, directors and designers,” said Bernhardt. “We are going to challenge our artists and our audiences. I am feeling renewed and energized.”
Shade Three Players The Shade Tree Players Children’s Theatre program is kicking off summer with an exciting line up of shows. Children from the ages of 7 – 18 are welcome to participate, and Bernhardt talked about the program: “Every child that auditions gets to be in the show. We believe the experience is so important. We want to teach them to become a confident team player in their daily lives. Our job isn’t to teach them to become actors. They will learn things like time management and organizational and people skills.
“They can also participate in the technical side of the program, backstage and in the booth. Christopher has big plans to incorporate that into the actual production work. You can be a board operator, designer or part of the stage crew and still be part of the big production process. It will offer a ton more opportunities for the public – people who have always wanted to be involved but they are not actors.”
The Shade Tree Traveling Troupe will offer shows in Bismarck, Mandan and Lincoln and are always free. They are also offering a family membership for all of the shows this summer – only $100 for a family of four. There will be two musicals and five plays to enjoy.
Dakota Stage Dakota Stage is housed in the former Capitol Theater building, constructed in 1905. It has 175 seats, and if they outgrow it, they will add another night to the production schedule, not entertain the idea of moving out. “We want this to be our space. It provides an intimate, dramatic theatre experience,” said Bernhardt. “As a matter of fact, Christopher has talked about adding a curtain to shorten the house to 50 seats so the audience is forced to be closer, influencing their experience.”
Bernhardt and Zinovitch have planned a new season of productions that pushes the envelope and raises the bar, bringing bigger and better productions to the community. The fall season kicks off with Boeing Boeing, which premieres October 9th.
With their current schedule, only 72 days in the theatre are dark. “We are doing impossible amounts of works because we love entertainment and we love art,” she said. The growth of downtown has helped raise awareness of Dakota Stage, just as they have helped bring people downtown over the years. The venue is also available for rent, perfect for weddings and social gatherings.
Shade Tree Players
Lady Pirates of Captain Bree (musical) May 27 – June 22 Young Jane Eyre June 3 – June 29 Lion and Mouse Stories June 16 – July 13 The Princess Who Had No Name June 23 – July 20 Flapper (musical) June 30 – July 27 Little Red Robin Hood July 14 – August 10 Traveling Troupe June 30 – August 9