The North Star

In collaboration with Escalate Dance
Jan. 14 - Feb. 13, 2022 • All Ages

Virtual Program


Chart a meaningful path through the constellations. 

Based on the book THE NORTH STAR © 2009 by Peter H. Reynolds 
Originally published by Candlewick Press 
Used with permission of Pippin Properties, Inc. 
Script and Lyrics by Jennifer Kirkeby
Music by James Lekatz 

Directed by Sandy Boren-Barrett & Ann Marie Omeish
ALL AGES • WORLD PREMIERE!  
A gentle coming-of-age fable featuring a young person embarking on the journey of a lifetime is filled with self-determination, creativity, and hope. This dance inspired piece featuring a musical score, dialogue, and singing is our ninth collaboration with Escalate Dance.
 
HEALTH & SAFETY POLICIES & PROCEDURES
SCHEDULE CHANGES & BUILDING UPDATES
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.
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LETTER FROM OUR ARTISTIC DIRECTOR


Sandy Boren-Barrett

 

“If you are lost in a forest at night, you can follow the North Star to find your way out. You follow the North Star, but your goal is to get back home; it’s not to arrive at the North Star.”

 

How many times over the course of the past couple years have we felt more than a little lost? Countless times, but along the way the “North Star” for me has of course been my family, but also the young people who I have had the opportunity to see and be with at Stages Theatre Company. They always seem to show me the way, to remind me why we do ALL we do.

As we created The North Star over two years ago now, it was always about the journey never the destination. It was about reminding and reinforcing for young people that they have a journey all their own and unlike any other. Along the way, there are people who will distract or make you think they know what your journey should be, or make you feel less than you should. There will also be those that Fred Rogers so eloquently called “the Helpers”. You don’t always recognize them right away, but over time you realize how impactful they have been on your life.

I have so many people that have supported me, my work, my family over the years. My co- director and Escalate Dance owner, Ann Marie Omeish has been one of those North Stars, in the art we create, the young people who learn from her and the generosity she shares. When I feel lost, she reminds me of who I am, and all I can be, that is not just a North Star, that is a friend.

I hope you take the time to talk about this show with your young people, to ask them questions about who helps them grow, and learn and feel loved. We all navigate through a dark forest sometimes, but it is so important to look forward, move off the path sometimes, and follow our own star.

Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Enjoy the show.

 

SANDY BOREN-BARRETT
Director &  Artistic Director

 

 
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CAST


in alphabetical order

MOSQUITO - Kenza Ahmed
CAT - Marie Chouinard
TREE DANCER / NORTH STAR DANCER - Anne Marie Cline
TREE DANCER / NORTH STAR DANCER - Maggie Cronan
TREE DANCER / NORTH STAR DANCER - Allie Foster
NORTH STAR SOLOIST & TREE DANCER - Abby Horter
OAK LEAF DANCER - Annaliese Leab
RABBITT - Jacob Marckel
SIGN DANCER - Elinor Mulhern
MOSQUITO - Aida Patrick
BIRD - Yasemin Pillay
THE CHILD - Alice Pinney
SIGN DANCER - Eva Poppe
MOSQUITO - Finley Ring
OAKLEAF DANCER - Kaley Ruotsinoja
OAKLEAF SOLOIST - Cecilia Samadani
OAKLEAF DANCER - Mira Samadani
MOSQUITO - Paloma Samadani
SIGN DANCER - Ella Schumacher
SIGN DANCER - Adrienne Shurts
OAK LEAF DANCER - Elizabeth Shurts
FROG - Savannah Noelle Switzer
MOSQUITO - Cecelia Williams
SIGN DANCER - Evie Wright

 

 

 

CREATIVE & CREW


ARTISTIC DIRECTOR STC & DIRECTOR - Sandy Boren-Barrett
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR ESCALATE & DIRECTOR - Ann Marie Omeish
CHOREOGRAPHERS - Halle Audette, Katie Barron & Anna Esposito
MUSIC DIRECTOR - Sarah Hohenstein Burk
SET DESIGNER - Tiffany Fier
PROPS DESIGNER - Kim Ford
SOUND DESIGNER - Gretchen Katt
COMPOSER & SEQUENCING - James Lekatz
RESIDENT COSTUMER - Christa Ludwig
LIGHTING DESIGNER - Grant E. Merges
MUSIC MIX - Matt Ouren
COSTUME & MAKE UP DESIGNER - Stacey Palmer
PRODUCTION MANAGER - Melanie Salmon-Peterson
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR - Trevor Zapiecki

STAGE MANAGER - Caroline van Vliet
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER – Joya Horne
SOUNDBOARD OPERATOR – David Gamache
LIGHT BOARD OPERATORS – Mason Horter & Isabella Totin

PAINTERS – Cinde Ashley
MASTER ELECTRICIAN – Trevor Zapiecki
ELECTRICIANS – Lu Chen, Karin Olson, Mike Lee
STITCHERS – Amanda Todd and Shannon Stewart
SHOP VOLUNTEERS – Scott Brown, Warren Glidden, Yvonne Ring, Marianne Wolf, and Nancy Johnson
COSTUME VOLUNTEERS – Russell Malmsten, Vanessa Apira, Susie Campbell

The North Star – Digital Program – Stages Theatre Company

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ABOUT THE ARTISTS


 

CAST BIOS


Kenza Ahmed

 

Kenza Ahmed 

she/her 

(MOSQUITO) 

Kenza is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She has also performed in The Nutcracker produced by Ashley Ballet Arts, her dance studio, for the past two years. Kenza is a third grader at Minnetonka Groveland Elementary and has been part of the Stages Theatre Education Programming for the last few sessions and loves being a storyteller. "A special thanks to my mom and dad and little brother, Khalil, for appreciating my stories."

 

Marie Chouinard

 

Marie Chouinard 

she/her  

(CAT)  

Marie is returning to Stages Theatre for her second production. Previous credits include The Dot. She has also participated in Stages in the Community at Basswood Elementary in Alice in Wonderland, Madagascar, and The Lion King. She is a seventh-grader at Maple Grove Middle School and takes dance at Escalate Dance and Theatre Studio.  "I’d like to thank my parents Amy and Paul Chouinard for supporting me along my journey!" 

 

Anne Marie Cline

 

Anne Marie Cline 

she/her 

(TREE DANCER/NORTH STAR DANCER) 

 

Anne Marie is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She is an eighth grader from the Twin Cities. Her favorite class in school is English and her favorite children’s book is We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems. Anne Marie loves meeting new people, reading, dancing, and spending time with her family and friends 

 

Maggie Cronan

 

Maggie Cronan 

she/her  

(TREE DANCER/NORTH STAR DANCER) 

 

Maggie is returning to Stages Theater for her third production. Previous credits The Dot and Owl Moon. She is an eighth grader at St. Vincent de Paul. Her favorite childhood book is Go Dog Go. "Thanks to my mom and dad for supporting me."

 

 

Abigail Horter

 

Abby Horter 

she/her  

(NORTH STAR SOLOIST & TREE DANCER) 

 

Abby is returning for her fourth production at Stages! Previous credits include The Dot, Owl Moon, and The Nightingale. Abby is in the eleventh grade in Prior Lake. She loves participating in theatre because of the opportunity to meet new people and experience new things. "I would like to thank my dance teacher, Dixie, and my parents for helping me become who I am today." 

 

Allie Foster

 

Allie Foster 

she/her  

(TREE DANCER/NORTH STAR DANCER) 

 

Allie is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! Allie has performed in multiple productions at St. Louis Park Middle School, including a lead role in Back to the 80's and is in the seventh grade. Allie has been dancing since she was 4, is on the competition dance team at Escalate Dance, and a member of Keane Sense of Rhythm's Youth Tap Ensemble. She has also appeared on camera in two commercials, a horror film, and on The History Channel. Special thanks to her family and friends for all their support. 

 

Annaliese Leab

 

Annaliese Leab 

she/her  

(OAK LEAF DANCER) 

 

Annie is excited to return to Stages in her third production. Previous credits include Owl Moon and The Dot. She has danced for 9 years at Escalate Dance and Theatre Studio and is in the 7th grade. Annie loves to dance, act, and sing, and enjoys inspiring people through her performances. Annie would like to give special thanks to her family, friends, and teachers for their support! She is dedicating this show to her step-father, Bryan Byrd, who passed away at the end of October. 

 

Jacob Marckel

 

Jacob Marckel 

he/him 

(RABBITT)  

 

Jacob returns to Stages Theatre Company for his second production. Previous credits include Iron Hearted Violet. Jacob is a seventh grader at St. Louis Park Middle School. He enjoys being part of the Stages community and loves being around people that express themselves through theatre. He also plays the oboe, viola, and piano.  "The world without art is just eh." 

 

Elinor Mulhern

 

Elinor Mulhern 

she/her  

(SIGN DANCER) 

 

Elinor is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She recently moved to Minnesota and has performed previously with B.E.A.T Children’s Theatre in Bend Oregon. She is am currently studying Korean, learning how to play the violin, and used to be a competitive dancer.  "F.E.A.R has two meanings, forget everything and run or face everything and rise. The choice is yours." - Kim Namjoon 

 

Aida Patrick

 

Aida Patrick 

she/her  

(MOSQUITO) 

 

Aida is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She has also performed with the Eden Prairie Players. She is a fifth grader at Prairie View and loves animals. When she is not acting, she practices gymnastics and building things! She would like to thank her mom for her support. 

 

Yasemin Lara Pillay

 

Yasemin Pillay 

she/her  

(BIRD) 

 

Yasemin is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She is in the eighth grade and has performed in many productions at the St. Louis Park Middle School. She also plays volleyball for Club 43 and at school and is part of the mock trial team. "I'd like to give a huge thanks to my parents who have sacrificed so much for me and always being there for me, my family who supports me from miles away, to my friends for always supporting me, to all my grandparents and to my grandfather who always inspired me and made me smile."
 

 

Alice Pinney

 

Alice Pinney  

She/her   

(THE CHILD)  

 

Alice is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She has also performed with Morningside Theatre Company in Edina. Alice is excited to be working at a new theater and meeting new people involved in the production. She is a sixth grader who loves horseback riding and dancing. "A special thanks to my friends and family for being so supportive." 

 

 

Eva Poppe

 

Eva Poppe 

she/her  

(SIGN DANCER/CLOUD DANCER) 

 

Eva is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She has also appeared in productions with Yellow Tree Theatre and various school musicals and plays including Peter Pan. She is in the eighth grade and loves competitive dance. Eva would like to thank her family for their support! 

 

Finley Ring

 

Finley Ring 

she/her  

(MOSQUITO) 

 

Finley is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She is a fifth grader at Clear Springs Elementary and is excited to try something new. She loves meeting new people and learning all the new dances. "Dancers don't need wings to fly." 

 

Kaley Ruotsinoja

 

Kaley Ruotsinoja 

she/her  

(OAKLEAF DANCER) 

 

Kaley is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She is a seventh grader at Hidden Oaks Middle School. After watching numerous shows at Stages Theatre Company over the years, she is excited to now be part of one! She enjoys many different forms of dance and hanging out with friends. Kaley would like to thank her dance teachers for encouraging her to do this show and family for their support.  

 

Cecilia Samadani

 

Cecilia Samadani 

she/her  

(OAKLEAF SOLOIST) 

 

Ceci is returning to Stages in her fourth production. Previous credits include Peace 4 the Ages, The Dot, and Owl Moon. She is enjoying her 12th and final year at Escalate where she is on the competition dance team. A senior, Ceci enjoys playing cello, writing, and art. After graduating, she plans to pursue a degree in environmental science and English. She is grateful to her parents, Ann Marie, Sandy, and her dance teachers Tammi, Katie, Anna, Lauren, and Sara for their support.   

 

Mira Samadani

 

Mira Samadani 

she/her  

(OAKLEAF DANCER) 

 

Mira is excited to be in her third show at Stages. Previous credits include The Dot and Owl Moon. She also ran the light board for The Nightingale. Mira is a ninth grader at Osseo Senior High and has been on Escalate's competition dance team for nine years. She enjoys Pointe, ballet, lyrical, tap, and contemporary dance styles. When not dancing, Mira enjoys clay sculpting and origami. She thanks Sandy, Ann Marie, and her dance teachers Tammi, Katie, Anna, and Lauren.  

 

Paloma Samadani

 

Paloma Samadani 

she/her  

(MOSQUITO) 

 

Paloma is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut!  She has also performed in Mary Poppins with Cross Community Players. She is a fifth grader at Elm Creek Elementary and has participated in three musicals through Stage’s Education Outreach at school. She has been a part of Escalate's competition dance team for five years. Paloma loves soccer, art, and is also a taekwondo black belt. She thanks her family, Ann Marie, Sandy, and her dance teachers--Tammi, Anna, Katie, Susie, and Lauren. 

 

Ella Schumacher

 

Ella Schumacher 

she/her  

(SIGN DANCER) 

 

Ella is excited to be back for her second production here at Stages Theatre Company. Previous credits include Down on the Farm. She is an 8th grader at Central Middle School in Eden Prairie. She has also performed with Eden Prairie Players and Central Middle School. Special talents include competitive dancing, playing the viola, and being a self-proclaimed Disney expert. “Special thanks to my parents and my sister for supporting me." 

 

Addy Shurts

 

Adrienne Shurts 

she/her  

(SIGN DANCER) 

 

Adrienne is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She is a seventh grader at Aspen Academy who loves performing onstage and making new friends in the cast. She also enjoys playing soccer and the cello, painting a sunset, and being outside enjoying the great outdoors. Adrienne is excited to watch the whole play come together to create an amazing showpiece. 

 

Ellie Shurts

 

Elizabeth Shurts 

she/her  

(OAK LEAF DANCER) 

 

Elizabeth is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She is a freshman in Prior Lake who loves to read, dance, and bake. She is excited about the opportunity to perform and see how the show comes together to tell this story. Her favorite children’s book is Corduroy. One of her favorite quotes is "It always seems impossible until it's done." - Nelson Mandela 

 

Savannah Switzer

 

Savannah Noelle Switzer  

she/her   

(FROG)  

 

Savannah is returning for her fifth production at Stages Theatre Company! Previous credits include Down on the Farm, Twas the Night, On the Railroad, and Swimmy. She is a tenth grader at St. Paul Academy who has also performed with Stepping Stone, Chaska Valley Family Theatre, and Providence Academy. She enjoys singing, dancing, reading, writing, and playing with her sisters. "I want to thank all my family and friends for all their support."  

 

Cecelia Williams

 

Cecelia Williams 

she/her  

(MOSQUITO) 

 

Cecelia is making her Stages Theatre Company Debut! She is a fifth grader at Holy Name of Jesus. Cecelia is excited to have this opportunity to perform for a variety of audiences and especially children across the Metro. She has been in the audience at Stages since she was 3 years old, and she excited to now be on stage. She loves to perform for family, friends and anyone who might need to smile! 

 

Evie Wright

 

Evie Wright 

she/her 

(SIGN DANCER) 

 

Evie is excited to be back at Stages Theatre Company for her third production. Previous credits include Owl Moon and The Dot. When not dancing at Escalate Studio, she can be found at first base on her fast pitch softball team, defending the goal on the soccer field, reading books upon books, or speaking Spanish at the immersion school she attends. Evie would like to thank Katie for introducing and encouraging dance, and her family for the support during this and previous performances. 

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CREATIVE TEAM BIOS


SANDY BOREN-BARRETTSANDY BOREN-BARRETT (Co-Director and Artistic Director of Stages Theatre Company)
Sandy Boren-Barrett has been with Stages Theatre Company (STC) since 1990, allowing her to pursue her passion for theatre production and education, along with community building theatre serving young audiences. During her time in leadership STC has been awarded National recognition with the 2017 Harold Oaks Award for Innovative Contributions to the Field of Theatre for Young Audiences, as well as the 2018 – 50/50 Applause Award for promoting gender equity with playwrights. STC’s 2019-2020 season selection was highlighted in TYA Today Magazine as an example of “a promising increase in representation specifically in works that feature the stories of contemporary young people of color”. Sandy led an international performance tour and artistic exchange with “the egg Theatre, the Young Peoples Theatre of Theatre Royal” in Bath England. Collaboration is at the core of her work, and as an accomplished director has directed over 75 productions at STC which include many new works, dance-inspired productions, and world premieres. She directed the local premier, mainstage production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the musical which remains the highest attended production at Stages Theatre Company. Sandy remains on the Executive Committee, as former chair of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) and last spring worked with Racially Conscious Collaboration (RCC) to gain her certification in racial equity organizational leadership.

ANN MARIE OMEISHANN MARIE OMEISH (Co-Director and Artistic Director of Escalate Dance)
Ann Marie Omeish is the owner and director of Escalate Dance and Theatre Studio. She has taught and choreographed dance and theater for the past thirty years in many venues throughout the region. After receiving a B.A. in Dance from Gustavus Adolphus, Ann Marie went on to incorporate theater in her experience, performing in and choreographing various productions including shows at Stages Theatre, Orchestra Hall, Lyric Arts and Normandale College. Ann Marie's passion for dance and theater led her to the decision to open her studio in the fall of 2004. She absolutely loves doing the dance collaboration with Stages Theatre every year!

Peter H. ReynoldsPETER H. REYNOLDS (Book Author)
Peter H. Reynolds is the award-winning author and illustrator of The North Star, The Dot, and Ish. He also illustrated the bestselling Someday by Alison McGhee, Tess's Treeby Jess M. Brallier, and the bestselling Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald. Peter and his twin brother, Paul (now his business partner), were born in Canada but moved to a Massachusetts suburb when they were 3 years old. They made their first foray into publishing at the age of 7, when they began producing their own newspapers and comic books on their father’s photocopier. An incessant doodler since childhood, Peter credits his unique brand of humor and his love for the absurd to growing up with “very eccentric British parents” who were fond of watching Monty Python. “It was not a normal house,” he recalls. From his parents he also inherited an appreciation for tea, which he uses both as a beverage and an art medium. Peter is the president and creative director of FableVision Studios in Watertown, Massachusetts, where he produces award-winning children’s broadcast programming, educational videos, and multimedia applications, Peter was recently honored by Verizon as Literacy Leader of the Year (USA). The author-illustrator lives with his family in Dedham, Massachusetts.

Jennifer KirkebyJENNIFER KIRKEBY (Playwright & Lyricist)
The North Star” by Peter Reynolds marks the 23rd play that Jennifer Kirkeby has written for Stages Theatre Company. Other plays she and James LeKatz adapted for the stage include: “The Velveteen Rabbit”, “Snow Queen”, and “The Dot”, also by Peter Reynolds. A former dancer, Kirkeby enjoys creating pieces with movement and music. She is also a recreation artist who has been featured in Vogue magazine. Visit her Instagram account: @jenniferkirkeby The North Star” by Peter Reynolds marks the 23rd play that Jennifer Kirkeby has written for Stages Theatre Company. Other plays she and James LeKatz adapted for the stage include: “The Velveteen Rabbit”, “Snow Queen”, and “The Dot”, also by Peter Reynolds. A former dancer, Kirkeby enjoys creating pieces with movement and music. She is also a recreation artist who has been featured in Vogue magazine. Visit her Instagram account: @jenniferkirkeby

James LekatzJAMES LEKATZ (Composer)
James Lekatz is a composer, movement director, and arts educator in the Twin Cities. He was on staff at Stages Theatre Company for 5 years as an Education Associate, teaching many workshops, residencies, as well as the CAST program. He has composed and music directed many productions at Stages. He was the Artistic Associate of Performing Arts at Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts for 4 years, directing, acting, and programming work for the performing arts department. He has taught movement and movement directed productions at Augsburg College. Currently, he is a freelance composer, piano teacher, and aerial instructor. James firmly believes in giving young people a positive experience in the arts, as they will be the next generation of arts practitioners and arts patrons.

ABOUT STAGES THEATRE COMPANY


Stages Theatre Company was founded in 1984 and has since grown to become the second-largest nonprofit theatre for young audiences in Minnesota. We believe that the arts are fundamental to child development and overall quality of life, and that every individual, regardless of economic circumstances, geography, or ability, should be able to enjoy the joy, wonder, and benefits of participation in the theatre arts.

OUR MISSION


Stages Theatre Company is committed to the enrichment and education of children and youth in a professional theatre environment that stimulates artistic excellence and personal growth.

INCLUSION STATEMENT


Stages Theatre Company is dedicated to creating a space where diverse opinions, courageous dialogue, and local, national, and international community engagement is not only valued, but vital to our shared artistic and educational success. We make this pledge in the hope of curating a welcome home for all.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT


Stages Theatre Company acknowledges with respect and gratitude that the land on which we live and work is the unceded, traditional sovereign land of the Wahpekute and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.

We make this acknowledgment as a first step in taking responsibility to critically examine colonial histories and their implications on our day-to-day lives. We are committed to learning from the past and honoring the traditional custodians of this land.

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STAGES THEATRE COMPANY STAFF


BOARD OF DIRECTORS


Dave Klein, Chair
Lisa Kline, Vice Chair
Dave Mahler, Treasurer
Lisa Beth Lentini, Secretary

Stephanie Betz
Betsy Butwin
Lisa Collins
Tara Cruz
Karen Winter Dekker
Barry Gersick
Tenisha Hollie
Mimi Keating
Christine Kwiat
Dimitrios Lalos
Janet Langner
Mauricio Loria
Eric Lucas
Tom Matchinsky
Victoria Mogilevsky
Christina Mosakowski
Sue Moulder
Linda Moy
Meighan O’Reardon
Elizabeth Plaetz Lori
Kathy Scheving
Beth Theobald
Nicole Truso
Jennifer Q. Williams
Lisa Zell

Advisory Board

Peggy Abram
Nance Alexander
Kevin Bennett
Laura Bishop
Nancy Carlson
Otis Courtney
Audrey Dammer
R. Brooks Gekler
Marianne Norris
Dan O’Brien
Kristin Parrish
Bruce Rowan
Laura Sandall
Judy Schumeister
Buffy Sedlachek
Jackie Sinjem

SPONSORS, DONORS & GIFTS

Stages Theatre Company (STC) was founded in 1984 and has since grown to become one of the largest professional theatres for young audiences in the country.

STC serves nearly 150,000 youth (ages 2-17) and family members annually through high-quality opportunities on stage, backstage, in the audience, and in the classroom. We engage diverse youth from the community with themes relevant to their lives and involve them in creating inspiring works featuring meaningful roles for youth.

We believe that the arts are fundamental to child development and overall quality of life, and every individual, regardless of economic circumstances, geography, or ability, should have the opportunity to experience the joy, wonder, and benefits of participation in the theatre arts.

Our contributors play an important role in ensuring our work is accessible to all youth in our community, regardless of income or ability. Donations help us keep our ticket prices affordable and provide free and reduced-priced opportunities for over 15,000 youth to experience the magic of live theatre and benefits that theatre arts education can provide.

Stages Theatre Company is grateful for the support provided by the following individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies during the past 12 months.