The Star Tribune called it “a ripping success.” Pioneer Press said it “checks all the right boxes and more than fits the bill.” A year and half ago, having seen 1 hour of a rough draft, Cherry and Spoon pronounced “almost every song and scene is terrific.” These are high praises for the History Theatre’s Glensheen, but audiences are also showering the the company with that other, most tangible praise: buying tickets and putting butts in seats.
For those not familiar with Minnesota folklore, Duluth features a sterling house museum-mansion called the Glensheen Historic Estate. The mansion is gorgeous and largely decorated just the way it was in 1908, when construction finished, and is one of the must-see stops on a trip to Duluth. It was also the site of an infamous murder case that still made headlines in 2008 and 2011. Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher and composer-lyricist Chan Poling decided to turn this into a murder musical, and the rest is, well, History (Theatre).
For a show that opened on October 3rd, Glensheen didn’t take very long to start causing the types of problems that theatres love to have. As show after show sold out in the three-week run, the History Theatre cancelled the cast & crew’s time off and added a pair of matinees. This worked about as well at meeting demand as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic improved survival; a few days later, the company added two more in response to the still-growing demand.
Now, prospective patrons can still see Glensheen – but only if they act fast. Of the two performances with seats available (the last two performances to be added, actually), one had just 6 seats available (5 handicapped) and the other just 7 (2 handicapped) at press time.
How do the folks at the History Theatre feel about this? “Glensheen has been a box office smash,” Artistic Director Ron Peluso stated. “…it’s been great.” The only downside seems to be that the company can’t extend the production any further than it already has. Not bad for murder, eh?
Basil was named one of Musical America's 30 Professionals of the Year in 2017.
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