Northland talent performing in Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ ‘The Prom’

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Whether you’ve seen shows at UMD, Zeitgeist, The Depot, or the NorShor Theater, you know that a lot of high caliber theatre takes place in The City of Duluth. That talent is often recognized by the performing arts community down in the Twin Cities Metro.

Performers who perform in Duluth theaters often times get the opportunity to perform in other well known theaters down in the cities. Like at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters, the largest dinner theater in the nation.

Recently Chanhassen opened ‘The Prom’ on their mainstage. The show is an LGBTQ+ focused musical that is fresh off Broadway and now has multiple Duluth performers in the show. You can find ticket information here.

Lussi Pearl, who is a young actor originally from Duluth, says that there are a lot of connections back to the Duluth at the dinner theater. “You find people from Duluth all over the place”, she says, “There are so many people in the show that are from there.”

Lussi is in the show’s ensemble but also is an understudy for the role of Emma, the show’s lead. Last Wednesday she went on as Emma and was over the moon as ‘The Prom’ is her first professional show.

“‘The Prom’ has honestly always been like a dream show for me because of the story and because of the message. But it wasn’t something that I was like, Oh, I’m going to do ‘The Prom’ at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters. So it’s definitely been a cool experience getting to do a show that I’ve that I’ve always loved”, she says.

Some of the behind the scenes team from the Chan are also have ties to Duluth. Andy Kust, from the musical theatre faculty at UMD, is the resident Music Director at the dinner theater and has been apart of the team since 2018. Hey says the theatrical ties between Duluth and the Twin Cities is stronger than people think.

“I think it’s it’s so remarkable that we in the Twin Cities are also a part of the same ecosystem theatrically as Duluth”, says Andy, “And not only do actors come down from Duluth and do shows here, but we have Twin Cities based actors that are traveling up and doing really first rate work at the NorShor Theater. And so to be able to share this community and to be able to draw audience interest from both places is so special. Because it is just a hop, skip, and a jump up the road.”

The rehearsal process at Chanhassen is also a little different what what we would see up in the theater spaces in Duluth. The cast and crew has three weeks of rehearsal and one week of tech.

Actor Shad Hanley, who is originally from Hermantown says that this schedule is a big change from how other theater companies conduct their rehearsals.

He says, “Up at the Playhouse, we had like three months of rehearsal? And here we get three weeks. So it’s a little bit of a whirlwind, but it just means you have to do all your homework long before you hit rehearsals.”

And for those cast in ‘The Prom’ and also the Chanhassen’s ‘Footloose’ they had to rehearse on top of performing in the show that they were already in.

UMD alumni Daysha Ramsey says, “We were coming right out of Footloose into what they call double duty… So [we] were doing two shows at once.”

‘The Prom’ is Daysha’s third show at Chanhassen after graduating in 2021 and performing in ‘The Music Man’ and ‘Footloose’. It is also her third show performing with Tommy Benson a longtime CDT performer and UMD Alumni.

After graduating in 2011, Tommy says he was persistent to perform at Chanhassen. And has been been consistently been performing in their shows every since he got lucky with his first role. “You know, I’ve been very lucky to have have jumped from show to show for some time now. And I’ve been very thankful and very honored to have that experience. So it’s kind of fun”, he says.

And the cast says they love running into other Northlanders at the theater space and would like to invite everyone up here to ‘The Prom.’