Northland's Very Own: Duluth Playhouse

By KBJR News 1

December 3, 2010 Updated Dec 3, 2010 at 8:45 AM CDT

(Duluth, MN) The Duluth Playhouse has been entertaining people for almost 100 years.

It all started in 1914, when a group of women decided they wanted to start a theater of a different sort.

"What was really unique about it is their idea was to create what we now call a community theater but they didn't really exist back then," says Playhouse Executive Director Christine Gradlseitz.

The Duluth effort started a trend across the nation.

Initially called "Little Theater" it later became known as "Community Theater."

The concept allowed more people to get involved in the arts.

"It's great because community theater is so much different than professional theater in that anyone can be a part of it and when you are rehearsing for a show and you're acting with people on the stage you have this camaraderie and you kind of become this family," says Playhouse actress Jen Bergum.

The Playhouse has continued to grow and now, also offers a variety of classes and programs, including its children's theater, dance and vocal study, and an outreach program for children with autism.

"Which is an education format designed for children who are on the autism spectrum that combines traditional speech and language methodologies with theater arts training," says Playhouse Educational Director Kate Horvath.

The Playhouse also opened a satellite theater named the Playground in the Technology Village, which serves as a free venue for up and coming artists.

"It's a great opportunity for new talent maybe a dance group, music group, film group can find a home and do all of their hard work," says Horvath.

The Duluth Playhouse is the oldest Community Theater in Minnesota and plans to continue to be an open door to the arts in Duluth.

"The Playhouse plays a vital role in the Northland. We are an important part of the cultural fabric for a strong and healthy community," says Gradlseitz.

The Playhouse is currently performing "White Christmas."