MOORHEAD-Trollwood Performing Arts School marks its 40th anniversary in 2018 and the star-maker is getting an early start on the celebrations.
Former performers gather for the Fourth Annual Alumni Holiday Showcase Wednesday night at Bluestem Center for the Arts. The entertainers will perform musical selections familiar to Trollwood audiences.
"We're hitting almost all, if not all, of the musicals as a tribute to all of the shows Trollwood has done over the years," says Sam Raun, one of the 20 actors scheduled to perform.
Without a set or orchestra, the production will be much simpler than the elaborate mainstage musicals. For the entertainers, its a chance to renew friendships with old castmates and meet fellow alum.
"It's fun reconnecting with friends, meeting new people and sharing that bond of what Trollwood is and what it meant to us," says Raun, who was at Trollwood from 2010 to '14, playing, among other rolls, Paulette in "Legally Blonde" and the Dragon in "Shrek". She's currently finishing a theater degree at University of Northwestern St. Paul and wants to continue acting.
At the alumni show she'll be featured in "Let's Hear it for the Boys" from "Footloose," "Anything Goes," as well as a duet with Dan Glaser in "Sue Me" from "Guys and Dolls".
For Lee Skunes, the show is an opportunity to get back into the theater community since returning to the area after studying at the Boston Conservatory.
He's currently a personal trainer, yoga teacher and reiki practitioner.
He played Hortensio in 2004's "Kiss Me Kate" and Trevor Graydon in 2007's "Thoroughly Modern Millie."
He'll be singing "Lonely Room" from "Oklahoma".
He and other alum credit Trollwood for showing them what a professional work environment is like.
Bailey (Haseltine) Krusen is still very much involved in theater. She teaches voice lessons out of her home and acting at Trollwood. She was recently stage manager for the Totally Trollwood musical and helped kids in the STAR (Students at Risk) program.
Still, she's probably best remembered at Trollwood for playing Addaperle in 2009's "The Wiz," the first production at Bluestem Center for the Arts, the current home of the Trollwood Performing Arts School.
"It was my senior year and it was the biggest role I played," she says. "The costumes were so fun. That was just super cool."
She'll be singing "Home" from "Beauty and the Beast" and doing a duet on "For Good," from "Wicked" with Ginny Glaser who starred in "The Wiz". She'll also sing "Put on Your Sunday Clothes," a nod to this year's mainstage musical, "Hello, Dolly!"
"There's this connecting string between all of us that have done Trollwood," says Crystal Cossette. "So even if you haven't done a show with someone 15 years older than you, you still feel like you know them because you share that love for Trollwood. It's so exciting."
A Trollwood student from 1996 to 2000, she spent her first two years on the costume crew, then danced tap in "42nd Street," was in the ensemble in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and played Sister in "Damn Yankees".
She's currently a member of the Theatre B ensemble and the Performing Arts Director for the Creative Plains Foundation.
She'll be performing "Battle Show Hymn" from "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," one of the shows she was on costume crew. She'll also sing Cosette's part in "One Day More" from "Les Miserables" and a solo in the finale, "Put on Your Sunday Clothes".
"They treated us like professionals. I went to college for theatre and it gave me such a good foundation of what to expect from the rehearsal process," she says. "They are the reason I decided to go into theater, because it was always such a positive experience doing all of the mainstage musicals and all of the classes. They pretty much set the course to being an actress."
That course may be carried on by her daughter, who has attended Trollwood shows to see her babysitter, Sarah Schulz, who starred in last summer's "Beauty and the Beast."
"It's a very welcoming atmosphere and that's something I think Trollwood is all about, whether it's from the student or audience perspective, there's a real sense of community there," Raun says. "That's the reason I come back even after not being a student there. It's the love that people have for the arts and other people."
If You Go
What: Fourth Annual Trollwood Alumni Holiday Showcase
When: 7 p.m., Wednesday
Where: Trollwood Performing Arts School at Bluestem Center for the Arts 801 50th Ave. S., Moorhead
Info: Free and open to the public, with a free-will offering for Trollwood's student scholarship fund. Although free, a ticket will be required as space is limited. www.trollwood.org, (218) 477-6500.