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Stage West takes the summer stage

Performances are set throughout the summer and West Fargo

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Stage West, an artistic company, produced the musical "Rock of Ages" at the Essentia Health Plaza the Lights in July.
Wendy Reuer / Pioneer
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WEST FARGO — West Fargo's own culture and production company, Stage West, is ramping up for a full summer schedule of productions ranging from big to small stages.

Tickets are currently on sale for two Stage West musicals: "Don’t Hug Me" and "Legally Blonde."

Six performances are planned for each show with "Don’t Hug Me" performing June 22-27 at the POW/MIA Plaza in downtown West Fargo and "Legally Blonde" performing July 29-31 and Aug. 2-4 at the Essentia Health Plaza at The Lights.

According to Stage West Artistic Director Adam Pankow, the two shows fit into a summer vibe nicely.

"Both shows were chosen for the entertainment factor and for bringing something different to audiences at different times this summer," Pankow said. "Both shows have great heart and a conflict at the center of the plot but are out for laughs. They are the kind of shows perfect for an evening outside enjoying a live performance."

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"Don’t Hug Me" is an original musical written by Edina, Minnesota, natives and brothers Phil and Paul Olson. It has been described as “Fargo meets The Music Man (without the blood or the trombones).” The show is a humorous ode to all things Midwestern.

Stage West’s production is directed and choreographed by famed Fargoan Patrick Kasper. The show features a five-person cast.

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Stage West offered three nights of a murder mystery show at the Double Tree Inn, March 9-11, 2022.
Special to the Pioneer/Mike Amundson

"Don't Hug Me" is set in fictional Bunyan Bay, near Ely, Minnesota. On the coldest day of the year, a slick karaoke salesman arrives at the town bar and turns the locals' lives upside down. Quirky characters express their humorous, homespun desires in over-the-top songs such as “My Smorgasbord of Love,” “I’m a Walleye Woman in a Crappie Town” and “Upside Down in My Pickup Truck.”

Most are familiar with the Legally Blonde production, also directed by Pankow, that will paint the The Lights pink for the summer. The fun, award-winning musical is based on the movie with Stage West production featuring a 28-person cast.

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Josh Duhamel, center, poses for a picture with the Stage West cast and crew during Rock of Ages opening night, Friday, July 24. Special to the Pioneer

In the musical, the show’s main character, Elle Woods, appears to have it all. However, her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her so he can attend Harvard Law.

Determined to get him back, Elle ingeniously charms her way into the prestigious law school. While there, she struggles with peers, professors and her ex. With the support of some new friends, though, Elle quickly realizes her potential and sets out to prove herself to the world.

Tickets for "Don’t Hug Me" and "Legally Blonde" are available at westfargoevents.com or by calling 701-532-1793. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate beginning one hour before performances.

Both shows offer VIP, reserved and general admission seating options.

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The end of the two performances won't mark the last of Stage West's appearances this year.

"We still have some special events tentatively planned for summer, yet to be announced, but our energies are concentrated on these two projects at the moment," Pankow said. "Our first full season will wrap up with another Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre in October at the Speedway Events Center and the show "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" this December at Bonazaville's Dawson Hall."

Stage West is the artistic producing arm of the nonprofit West Fargo Events. West Fargo Events hosts and manages the Essentia Health Plaza at the Lights, POW/MIA Plaza on northern Sheyenne and the West Fargo Sports Arena, which is owned by West Fargo Public Schools.

Stage West was founded in 2021 to celebrate local artists and arts patrons through live performance, education and cultural experiences that serve and connect the West Fargo.

"As we continue to establish our new group in the community, we want to bring our programming to all corners of the city while supporting our community partners. In March, we were at the DoubleTree; in May, at Thunder Coffee; this summer at POW/MIA and The Lights; and then upcoming at Speedway Events Center and Bonazaville," Pankow said. "Going forward, we plan to do the same as planning begins for the 2023 season. Following our group to different venues may take some extra effort, but we think the experiences we are creating are worth it."

Readers can reach West Fargo editor Wendy Reuer at wreuer@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5530 . Follow her on Twitter @ForumWendy .

Related Topics: WEST FARGOTHEATER
As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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