Bill Sorensen - Wild West Prestidigitator
It started as a fun way to spend a few weekends in Medora. Now, thirty one years later, Bill Sorensen has found himself with a couple thousand shows under his belt as the producer of the 4M Revue. “It has been a labor of love”, Sorensen says, “We have had the opportunity to watch our daughters grow up in this special place. We didn’t expect to be doing it this long nor did we anticipate the overwhelming support that we have received from hundreds of thousands of Medora visitors.” It is no surprise that Sorensen would be a variety performer given the rest of his life has plenty of variety. He served for 12 years as the mayor of Bismarck. Prior to that he served two terms as a state legislator and two terms as a Bismarck City Commissioner. Bill has been involved in starting many businesses, most of them related to the computer and telephone fields. Bill co-founded Extended America with Admiral Bill Owens and former ND Governor, Ed Schafer. Since the sale of that company to Sprint, Bill has remained involved in rural broadband and rural business development. Bill enjoyed his experience as manager of 3-time world champion boxer, Virgil Hill. During that time Hill became one of the most successful world champions in the history of the sport and was recently voted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. The Dakota Wizards were another successful sport venture founded by Sorensen. The Wizards began as a team in the IBA, a league Co-founded by Sorensen, and then moved up into the CBA and finally the NBA Development League. Bill’s love of magic has given him the opportunity to perform at Magic conventions around the country. In addition, Bill has also been a speaker/entertainer at over two thousand corporate events around the country and internationally. Bill’s favorite role is being “dad” to Medora, Tana, Jenna and Tricia and “Grandpa “ to his four grandchildren.
Emily Walter - Queen of the West
A native of Racine, Wisconsin, Emily earned a Master’s degree in Acting from Mankato State University in 1995. Since then she has traveled almost constantly. Her career has literally taken her from pole to pole and many times around the world but she is always at home in Medora. It is one of her favorite places on earth. Emily is very excited to return as host of the 2014 edition of the Medora Musical. Originally a Burning Hills Singer from ‘93-’95, Emily’s performance in Medora lead to her being named one of the select entertainers approved to portray the legendary Patsy Cline by the Patsy Cline Estate. Emily has spent her career playing roles ranging from Shakespeare to Annie Oakley. She recently toured, "Church Basement Ladies" with William Christopher (Father Mulcahy of M.A.S.H). Sergeant Emily Walter was the lead vocalist with the U.S. Air Force SAC Band, and is a Gulf War Veteran. She has worked with such stars as Bob Hope, Lee Greenwood and John Denver. She divides her professional time between land and sea, traveling the globe extensively as a Guest Entertainer with select cruise lines. Recently Emily has spent the winter months on Mexico’s Caribbean coast where she has become an accomplished scuba diver and has developed a particular affinity for the world’s sea turtles. You can find her latest CD “Falling in Love Again and Again” and her signature "Queen of the West" Tiara Cowboy hats in the TRMF gift shops! Be sure to visit Emily’s web site at www.EmilyWalter.com
Originally from Strawberry Plains, TN, Candice is excited to be returning to The Greatest Show in the West! Previously, she has been seen in Pigeon Forge, TN singing and dancing in several theaters in the area including The Smoky Mountain Opry, The Black Bear Jamboree Dinner Theatre, and Dolly Parton's theme park, Dollywood. Candice has traveled abroad as a featured singer on Norwegian Cruise Lines, and toured the US two times for Troupe America on National Tours of Miracle on 34th Street, and Ring of Fire. Many thanks to StageWest Entertainment, and much love to her always supportive family, and Chetty. Yeehaw!
Originally from St.Anthony,MN, Chet is overjoyed to be back in the great state of North Dakota! For the past few years he has called the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee his home. While there, he has been seen at Dolly Parton's theme park, Dollywood. Credits there Include Dreamland Drive In, Babes in Toyland and Twas the night before Christmas. Some of his more recent roles include "Judge Harper" in the National Tour of Miracle on 34th St and the National tour of Ring of Fire, the music and life of Johnny Cash. Chet would like to thank his family for all their support and of course his amazing girlfriend Candice!
Very excited to be spending his summer in Medora! Lars grew up in Minneapolis, the son of a preacher and a teacher, he started theater from a young age. He attended the Hartt School in Connecticut and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in Music Theater. Credits include Matt in The Fantasticks, Theater in the Round (Minneapolis, MN). Marshall Herrick in The Crucible, and Male Swing for A Christmas Carol, Hartford Stage (Hartford, CT). Jeff in Brigadoon, and Warner in Legally Blonde, Mac-Haydn Theater (Chatham, NY). Lars currently resides in Harlem, NY.
Gerry Williams is excited to be returning to the Medora stage for a second year. Originally from Durham, NC he studied theater and voice at UNC-Greensboro. After working at various theaters and dinner shows, he has called the Smoky Mountains home for the last eleven years, singing and dancing at Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park for ten seasons. He'd like to thank his family and friends for all their support and a special thanks to Chance & Phoebe for letting him take this opportunity.
John, feels so blessed and is extremely excited to be making his performance debut at the Burning Hills Theater in the beautiful and historic Medora ND. John comes to us from the Twin Citie's but was born and raised in Lima, Ohio. He has been singing and dancing professionally for the last 13 years on stage from The Smoky Mountains to New York City and is thankful and feels fortunate to add Medora to the list of unbelievable performance experiences. John wishes to thank God and His Family for there Love and support .
Delanie is thrilled to be a member of the Burning Hills Singers. A hometown girl, Delanie grew up in Hazen, North Dakota. She attended Governors school for the Performing Arts, played the role of Eponine in Sleepy Hollow Theatre’s production of Les Miserables and will be attending MSU Mankato as a Musical Theatre major in the fall. She would like to thank her friends and family for all their love and support as she starts her professional career as a performer.
Misti Koop is thrilled to be returning to the Medora stage, after her first season in 2012. She is a proud North Dakota girl from Grand Forks! She is also a proud alum of UND and Gustavus, Red River and East Grand Forks High Schools, Fire Hall Community Theatre, the SPA Program, Frost Fire Theater (Walhalla) and Fort Totten (Devils Lake). She has spent her post-college years both as a teacher and performer. Her theater has taken her to New York, Minneapolis, Tennessee, and recently aboard the Norwegian "Epic" performing in various shows and national tours. Her teaching has taken her from Shakopee, MN teaching band, home to East Grand Forks, MN, teaching elementary music this year! "Hello to all of you who love MEDORA! Welcome to the 50th Anniversary of the Greatest Show in the West! We are SO glad you can join us!" Thank you Mom and Dad, for your love and encouragement forever. This one's for you and my music kiddos at South Point Elementary!
Born and raised in Dickinson, ND, Damon Fichter has watched the Medora Musical since he was a child, and is ecstatic to make his Medora debut. Damon is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music at Dickinson State University, where he is also a part of the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program. He spent the past summer working at a theatre in Nebraska, where his favorite role was Schroeder in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Damon is overjoyed and blessed to be performing so close to home. He sends love to his family, friends, Brownville Village Theatre, and the overwhelming support of his hometown and state.
Abby is so excited for her first season with the Medora family! From Nashville, Tennessee, Abby studied Commercial Music at Belmont University and Musical Theatre from Western Kentucky University. Throughout her college career, she performed at Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Theme Park in various shows, Six Flags over Georgia as “Wonder Woman” and in their Pop 40 show. Abby’s latest adventure was with Princess Cruises as a lead production singer, where she traveled all the way up from Quebec City to Barbados! She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where she records commercial jingles, TV promos, and other commercial recordings. Abby wants to thank her Mom, Laura, Lexy, and Lucy for their complete, unconditional support in her quest to defy gravity.
Kimberly is thrilled to be back in the Wild West for her second season! She is originally from Spencer, IA, a recent graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato (BFA Musical Theatre) and has been performing in national tours and regional theatre ever since graduation. Most recently Kim has been playing the role of "Beverly" in the hit Church Basement Ladies series, for audiences all across the country. Many thanks to Curt and the Medora family for welcoming me back once again! Enjoy your stay, God bless and Happy Trails!
Kevin is grateful to return to this beautiful part of the world, and another season of "Greatest Show in the West!" An east coast native, Kevin has performed regionally and toured stages across the country. Many thanks to Curt, for another bully-licious opportunity, and to Bo, for always being a super-cloggin' Lord of the Dance. Much love to Mom, Dad, and Medora friends old & new. Enjoy the show, the Badlands, and the blue skies of the shining West!
Carolyn Schmitz is thrilled to be back in the magical Badland’s for her second summer of the Medora Musical. Originally from Wells, Minnesota, she has a B.A. in Theatre Arts emphasis Musical Theatre, Acting and Directing from Minnesota State University Moorhead. There she performed with the Straw Hat Players for 3 summers. Recently Carolyn has been performing and working with Walking Shadow Theatre and New Bridge Theatre in the Minneapolis/Twin Cities area. Carolyn would like to thank StageWest Entertainment for another great summer in Medora and to Simba and her family for all the love, laughter and hours of travel they give. Yeehaw!
(Guitar) Nick resides in New York City, where he plays with many local musicians and also teaches guitar. Nick is currently the guitarist with The Three Degrees (#1 hit “When will I see you again”) and just toured the UK with them for 25 dates and played the world famous “Iridium Jazz Club” on Broadway in New York City. Nick was awarded the BBC Big Band Jazz awards “John Dankworth trophy for outstanding young soloist” and recorded a special show for BBC radio 2. He was invited to become a member of the Wigan Jazz Orchestra, and has played as part of the Wigan International Jazz Festival.
Marcus Bohn (Drums), from St. Paul, MN returns for his eighth summer as the Coal Digger's drummer. He has also played for Troupe America's national touring productions of A Christmas Carol ('07 & '08) and Miracle on 34th Street ('12) When not playing drums for Troupe America he can be found on one of Holland America's cruise ships, in Dollywood or playing in the Twin Cities and beyond with Tree Party, Ross William Perry, Porkchop, Mary Cutrufello and others.
Originally from London, Roger turned pro in 1959 and spent the next few years playing guitar with many big names of the UK music scene (Marty Wilde, Joe Brown, Eden Kane, Billy Fury) and touring alongside the Beatles, The Hollies and the Rolling Stones. He graduated to studio work in the ‘70s, then took up pedal steel guitar. He appeared on countless recordings, TV shows and commercials as well as playing numerous West End shows. He performed with Tom Jones, Duane Eddy, George Harrison and his boyhood idol, Lonnie Donegan! Roger emigrated to the USA in 1998 and continues to get his living doing the best job in the world. He now lives in Naples, Florida and is delighted to be returning to the Medora Musical for his 10th season!
Chad Willow has worked as musical director, conductor, and pianist and banjo player on national and international productions, including Ring Of Fire (National Tour and Plymouth Playhouse), Southern Crossroads (Circa 21), Don Giovanni (Minnesota Opera), Scarlet Pimpernel (Candlewood International), Medora Musical (Stagewest Entertainment), Miracle On 34th Street, Babes In Toyland, Guys on Ice, and Christmas Carol (Troupe America), Menopause the Musical – Minneapolis and National Tours (GFour Productions). Chad is also in the midst of writing and recording a mountain music album at Outpost North Studios, with his banjo and vocals in the spotlight. And now to enjoy a wild west summer on the bandstand in the 2014 edition of the Medora Musical.
Hannah Drollinger, also known as "The Bohemian Fiddler," is a seventh generation folk fiddler & classically trained symphony violinist who has performed onstage in over 10 U.S. states & 5 foreign countries. Previous career performance highlights include: The Moth Radio Hour, Daytrotter.com, TEDxIowaCity, NPR's 'From the Top,' the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival & at the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto, Japan. Hannah's prior musical theatre productions include: Spring Awakening, Always...Patsy Cline, Smoke on the Mountain, Honky Tonk Angels: Original Show & Holiday Spectacular, Oklahoma, Cinderella, Iolanthe & Madama Butterfly. Thrilled to be a brand-new performer in 2014's Medora Musical, I'd like to personally thank the entire cast & crew--and our wonderful audience members--for what promises to be an exhilarating summer musical adventure!
Andrew Foreman is a freelance bassist based out of Minneapolis. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Hispanic Literature from Macalester College in Saint Paul, and his studies have included the Leroy Vinnegar Jazz Institute in Portland, OR as well as the L'aula Institute for Modern Music in Barcelona, Spain. When not enjoying the beautiful North Dakota Badlands, he enjoys performing full time throughout the midwest as a sideman and session musician in Jazz/Soul/Rock/Latin/Roots settings; he also curates a monthly event called "Off the Cuff: A Series of Improvised Collaboration.
Lexie Wollen-Swenson-Asst. Director/Choreographer
Lexie Wollan Swenson has been working with the Medora Musical since 2002, where she started as Sheriff Bear and then became a Burning Hills Singer from 2003 -2011. She is so happy that she can continue to be involved in The Greatest Show in the West! Lexie recently returned from being the Company Manager on The Church Basement Ladies “A Mighty Fortress is our Basement” National Tour. She has choreographed “Click Clack Moo –Cows That Type” at Lyric Arts in Anoka , MN; Assistant choreographer for “Ring of Fire” The Johnny Cash Musical at the Plymouth Playhouse and Troupe America’s 2013 National Tour. Lexie and her husband Jeremiah, also a former Burning Hills Singer who she met in Medora, are expecting their first child this summer!!
Katrina Benedict-Costume Designer
Katrina Benedict is thrilled to have the opportunity to costume design this year’s Medora Musical. Katrina works as a free-lance Draper for the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, MN and as a Costume Designer for various theatres in the Twin Cities area. Her design work includes: Kirby, at the History Theatre, Sherlock’s Last Case at the Minnesota centennial showboat, and various productions at the Normandale Community College. Her most recent designs include: Ring of Fire , and four of the Church Basement Ladies musicals –Church Basement Ladies: A Second Helping, Away in the Basement, A Mighty Fortress is our Basement, and The Last Potluck Supper.
Greta Grosch-Script Writer
Greta Grosch has been working with the Medora Musical since 2005, and has a wealth of experience in both commercial and business theatre. Greta performs regularly on stage as a member of Actor’s Equity; wrote the scripts for the last four installments of the highly successful CHURCH BASEMENT LADIES’ musicals; has scripted numerous award shows and cabarets; is a voice over artist and a proud “Looney Lutheran”; and her company, Girl With Guitar, provides educational and entertaining programming to organizations across the country. But it all pales in comparison to the beauty of the North Dakota Badlands! For more information visit gretagrosch.com
Curt Wollan- Executive Producer
Curt Wollan is the Executive Producer and Director of Troupe America Inc., a Minneapolis based theatrical production company operating The Plymouth Playhouse in the Twin Cities area, and providing traveling productions for the National Tour Circuit. Curt has directed many National Tours including STEEL MAGNOLIAS, DRIVING MISS DAISY, THE 1940’S RADIO HOUR, HANK WILLIAMS-LOST HIGHWAY starring Jason Petty, and Stephen King’s GHOST STORIES. He has also co-produced three National Tours of FORBIDDEN BROADWAY, directed M*A*S*H*’s Jamie Farr and William Christopher in the National Tour of THE ODD COUPLE, and directed the National Tours of MOON OVER BUFFALO starring Gavin MacLeod, THE SUNSHINE BOYS starring Dick Van Patten and Frank Gorshin, and SAME TIME NEXT YEAR, starring Mackenzie Phillips and Adrian Zmed. Curt has been based at the Plymouth Playhouse in Minneapolis since 1979 and has directed most of its productions, notably HOW TO TALK MINNESOTAN, THE MUSICAL, CHURCH BASEMENT LADIES, I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE, RING OF FIRE, and DIAMOND STUDS which won the Twin Cities “Kudos” Award for Best Direction, Choreography, and Best Musical. As a free-lance director, his work has been seen at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium with COTTON PATCH GOSPEL starring Gary Sandy, at Dollywood in Tennessee with Dolly Parton, Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, and at Kansas City’s New Theatre Restaurant. Curt makes his home in Minneapolis and Fort Myers, Florida with his beautiful wife Jane, who he met right here in Medora when he was a Burning Hills Singer many years ago.
Sandy Tipping-Musical Director/ Musical Arranger
Sandy Tipping was born in a small town north of Toronto, Ontario (in Canada!). He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, graduating summa cum laude (B. Mus), and moved to Nashville where he has frittered away the last 14 years as a busy recording engineer, music director, elementary school teacher, hired-gun keyboard player, producer, arranger, and bagel enthusiast. In Nashville, he has been the music director for the popular night show on the General Jackson Showboat and is currently MD for the touring jazz artist Jaimee Paul. He has also produced awarding-winning records for Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, Daniel Lee Martin and Jaimee Paul, toured with acts such as the Platters, the Temptations and Martha Reeves, engineered albums for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bobby Osborne, and Andrea Stolpe, and orchestrated or arranged custom music for numerous churches, show bands, theme parks, and publications.
Kay Richardson-Sound Designer
Kay Richardson is a Free-lance Sound Engineer/Designer from Atlanta, GA. She mixed and recorded live events for the Gwinnett Center Arena, 14th Street Playhouse, Southwest Arts Center, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. In addition to her engineering work, she has designed sound for The Colored Museum, The Shape of Things, Fabulation, A Song for Coretta, Black Nativity, and Fences. Kay way nominated for a 2011 Suzi Bass Award for her sound design for Gut Bucket Blues.
The day after graduating from the University of South Dakota with a BFA in Acting, Bo drove up to Minneapolis to start rehearsals for The Greatest Show in the West! Bo was a Burning Hills Singer from 2003-2011. In 2006 he was hired as the choreographer and to this day is still kick ball-changing and clogging away. He has traveled around the U.S with national tours, performing in theme parks and regional theatres…but the Medora Musical is still one of his favorite credits. Special thanks to the production team of StageWest, and to Curt for taking a chance on me! Now hold on tight and enjoy the ride. Yodel-Lay-Eeeee!
Alan Hanson-Set Designer
Alan Hanson is excited to be back for his fifth season as the Lighting Designer for The Medora Musical! Alan holds an MFA in Theatrical Lighting Design from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He has designed productions throughout the country and including the National Tours of “Lost in Yonkers” and “Leading Ladies” for Montana Repertory Theatre and “Miracle on 34th Street” for Troupe America. He has toured nationally with the Montana Repertory Theatre (Miracle Worker, Steel Magnolias, The Trip to Bountiful, Lost in Yonkers, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, To Kill a Mockingbird), Chamber Theatre of Boston (Classics!), Troupe America Inc. (Babes in Toyland, Church Basement Ladies), and the Moscow Ballet (The Great Russian Nutcracker) as well as town Montana state educational outreach tours. www.alanmhanson.com
Erica Zaffarano-Set Designer
Erica Zaffarano feels fortunate to be involved in this, her fourth year with the Medora Musical. Originally from Iowa, she has designed east of the Mississippi in Indiana, Maine, Vermont, the US Virgin Islands and west of Washington, California, Utah, Nevada, Iowa and her newest home, Minnesota. Coincidentally, while working in Los Angeles many years ago, she worked as a scenic designer for Rene Lagler, designer of The Burning Hills Amphitheater. She feels lucky and grateful to be surrounded by the community of so many inspirational, unique, eccentric, delightful people in her work and love coming “home to Medora”!
What if it rains?
Every attempt is made to present each performance. Rain early in the day or even early in the evening will not result in an automatic cancellation.
Generally we do not cancel a performance prior to the scheduled start of the show. In some cases the start of the performance may be delayed up to
60 minutes due to inclement weather.
Shows lasting more than 60 minutes are considered complete performances. Shows lasting less than 60 minutes are considered "rained out."
Ticket holders at "rained out" performances have one of two options:
For each paid ticket, receive two tickets for any other performance during the current Medora Musical season or the following Medora Musical season (subject to availability).
A full refund of the amount paid for each ticket. Credit card orders will be refunded directly to the credit card. Cash/check orders will be refunded in the form of a check within three weeks.
How can I find out if the show is cancelled?
We will make every attempt to present the show. Announcements regarding Medora Musical cancellations will be made at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre. Information is also available at the Rough Riders Hotel, Badlands Motel, and Medora Campground.
How often is the Medora Musical rained out?
On average, the show is rained out only 3 to 5 times per season.
How can I get into the cast?
Auditions are held in January each year.
The Medora Musical is an outdoor, western musical variety show held in the 2,852 seat, state-of-the-art Burning Hills Amphitheatre. Twelve singer/dancers (The Burning Hills Singers), six musicians (The Coal Diggers), a host and several variety and comedy acts are hired each season.
Curt Wollan, the show's producer, says the show's development is a continuous process. "As the curtain closes on one season, work begins on preparing for the next. Our management team assembles at the end of each season to look ahead to the next," Wollan said. The production company, Stage West Entertainment, is based in Minneapolis, MN, and is a subsidiary of Troupe America, Inc.
Wollan also attends casting conventions across the country and typically will audition more than 2,500 performers to fill the 20 cast member roles. "We look for performers who are triple threats, meaning they're able to sing, dance, act. We're always on the look-out for that fresh talent who lights up the stage," says Wollan.
Persons auditioning should bring an 8X10 photo along with a typed performance resume that includes contact information. Performers must prepare two country songs, one up-tempo, and one ballad that show their vocal range. All music must be memorized, sheet music in the correct key, and easy to follow for the provided accompanist. Those wishing to audition may bring a karaoke CD to sing with if they desire. A boom box will be provided.
For the dance portion of the audition, performers should wear or bring clothes and shoes that are comfortable for dancing. The Medora Musical is a professional musical production, so persons auditioning are expected to dress professionally. Western attire is acceptable, since this follows the theme of the musical. "Country musicians who read music or charts may also audition," notes Wollan. "The auditions are a fun and exciting process. It's great to see so many talented performers each year."
Theatre technicians are encouraged to send resumes to Stage West Entertainment.
Those seeking more information about the auditions are asked not to call the audition venues. For more information about the Medora Musical auditions contact:
StageWest Entertainment, a subsidiary of Troupe America, Inc.
Curt Wollan, Executive Producer & Director
528 Hennepin Avenue, Suite 206
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
All auditions except UPTA are first come, first served.