By Pete Soyer
The Montana State University-Northern Showcase Series is headed into its 30th year of bringing performing arts to Havre.
The series opens with the Montana Repertory Theatre performing "The Turn of the Screw" by Jeffrey Hatcher. The play, based on the book by Henry James, is about a naive young woman who is hired by a mysterious bachelor to care for his niece and nephew on a remote English estate. The governess soon finds herself fearing for the souls of the children and for her own life. The production's unique format has a minimal set and intriguing lighting. Two actors cover a variety of characters.
The Montana Repertory Theatre has been bringing plays to rural and urban areas of Montana and other states for 23 years. Recent plays its members have performed include "To Kill a Mockingbird," "It's a Wonderful Life" and "The Diary of Anne Frank."
According the Montana Repertory Theatre Web site, the theater was established in 1977 to provide professional quality theater for Montana and neighboring Western states at an affordable cost.
Serving as the professional theater in residence at the University of Montana in Missoula, the company concentrated its efforts its first season in Montana. Since then it has expanded its reach to more than 33 states.
The Montana Repertory Theatre will perform "The Turn of the Screw" Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Havre High School Auditorium.
The second performance in the series is the Cascade Quartet.
The quartet is composed of the first chair players in the Great Falls Symphony. Mary Papoulis and Byron Wallis play violin, Jennifer Smith plays viola, and Thaddeus Suits plays the cello.
According to the quartet's Web site, the idea of a resident string quartet became a reality in Great Falls 20 years ago. Its mission was to provide leadership in the Great Falls Symphony, to enhance the educational opportunities of Montana music students, and to perform chamber music for audiences everywhere.
Papoulis, Wallis, Smith and Suits also serve as adjunct players with the Butte and Helena symphonies, as well as with the String Orchestra of the Rockies.
The quartet will be performing works ranging from Beethoven to modern composers Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the MSU-Northern Student Union Building.
The third concert in the series will feature Brassworks 4, hailing from New Mexico.
Brassworks 4 is made up by four seasoned musicians. Michael Hesse plays the cornet and piccolo trumpet, Connie Frerich-Schulz plays the euphonium, Scott Ramsey plays the cornet and the flugelhorn, and Paul Bara plays trombone.
The quartet has been together since 1994 and has entertained audiences from coast to coast. The group boasts a repertoire of more than 100 songs ranging from Bach to Broadway with some original pieces thrown in as well.
All four of the members graduated from college with music degrees and all but one were music teachers.
Music, magic, songs and skits are trademarks of their performances. They also throw in lots of audience interaction.
Brassworks 4 performs Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fifth Avenue Christian Church auditorium.
The final performance for the 2001 showcase series is a father and son acoustic duo called Watercarver's Guild.
The Helena-based pair has been playing together for 20 years and their acoustic sets are "brimming with life, spontaneity and craftsmanship," according to a press release from the Northern Showcase Series. The father's highly successful finger-style guitar playing coupled with the son's gift as a thoughtful songwriter are "imaginative and poetic," according to the release. The songs reflect relationships, people's place in nature and being 20-something in Montana.
The songs range from bluegrass to melodic ballads, each of which bear the mark of the Watercarver's Guild, said Dee Heltne, a member of the Northern Showcase Committee. The duo plays March 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the MSU-Northern SUB.
Season tickets are on sale now at the MSU-Northern SUB and Creative Leisure. Admission for the performances is:
$20 per show for adults,
$15 per show for students in first through 12th grade and,
$50 per show for families.
Donations also are accepted. If you donate $100, you receive a season ticket for one person. A donation of $200 will provide two season tickets, and anyone who donates $250 will get a season ticket for a family. All ticket sales and donations support the performances the showcase brings to Havre.