By Amy Rea

This past weekend I thought it would be fun to take in a play. But rather than go to one (of the many) great theaters in the Cities, I found myself in a historic home in Taylors Falls.

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(credit: Amy Rea)

I attended a performance of The Cherry Orchard, originally by Anton Chekhov, in this case adapted by Sarah Myers. This production was a segment of the Cherry Orchard Project, which involves professional actors from the Twin Cities (from theaters like the Jungle Theater, the Guthrie, and the former Theater de la Jeune Lune) taking the play on the road to various small towns around the southern half of the state.

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Servants and family prepare for the long-awaited return of their mother. (credit: Amy Rea)

This project was funded by a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The mission behind the project is to bring quality theater to communities outside of the Twin Cities.

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Matriarch Lyubov Ranevskaya joyfully returns home. (credit: Amy Rea)

It’s an interesting choice of a play in that The Cherry Orchard is about a Russian estate that has fallen on financial hard times and is facing auction and the likelihood of the property being divided and sold into small residential lots—sound familiar?

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Lyubov and brother Leonid learn the devastating news. (credit: Amy Rea)

Taking the play into historic buildings gives both the play and the buildings added importance. In Taylors Falls, the production was at the Folsom House, at the edge of the Angel Hill District and former home of lumber baron and six-term state senator W.H.C. Folsom.

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On the eve of the auction, servants and family alike seem oblivious. (credit: Amy Rea)

Other sites around the state include previous productions at the Historic Gunderson House in Kenyon and the Historic Musser Mansion in Little Falls.

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Lyubov’s adopted daughter tries to entertain guests at a party. (credit: Amy Rea)

Upcoming productions are Aug. 1-5 at the Historic Dayton House in Worthington and the Historic Wakefield House in Blue Earth. As of this writing, tickets were still available for some performances.

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The cast greets the audience at the end of the play. (credit: Amy Rea)

I would highly recommend taking this in if you have the chance. The performers gave heartfelt, and often very funny, performances, and seeing this in a historic home, up close and personal (during the final party scene, the audience doubled as party guests and were offered olives as an appetizer, and several times I was within inches of the actors) really heightens the experience. Besides, it’s the perfect excuse to visit these beautiful pieces of Minnesota’s history.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.


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