The Empire Theatre Co.'s Sixth Season to open with Tony Award Winning Musical

The Empire Theatre Company will present the riotous Tony Award-winning musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, opening June 29th. Sponsored in part by the Greater Grand Forks Convention & Visitors Bureau, “Putnam County is that rarity of rarities, a super smart show that is also a bona fide crowd-pleaser,” says the The Wall Street Journal.

In this musical, an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves!

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee stars the following regional actors: Walter Criswell, Darin Kerr, Alex Kleven, Leo Lakpa, Daniella Lima, Evan Montgomery, Maxwell Pickett, Bethany Springs, Mackenzie Teepen, and Gina Uhlir. This production is directed by Chris Berg, with music direction by Keith Teepen and stage management by Maddie Sharpe.

When: June 29 – July 1, July 6-8, July 13-15 at 7:30pm
Where: Empire Arts Center, 415 DeMers Ave Grand Forks, ND 58201
Tickets: $17 for students/military, $22 for adults
Purchase tickets weekdays at 701-746-5500 or anytime at www.empireartscenter.com.

The Empire Theatre Company is a program of the Empire Arts Center. The Empire Theatre Company’s mission is to produce contemporary plays and musicals that are well-crafted and bold. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee open’s the Empire Theatre Company’s sixth season, which also includes the following productions: Heathers: The Musical, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Passion Play, Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence.

Three Grand Forks Arts Nonprofits Selected for Multi-State Program

Northern Valley Youth Orchestras (NVYO), Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre, and the Empire Arts Center are three of six nonprofit arts organizations from North Dakota that have been chosen to participate in the peer learning community program, ArtsLab.

ArtsLab, a core program of Arts Midwest in collaboration with local partners, is a seven-month course for artists and arts organization leadership, which explores concepts around leadership development, financial and resource development models, and organizational infrastructure.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for NVYO to learn from our peers in the nonprofit arts world, and we are grateful for the support and confidence in our organization shown by NDCA and ArtsLab,” said Naomi Welsh, Executive Director of Northern Valley Youth Orchestras.

Through the ArtsLab program Arts Midwest seeks to ensure that cultural leaders across the Midwest have the skills, ideas, and networks needed to flourish. “The Empire Arts Center is extremely proud of the work we have done in the Greater Grand Forks community, especially in recent years, however we are excited to move forward and continue to improve as an arts organization with the help of ArtsLab,” said Emily Montgomery, Executive Director of the Empire Arts Center.

The program includes monthly virtual workshops and two, two and a half day retreats in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where the selected organizations from North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa will participate in intensive training sessions. In total, this program is an approximately $15,000 investment of support, training and resources in the Greater Grand Forks community by the Arts Midwest and the North Dakota Council on the Arts.

"We are delighted to take part in this opportunity and look forward to learning additional best practices for nonprofit arts groups as we enter our 70th season," said Kathy Coudle-King, Executive Director of the Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre.

ArtsLab is anchored in the belief that arts and culture are essential to vibrant communities. ArtsLab believes fundamental to ensuring resiliency is to instill new ways of thinking and new management habits, by offering in-depth training on shaping sustainable business practices. “I was thrilled to learn that the Empire and Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre were accepted into the program as well! This will be an excellent opportunity for the performing arts in Grand Forks to share ideas with each other and with arts groups across the Midwest,” said Welsh.

For more information about the chosen Grand Forks organizations visit their websites at: www.novyo.org; www.ggfct.com; www.empirartscenter.com. For more information about ArtsLab and Arts Midwest visit www.artsmidwest.org.

A Peter Pan Prequel to Come to Life at the Empire

Empire Theatre Company will present the cheeky, charming musical play, Peter and the Starcatcher, running through March 18th. Sponsored by Xcel Energy, this prequel to Peter Pan is sure to entertain audiences of all ages.

Winner of five Tony Awards, this musical play takes a hilarious romp through the Neverland you never knew. Peter and the Starcatcher is the innovative and imaginative play based on the best-selling novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. This hilarious story will take you on a journey where you’ll discover the answer to the century-old question: How did Peter Pan become The Boy Who Never Grew Up?

Peter and the Starcatcher is directed by Stephanie Faatz Murry, music directed by Maddie Sharpe, and stage managed by C.J. Leigh with lighting design by Cedar Remmen, and costume design by Amy Sanner. This production features regional and local actors Justin Dela Cruz, Nicque Robinson-Dela Cruz, Karter Dolan, Jessica Hunold, Taylor Jung, Misti Koop, Tim McCoy, Hyrum Patterson, Nikki Quam, Lauren Sanner, Maddie Sharpe, Bethany Springs, and Mackenzie Teepen.

When: March 16-18 at 7:30pm
Where: Empire Arts Center, 415 DeMers Ave Grand Forks, ND 58201
Tickets: $12 for children under 12, $17 for students and military, $22 for adults
Purchase tickets weekdays at 701-746-5500 or anytime at www.empireartscenter.com.

The Empire Theatre Company is a program of the Empire Arts Center. The Empire Theatre Company’s mission is to produce contemporary plays and musicals that are well-crafted and bold. Peter and the Starcatcher is the fourth production in ETC’s fifth season, which will come to a close in April with the intimate play, Blackbird.

Acclaimed Crooner to Delight in Time for Valentine's Day

Acclaimed vocalist, pianist and composer Tony DeSare will present a post-modern version of the New York nightclub shows of the 1950s at The 1919 Lounge at the Empire Arts Center.

This one-of-a-kind event will take place in an intimate, transformed setting on the Empire’s historic stage, with lite bites and beverages handcrafted by Brick & Barley. DeSare will explore some of the most hauntingly beautiful and memorable melodies ever written from Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Willie Nelson to name a few, as well as some new DeSare originals.

The 1919 Lounge held its inaugural event in June of last year with Broadway star Liz Callaway. The Empire plans to continue to deliver this unique nightlife experience several times per season, with the goal of bringing acclaimed cabaret artists to Grand Forks’ doorstep.
This event has extremely limited seating. Guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance as tables are assigned on a first come, first serve basis. Table preferences can by made by calling the box office. For tickets call 701-746-5500 or visit www.empireartscenter.com.
Tickets*: $45-$55 (*$10 food or beverage minimum)

UND Talent to be Featured at The 1919 Lounge

The 1919 Lounge at the Empire Arts Center will welcome back students from the UND Theatre Department for Growing Up: A UND Theatre Cabaret on Friday, February 10th.

The 1919 Lounge, a new program of the Empire Arts Center, features regional and national cabaret artists in an intimate, transformed setting on the Empire’s historic stage. This particular showcase is presented in conjunction with a semester of the students touring cabarets around the state.

Under the direction of Dr. Suna Gunther, with collaborative pianist Keith Teepen and stage director Ashley Restemayer, the evening will feature songs from contemporary musical theatre, Broadway, and more. The students featured include: Cole Bakke, Karter Dolan, Veronica Folkedahl, Taylor Jung, Joe Picardi, Ashley Restemayer, Brenna Riley, Tanner Sabol, Bethany Springs, and Gina Uhlir.

This is a one night only event with limited seating. Guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance. For tickets call 701-746-5500 or visit www.empireartscenter.com.

Tickets: $10-$15
When: February 10th at 7:30pm
Where: Empire Arts Center, 415 DeMers Ave Grand Forks, ND 58201

To learn more about The 1919 Lounge or the Empire Arts Center visit www.empireartscenter.com.