Friday, July 29, 2011

NorShor and Duluth's historic theaters...

NorShor Mezanine ca 1941~Milk Bar
When Duluth area public television (WDSE in Duluth, WRPT on the Range) airs its special “Stage to Screen: Historic Theaters of the North” at 7 p.m. Aug. 11, it will likely feature photos of old Duluth theaters from my collection, along with others assembled by the producers.

In the 1970s when he retired as manager of the NorShor in Duluth, George Brown gave me a passel of photos of the NorShor and other theaters taken over the years by the company operating the theaters. These include the Orpheum, which preceded the NorShor on that site, and the Lyric, once known as the Grand and also the New Grand over the years.

I have loaned these pictures out to researchers several times in the intervening years, and they have been digitized and are now in the hands of others besides me, but here are a few of them that might interest readers of this blog. I retain the 8-by-10 photographs.

I was interviewed on camera for this TV special and, while I haven’t had an advance screening, I assume parts of that interview will be included. It took place on the NorShor mezzanine, the area originally built as a “milk bar” (see above) and which later served as a comfortable lounging area for moviegoers in the NorShor’s heyday, and as a night club/bar in more recent years, during the NorShor’s decline.

Thankfully the city of Duluth has taken over and I’m looking forward to a brighter future for the NorShor, although I expect it will take some time. 

Enjoy a few of the pictures from my collection of the NorShor and Orpheum below. The NorShor photo with the Superior St. tower is shown in the previous post.  I'll share more as time goes on. Stay tuned...
Pictured above: NorShor theater 1941 (lobby–top, auditorium–bottom)
Orpheum Theater 1929 (Superior St. entrance, advertising the new Garrick Theater)
Orpheum Theater  Auditorium 1929
Orpheum Theater 1929 (Second Avenue E. entrance)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Stage to Screen: Northland's historic theaters...

"Stage to Screen: Historic Theaters of the North" is a new documentary set to premier on Thursday, August 11 at 7 pm CST on our local PBS affiliate, WDIO/WRPT. The documentary promises to provide all you theater and  local history buffs an interesting survey of some of our Northland's classic vintage theaters. You might even catch a glimpse of me talking about our own cherished NorShor Theater, pictured to your left and soon to be restored. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kick the can now the favorite game of politicians...

By Jim Heffernan
A lot of cans are being kicked down the road lately.

Here in Minnesota, political leaders, working to resolve a budget crisis that caused a shutdown of state government, have been accused of just kicking the can down the road with their resolution of political loggerheads between Republicans and Democrats.

And in Washington, where politicians are attempting to resolve disagreements over raising the country’s debt limit, many of their proposals have been branded as simply kicking the can down the road.

Kicking the can down the road has become the favorite metaphor of both Democrats and Republicans and their supporters and adversaries. Coming in a distant second, only because it reflects optimism, not pessimism, are the repeated efforts to move the ball down the field. Are they talking football? Or maybe soccer? You never hear them wanting to move the puck down the ice.

I’ve been wondering, does anybody really play kick the can anymore – I mean since recycling took over? I don’t recall playing it myself as a kid, preferring marbles…until I lost mine.

Anyway, everybody in government has been playing kick the can this hot summer, and guess where they’re kicking the can to? A line in the sand.

Even as some political adversaries are kicking the can down the road, others are drawing a line in the sand. Almost daily, you hear one politician or another say they are drawing a line in the sand – many of them having already kicked the can down the road.

What kind of road must that be? Well, if they’re going to kick the can all the way to the line in the sand, it must be a dirt road, which will surprise no one.

It seems like a big waste of a can to just kick it down the road when you could use it for worms to go fishing with (if you could get a license here in Minnesota, when the state was shut down).

However the state and national budget debates are settled, we know the outcomes will be a can of worms anyway. Might as well go fishing.

Note:  If you're too young to remember how to play the childhood game of kick the can, click on this link HERE to learn more. Who knows... this might be the beginning of a new era of kids kicking the can outdoors!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Come to the Duluth production of 'Cabaret', old chum...

By Jim Heffernan
Cabaret movie poster 
I have been astonished in talking up the production of the great Kander and Ebb musical “Cabaret,” now playing at Fitgers, how many people don’t really know about this award-winning show, or even what it’s about. I saw it Saturday night and am still humming “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.”

It’s about the rise of Nazi Germany in the early 1930s when a funny-looking paperhanger named Adolf Hitler was starting to hit his decidedly unfunny stride as chancellor. Not a lot of laughs for a musical show, but you’d be surprised how many there actually are, along with the pathos of how the Hitler regime affected the lives of Berliners, including the decadent night club set.

I thought just about everybody knew “Cabaret” was about that. Well, they should find out and be astonished themselves at how enjoyable this local production in Fitgers Spirit of the North theater is. I have seen maybe two other stage productions of “Cabaret,” along with the great 1972 movie version starring Liza Minnelli, and this is as good as any. It’s directed by Sheryl Jensen, a familiar local name associated with stellar productions.

As long as we’re all being astonished, let me also say how astonished I was at the depth of talent in the cast of this production, not just on stage but in the small orchestra (which is also on stage, with some of its instrumental musicians unobtrusively slipping in and out of talking, singing and dancing roles). Oh, and then there’s the technical end of putting on an elaborate musical in a performance space unequipped for such productions. Amazingly, they pull it off – set, sound, lighting, the works (to say nothing of the wonderful costumes -- what there is of them on the Kit Kat Klub girls).

I don’t know what’s drawing all of these talented people to Duluth, but they’re here. Take advantage of it.

This show is about 40 years old now, perhaps explaining why so many people I encounter don’t really know it. But it will never be dated, and shouldn’t be missed.

Here’s the skinny on the remainder of the run and how to get tickets: Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 21-23) and again Thursday, Friday and Saturday July 28-30. Ticket information at (218) 727-1177.  And... for more information, check out Lundeen Productions HERE.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Minnesota Shutdown ends with a whimper...

It appears the infamous Minnesota Shutdown 2011 will at long last come to an end... not with a bang but instead with a whimper. No side is happy in this deal. The question is... what's in store now for Minnesota?  Check out this MinnPost link to find out more about the final blows.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Am Anne Frank...

I Am Anne Frank

The Duluth Festival Opera presents I Am Anne Frank, an innovative music-drama that re-visits Anne Frank's Diary. Produced by the award-winning Nautilus Music Theater of St. Paul, this music-drama portrays the inspiring story of a young girl on the edge of her future during a time of hatred and intolerance.

July 21-23, 7:30 pm and July 24, 2:00 pm
Teatro Zuccone
222 East Superior St. in Duluth MN

$16 per adult/ free for 18 and under
(218) 336-1414
or on-line at

For more information, check out: Duluth Festival Opera HERE

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Duluth fireworks always a winner...

Once again the City of Duluth put on quite a fireworks show. Check out Bob King's fabulous photo  HERE on this Duluth News Tribune site.