The wind is “sweepin’ down the plain” at St. Louis Park’s Aldersgate United Methodist Church this weekend as Theatre of the Spirit presents the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein production Oklahoma!
Theatre of the Spirit began as an outreach ministry at the church more than two decades ago and has since grown into an annual event. This year’s production involves more than 60 people from at least seven faith groups and communities across the west metro, said Eden Prairie resident Natalie Foster, who’s in her third year as director.
“It is a completely free, community-based, kind of a gift to the community,” Foster said.
The play has full dance numbers and sets that transform the church into a theater. Putting together such a production is no easy feat. The cast and crew practice six hours on a Saturday for eight weeks.
They do this even though the cast and crew are all volunteers. The only paid position is the accompanist.
“It astounds me that the people come back year after year because the amount of work is huger,” Foster said.
But that’s partly because the group focuses heavily on making the experience fulfilling for everyone. All are welcome, and Foster tries to highlight each person’s strengths—even if it involves a bit of deviation from the script.
“Really, the No. 1 motivator is how can we involve as many people in these experiences as possible,” she said. “You want everybody on stage to feel like they have done their best—like they have been showcased to the best of their ability.”
Pete Chirpich is an Edina resident and a network engineer, but he serves as the performance’s technical director and percussionist in the Oklahoma! production. Chirpich, who’s in his 14th Theatre of the Spirit production, said the participants keep coming back because the experience is so enjoyable.
“It’s just fun when there’s a crowd there,” he said. “This is our 22nd year of doing it. Every year we do a better show.”
If you go …
- 7 p.m. Friday March 1
- 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday March 2
- 2 p.m. Sunday March 3 (A spaghetti supper follows the Sunday performance. The cost is $7. Children 3 and younger are free.)
Where: 3801 Wooddale Avenue, St. Louis Park
Cost: Free admissions, but donations are accepted.