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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Opinion — Learning to appreciate local theater

Harry Stine/NW
LOCAL THEATER — The Forest Roberts Theatre, where I discovered my newfound appreciation of local theater. Forest Roberts regularly hold productions, and I often attend them when my schedule allows.

For years, I hated musical theater. I hated the sets, I hated the costumes, and I couldn’t stand that at any given moment I could be bombarded with an extended song and dance that stopped the plot in its tracks.

It wasn’t for lack of exposure either. I remember being dragged along by my family to see different local shows, with cramped seats, low production values and performers who were clearly new to this. 

I even played Grandpa Joe in my high school production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was awful. I was put in an unenviable place, since Grandpa Joe only had a handful of lines the entire play, but he was in every scene. This guaranteed that my weekends and after-school hours would be sacrificed rehearsing a role I felt nothing but regret for taking. 

On top of that, I hardly got along with the theater kids around me. Neither of us got the other’s sense of humor, making small talk between rehearsals boring. It was absolute torture through and through. 

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But about a year and a half ago, I was assigned to write an article about a play at Northern titled Next to Normal. I only had to get a few interviews and stay for the first part of the dress rehearsal, but I wound up getting deeply engaged by the massive rotating set, the humor, and the deeply serious plot. I even liked a few of the songs. I decided to stay the entire time, and a change in me had begun.

Just a few years prior, I went to a performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with friends. It was hyped up to me as a campy, high-energy musical with fun audience participation. It turned out to be one of the most shrill, eye clawing experiences of my life, and I left early. 

But every Northern production I’ve attended has been great. I’ve gone out of my way to see musicals put on by NMU, and have had a truly great time at every single one. I’ve found that I have quite a lot of respect for jack-of-all-trades actors, who can be serious, funny, can sing and dance, or can not even tap a toe during a scene. 

I’ve also come to admire the technical side of musicals. I think a good set can change how you view the performance, making production value an integral part of every show. Especially when stage directors decide to try something new, with Next to Normal’s rotating set being an excellent example.

This goes hand in hand with staging the placement of actors in a play. Staging fascinates me because I don’t think my brain could ever crack it. I always feel like stage directors need to do some kind of visual calculus to determine who should move where, while making sure they don’t destroy the visibility of the scene, or how they even begin to keep track of all those motions.

That being said, there’s still some criticisms I have. I don’t like musical numbers that fail to move the plot forward. But there are plenty of musicals that do the opposite, like Lion King or the original Rocky Horror Picture Show. You can still exercise good storytelling within a musical, and it’s very impressive when musicals do that.

So, I kinda like musicals now. I prefer seeing them live, because I think the performance aspect of it affects me a lot more. Besides, it’s nice seeing how much work was put into everything.

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About the Contributor
Harry Stine
Harry Stine, Opinion Editor
In 2021, after one year of college and a semester of studying as a Public Relations major, I realized I wanted to be a journalist and not much else. After eagerly applying to be a Copy Editor, without even knowing AP style at that point, I started doing the occasional contributing writer piece for The North Wind. My frequent topic was satire. When I heard The North Wind was going through another round of hires, and a spot was open for an Assistant Features Editor, I applied in a heartbeat. I still do the occasional satire piece, but I take great pride in exploring NMU and Marquette for my topics, and finally having my head wrapped around AP style.