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Harwood Prairie Playhouse marks 24 years

Twenty-four years and running, Harwood Prairie Playhouse members continue to excite local theater aficionados with their stellar performances. This year promises to be no exception, as the group prepares to present Birthday Suite by Robin Hawdon with performances set for 7:30 p.m., Feb. 28-29, March 1, 6-8 and 13-15, and 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday, March 9, and Saturday, March 15, all at Dawson Hall, on the grounds of Bonanzaville, located on West Main Avenue, West Fargo. Husband and wife team, David and Shanara Lassig, are serving as co-directors for the second year in a row.

An opening night reception, which incorporates Senior Citizen evening, will kick-off performances Thursday, Feb. 28. Seniors are encouraged to arrive early at 6:45 p.m. and enjoy dessert and then remain after the show to meet the cast. They will also receive a $1 reduction in ticket price. Anyone else interested in attending the open night production is also encouraged to do so.

The Lassigs said Birthday Suite was selected as the 24th annual performance because it was written by the same playwright as last year's well-accepted presentation of the Perfect Wedding. "The audience really enjoyed last year's production and we think this show will be even more enjoyable to them," David said. "It is a great, fast-paced show with several twists and turns. We hope that the audience loves it, and we want to say thank you to our audiences for their continuous support and laughs.  They truly keep us going."

Both the Lassigs are familiar with the intricate 'ins and outs' of pulling off a successful performance, as former actors and now in lead producer roles. "Knowing what the other expects and having the same dedication to HPP allows us to work great as a team and have confidence in each other to produce a great show," Shanara added.

As for the cast, the Lassigs are excited to welcome so many new faces this year. John Noone, who will play Dick, is the only person who has appeared in previous productions, including "Tom, Dick and Harry" in 2006. This year's newcomers include: Peter Foss (as Bob), a resident of Devils Lake who has been involved with shows at Fort Totten Little Theatre and Frostfire Theatre at Walhalla; Malcolm Thompson (as Tony), who has performed at Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre in You Can't Take it With You and Scrooge: the Musical; Katie Clausen (as Kate), a recent college graduate, involved in Little Shop of Horrors and Pippen; and Judy Young (as Liz), a veteran actor of FMCT who was recently seen in How the Other Half Loves and Scrooge: the Musical.

Assisting with technical duties are: Mike Sunram, sound and lights operator; John Steiner, props manager; Dori Reich and Julie Straley, house managers; Fran Folstad, box office coordinator, including The Children's Museum at Yunker Farm; Woody Folstad, advertising; and a variety of other volunteers who help out wherever needed. "We truly value every volunteer for all the hours they contribute," David said. "One of the biggest tasks is set construction, and this could not be done without the many long hours that we put in each Saturday from the beginning of January until the show opens."

Audience members will also be asked to play a little extra role themselves this year, as their input will be sought in helping select the production for the 25th anniversary season in 2009. Consequently, those attending will be asked to vote on their choice for the 2009 performance, selecting either from a list of all the previous shows presented, or an all-new show that will feature veteran Harwood Prairie Playhouse actors.

Tickets for any performance of Birthday Suite are available at the Children's Museum at Yunker Farm, once again handling the Box Office this year. Tickets may be purchased by phone at 701-298-6807, or by stopping by Yunker Farm at 1201 28th Ave. N., Fargo, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A $1 donation is being made to the Children's Museum for each ticket purchased. More information is available online at