The Lumber Baron

original musical production focuses on local history, wood

by Emily Anderson

The Baron.
FIREPLACE MANTLE LEAN.” An original musical
mystery, The Lumber Baron, will be staged at
The State Theatre.

Mother and son duo Karen and David Hurd are at it again, bringing local history to the stage in their original musical mystery The Lumber Baron.

Set in late 1800s Eau Claire, The Lumber Baron tells the tale of a prominent lumber baron in a time when lumber was the driving industry in the Chippewa Valley. The title character – Daren Cunningham, a wealthy philanthropist and purposefully single man – runs the most prosperous lumber mill in the area. He keeps all of his wealth hidden away, a fact that has become the subject of much intrigue among his fellow lumber barons. The story unfolds as it is discovered through talk among the barons that while business is doing as well as it ever has, all of the lumber mills are losing money.

Among the barons is Suzanne Jameson, a widow who has taken over her husband’s mill. She is desperate to save her failing business and asks Daren to help. Despite his reluctance, he teaches her all of his business tricks and along the way discovers where all the lumber money has gone. Violence, intrigue, and unexpected romance all play a vital role in this historical mystery’s exhilarating conclusion. Starring Ben John as Cunningham and Bethany Ida as Jameson, The Lumber Baron comprises a predominantly local cast and crew.

The play was written by Karen Hurd, a nutritionist, author, director, and playwright from Fall Creek. She has written many other historical musicals about Fall Creek and the Chippewa Valley, including last January’s The Threshing. She is joined by her son, Eau Clairian David Hurd, who recently graduated from UWEC with a degree in piano performance. David composes the melodies to accompany his mother’s lyrics. The two also collaborated on The Threshing as well as many of Karen’s other original productions as a part of Scene and Hurd Productions/Community Arts, an organization that helps both create and advertise their musical works.