Chippewa Falls: The Musical
locally produced musical tracks big year of history
Shortly after the Civil War, Chippewa Falls, full of enterprise and interest, became incorporated as a Wisconsin city. And now the Heyde Center is bringing that history to the stage with an entertaining twist in Chippewa Falls 1869: The Musical.
“I believe audience members will be amazed at the trials and tribulations of that year.” – Writer/Director/Actor Jerry Way on Chippewa Falls circa 1869
The show recaps the excitement and trials of the year, including a downtown fire and major flood, a log jam on the river, and a dispute between rival logging companies. The villains of the show are The Beef Slough Boys. The post-Civil War national scene involved the completion of the transcontinental railroad in the midst of the Wild West. But Northern Wisconsin was made famous for the industrious nature that inspired writer and director Jerry Way.
“Northern Wisconsin was an exciting place to be at that time, too, with many larger-than-life pioneers making it big in the lumbering business,” said Way. “I was inspired by written accounts of Thaddeus Pound, Hiram Allen, Jean Brunet, Dan McCann, and others who lived in the area at that time.”
Although the musical production is original, the songs are familiar favorites from the era, making the production nostalgic, but also relevant to today’s audiences.
“For this play I chose to use songs that were well known in 1869, and are still sung and enjoyed today,” said Way. “I wrote additional words for each song to advance the plot of show. It turns out the early Chippewa Falls pioneers sang a great four-part harmony!”
The cast is comprised of 16 actors, all of which audiences will recognize from other Heyde Center productions, with Gary Garton and Deanne Rubenzer as Thaddeus and Emily Pound, Tim Danielson and Mary LaLiberte as Hiram and Marie Allen, and Don and Caroline Weibel as Dan and Margaret McCann. Chippewa Falls 1869: The Musical marks the seventh musical Jerry Way has written and directed for the center. His background includes teaching and directing students at Chi-Hi and McDonell high schools. He also assumes the role of Jean Brunet in the production.
Although the musical is intended to entertain and educate audiences of all ages, the first few performances will be for Chippewa Falls area public and parochial school children from March 29-31. Public performances will be held April 1-3.
“I believe the audience members will be amazed at the trials and tribulations of that year,” said Way. “The post-Civil War time period is a fascinating time.”
Whether you are looking for a history lesson or a family oriented event filled with familiar tunes and upbeat dance moves, Chippewa Falls 1868: The Musical offers the best of both worlds.
Chippewa Falls 1869: The Musical • April 1-2, 7:30pm, and April 3, 2pm • Heyde Center for the Arts, 3 S High St., Chippewa Falls • $10 general, $9 seniors, $3 youth • 726-9000 • CVCA.net