Chippewa Falls: The Musical

locally produced musical tracks big year of history

Kristin Frosch, photos by Andrea Paulseth

THE CAST OF CHIPPEWA FALLS 1869: THE MUSICAL PRACTICES THROWING WATER ON THE AUDIENCE, WHOM SHALL BE ON FIRE ... WITH EXCITEMENT. Actually, this is a rehearsal of the show’s (presumably show-stopping) ‘Bucket Brigade’ number. The original musical uses songs familiar to the era.
 
THE CAST OF CHIPPEWA FALLS 1869: THE MUSICAL PRACTICES THROWING WATER ON THE AUDIENCE, WHOM SHALL BE ON FIRE ... WITH EXCITEMENT. Actually, this is a rehearsal of the show’s (presumably show-stopping) ‘Bucket Brigade’ number. The original musical uses songs familiar to the era.

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!”