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Rehearsals begin for The Last Boy in Blue


Fri, Jul 13th, 2012
Posted in Chatfield Arts & Culture

Wits’ End Theatre is pleased to announce that the 2012 Western Days play The Last Boy in Blue has been fully cast and is in rehearsal at the Chatfield Center for the Arts!

The Last Boy in Blue is a new play that tells a story of the first 24 hours of Minnesota’s 1862 Dakota War. As it happens, the first soldiers to meet Chief Little Crow and his Dakota warriors in battle on August 18, 1862, were from Chatfield and Preston. In command of Fort Ridgely and its garrison of Fillmore County farmboys and store clerks-turned-soldiers during that first 24 hours was a 19-year-old second lieutenant from Chatfield named Tom Gere. The Dakota were making a last, desperate attempt to reclaim their hereditary homeland from white expansion. Tom Gere and his 30 young soldiers at Fort Ridgely stood in their path. Fort Snelling and reinforcements were a hundred miles away. It is a fascinating true tale that we call “Minnesota’s Unforgettable Forgotten Story.” August 8, 9, 10, and 11 that story will come to life on the stage of Potter Auditorium in Chatfield.

This is a big story, and a big cast is needed to tell it. Forty-five actors and actresses are taking part in this show. Twenty-three men and boys will play the soldiers of Company B, Fifth Minnesota Infantry—the “Fillmore County Boys”—posted at Fort Ridgely that summer. “We were a little concerned whether enough guys would audition for us to be able to fill the ranks of Company B,” says Joe Chase, who is directing The Last Boy in Blue. “Men and boys are usually the under-represented demographic at our try-outs. But we did some recruiting—just like Beecher Gere and Josiah Marsh did in Chatfield and Preston in 1862—and we have our troops.”

Costuming such a large cast is no small expense for a community theatre, particularly when the show is an historical “costume drama,” and half the cast must be dressed in authentic-looking military uniforms. “We would not have been able to do this play,” says Chase, “were it not for a $6,200 Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage grant we received for the specific purpose of costuming this show.” This grant program, made possible by the 2008 Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, is administered by the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council. “We are very grateful to the people of Minnesota and to SEMAC for this indispensable financial help that will allow us to bring a great local story to the stage in Chatfield,” Chase says.

Tickets for The Last Boy in Blue go on sale July 5 at the Potter Auditorium Box Office in Chatfield and on-line. For more details, go to the Wits’ End website at witsendtheatre.org.

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