Community Theater

The Stage at Island Park

Community Theater Brings Opportunity to Fargo-Moorhead 

BY HAILEY WILMER

The Fargo Moorhead Community Theater (FMCT) is one of many community theaters in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Since it’s founding in 1946, FMCT has been providing the community with the theater experience. In 2011, they found a home at The Stage at Island Park where they work collaboratively with the facility.

Craig Ellingson in the center performing in “Company.” (Photo by The Fargo Forum.)

Craig Ellingson, the Director of Theater at MSUM, has been involved with FMCT’s theater as a director, choreographer and actor.

Community theater is important for many people Ellingson said.

“Community Theater provides many students with the opportunity to use their craft while attending school and many continue with community theater after graduation,” Ellingson said.

Ellingson just finished working on “White Christmas” and worked with a large range of different people who were involved.

“From students, to singers, dancers and retirees they all have the ability to use their talents through community theater,” Ellingson said.

Craig Ellingson performing in “Chicago.” (Photo by Lacey Igo.)

Community theater doesn’t only serve a purpose for those who perform in it, it also gives life to the community.

“Theater in itself has propelled society forward in giving a voice to many social issues and helping people to grow outside of what they consider to be normal,” Ellingson said.

Many people may go to the theater to have a good laugh, cry or even leave feeling offended.

“To me, being offended is being presented with something that you might not agree with or understand and that can either continue to make you stick to your own belief system or it might crack at your beliefs a little bit and allow people to leave questioning things,” Ellingson said.

This is something that the theater has always done whether it be with frothy-fun musicals or pieces that deal with serious societal issues.

Craig Ellingson performing in “Cabaret.” (Photo by Perry Rust.)

“For communities like Fargo-Moorhead this can be important for many people,” Ellingson said.

MSUM student Miranda Peterson had the opportunity to audition and perform in “White Christmas.”

Miranda Peterson (right) Noah Roddy (center) and Jeanna Zenz (left) backstage before performing in “White Christmas.” (Photo by Miranda Peterson.)

“One thing that I really liked about FMCT was that I always felt welcomed,” Peterson said.

Not everyone in the cast was considered a traditional theater person, according to Peterson. Many came from backgrounds of just dance or only had experience with music.

“This is what makes community theater so special,” Peterson said. “It brings so many different people together to create art and the majority of us are people who just want to perform.”

“White Christmas is a dance-heavy show,” Peterson said

Miranda Peterson (right) Dawn Bye Gunderson (center) and Jeanna Zenz (left) backstage while performing in “White Christmas.” (Photo by Miranda Peterson.)

This gave Peterson many opportunities to have dance spotlights, which is something she has a passion for.

“I think the coolest part about community theater is that I’m going to school to be a music teacher, but community theater gave me the opportunity to also pursue my other passions.”

(Hailey Wilmer is a multimedia journalism major at MSUM who will graduate this spring. She is a florist at Family Fare floral shop in Moorhead and dance instructor at Red River Dance and Performing Co. She hopes to make her love for writing a career after graduation. Contact her at gerlachha@mnstate.edu.)

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