Category Archives: Events

Shakespeare abridged

Shakespeare photo 1

by Jenny Cvek, Assistant News Editor

“Think of this as the best Netflix original series. Think of this as Stranger Things with Shakespeare,” said senior theatre major Dawson Ehlke. As its title suggests, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” covers a multitude of stories from the celebrated Bard. “Basically, if you’ve heard about a Shakespeare play, it is in this play somewhere,” explained sophomore public relations and theatre major Tommy McCarthy. Directed by Daniel McLaughlin, the contemporary comedy starring Dawson Ehlke, Michael Johnson, and Tommy McCarthy was performed at the University of Northwestern—St. Paul in the Patsy Miller Studio Theatre, otherwise known as the Black Box, from Jan. 12-21.

Shakespeare photo 1

“It’s a show about three guys trying to undertake a feat that, in our minds, has never been done before, and that is to do the complete works of William Shakespeare in a single show,” said junior transfer student and theatre major Michael Johnson.

“It’s non-traditional and it’s edgy, which is really good for Northwestern,” said stage manager Rue Norman, a sophomore theatre major.

Some students may worry that since they are unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s works, they won’t be able to appreciate the show. To this, the cast answered with a resounding “no.” Emphasizing the elements of audience participation and physical humor present in the production, Johnson said, “It’s a great show if you like high-energy, high-octane, quick-witted entertainment. But it’s nice because there are definitely things for those that do know Shakespeare, and it’s exponentially funny.” “You’re guaranteed to at least laugh once,” encouraged McCarthy.

A production with a cast this small creates an atmosphere vastly different from large musicals such as “Into the Woods,” which was performed in October. McCarthy said, “We all worked together in Into the Woods, but not really ‘together,’ so it was fun doing that. I’ve never been in a show with just three people, and they’re a great two people to be with. I think it’s a very supportive environment.” Apprehensive in the beginning, he was able to find fun in the process, continuing, “I was scared at first because we’re doing an hour and a half show with lines split between three people, which means a lot of lines, but I’ve very much enjoyed it.”

Johnson reflected, “It’s been really fun to see how different we all are, because Dawson, Tommy and I all have different personalities, so we have different approaches to our comedy. It brings a lot of fun elements and weird things that help us bounce off each other, and it works really well.”

An interesting element of “Shakespeare Abridged,” as the show has been nicknamed, is that the three actors portray themselves. “There are so many different characters that you go in and out of,” said Johnson. Because of the “play within a play,” the three actors not only work on character development for the Shakespeare roles, but also for the characters of their own selves. “If you think it’s hard acting as somebody else, try acting as yourself,” commented McCarthy. “But not too much of yourself, just enough,” added Johnson. Since this is a play rather than a presentation, the actors can’t just step onto the stage and start talking. They must always be in character, even when those characters are themselves.

The actors Dawson, Michael and Tommy are all putting on a show together, in which the characters of Dawson, Michael and Tommy portray Romeo, Hamlet, and others. They’ve had to  keep  their  characters  true  to their own personalities while still following the script and also becoming the Shakespearean characters whom they portray.

“These boys are literally playing themselves, so it’s cool to see in theatre how you can have your own personality in a character,” said Norman.

“The script is hilarious in its own right, but the great thing about working with Dan is that he has his own unique and brilliant sense of humor, and so do we, with all due respect,” said Ehlke. “We’ve injected a lot of our own personality and preferences and ideas into the show, resulting in something that reflects us.”

Every production presents its own challenges that grow the skills of everyone involved. “This show definitely has a lot more props than other shows that I’ve handled before,” remarked Samara Ehlke, Dawson’s sister, who helps out with props and costumes backstage. “The quick changes are insane,” said Norman. “We don’t have time to change or get props, so they kind of just throw everything on us,” explained McCarthy.

The show created an environment that allowed the cast and crew to bond as friends and grow in their theatrical skills. In loving words, Norman said, “The crew is dedicated, the cast is dedicated, the director is dedicated, the lights and sound people are dedicated. It’s a show of dedication, and that’s what makes a theatre show amazing. It really is like a small family. We’ve come together and had a lot of comradery.”

Johnson said with pride, “All I can say is that it will be a spectacle to watch, and you will not only laugh,    you will be impressed by the end.”

Holi-dazed for the Holidays

People enjoying the festivities of the Holidazzle (photo courtesy of

by TJ Armstrong

The jingle jangle of bells and Christmas cheer is right around the corner. Christmas decorations are already being stocked and displayed in stores. Too soon? Nonsense; the Holidazzle will soon be shining bright in Minneapolis once again.


People enjoying the festivities of the Holidazzle (photo courtesy of

The Holidazzle started in the early 1990’s as a series of parades located at the Nicollet mall to draw in business for downtown stores. Now it has transformed into a theme park with bright lights, food, live music and ice-skating for the public to enjoy. At first, the event was free, but once it moved to Peavy plaza and was renamed “Holidazzle Village,” it began requiring an entrance fee. Opening night starts the day after Thanksgiving. This will be the second year the Holidazzle will be held in Loring Park in Minneapolis due to construction on its former home at Nicollet mall. For the second year in a row, the event has discontinued the $6 entry fee and will be free this year again. Opening night will kick off with fireworks and holiday movies projected on a big screen with movie classics like “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Frozen” and “Elf.” It will have a big open ice arena that is free to the public and has free skate rentals. A warming house will be present near the arena for those, brisk fall nights.  The Holidazzle sponsors include iHeartRadio, Fulton Brewery, Spyhouse coffee, Xcel Energy and more. Plenty of local food vendors and other little side attractions will be available for younger children. The UMN choir and city council choir will be participating on several days of the event. There will also be live music performances by local and popular artists each night of the Holidazzle.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

“I went last year for the first time and really enjoyed it. They had a choir singing while I was there, and all the lights were pretty cool,” said junior business major Brian Johnson.

As with any holiday-themed event, be sure to get a picture with good old Saint Nick and all the reindeer too. Event planners promise that this year the Holidazzle will be bigger and better than ever, with more dazzling lights and ambient music.  The Holidazzle is a great place to bring friends and family to enjoy a wonderful fall night. It can also be an opportunity to spark a little bit of romance among individuals.

“Last year, my boyfriend and I had our first date there,” said senior psychology major Stephanie Peterson. “It was so much fun, and I would advise anyone to check it out for a great time.”

The Holidazzle will be open Thursdays to Sundays starting the day after Thanksgiving and ending on Dec. 23.  Another free holiday event to check out is the Macy’s Santaland in downtown Minneapolis. Santaland is located at the 8th-floor auditorium in the downtown Macy’s. It is filled with lovely Christmas displays and great activities for young kids and another cheap, fun place for students to get out of their dorm rooms.

“Santaland was and is always fantastic,” said junior communications major Kati Beckman.

The Holidazzle and Santaland are two holiday-oriented events that are great for students to check out without having to spend much money. They are also possible date ideas for those looking to take that special someone to see more of downtown Minneapolis.

Northwestern Theater branches out with ‘Into the Woods’


by Sara Elrick

Cinderella, Rapunzel, the Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, and Prince Charming are family-favorite fairytale characters everyone thinks they know everything about. However, once these characters come together in the musical “Into the Woods,” what people think they know about these characters will be turned upside down.

Little Red in “Into the Woods” (photo courtesy of UNW Theatre facebook page).

“Into the Woods,” originally adapted by Stephen Sondheim from James Lapines’ book, “Into the Woods,” is coming to the University of Northwestern—St. Paul. While the musical tells the tales of beloved fairytale characters, nothing turns out the way the movies depict. This story intricately weaves fairytales together, taking its readers and viewers through a woods filled with twists and turns. “Into the Woods” focuses on life’s consequences when people try to get what they want. This musical shows what happens after the “happily ever after.”

“This musical portrays real problems people face,” said Tommy McCarthy, who has the role of the Baker. “It isn’t all about happy endings. This musical is one that I think many adults will be able to connect with.”

McCarthy said that the first act involves many of the fairytale endings that have been shown in children’s movies and storybooks, but the second act shows what happens after the end credits and after the books have been closed.

McCarthy said the themes are aimed more toward adults. They include things that aren’t easily grasped or comprehended by children. Some viewers may deem these themes almost inappropriate, but for the first time in UNW’s theater department, the cast of the show has written a note to explain why this story needs to be told.

“This musical is one that I think many adults will be able to connect with.” – Tommy McCarthy

From the Cast Note: “Once upon a time, we were all children, starry-eyed princes and princesses, and then somewhere in the process of growing up, we stopped believing in the fairytales. … Into the Woods, reminiscent of many classic fairytales, reminds us of their original intent: to entertain children, but also to teach children how to make choices. … Life is a maturing process; we are never fully grown up. Into the Woods is a story worth telling because it reminds us not to sugarcoat reality as we teach our children to walk through life.”

UNW’s theater department did this show 11 years ago. The director of this year’s adaptation, Jennifer Hunter, is thrilled to run this show, especially because she has the opportunity to add her own twist.

Photo courtesy of UNW Theatre facebook page.

“’Into the Woods’ is done so often, so I was thinking, ‘what can I do to make this new without taking away from the genius of Stephen Sondheim?’” said Hunter.  “The vision for this staging of “Into the Woods” may be unlike any you’ve seen before: the creative possibilities seemed endless once we started.  The ensemble structure of the musical, the particular voices and talent of our students and the age and journey our actors are encountering make “Into the Woods” by Stephen Sondheim the perfect fit for our UNW theater season.”

Hunter chose not to release the big twist she has added to this production. She has decided to leave it a a surprise for the viewers.

“Don’t come to this musical expecting to know exactly how it turns out,” said Maggie Benham, who plays Rapunzel. “The story may not end the way you think it will, even if you’ve seen the movie adaptation.”

“Into the Woods” runs Oct. 28-29, and Nov. 3-5. All shows are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available now and can be purchased online at or at the ticket office in Maranatha Hall.

FORCE’s annual Multicultural Festival celebrates UNW diversity

UNW students from a variety of cultural backgrounds attended FORCE’s annual Multicultural Festival, Saturday, April 16. (From left to right) Lakka Benti, Milcah Elias, Kali Dlouhy, Ruthi Doto, Seble Doble and Queen Deya (photo courtesy of Kali Dlouhy).

by Jerusha Kennealy

UNW students from a variety of cultural backgrounds attended FORCE’s annual Multicultural Festival, Saturday, April 16. (From left to right) Lakka Benti, Milcah Elias, Kali Dlouhy, Ruthi Doto, Seble Doble and Queen Deya (photo courtesy of Kali Dlouhy).

UNW students from a variety of cultural backgrounds attended FORCE’s annual Multicultural Festival, Saturday, April 16. (From left to right) Lakka Benti, Milcah Elias, Kali Dlouhy, Ruthi Doto, Seble Doble and Queen Deya (photo courtesy of Kali Dlouhy).

With food, dance, fashion, music and more, the students of Northwestern came together Saturday, April 16 to celebrate the many cultures represented at Northwestern at the annual FORCE Multicultural Festival.

“The multicultural festival was a one-of-a-kind experience,” said freshman Kristina Myankova. “It was as though we all witnessed a little part of what heaven would look like. In heaven we will glorify our great God with brothers and sisters from across the world. It will be beautiful to take part of worshipping our great love, our great Savior and our great Redeemer, Jesus.”

The Multicultural Festival this year was able to feature both students and members of the Northwestern community as well as others from off campus.  Drawing students, friends, family and alumni, this event was an opportunity to unite while showcasing aspects of cultures from around the world.

“I enjoyed being part of the Multicultural Festival because it gave me an opportunity to share my Ethiopian culture with the Northwestern community,” said Kali Dlouhy.


Nouchi Xiong coordinated the fashion show during the Multicultural Festival (photo courtesy of Nouchi Xiong).

There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work that went into the event—from food preparations to coordinating and more.

Nouchi Xiong explained: “The festival was really fun. I got the opportunity to coordinate the fashion show this year, and it was a blast. It is nice to see the diversity here on campus and in cultures all around the world. It’s crazy to think how it is a glimpse of what it will be like in heaven with God.”






Karen Swallow Prior speaks on the power of literature

by Andrea Magaña

Karen Swallow Prior, an English professor at Liberty University, facilitated a literature session Tuesday night titled “Magic of Reading” where she discussed her experience with God, literature and her favorite books.

Prior was invited to speak at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul because of her many accomplishments as a writer, reader and most importantly, teacher. She received her Ph.D. at the State University of New York in Buffalo. Her success as a teacher can be seen through the many awards she has received, including the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013, the Faculty of the Year award by the Multicultural Enrichment Center in 2010 and the Sigma Tau Delta Teacher of the Year Award.

Dr. Karen Swallow Prior is a Professor of English at Liberty University in Virginia.

Dr. Karen Swallow Prior is a Professor of English at Liberty University in Virginia.

Apart from teaching British Literature, Prior has written two books: Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist and Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me. Prior has also contributed as a writer to Christianity Today, The Atlantic, In Touch and Think Christian.

She currently teaches British Literature at Liberty University, and is living in Virginia along with her loving husband. She is also the proud owner of a few dogs, horses and chickens.

Even though Prior has always been a successful writer and literature advocate, specializing in British Literature was not always her aspiration. When she started her studies at Daemen College, she pursued a career in social work. However, she discovered her passion was not in social work after taking a few English classes.

“I switched my major, and that made all the difference,” she said.

Prior explained her constant conflict with having to choose between God and books, and early in her college career she made the simple but common mistake of choosing books. She continued her passion for reading, and soon discovered a relieving truth. A truth that set her free from the spiritually restraining lifestyle that she was living.

“To love literature and to love words is to love the originator and creator of all words, and this truth just unlocked my life for me,” Prior said.

Using herself as an example, Prior was able to delve deep into one of her main points.

“Knowing who you are by the things that God has done in your life is essential,” she stated as she began her discussion on how she found her passion for literature, and how Christianity helped her form a deeper understanding of writing, reading and faith.

Now, Prior purposely integrates Christianity into her English classes. During her Tuesday session, she gave a small version of a three-day lecture that she normally gives to one of her English classes, on the topic of language as a gift from God.

“It doesn’t say that God is pie or that God is a chemical formula, but the Bible says that God is the word,” Prior said humorously while defining the spiritual power of language.

All truth is God’s truth, and we need to seek it wherever it can be found.

Prior’s final point during the session was that language helps people seek the truth, and seeking the truth should be a Christian’s daily objective. She also mentioned that understanding language helps us separate the untrue from the true.

“All truth is God’s truth, and we need to seek it wherever it can be found,” Prior said, before closing her last point.

Audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions afterwards. One of the questions asked was, “In what ways does literature inform your faith?”

Prior responded by saying that by reading literature, people are learning the command of loving one’s neighbor. Literature helps the reader understand a different point of view, or even meet and love a type of neighbor that we will never encounter in person.

Prior ended the session the way she started it, by showing gratitude for Northwestern’s welcoming and hospitable community. She also recognized that Northwestern’s students are truly blessed to have such a Christ-centered environment, and she even commented on Northwestern’s unforgettable campus.

“Your campus is gorgeous, and I can’t wait to Instagram it,” she said.


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