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Hunter returns to theater role with Madhatters

It was spring 1976 and auditions were announced for a Madhatter Revival Show to be produced. The organization had been dormant for many years and Bill Bradford, a Wadena native, had returned to town and wanted to get the community theater going again.

Amy Hunter was then putting in her first year of teaching high school in Eagle Bend and having been involved in plays in high school and college, she decided to audition for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." She thought it might be a fun thing to do and a good way to meet some people in the area with an interest in theater. She had also just directed her first high school play that fall in Eagle Bend. She landed a bit part as Nurse Flinn with the infamous line spoken to one of the patients in the sanitarium, "Don't touch me, I'm a Catholic." This was the beginning of years of involvement in community theater in Wadena, Sauk Centre, Bertha and Staples.

Hunter played Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun," Ellen in "Luv," Antoinette in "The Imaginary Invalid," assistant directed "Black Comedy," directed "The Seduction," and the children's Christmas play, "The Nutcracker." Hunter also worked behind the scenes on numerous other Madhatter shows. She went on to play other notable roles such as Golde in "Fiddler on the Roof," Dolly Levi in "Hello Dolly," Maria in "The Sound of Music," in other community theater productions. She ended up teaching in Eagle Bend for 15 years and directed all the high school plays during that time. For the past 20 years, Hunter has worked for the Freshwater Education District schools, a consortium of schools in central Minnesota. As a part of her work there, she has directed peer education plays using area high school students and performing in area elementary schools on topics of bullying, child sexual abuse prevention and tobacco prevention.

The Wadena Madhatters are moving in a new direction with the Mad Lab Production of "girl." by native Minnesota playwright Megan Mostyn-Brown (produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. New York City.) This play is a serious look at some tough issues facing young women in our society today. Hunter sees this as a very challenging show in that it deals with difficult issues in a monologue format. The actors need to tell their stories without the assistance of props, sets and the usual elements that help with theatrical performances. The stories are frank, in your face, and at times very raw, but Hunter said, "They are stories that need to be told."

The show will be performed at the New York Mills Cultural Center on Jan. 14-16 and in Wadena at the Masonic Lodge on Jan. 21-23. Tickets are available for purchase at The Mall of Wadena, Peters Thrifty White Drug, The Harvest Thyme Bistro and New York Mills Public Library.