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Local community theatre groups share many firsts

The Madhatters Community Theatre of Wadena and the Lamplighter Community Theatre of Staples are collaborating for the first time on "A Walk in the Woods", a summer production by Lee Blessing, a press release sent to the Pioneer Journal said.

The show will be performed in Wadena's Memorial Auditorium July 15, 16 and 17 and in Staples at Centennial Auditorium July 19, 20 and 21. All performances will be at 7:30 p.m.

Don Hoffman, a native of Wadena who is a professional photographer, will also make his directing debut with the show. He has been involved with more than 22 Madhatter productions and four Lamplighter shows.

Additionally, Kevin Olsen and Matt Olsen, both Staples natives, play the roles in a father-son duo. Kevin is an actor/director/teacher, whose involvement in theater began in the early 70's when he was in high school. He came back to Staples to be a teacher during the 80's, helped start a middle school theater program and became an active member of the Lamplighter Community Theatre.

Matt Olsen graduated high school in 2002 after being in high school plays and community theater shows with the Lamplighters. He says he wanted to be an actor after he saw his father play a major role in "The Diary of Anne Frank", a Lamplighter production. He went on to pursue a theater degree from the University of Minnesota in Duluth, graduating in 2008, and then went to Chicago to start the Warrior Arts Studio, a non-profit devoted to providing returning veterans with an opportunity to tell their stories through art and theater. Also, Matt directed "Rabbit Hole", a Mad Lab production for the Madhatters, in 2011.

The play explores the relationship of two nuclear arms reduction negotiators, and the story is based on the 1982 nuclear arms negotiations that took place in Geneva, Switzerland. While the topic is serious, there is plenty of humor and friendship that builds between the two negotiators.

Tickets went on sale Monday at Thrifty White Drug and An Open Book in Wadena, at First International Bank and Trust in both Staples and Motley, and at Miller True Value in Staples. For more information about the production, call 218-632- 7469.