The curtain rises: Heartland Festival

Back on stage in Platteville Group enters 13th season with 4 scheduled performances

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Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 12:00 am

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. -- The Heartland Festival annually brings in actors from outside of the tri-state area. This year, it had to expand its reach even more.

Group leaders

* Michael Breitner, director of Center for the Arts at University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

* David Schuler, co-artistic director.

* Ann Dillion Farrelly, co-artistic director.

Size of group

Paid: 22

Volunteers: 38

Group's history

The Heartland Festival began at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2000, after a successful run of its Shakespeare Festival. This is its 13th season. The festival went on hiatus in 2012, during the Center for the Arts renovation.

Each summer, for eight weeks, there are musicals, a cabaret or dinner theater performance and a children's show.

"This is a great attraction for people who are vacationing in the area. Come and get your musical theater on," Breitner said.

Group's mission

"To make sure the arts, visual and performing arts, continue to be alive on campus during the summer."

Group's challenges

One of the challenges this year has been finding professional and semi-professional actors. This year, the festival organizers had to go to St. Louis.

"We have a greater variety of people. This year, some of our paid actors are more spread out geographically," Breitner said.

Another challenge is making sure people are coming to the festival. They want to offer a variety of shows that attract people from the region.

"We did "Nunsense" and "Fiddler on the Roof," people just love those two," Breitner said.

Interesting anecdotes

* This season will feature "Next to Normal," a rock musical about a mother who has bipolar disorder. It is critically acclaimed and has won Tony awards.

Returning performers Vasiliki Fafalios will play Diana; John Dobbratz will play Dan and Allison Scheer will play Natalie in the musical.

"This one will actually make you think," Breitner said. "It's definitely not a piece of fluff."

* Katherine Duffy, who performed in "Frankly Scarlett, You're Dead," in 2013, and "Murder Rides Again," in 2011, is one to watch.

"She's certainly a rising star, she has unbelieveable sense of comedic timing," Breitner said.

* Shannon O'Boyle, a member of the 2010 Heartland Festival, recently was cast as Girl in "Once" on Broadway.

* Adam Fane, another member of the 2010 Heartland Festival, is appearing in musicals in Chicago.

Schedule of events

June 6-7: July 6-19: "Give My Regards to Broadway."

June 13-29: "Next to Normal."

July 3-20: "Shrek."

July 11-12: "The Secret Garden."

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