For 29 years, Bruce Danielson and Frank Wells have collaborated on the annual Cambridge-Isanti High School musical (give or take one or two when they took a breather).
This will be the final production for Danielson as he hands over the reigns to someone else after this year’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie” being presented Nov. 21-24 in the Richard G. Hardy Performing Arts Center.
After directing in New Prague for 11 years, he and his wife, Judy, and their kindergarten son, Matthew, moved to Cambridge where he began directing the musical and building the sets for the three annual productions, including the musical, the One-Act, and the Three-Act. The total, therefore, of musical productions is 40 years.
Danielson said, “I’ve had the great fortune of working with talented and dedicated people like Deanna Lindenfelser, Fran McGivern, Kelly Fahrni, and of course, Frank Wells, who I think the world of. FCCLA has been a huge part of our productions with Becky Lieser collaborating with us for years on intermission pumpkin bars and apple cider. The parents have been wonderful and contributed so much to the productions; people like Mary and Greg Opatz, Robyn Fixell, Darcy Bodin, Marilyn Titus, Jackie Heinen, and many, many others. And there’s only one Larry Palmer and I owe him so much for taking some of our combined ideas and making them into monumental set pieces, such as the rocking horse in “Joseph,” the ship in “Anything Goes” and now, the ‘Telephone Hour’ set in “Bye Bye Birdie.” He has a combination of a terrific imagination and the stamina to pull it all off.”
He continues, “I have had the pleasure of working with thousands of talented, dedicated, terrific students who loved theatre and put their whole heart and soul into our shows and I have wonderful memories of all of those young people, many of whom I still keep in touch with. Every show has its great moments and I am grateful to everyone I’ve worked with for making lasting memories for all of us. I know that I’m a control freak and that I am very demanding, so I know I’m not the easiest person to work with, but I have a vision of the end product and I want that for those involved so they can have the best product possible.”
And finally, “I could go on and on about the productions and about some of the highlights of the years, mentioning unbelievable students such as my son, Matthew, Dan Erickson, Eric Bauer, Mike Ranweiler, Matthew Shelley, and Andrew Pflipsen that were my heads of set and other committees and showed such an enormous work ethic. I could reflect on the cast of “Bye Bye Birdie” from 25 years ago such as Amy Young, John Ryan, Derek Anderson, Amy Boese, Dan Erickson, and Jason Peterson and how their talents always made me want to do that show again. It’s a very fitting one to conclude with.
“But let me finally say a huge “thank you” to my wife, Judy, who did costumes, make-up, and tickets for us for many, many years and, of course, was my foundation and supporter throughout these 40 years. I could not have done this without her, nor would I have wanted to do it. I thank my son, Matthew, who was a terrific head of set, head of backstage, and the best Alfred P. Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” that anyone could ask for. And thanks to his wife, Jen, who gave us some of the best choreography one could hope to see. My family has been wonderful. I love them and thank them.
“And thank you to the community for supporting our productions over the years and making your annual visit to the theatre to join us as the kids brought theatre to life. It has been my pleasure to work with your sons and daughters and to be part of the arts culture in Cambridge and Isanti. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.”
Tickets are available for “Bye Bye Birdie” from 11:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days by calling 763-689-6466. Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.