Dance event to raise money for school auditorium

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In a couple weeks, the Two Harbors High School Auditorium will become the site of its second dance concert in as many years.

Last year, Lake Superior Community Theatre (LSCT) produced a dance concert to celebrate the talents of Two Harbor native Philip Hommes, a dancer who performed in a number LSCT productions over the years and is now studying performing arts at the University of Minnesota.

This year, instead of celebrating one of its performers, the concert is intended to raise money for repairs at one LSCT's other venues: the William Kelley Schools Auditorium in Silver Bay.

The "Rock the Chair" concert was originally intended to raise money for the purchase of new seats at the WKS auditorium, but a few weeks ago, the school and fundraisers got a major surprise. An anonymous donor made $50,000 gift to the project, putting the school over its fundraising goal to replace the nearly 60-year-old seats.

But, as they say in the theater, the show must go on, and at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 11, dancers will again fill the Two Harbors High School stage.

While the fundraising goal for the seats has been surpassed, the auditorium is in need of more improvements that just seats, according to LSCT Executive Director Paul Deaner.

"We need chairs, we need front of house lighting and the auditorium ceiling was painted white years ago," he said. "That needs to be toned down to either pick up on the Mariner-blue shades on the walls of the auditorium or something less dramatic to prevent the light bouncing off of it.

When the chairs get pulled out, it is a great opportunity to take care of that ceiling and also to hopefully enhance the ceiling lighting as well."

While the seat fundraiser was still going on, Deaner, WKS teacher Katie Fritz and some others were brainstorming ways to raise the $100,000 the chairs were going to cost. Deaner suggested a dance concert like the one held in 2017.

Deaner contacted Stacie Juten of Duluth Dance Center, where Hommes trained before going to college, and many of the young dancers there will travel to perform jazz, tap, ballet and modern dance routines at the concert.

"This is a great opportunity for them to test their chops on numbers they've been working on," Deaner said. "They will be fully kicking it old-school on the stage."

The show requires a minimum donation of $5 at the door, but he hopes the cause of updating and improving the WKS auditorium will implore people to give more than the minimum.

The chair campaign was a "stunning success," Deaner said, but there are plenty of other improvements to be made and he hopes to use this show as a springboard for more updates, like building out the control booth so that more than one or two people can fit in the space.

"It will be an eye-popping show. It's also for a great cause," he said. "There are enhancements still needed in the Kelley High School Auditorium. Success breeds success. I hope people realize that we can leverage this, jump on the wave and really improve that auditorium and bring it back to the standard that those people on the North Shore and the school district really deserve."