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Two Park actors appear at Chanhassen Dinner Theater

When there are auditions for plays and musicals at Park High School, Marit Christianson and Chelsea Butler will be there.

Christianson, a ninth-grader, and Butler, a 10th-grader, said they've been interested in theater and music since kindergarten.

"I love people in the theater," Butler said. "They are so friendly and willing to help you out."

They also had the unique experience of appearing in "Footloose," a musical, at Chanhassen Dinner Theater this month.

The theater asked high schools from across the state to select two students to participate in its StarKid program, which included rehearsing with the cast on March 30 to learn the final scene music and dance number and appearing in an actual performance.

The two Park students were randomly selected by Choir Director Ben O'Connor to appear in the show along with 100 students from 35 schools, according to the theater.

Groups of four students appeared in the final scenes over the April and May run of the production.

Christianson and Butler appeared in the May 4 show.

"It was very exciting," Christianson said. Butler said she made a lot of new friends.

They had to supply their own costumes.

Butler bought her dress at a thrift store and a friend of Christianson's mother volunteered a bridesmaid's dress.

When confronted with learning the dance, Christianson didn't believe she could do it.

"I'm not a good dancer," Christianson said. "I'm more of a singer."

But practice, including bursting into song and dance in her back yard, helped her.

"She got a lot better," Butler said, adding that the girls were not friends when they went to Chanhassen in March, but became friends as they got to know each other better.

Butler loves performing in musicals and acted in six productions while attending Cottage Grove Junior High School.

Christianson enjoyed appearing in "The Wizard Of Oz," in Linda Shaack's class at Grey Cloud Elementary School, but didn't have time for theater in junior high because she was in swimming.

But she's back on track with her interest in music and performing, having re-started piano lessons. "It didn't go well in the sixth-grade," she said.

Both students acted in Park's recent production of "The Wizard of Oz."

Kali Marcino, a Cottage Grove resident who attends Tartan High School, also appeared in the StarKid program, but she could not be reached for comment.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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