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Teen theater tackles mental health

Baby Bear (left, played by Mackenzie Brummer) is upset with Goldilocks (played by Josie Stracek) who will not be attending her big archery contest because her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is keeping her from doing so in the musical "Further Fidgety Fairy Tales" being presented at the Encore Performing Arts Center this week. Photo Courtesy of County Seat Theater

A group of actors ages 9 to 17 are out to turn fairy tales "topsy-turvy" in an effort to combat damaging and negative stereotypes of mental health disorders.

"'Further Fidgety Fairy Tales' promotes a better understanding of childhood mental health concerns," said County Seat Theater General Manager Joel Soukkala.

The musical, performed by local youth, will consist of three stories: "Goldilocks and The Three Bears" (obsessive compulsive disorder); "Boyd, Who Cried Wolf" (Tourette syndrome); and "CinderEdward" (bipolar disorder).

Playwright Matt Jenson and composer Marya Hart have rewritten these classic fairy tales specifically to increase the awareness of some of the various mental and behavioral health disorders that affect children today.

"The performance will both educate and inform students and parents in a very enjoyable way," said Soukkala.

The project is a partnership between the Human Development Center Foundation and the County Seat Theater Company. It will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Encore Performing Arts Center and Gallery in Cloquet. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors, and can be purchased online at or at the door.

After the local performances the group will take the show on the road to share their message. They will perform at the Carlton County Fair, and then begin touring schools throughout the Northland in September and October.

Since 2008, the County Seat Theater Company has been located in the Encore Performing Arts Center, at 2035 Highway 33 S. (on Frontage Road) in Cloquet. The theater offers a full season of local performances, as well as youth productions, musical acts and has an art gallery featuring work by local artists.