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County Seat Theater Company to stage 'Over the River and Through the Woods'

Nunzio (standing, played by Ken Peter) tells the story of how he won Nick's grandmother Emma with the song "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" during a recent rehearsal for County Seat Theater's "Over the River and Through the Woods." Listening on are (from left) Aida (played by Lynda Nordstrom), Nick (played by Keith Chapin), Emma (played by Corey Fischer), Nunzio and Frank (played by Harold Haapoja). Contributed Photo

The County Seat Theater Company is proud to present "Over the River and Through the Woods" at the Encore Performing Arts Center. The show will run Sept. 27, 28, 29 and Oct. 4, 5, 6 and 7. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m., except for Sundays when there will be only a 2 p.m. matinee.

The play, by Joe DiPietro, is set in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the home of Aida and Frank Gianelli. Every Sunday brings with it the tradition of hosting a family dinner with their grandson, Nick Cristano, and his other set of grandparents, Emma and Nunzio Cristano. Lynda Nordstrom and Harold Haapoja play the roles of Aida and Frank Gianelli, while Keith Chapin plays Nick, and Corey Fischer and newcomer Ken Peter play Emma and Nunzio Cristano.

"This production shows us the importance of family; of the people we surround ourselves with in our everyday lives," said Director Joel Soukkala. As the character of Frank says in the show, "'Tengo famigila,' when said in Italian, means, 'I am a man, I am doing well for my woman and my children, I have a reason for being alive.'"

Nick, a single Italian-American guy, routinely visits his grandparents every Sunday. However, the beloved family tradition is in trouble of ending when he is offered his dream job in Seattle. Since the job he's been waiting for would take him away from his beloved, albeit "annoying," grandparents, he wonders when the best time to tell them would be. Nick decides to just come out with it and tells them. The news doesn't sit so well. "How would he betray his family's love to move for a job?" wonder his grandparents. Thus begins a series of schemes to keep him around. Frank, Aida, Nunzio and Emma do their level best, and that includes bringing to dinner the unmarried niece of Emma's canasta partner. Caitlyn O'Hare, played by Aleyse Chapin, gets pulled into the family's scheming, and they immediately want to make her a permanent fixture within the family.

"The story is hilarious and yet has very touching moments as we learn about how these family dynamics work," said Soukkala. "This would be a wonderful show to bring the whole family to."

Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at 218-878-0071 or going online at

A special art show opening will be held from 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25 in the Encore gallery. The show will feature pieces by local artists and is open to the public as a free event.

Since 2008, the County Seat Theater Company has been located in the Encore Performing Arts Center, at 2035 Highway 33 South (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.