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County Seat Theater opens season with "The Willow Princess"

The County Seat Theater Company of Cloquet will open its 27th season with “The Willow Princess,” a one-act musical comedy by Alison Wells and Bev Ross.

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A charming adaptation of Will Reese’s classic story, “The Willow Princess” takes us to Katzenfeld, a fairy tale kingdom filled with beautiful willow trees and a large population of cats.

But not everything in the kingdom is perfect.

The Wizard (portrayed by Mike Jurek) and his mother, Maga the Witch (played by Jeanine Goeres), have evil plans in the works.

“This is a new addition to our already busy season,” said General Manager/actor Joel Soukkala who portrays Prince Felix. “We will now be producing seven shows this year plus hosting numerous other events including projects with Minnesota Public Radio and the Minnesota Association of Community Theatres.”

This project — proposed by actress Jill Hoffman (Queen Julianna) — is geared toward families, but will be enjoyed by all ages. Families can take advantage of a special rate for this production.

“We want to continue to nurture our young actors that we see during our summer youth programs,” Soukkala said. “We want to make sure that they are exposed to the arts all year round, keeping them interested in live theater.”

A fun addition to the play — courtesy of Director Cheryl Kramer-Milder — is the Royal Felines of Katzenfeld. The chorus of felines that roam in and out of the action are played by adult actors Theresa Vermeersch, Aleyse Chapin, Annette Gannucci, and adorable youth actors Blaine and Nate Bong, Madilynn and Emily Vermeersch, Michelle Jokinen, and Annabelle and Lauren Soukkala. The addition of the bumbling Royal Guards played by County Seat Theater favorites Michael “Beatsie” Rosen and Denis Sauter “will have you in stitches,” Soukkala promised.

The cast is completed by local talents Harold Haapoja (King Harold), Josie Stracek (Princess Willow) and the Royal Music Conductor Regina Roemhildt.

The County Seat Theater Company will present performances of “The Willow Princess” at the Encore Performing Arts Center in Cloquet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb 7; at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8; and at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9 (the 2 p.m. Sunday matinee is sold out). Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $6 for students and there is a family rate of $30. Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at 218-878-0071 or online at

The County Seat Theater Company is located in the Encore Performing Arts Center, at 2035 Highway 33 S. (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. Concessions are for sale at each performance.