The Rhubarb Sisters are (L to R): Beth Hennessy, Valerie Peterson Wilson, Julie Kiehne and Elizabeth Fuglestad. Contributed photo.
Lanesboro Arts is proud to present The Rhubarb Sisters in a new production of parodies – “Rhubarb Through the Decades in Song” – at the St. Mane Theatre in downtown Lanesboro on Friday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m. The sisters will present their special blend of music from the 1800s to the 2000s with those tangy rhubarb lyrics to welcome in Lanesboro’s annual Rhubarb Festival in Sylvan Park taking place the next day on Saturday, June 2. Songs will be performed both a cappella and with a special musical combo, “The Rhu-Gals,” in a new script written by Elizabeth Fuglestad, with music selected and arranged by Beth Hennessy. The CBB Jazz Combo will also be providing pre-show, intermission and post-show music.
The Rhubarb Sisters hail from Lanesboro, the rhubarb capital of Minnesota. Since 2006, they have enjoyed entertaining audiences throughout Southeast Minnesota and spreading their rhubarb message of hope and good cheer. They have found that rhubarb can make its way into almost any familiar song. Just like the rhubarb they name themselves after, they are all about finding happiness in your own backyard.
Are these girls really sisters? Not biologically, but they are “sisters” united in their love of rhubarb and belief in simplicity and the comforts of home living. They love to ask audiences “who here has rhubarb in their freezers?” Responses almost always include memories of mothers and grandmothers serving up rhubarb in younger days. Rhubarb means happiness, and happiness means home where good memories are created.
For the group, the basic message is that rhubarb is a humble thing. It’s just back by the garage. But just because it’s humble, doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. In the Midwest, people make the most of what they have and rhubarb blends with anything. Additionally, you can hardly find rhubarb in stores. It’s inherently noncommercial and so are the Rhubarb Sisters, who travel far and wide in their vintage-style dresses and aprons, singing about the wonders of rhubarb.
Current members of The Rhubarb Sisters are Elizabeth Fuglestad, Julie Kiehne, Valerie Peterson Wilson and Beth Hennessy, all from the Lanesboro and Chatfield areas of Southeast Minnesota. In addition to their ongoing commitment to Lanesboro’s annual Rhubarb Festival, The Rhubarb Sisters have performed for community groups in Southeast Minnesota, at Duluth’s CHUM Rhubarb Festival, on Lanesboro’s Over the Back Fence live radio show, and at the Whalan Stand Still Parade. The Rhubarb Sisters were featured on A Prairie Home Companion when it was broadcast live from Lanesboro, as well as on KSMQ’s Off-90 show.
Tickets are $15 or $12 for Lanesboro Arts members, and are sold online at www.lanesboroarts.org, at Lanesboro Arts Gallery by calling 507-467-2446, and at the St. Mane Theatre box office beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the night of the play. The St. Mane Theatre is located at 206 Parkway Avenue North in Lanesboro.