Emily Kurash Casey (left) and Dominique Sicard (right) rehearse for “Can’t Dance,” an original comedy about the disco era.
‘Can’t Dance’ brings disco to town
by ALEXANDRA RETTER
Bright lights and dancing shoes are coming to the Historic Masonic Theatre as part of an original comedy about the disco era that will feature a dance party and help support the theater.
Following each performance of “Can’t Dance”, which is written and directed by Winona Arts and Culture Coordinator Lee Gundersheimer, a dance party with music by local filmmaker and DJ Christopher Schroeder will take place. Special drinks and beers will be served by East Side Productions and The Boat House as well.
All profits will support the next stage of renovation of the Historic Masonic Theatre.
“Can’t Dance” is set at a nightclub called The Apple Garden on Long Island in the early 1980s during the disco era. The play follows four young people trying to find their perfect match.
“I wanted to try to capture the humor of that, because there was a lot that was funny, but also the sweet desperation of trying to pursue happiness in a fleeting space,” Gundersheimer said of writing a play about young people in a nightclub in the age of disco. “The play is about just four people who are trapped in that sort of circle of going out to clubs every weekend, and the hope is that two of them actually have managed to find partners, even though this would be the last place they should’ve [looked] because they can’t dance, as opposed to the people that can.”
Gundersheimer said he wished to produce “Can’t Dance” in Winona now to demonstrate that the Historic Masonic Theatre can be used for both plays and music, including the music of a dance party. He shared that he also wants to show that fun can be had with a dance party in the city, as there is not a regularly-hosted dance party in Winona.
Stage Manager Brittany Splittstoesser noted that she has never been involved with a play that includes a dance party after each performance, and she is looking forward to being part of the new endeavor. She said she feels the play incorporates great music that may make one feel nostalgic and bring one back to the ‘80s.
Dominique Sicard, who plays Marsha, said she is excited to perform in Winona for the first time and to perform with her husband. She added that she feels the play is fun and provides a release from one’s worries.
Emily Kurash Casey, who plays Carol, said she feels the disco era is far enough away to feel different from life today but is also a time period of which many people have distinct memories.
“I think that ‘80s disco era really evokes big feelings for people, because it was just to the extreme, which is really fun,” Kurash Casey shared.
Kurash Casey noted that she has performed in a play at the Historic Masonic Theatre before, and she finds it enjoyable to utilize the theater in a playful way now for “Can’t Dance.”
In addition to Kurash Casey and Sicard, the cast includes regional performers Tony Opelt and Dustin Luecke.
Gundersheimer said he feels the cast is great and made up of wonderful people, and he has previously worked with all of the actors except one. He added that cast members have been helping with putting together their costumes and have been finding the pieces of their costumes in thrift stores and other spots.
Gundersheimer stated that if the play is successful, it could perhaps be performed once a month on a weekend at various watering holes around Winona, as the play can be produced anywhere with a small stage or lounge area.
“Can’t Dance” will be performed at the Historic Masonic Theatre on January 24, 25 and 31 and February 1 at 7 p.m., and the dance party will take place after each performance from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The play will also be performed on January 26 and February 2 at 2 p.m. with the dance party following each performance.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. They include access to the dance party, and they are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/cant-dance-tickets-70278473807. Tickets may be purchased with cash only at the door as well.
The play, which is presented by Gundersheimer and WINONArts, won a 2020 advanced individual artist grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council.