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Stories needed to create 'Milan: The Musical!'

Submitted photo Hope and Andrew Schmidt played lead roles in the PlaceBased Productions community play "The Spirit of Appleton" in May 2016. PlaceBased Productions is now working with Milan to create "Milan: The Musical!"

MILAN — Story swap dates have been set this month for the upcoming "Milan: The Musical!" production.

Theater artists Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord of PlaceBase Productions have produced similar large-scale theater projects in the nearby communities of Granite Falls, Fergus Falls, New London and Appleton. Their productions have ranged from exploring the Minnesota River Valley through Walking and Paddling Theater on the Minnesota River, to exploring the history of mental health care through Bicycle Theater. Find out more about their past projects at

PlaceBase Productions, in partnership with the Greater Milan Initiative and the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, are planning an original, community-based theater production that will take place in and around Milan this October.

Open auditions for this "one-of-a-kind" production will be held in August. PlaceBase Productions will be looking for 50-100 local performers, musicians, singers, dancers, artists, volunteers and Milan enthusiasts to assist with the production. Auditions will be open to all ages and abilities; no previous experience or preparation necessary.

But first, four story swap workshops will be held in the Community Room at the Old School located at 408 N. Fourth Street in Milan. The stories collected at these events will help form the script for the large-scale, site-specific, musical theater production that will be performed by the community.

Facilitated by Hanson and Gaylord, Story Swap Workshops are a place to share in story, history and memories of the town — whether you have lived in Milan your entire life or are new to the community, everyone has a story to share.

Story swap workshops are free, open to all ages, and include food and beverages. No RSVP required — just show up with a willingness to listen and share.

The stories collected will be used to celebrate the rich history, culture and local talent of the area. PlaceBase is still considering the format for the production, but they are discussing a Walking Theater production that will turn all of Milan into a stage.

Story swap dates and times are:

* Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (dinner provided)

* Saturday from noon to 1:30 p.m. (lunch provided)

* May 19 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (dinner provided)

* May 20 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. (snacks provided); following the Syttende Mai celebration.

Direct story swap workshop or PlaceBase theater production questions to Ashley Hanson -, 952.486.0533; inquires regarding Partnership Art, contact Chelsea Alger -; inquiries specific to Milan, contact Ann Thompson at 320-743-4128.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335