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Winter at The Zephyr will be a-MAZE-ing

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A Zephyr Theatre Newsletter for Those "In the Know"

Executive Director's Note

I just came in from wandering through the moonlit skeleton of an ice palace maze. This has been an incredible week of hard work bringing this vision to life out of dust (or shall we say, snow). The narrow paths of the maze are quite symbolic for the narrow path we are constantly walking and re-adjusting for a Covid-safe and family-friendly event. Much like any theatre event, these adventures bring excitement and fun, while creating challenges and stresses like no other. All the while, students with resilient and happy spirits continue to gather by Zoom for improv classes and rehearsals for a production of “Guys and Dolls, Jr.” with anticipation of being together in person soon. We continue to plan for the summer and it becomes an excellent diversion from frostbitten toes while watching 280 pound blocks of ice being hoisted high in the winter sky.

~ Calyssa Hall

Winter at The Zephyr will be a-MAZE-ing

The Zephyr Theatre has come up with a very cool way to celebrate winter, and it’s all about ice.

Construction on the theatre’s Ice Palace MAZE began Jan. 7. By opening night Jan. 22, this icy delight will include 8-foot-tall exterior walls, a half-mile long interior ice maze, ice thrones, ice sculptures, and ice slides. More than 1,500 blocks, each weighing 260 pounds, will be transformed into this winter playground. A tower of colored lights will be a focal point.

The Ice Palace MAZE will remain a cold-weather attraction through March, weather permitting. It is among the many Wintertime in Stillwater events.

“Visiting our Ice Palace MAZE will be a fun, safe, family-focused way to celebrate winter,” said Calyssa Hall, The Zephyr Theatre’s executive director. “We hope it will bring a lot of joy to Stillwater residents and visitors.” 

Calyssa had turned the theatre’s south parking lot into seating and dance floor during outdoor concerts and a Shakespeare production last year, when coronavirus rules limited access to the theatre. With some of those rules still in place, “the Ice Palace MAZE allows us to create something artistic outdoors,” she said.

Starting Jan. 22, Ice Palace MAZE hours will be 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are free for kids younger than 4, $10 for ages 5-12, $15 for age 13 and older. To order tickets, go to www.icepalacemaze.com.

Making the Magic and Production Updates

A behind-the-scenes look at what’s happened and what’s coming up!

Staff Spotlight: Franz Hall

Franz amidst the ice maze constrution

Franz Hall was the voice of reason as Dr. Campbell, chairman of the board of directors of the Bailey Building and Loan, in The Zephyr’s Christmas recording of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 

His was a small supportive role in that production. Day in and day out at the theatre, his behind-the-scenes role is much bigger.

Franz is The Zephyr’s operations director. From his office at the theatre, he oversees building maintenance, coordinating with plumbers and other workers. In the makeshift workshop, he designs and builds production sets. Leading up to productions and events, he oversees such details as seating charts and ticketing. During productions, he’s often in the front of the house hosting the event.

“When you have a small office staff, you end up doing whatever needs to be done,” he said in his matter-of-fact manner.

This month, he also will supervise the building of the Ice Palace MAZE in the south parking lot of the theatre.

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This month, he also will supervise the building of the Ice Palace MAZE in the south parking lot of the theatre. The 8-foot-tall ice walls will surround a half-mile of ice maze with a tower of lights in the middle. The Ice Palace Maze, opening Jan. 22 and running through March, will be The Zephyr’s contribution to Wintertime in Stillwater events.

Franz, an architect, designed The Zephyr’s Ice Palace MAZE. Working as a professional photographer, he had taken photos of the ice palace erected near Lake Phalen in 1986. But this is the first time he has built with ice, and he admits that weather — too snowy, too warm, too unpredictable — probably will be the project’s biggest challenge. 

Apparently, this 70-year-old Minnesota native loves a challenge. On his drawing board are the ambitious plans for The Zephyr’s expansion. Franz envisions a 330-seat theatre that he hopes will become “the Guthrie on the east side of the Cities.”

Franz is not alone in that vision, of course. Daughter Calyssa Hall is the theatre’s executive director, daughter Cassidy is the theatre’s children’s program coordinator, and wife Carol is the theatre’s administrator who books the performers. 

The four Halls live together in Afton, where the theme is basically “all theatre all the time.” Once in a while, Franz said, the family might gather their two Coton De Tulear dogs and drive to Taylors Falls for a break. But then it’s always back to the theatre to keep the dream alive.

What's Coming Up

We are doing virtual events where we can and hope to open the doors, or parking lot, to all of you as much as we can!

  • Jan. 22 – Feb. 28 – Zephyr’s Ice Palace MAZE

Stay tuned for more information.

Ice Palace MAZE

What can YOU do to help?

One way that makes a BIG impact in how people find The Zephyr are positive review on various sites such as Google, Nextdoor, and TripAdvisor. 

Please take a short moment and share a memory of a great experience you’ve had at a performance, concert, or other event through The Zephyr Theatre. 

We appreciate your support!

Perks of Sustaining Members

There are numerous perks of being a Sustaining Member, here are a few of them!

  • Discounts on tickets
  • Sustaining Member lapel pin
  • Recognition in playbills (as your preferred name or anonymously)
  • Show your support for the arts community!

How to Support

If you are an individual or family who has the ability to support The Zephyr, please visit our webpage to see the options available.

They include one-time donations, becoming a Sustaining Member, in-kind gifts, purchasing a commemorative paver, and more.

Thank you so much for connecting with us through Backstage at the Z!

Stay tuned for more to come, stay connected with those you love,
and please please please stay safe.

You can find more information about The Zephyr
on our website, Facebook page,
or follow us on Instagram (@stillwaterzephyrtheatre).

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