Minnesota Calling or Why You Should Read Messages to the Bottom

Three years ago Laura and I went to Faribault, Minnesota to see the Merlin Player’s production of our play, The Santa Dairies. We’ve kept in touch with the director and some of the performers.

That’s characters Sandy Hawes, who has the ‘Santa calling’ and Martha, one of the Hot Dish ladies.

At the beginning of September I received a text from Julianna Skluzacek who directed The Santa Diaries in Faribault. She asked if Laura and I had a new Christmas play. We didn’t have a new play and knew we couldn’t do something in a month. I replied, “Sadly, no.”

Then a week or so later I reread the text more carefully and sent an email:

Julianna, I just reread your message and realized you said 2018. What do you need? Laura and I would love to collaborate on something. Mala Burt

Julianna replied:

I’m looking for something that is like “Santa Diaries” in that it has a great love story, funny, some kids maybe but not necessary. I would need a title by October as that’s a deadline for a Paradise publication for 2018. Do you have something you could turn into a holiday show?

Laura and I talked. We had a funny holiday movie script called #Santa. We thought we could turn it into a play, so I sent an email to Julianna attaching the script, synopsis and cast list.

Julianna, we have a Christmas movie script that we could turn into a play. It’s called #Santa. It’s the story of a celebrity PR “reputation manager” who is arrested and sentenced to community service answering childrens’ Letters to Santa.

And we would work with you to make any changes you’d need for your geographic area. Cast list is based on the movie script and would be pared down. This would be fun!

Then we waited impatiently. After a week or so I forwarded the email above with this message.

Julianna, I just wanted to confirm you got our email. (the one with the script, etc.)

She replied she wanted to talk, so we set up a phone call for September 28. Julianna told us that she loved the script, but had some concerns. Our script was for a racially diverse cast and the Minnesota community wasn’t very diverse. She also thought there might be some expensive production challenges.

Toward the end of the converstion Laura wondered out loud what it would be like to do a play with the Santa Diaries characters but five years later. Light bulbs ignited in our brains. Who is Timmy’s father, anyway? It turned out the October deadline was really in November so we suggested sending her a one page synopsis of the arc of a new play.

Laura and I met, brainstormed, pulled together a synopsis and sent it off to Julianna. Then we waited.

And waited. (We aren’t very patient.) I knew Julianna was in a two week production and figured she was too busy to focus on our proposal. Waiting was hard. Laura and I really wanted this to happen.

Yesterday, early in the morning, I sent an email to Julianna. I knew her show had closed over the weekend and wanted to congratulate her on that, but I really wanted to know if she had any response to the synopsis. After all, this was not just her decision. It had to be presented to the theater board for approval.

She said she’d met with the board and they’d approved moving forward with the project. Then said she’d had a dream about the play and outlined an addition she thought might work. Actually it was brilliant if we can pull it off. (It invovles some cast diversity.)

Laura and I are over the moon! Of course we will go to Faribault, MN next December to see the premier production of our play – name to be determined. We would have missed this opportunity if I hadn’t gone back and reread that original text. Read to the bottom, folks.




Who Doesn’t Make Valentine’s Day Reservations?

Our typical foray to live theater at Center Stage is to see the show and then go out to dinner. We go to the Sunday matinee and then decide where to go to dinner. We never need reservations for early Sunday evening as long as a restaurant is open.

As You Like It

Sunday we went to Baltimore to see As You Like It. Laura was out of town so my husband got her ticket. Our friend, Betty Ann, is the other season subscriber. My hubby had forgotten it was Valentine’s Day, but that’s okay. He always remembers my birthday and I always forget his. If we were keeping score, he’s way ahead.

The show was excellent. It was held in a theater at Towson State University because Center Stage is undergoing a massive renovation. We’ll be seeing shows at Towson for the rest of 2016. This As You Like It was a modern production. Shakespeare’s version would have been all men as was the convention then. This was an all female production. The ensemble of merry pranksters sang and danced in the Forest of Arden as if they had been transported from a hippie commune.

I could understand all the lines and it sounded fresh and modern and made me want to read the original again (last read in college when the language seemed archaic).

After the play we made our way back towards the Eastern Shore. The last couple of post-theater dinners have been at Rustico on Kent Island where we’ve had memorable dinners. Roger pulled up the menu on his iPad and had us salivating. About fifteen minutes out I asked Betty Ann to call Rustico and tell them we were coming. The were totally booked and could seat us at 8:30. It was Valentine’s Day. We went on to three other restaurants on Kent Island, all of which were totally full. We won’t make that mistake again, but Valentine’s Day will not fall on a Sunday until 2021 and what are the odds that we would have theater tickets that day?

Betty Ann and I knew it was Valentine’s Day but somehow that knowledge did not translate to action as in “make a dinner reservation.”

Roger and I dropped off Betty Ann and headed home to a microwaved dinner of leftover bison spaghetti sauce with gluten free pasta and a salad. The duck with blueberry sauce that I was planning to order at Rustico will have to wait for another day.


Note: Rustico Restaurant and Wine Bar is located at 401 Love Point Road in Stevensville, Md., a block north of Route 18. It is open seven days a week for lunch (11 a.m., noon on Sunday) and dinner (4 p.m. to closing). Starters $6–$12; pasta $8–$12, dinners $20–$30; wines by the glass $6–$10. Call for reservations or book online. 410-643-9444; http://www.rusticoonline.com.