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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Helen comes home

A new play is sweeping Minnesota. It’s Jon Skaalen’s Helen of Boyd, who launched not ships but “a thousand piano students in Western Minnesota” (from the play notes). The characters in the fictional story of a church organist and piano teacher were based on Skaalen’s real-life piano teacher and others he remembers from his childhood church—Trinity Lutheran in Boyd, Minn.

“We’ve all seen movies of great musicians who fought against depression or drugs,” Skaalen said. “But I thought the life of a small-town church organist could be just as compelling. I imagine that a devoted musician like Helen strives to interpret the notes and words of hymns and anthems as they resonate within her soul.”

The play’s first official staging was in March at the Minnesota Association of Community Theatres Fest in Willmar, Minn. In August, Minneapolis audiences had five opportunities to see the play at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. The play “came home” for a performance at Trinity Sept. 15.


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