History Detectives: Landmark Center

One Act Musical – Single Set – 3 Boys, 3 Girls, 12 Member Chorus

Music By: Raymond Berg

Commissioned by: Steppingstone Theatre for Youth Development

Grant: National Endowment for the Humanities, 2007 “Uncle Sam Slept Here” Grant

 

Photo courtesy of Steppingstone Theatre for Youth Development, St. Paul, MN  

Description: Five teenagers are on a field trip to the Landmark Center in St. Paul become unstuck in the city’s past, and must figure out how to get back to the present.

Synopsis: A mall rat, a star athlete, a girl scout, a nerd, and a Goth girl are bored out of their minds on a field trip to the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul, the cultural center that used to be the city’s main courthouse and post office. When a mysterious letter dated from 1902 tumbles out of the post office display, they open it. Suddenly instead of a bus waiting for them in the street, they see downtown St. Paul from 1902, filled with horses, carriages, and poop! Somehow they need to find another letter that will take them back to their own time.

Complicating the situation is Clifton, a young man who they meet in 1902 and whose descendents they meet later in the different times they travel. Because they met Clifton in 1902, his descendents have experienced nothing but failure. Somehow they need to fix what happened to Clifton in 1902 and find a time period with a letter that will take them back to the present. Along the way they met a World War I conscription gang, desperate 1950’s flood victims, and a huge group of disco freaks.

Why It Was Written: Yes, this musical is about a building! Steppingstone Theatre commissioned this musical as part of the Uncle Sam Slept Here history project. The project was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities to create public awareness about the history of Landmark Center. Richard Hitchler (artistic director at Steppingstone) and I first explored a much more serious approach where I would dramatize the experiences of St. Paul immigrants that became citizens in the building’s courtrooms.

But that idea took the focus away from NEH grant’s purpose – to dramatize the building itself. So instead we came up with a team of comic teenagers unstuck in time.  This musical was also the last production Steppingstone performed before they moved to their new theatre building, so it was a fitting tribute to their many seasons at the Landmark Center.

Listen to the Music Tracks:

History, What a Waste of Time

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It’s Not Your Turn

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Junior Public Safety Milita

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Dance this Dive

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Read the First 10 Pages: Script Sample