Setting the Stage for HOLMES AND WATSON

Behind the Scenes:
Erik Paulson, the set designer for Holmes and Watson, shares what goes into turning ideas in a script into a full-fledged world!

“The first step is always reading the script and then doing visual research with attention to how the director is thinking about the play. From there I will do a number of “low-stakes” sketches just to rough in some ideas and composition on stage (Image 1).

Pencil sketch of a set design.

Image 1

I usually jump in to Sketchup (a 3d modeling program on the computer), but on this I built a very rough scale model made for discussion with the Director (Image 2).

Rough model of a set design

Image 2

As we narrowed in on what was working I created a series of computer models and updated the winner until it was approved (Image 3). Knowing I could show a more complete look with an actual scale model I redrew everything in a separate drafting program and reduced it to 1/4” scale for the sake of 3d printing. Each piece was divided up into small sections and textures were added.

Finally, all the plastic pieces, balsa wood, foam core, and printed graphics were assembled into the 3d model with theater surrounding it (Image 4). I hand painted most of details in place.

Computer model of a set design

Image 3

This process is primarily important for the sake of communication. It’s all stages of taking what is in my brain and sharing it with collaborators –  the director, lighting designer, technical director, etc., and then refining it. The steps are different every time. Sometimes I don’t sketch, I  just jump into the computer model.  Sometimes I won’t make a scale model. Sometimes I mock up full technical models to discuss ways to make things move on stage.

Full scale model of the set for Holmes and Watson

Image 4

For me, the process is dynamic depending on the the needs of the collaboration and the play. For Holmes and Watson,  the director, Michael Evan Haney, and I collaborated between Minnesota and Sicily to suss out this rough environment. The challenge of the design was to first see Moriarty on the Reichenbach Falls and then see how an asylum would co-exist around it.  The architecture is supposed to be an old Scottish fort, reclaimed into a light house, and finally renovated into an asylum on an island.

While the architecture needed to feel specific, we wanted to also work abstractly, so the hope is that we are taken away to the perilous falls, or we see a Sherlock emerge from a cell, without being too literal.”

Construction on the set for Holmes and Watson is in progress now with first previews on July 12.
Learn more about Holmes and Watson and get your tickets now!

Why we love AIRNESS!

Back in 2017 a group of us from the Twin Cities went to the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, KY, searching for new works to produce at Park Square. We’ve seen other great plays there that were later produced at Park Square, including Cardboard Piano by Hansol Jung, and Dot, by Colman Domingo.

While the group skewed what one might call “older,” all of us fell in love with AirnessIt was fun, it was inspiring, it was about finding your tribe and pursuing excellence. Maybe it was because it let us 60-somethings relive growing up on rock’n’roll, maybe it was the music, maybe it was the enthusiasm of the performances, but something about this play struck home and stuck with us. Since then we’ve been advocating for Park Square to bring Airness to Minnesota. Once, at a reception, we took the then artistic director to follow us and we’d say one word to the table in the corner.  We said “Airness” and every face among these seasoned theater-goers lit up, remembering that wonderful experience.

Five years (FIVE YEARS??!!??) and one pandemic later, we’re finally able to enjoy this play and this sense of whimsy and possibility once again.  We think this is exactly the play we need right now. For those of us who grew up on rock’n’roll, it brings back good memories and lets us relive the days when three chords and an attitude went a long way.

Get your tickets, settle in, and prepare to have a great time. If you love Prince and Clapton and Townsend, you’ll love Airnessand you’ll never play air guitar in your basement in quite the same way again!

By Pat Sackett

Two smiling older adults, a woman and a man. She leans on his shoulder. Both seem relaxed and happy.

Pat Sackett with husband Paul, Park Square’s Board President

Volunteer Spotlight: Genny Freier

Anyone who has attended Park Square’s spring gala knows that it is one of the most fun nights of the season. The funds raised during this event allow Park Square to continue to produce meaningful shows and create educational opportunities that are accessible to everyone with pay-as-you’re-able programs. However, none of this would be possible without the Gala committee, a group of volunteers who give their time and energy to make sure that the gala is both magical and successful year after year.

Genny Frier (left) pictured with her husband, David. They are in formal dress with big smiles.

Genny pictured with her husband, David Freier.

One of these volunteers is Genny Freier, a lover of the arts and long-time gala committee member and silent auction coordinator.  Genny is like the best Park Square experience – smart, entertaining, warm and provocative enough to encourage you to learn more,” says former Park Square Executive Director, Michael-jon Pease, who has worked on galas with her since 2016.

Genny’s volunteerism extends well beyond Park Square. When her kids were in grade school she wrote the newsletter for their school’s Parent-Teacher Association, and she is involved with the Jeremiah Program and the Junior League of St. Paul, where she served as chapter president from 2001-2002. When asked what first drew her into volunteer work, Genny says simply “It was a family thing, a St. Kate’s thing, and a religious thing.” Born into a Catholic family, she says that the act of giving back is something that was instilled in her from a young age. This was reemphasized during her time as an undergrad at St. Kates, a school that champions leadership and service. Her family also has a legacy of volunteerism; her grandmother was heavily involved with the Red Cross during World War II. Passing the torch, Genny set the example for her children, Steve and Beth, that helping others is “just what you do” by involving her family in her volunteer projects and making sure that the kids in their community knew that the Freier door was always open. It was through her experience working with organizations such as the Junior League that Genny became involved in marketing and fundraising. As she puts it, “[her] time at the junior league was essentially a college degree in non-profit work,” building upon the skills she had already developed while getting her bachelors degree in English Education and masters degree in English Literature.

Genny was first introduced to Park Square at a friend’s birthday party that was hosted at Park Square and involved a performance of Becky’s New Car. She and her husband, David, were so impressed with the show and “amazed at what Park Square was producing, how many shows, and what they were tackling” that they decided to purchase seats for the season on the car ride home. As a former English teacher, Genny was also impressed with Park Square’s focus on education. She says “I just think that the whole educational piece of Park Square is fantastic, and I have had the opportunity to be part of, or at least witness the classes that the theatre does.”  Both she and her husband are members of Park Square’s Future Audiences donor group and the Mystery Writers Producers’ Club. 

It is her husband David whom she credits with her initial involvement with the Park Square gala committee, as he was the one who put her in contact with the team–and the rest is history. Despite having been involved in coordinating the auction, Genny says that she was “blown away” by the first Park Square gala she attended, describing it as a “magical, magical evening.” Since then, she and David have always sponsored a table at the event, telling their friends “you just have to come and experience this event, it is amazing, and so innovative and intimate.” 

Though Genny opted to attend virtually this year, she still brought her magic to the event: one of the items she donated to the silent auction, Soup-for-a-Year, was the most bid-up item of the night! Thank you to Genny for the joy and experience you bring to the theatre and to all the volunteers who make the work of Park Square possible!

Interview and article by Marketing Intern, Rachel Christensen


Air guitar crosses into theatre with an epic feel-good comedy at Park Square

Three people all doing air guitar moves.

Neal Skoy, Julia Valen and Michael Terrell Brown are ready to rock out in Airness.

Saint Paul, MN. April 11, 2022: For its first full production since March of 2020, Park Square Theatre offers a breath of fresh air with an uplifting story about air guitar enthusiasts. AIRNESS, by Chelsea Marcantel, directed by Angela Timberman will be staged on Park Square’s Proscenium Stage, May 11 – June 5, 2022. (link to photos)

A righteous and smile-inducing comedy, AIRNESS begins as newcomer Nina enters her first air guitar competition. She thinks winning will be easy, but as she befriends a group of charismatic fanatics all committed to becoming the next champion, she discovers that there’s more to the art form than playing pretend; it’s about forging friendships, finding yourself in your favorite songs, and performing with raw joy. 

“Have you ever tried to find something you really want and then you accidentally find what you really need instead?” ask director Angela Timberman. “That’s what this play is about.” With samples of favorite rock anthems threaded throughout, including hits by Queen, the Ramones, Pat Benetar and many more, AIRNESS is an exuberant reminder that everything we need to rock is already inside us.

“An all-out comedy that’s fricking funny, hella heartfelt, and badass brilliant.” — DC Metro

A  group from Park Square fell in love with the play when it premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville in 2017. The original January 2021 production was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, so it is with a roar of rock catharsis that AIRNESS at last makes its shredding, stage ascension. 

“I love how AIRNESS doesn’t take itself too seriously,” says Park Square Artistic Associate, Ellen Fenster. “It’s even better after the pandemic, it’s the breath of freshness which we all need right now, and yet, it really resonates today in terms of trying to ‘figure out how the skin I’m in connects to others.’ It portrays a place, physically and emotionally, where the characters really feel seen, when they are usually not seen in that way. It celebrates the human capacity for strange and unique passions, things people find to make meaning in their lives, connect with others, and find a place of belonging. Who knew air guitar was such a serious business?”

The play’s title comes from the three judging criteria of competitive air guitar: technical merit, stage presence and airness. “The last criteria is the most difficult to define yet often the most decisive of all,” according to the US Air Guitar Association’s website. “Airness is defined as the extent to which a performance transcends the imitation of a real guitar and becomes an art form in and of itself.” Minneapolis hosted the U.S. Air Guitar Championships in 2012, but anyone looking to get involved in 2022 will have to travel as the nearest competitions (at time of writing) are in Cleveland and Nashville. So put on your coolest power outfit, grab your best friend or a new crush, and head to Park Square to rock out with a play for everyone whose inner rock-god is waiting to break free.

The cast for AIRNESS includes Shae Palic* (Astrid “CANNIBAL QUEEN” Anderson), Daniel Petzold* (Mark “FACEBENDER” Lender), Neal Skoy (Ed “SHREDDY EDDY” Leary), Michael Terrell Brown (Gabe “GOLDEN THUNDER” Partridge), Julia Valen (Nina O’Neal), and understudies Berto Borroto and Maggie Cramer.

The production team for AIRNESS includes Angela Timberman* (Director), Dorian Brooke (Assistant Director), MJ Leffler (Set Designer), Ash M. Kaun (Costume Designer), Eric M. C. Gonzalez (Sound Designer), Alex Clark (Lighting Designer), Christopher Heilman (Props Designer), Jess Rau (Wig Designer), Kathy Maxwell (Projection Designer), Leslie Ritenour (Assistant Projection Designer), Ashley Raper* (Stage Manager), and Jaya Robillard (Assistant Stage Manager).

*Member, Actors Equity Association

TICKET PRICES: Previews: $27-$37. Regular Run: $40-$55. Discounts are available for students and educators, seniors, military personnel, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale by phone at 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday), or online at   #pstAirness

COVID-19 vaccinations or negative test results as well as masks are required at all performances. 

PHOTOS by Richard Fleischman Photography on the Park Square website HERE, or in Google Drive HERE.

A Conversation with Lara and Rick of Full Circle Theater’s ATACAMA

“Everyone I know has a story about how theatre chose them; once it catches your attention, you can’t look away.”

Picture of Lara Trujillo and Rick Shiomi. She has long dark hair and wears a red v-neck shirt. He has short hair and a gray sweater over a blue polo shirt.

Lara and Rick at a rehearsal of Atacama.

Theatre came to Lara Trujillo by way of music. The actor and director of Atacama, and Full Circle Theater core artist, began her theatre career in musical theatre and opera. Though she still is still an opera performer, Lara says that “a play without music was something new and challenging, and [she] loves to take on new challenges”. However, it was musical theatre that led her to meet Rick Shomi when she starred in a production of Into The Woods put on by Theatre Mu. 

Rick’s story is a little different. The successful playwright, Full Circle Theater core artist, and Park Square Artistic Associate originally wanted to be a prose writer. He says that he didn’t discover playwriting until he wrote Yellow Fever and realized that “theatre was a place where [he] felt at home.” It was this play that placed him as a key figure in Asian-American theatre. When Rick was growing up he had “no idea of theatre in the Asian-American sense.” Lifting up minority voices and stories and ensuring that theatre is diverse and inclusive is now a core part of all of the work that he does. 

When Full Circle Theatre was formed, centering diversity began with the formation of a core artistic leadership group that was intentionally composed of artists who represented a variety of different identities. Park Square’s new leadership core also reflects intentional diversity. This intentional diversity is then applied to all aspects of theatre, from selecting each season’s shows all the way to ensuring that each play is accessible to a diverse audience. As Lara notes, “plays that showcase underrepresented narratives and voices are often the ones that stay with the audience the longest.” Plays that touch on universal and social justice themes serve as conversation starters. She recognizes that audience members are often looking for more than entertainment, saying “Park Square audiences are hungry for great quality work and work that provides not just entertainment, but helps them to find meaning.”

One play that combines meaning and artistry is Atacama, an upcoming show that Full Circle is putting on in collaboration with Park Square (on stage April 20 to May 1). Though this show is set in Chile several years after the fall of the Pinochet Regime, it conveys universal messages about grief and connection, and draws parallels between history and the present, while warning about what can happen when a country and a people are deeply divided.

The combination of artistry and values is also something that occurs with collaboration between theaters. As Rick notes, “partnership allows theaters to combine values and resources, strengthening productions.” He also says that “it is always good for the community when theaters work together because it makes theater communities more active and stable.” Though Rick’s leadership role in both Park Square and Full Circle certainly serves as one driving force behind the partnership between the two theatres, he also says that, at least for Atacama, Park Square simply “felt like the right fit,” especially with the theatre’s increased focus on social justice themes.

For both Lara and Rick, the future of Twin Cities’ theatre lies in these ideas of collaboration and diversity. As Lara says, “theatre is now about sharing new narratives or unique stories, and anyone can throw their hat in the ring.” Through partnership between theaters, more stories can be told and “the universe of the theatre community can expand.”  And, with Rick and Lara’s help, Park Square and Full Circle will be at the forefront of this new wave of theatre. 

Interview and article by Marketing Intern, Rachel Christensen

ATACAMA is on the Park Square Proscenium Stage April 20-May 1, 2022.


Through the Eyes of Students

This past November, Park Square Theatre partnered with Katha Dance Theatre to present Shaamya: of Equality. Students from the Mounds View Area Learning Center visited the theatre and viewed a matinee performance. They were captivated by the production, giving a standing ovation at the end. 

Following their experience, the young people wrote their reflections on the performance. Here are some of the ideas they shared, demonstrating how connecting through the arts can broaden perspectives and bring people together:

“My favorite part of the performance was the way they tell their stories by dancing. A message I would take is to not be afraid to show my culture…”

“…The message I took away was ‘we all live together and all our lives are intertwined and yet we are still disconnected’. I think they just wanted to say that we need to come together as people…”

“…you can tell that there’s a message through the movement. It’s a very significant play/act…I absolutely loved it, and honored to be the first to see a beautiful art.”

Art Making at the Library!

On December 28 & 29, SteppingStone visited the Saint Paul Public Libraries Arlington Hills and Rice Street branches to lead two mask-making workshops for students ages 6-12 as part of the library’s winter Maker Break program.

Teaching artist Jack Bonko holding a half-mask covered with white fur and brown trim.

During this 2-hour workshop, young artists were encouraged to imagine a creature living deep in a winter forest and design their creatures using a mask base and art materials. They brought their creatures to life using their voices, bodies, and imaginations in guided creative drama explorations.

SteppingStone is regularly invited to join the Saint Paul Public Libraries in their Winter, Spring, and Summer Maker Break series where we offer workshops in music, movement, comedy, mask-making, makeup design, stage combat, play creation, and more. Saint Paul Public Libraries offers Maker Break workshops free of charge, with no advanced registration, and all young people are welcome to attend.

Learn more about the Saint Paul Public Library’s offerings here!

Photo: Teaching Artist Jack Bonko with his abominable snowman mask.

Suspending production of MARIE AND ROSETTA


Rachel Wandrei |


Saint Paul, MN. Jan 13, 2022: Park Square Theatre announced today that its production of Marie and Rosetta, originally scheduled to open January 19th, will be suspended due to concerns regarding COVID-19. The company is currently considering all options available for the future of the production, and will be issuing full refunds to everyone with tickets to the production.

Executive Director, Mark Ferraro-Hauck commented, “For months, while eagerly anticipating the full return of live theatre, our goal has been for artists and audiences to connect and celebrate; for theatre to offer healing and inspiration as we collectively recover from the hurts of the pandemic. While we have to press “pause” yet again, when we reopen we want it to be with hope and joy.” He continued, “We have been hearing the anxiety from our patrons, as well as facing challenges in the rehearsal room due to COVID-19. As we prioritize the health and safety of both our artists and audiences, everything is telling us to take a breath and return when we can do so with enthusiasm and positivity.”

Kim Vasquez, the theatre’s Producing Director added, “The theatre is immensely grateful to Director, Wendy Knox, Music Director, Gary D Hines, and the incredibly talented cast and company of the production. Under incredibly difficult conditions, they have been working passionately to create something beautiful and powerful.”

The January 24th performance by The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society will continue as planned with both an in-person and streaming audience. Later productions of Chelsea Marcantel’s air guitar comedy, Airness, directed by Angela Timberman, and the long-awaited Jeffrey Hatcher mystery, Holmes and Watson, directed by Michael Evan Haney are scheduled to continue as planned, as well as Augusto Federico Amador’s  evocative and moving Atacama, a partnership with Full Circle Theater Company.

Ticket holders are being notified by email and phone to ensure communication of the changes and refunds.

PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005.


Catch up on “The Green Menace”

Did you miss the first three chapters of “The Green Menace?” Watch them now so you are ready for the thrilling finale!

Two original tales of crime and intrigue from The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society
JAN 24, 7:30 PM
Watch it live in theatre or from the comfort of home!

The Society brings you two original tales of crime and intrigue, including the finale of our four-part serial, “The Green Menace!”

The Silence of Death” from the MORLS original series Mr. and Mrs. Nighthawk (Encore Performance): A wise-cracking heiress and her hardboiled chauffeur join flirtatious forces to unravel the sinister plot of a criminal known only as The Whispering Man! Joshua English Scrimshaw’s romantic crime fighting comedy was originally written and recorded during lockdown for presentation via Zoom. This is the play’s first live performance!

“The Green Menace, Episode 4” from Mysterious Assignment (Premiere): Agents Brinkman and Ship pursue the Green Menace to Washington D.C. where they discover the only way to save the world is to betray their country! The shocking full-length conclusion to the four-part serial created by Joshua English Scrimshaw and Tim Uren.

Four radio actors on stage with old-timey microphones and sound effects equipment.

The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society

Skylark Opera Theatre’s Amahl and the Night Visitors

This holiday season Park Square and SteppingStone Theatres are excited to be hosting Skylark Opera Theatre for their production of the classic opera for young audiences, Amahl and the Night Visitors, by Gian Carlo Menotti.

Amahl and the Night Visitors

December 4-19, 2022
On the Boss Stage

Tickets and information at

Amahl and the Night Visitors tells the story of Amahl and his mother as they encounter the Three Kings who are journeying to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. It is an inspirational story of faith, told from the perspective of a child. This opera captures the hope and wonder of the holiday season and will be enjoyed by the whole family.


The Park Square Ticket Office is open for phone calls Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5:00 pm.
Please call 651.291.7005.

For service other days of the week, please email

Tickets can be purchased online at anytime.

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