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Final Playhouse youth performance at the Depot ends with a toast

The final performance of the Duluth Playhouse Youth Theatre at the St. Louis County Depot was a Sunday matinee of High School Musical.

On the Depot stage.
Cast and crew of the Duluth Playhouse production of “Disney’s High School Musical,” along with audience members join Duluth Playhouse Executive Director Wes Drummond in giving the Depot a farewell toast Sunday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Having called the St. Louis County Depot home since 1977, Duluth Playhouse Youth Theatre and School of Performing Arts had its last performance on the Depot stage Sunday. The final show was a matinee performance of "Disney's High School Musical."

The Playhouse will launch the new Duluth Playhouse Youth Theatre at the NorShor Theatre, 211 E. Superior St., this fall with "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical."

After the final performance of "High School Musical," the audience was invited up to the stage to get a glass of sparking grape juice to toast the Depot farewell.

"I just want to say thank you to everyone! I know the space means a lot to a lot of people. I've heard a lot of stories and conversations in the lobby about how much the space means and how much the Playhouse grew in this space," said Playhouse Executive Director Wes Drummond. "It's been our home since 1977. And there were a lot of memories made in this space. And those are memories that we'll take with us over to the NorShor Theatre."

On the Depot stage.
Nonalcoholic drinks are poured for a toast Sunday following the last Duluth Playhouse production at the Depot.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Prior to the toast, a slideshow of past performance photos was shown, with many in the audience cheering and whooping over.

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For High School Musical performer Cadence Graber, 13, the move from the Depot to the NorShor is both exciting and bittersweet.

"I've been here since I was a little kid and to see it kind of go away is really sad, but also cool to see where it goes," Graber said. "I can't wait to see where we can go from here."

On the Depot stage.
Cast, crew, and audience members crowd the Depot stage following the last Duluth Playhouse performance in the theater.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Graber has been acting in shows with the Playhouse for several years including "Matilda," "A Christmas Carol" and "Frozen Jr." In "High School Musical" she played Ryan, Sharpei's sibling and performance partner.

"It's been a really fun show!" she said.

Drummond said "High School Musical" was selected before the organization knew it would be moving to a new home, but said it felt appropriate because it was "the start of something new," quoting one of the songs in the show.

“Since its founding in 1914, Duluth Playhouse has had many homes. We are now fortunate to have a spectacular performance space at the NorShor Theatre. While we will certainly miss performing in The Depot spaces, the timing is right.” Drummond said. "The kids who take class and appear in Playhouse shows are ready for the opportunity to work on the NorShor stage.”

On the Depot stage.
Kara Salmela snaps a picture on the Depot stage.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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The show runs through Oct. 8 at the Mainstage Theatre on the UMD campus.

Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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