Kenai Performers

Courtesy of Kenai Performers

Jo March isn’t afraid of “blood and guts stuff” in the stories she writes. The second of the four March sisters and the main character of the Kenai Performers’ new show "Little Women," it’s the attitude Jo takes toward everything in her life. The story of "Little Women" follows her as she and her sisters grow up and navigate the difficulties of life together. The Kenai Performers are bringing the classic novel to the stage for the next two weekends.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Some shows, like the Kenai Performers’ upcoming production of “Little Women,” involve an assemblage of elaborate costumes and sets.

Not the one-woman show “Grounded,” by George Brant. The Kenai Performers are bringing it to the stage and screen this weekend and next.

AnnMarie Rudstrom is the play’s main, and only, character.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Walking into the Kenai Performers space for the first time, you might think you’ve gotten the address wrong. 

It doesn’t look like a theater inside, but a church, with lofty gothic arches that frame a candlelit altar. There’s even a choir.


Joe Rizzo, executive director of Triumvirate Theatre, and Paul Morin and Rebecca Gilman, director and producer of "Murder in the Cathedral" with the Kenai Performers talk about maintaining community theater amid COVID.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The best way to make sure something doesn’t happen is to plan for it.

That was certainly the case this year for the Kenai Performers. With more directors stepping up to put on shows than ever before, the theater penciled in at least seven productions this season. Most years, the organization puts on between three and five shows.

“The original plan for 2020-21 was going to be the biggest thing that we had done for a long while," said board member Rebecca Gilman.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Though the Kenai Performers cast “Dancing at Lughnasa” before coronavirus became a ubiquitous term, the show is an unexpectedly good tonal fit for culture during the pandemic.

“Finding joy in a rough time. I’ve always really enjoyed the Irish mentality of storytelling where you have humor and sadness in the same story and it somehow fits,” said Ian McEwen, who is directing the Kenai Performers production of “Dancing at Lughnasa,” which opens tonight at the performers’ space behind Subway on Kalifornsky Beach Road.

McEwen cast the show in January and it was supposed to be staged in May. But then, of course, came COVID-19. The cast switched to Zoom rehearsals for a couple of months, which was not ideal in many regards, but helpful in others.

“Rehearsal over Zoom really just turned into more of a line reading,” McEwen said. “Every time we would do about half the show at a time. And one of the biggest parts of Zoom was just to keep the actors in the script and to keep that connection. And because we ended up being kind of our own little group, trying to stay in your own little unit because of this, we grew into such a tight group that it really added to the family aspect of the show. So, oddly enough, it helped the performances.”


Kenai Performers

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the performing arts for a loop, hitting the pause button for the majority of the spring. But, like many organizations, they’re figuring out ways for the show to go on.

Kenai Performers is getting auditions underway for a winter production of “Murder in the Cathedral,” a drama about the historical murder of English Archbishop Thomas Beckett in the Canterbury Cathedral in the Middle Ages. In the past, auditions have been open, with aspiring actors showing up whenever they want. This time, hopefuls have to sign up ahead of time for slots over the course of three days.

Co-directors Terri Zopf-Schoessler and Donna Shirnberg sing the priases of the cast and crew of the Kenai Performers' winter musical, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

Neil Simon's 'Lost in Yonkers' opens Friday

Nov 14, 2019
Kenai Performers

Opening Friday Night at the Kenai Performers Performing Arts Center is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Neil Simon play “Lost in Yonkers,” directed by Cherri Johnson.
    On KDLL’s Kenai Conversation Wednesday, she said it was a play she was well-familiar with.

The Kenai Performers production of Neil Simon's  "Lost in Yonkers" opens Friday, and this week on the Kenai Conversation we welcome director Sherri Johnson. She's joined by Sally Casano to also talk about the production of "The Vagina Monologues" they staged in Kasilof last summer.

'Willy Wonka' begins two-week run tonight

Feb 21, 2019
Kenai Performers

The long-anticipated Kenai Performers' production of Willy Wonka opens tonight (Thurs.) at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium. The production promises several twists on the original story, and what sounds like an unusually large amount of high technology.

Co-directors Terri Burdick and Donna Shirnberg were on yesterday's Kenai Conversation and kind of explain the technology.

Kenai Conversation: All about 'Willy Wonka'

Feb 20, 2019

  The Kenai Performers production of ‘Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka’ opens this week for a two-weekend run. In advance of opening night, we welcome both directors and two of the performers to our studio for a look behind the scenes.

Kenai Performers

  Though days are getting longer now, there’s still a lot of winter still ahead. But here in the Central Peninsula, right around the time that cabin fever starts to set in, there’s comedy and music  — and this year chocolate — in the form of the annual Kenai Performers extravaganza. This year it’s “Willy Wonka.”

KDLL’s Jay Barrett spoke with Terri Burdick about the play, especially about how the Kenai Performers are hoping life imitates art.

Willy Wonka will premier at the end of February and run two weeks. We will have more about the play as opening night draws near.

The Kenai Performers are taking to the stage starting tomorrow (Nov 15) with an updated play recounting life in Kenai in several historical periods.

“The Ballad of Kenai,” which is in its fifth revival, is largely set in Kenai Joe’s, the venerable watering hole near Old Town.

Terri Zopf-Schoessler (like wrestler) said the costumer worked hard to get the look right.

The Kenai Performers are staging a revival "The Ballad of Kenai," which looks at the community's past and future. Host Jay Barrett welcomes Terri Zopf-Schoessler, Mike Gallagher and Don Nickel to the mic to discuss bringing back the venerable play.

Kenai Performers

  Opening tonight for its second weekend at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium is a new generation of Disney musical, presented by the Kenai Performers. Directed by Terri Zoph, “Shrek: The Musical” has most in common with the first of the animated Shrek films.

Kenai Conversation: Shrek The Musical

Feb 21, 2018
Kenai Performers

Terri Zopf, the director of the Kenai Performers' production of Shrek: The Musical that opens Friday, along with tap dance choreographer Sally Cassano and three actors, Dagmar Meyer, Bill Taylor and Mike Gallagher, join host Jay Barrett to discuss what it takes to put on such a large and daunting production.

Metalsmith crafts 'Shrek' prop one link at a time

Dec 4, 2017
Jay Barrett/KDLL

Art can be found pretty much anywhere. Even behind the counter at the convenience store during a break. That’s where KDLL’s Jay Barrett found Robin Lyons working on a prop for the upcoming Kenai Performers presentation of “Shrek: The Musical.” Lyons will also be helping out as a stagehand behind the scenes, and will be on stage portraying a bishop in the cast. “Shrek: The Musical,” a production by the Kenai Performers, is in rehearsals now.