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E-M:/ MEC cosponsors North Country Opera revival


The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) is proud to be a sponsor of the 20th Anniversary Revival of Jay Steilstra's beloved eco-folk musical,


Stielstra's critically acclaimed musical play was first performed in 1982. It's an eloquent environmental love story with characters, settings, and songs that feature Stielstra's favored pastime: fishing Northern Michigan's pristine trout streams.

Jay Stielstra's


Saturday, Feb. 1 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 2 1:00 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 3 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 4 8:00 p.m.

The Ark
316 South Main Street
Ann Arbor

For information, call 734-763-TKTS
Tickets $20, or $12.50 with Student ID, union card, or fishing license.

"North Country Opera" is a love story that takes place in northern Michigan, the setting and inspiration for much of Stielstra's work. The plot is simple and timeless: boy meets girl; boy leaves for the promise of a lucrative but soulless career; boy yearns for the girl and place he left behind; boy returns. The musical play will be performed at the Ark, a nationally renowned venue for acoustic music, February 1-4, 2003.

A sequel, "North Country Opera Continued," will world premiere in May, picking up the story  twenty years later with the arrival of two land developers bent on turning the pristine setting into a tourist resort. Moral and marital conflicts arise and are ultimately resolved. The sequel will be performed by many members of the original cast at the Ark in Ann Arbor, May 3-6, 2003.

Originally produced at Ann Arbor's Performance Network with subsequent runs in Petosky, Mackinaw Island, and Escanaba, "North Country Opera's" cast and band featured some of the best-known perfomers of Ann Arbor's folk music community at the time, including: Connie Huber and Cheryl Dawdy, two thirds of the Chenille Sisters; David Menefee; Michael Smith; and Charlie Weaver. It was revived in Ann Arbor in 1992 and in Cheboygan in 1993. 

"The popularity of the 'North Country Opera' stemmed from its great songs, terrific singers, a great deal of wit, and a story that everyone can relate to," said Dave Siglin, founder and artistic director of the Ark. "I've often said that Jay Stielstra should be the poet laureate of the state of Michigan. His songs can be compared with those of any songwriter in the country as far as I'm concerned."

Stielstra, 69, was born in Ludington, Michigan and has lived most of his life in Ann Arbor. His creative resume includes credits as playwright for six musicals, regular musical performances with his band in local and national venues, acting - he won the Ann Arbor News Best Actor Award in 1993 for his role in his one man show, "Old Man in Love" -  and selected poetry to a soon-to-be published work of area poets.   

"The popularity of the original 'North Country Opera' always came as a pleasant surprise," acknowledges Stielstra. "And actually, I think 'North Country Opera Continued' reflects some maturity on my part as a playwright. The characters are more developed, the dialogue is more natural, and the songs are just as good."

Performances of "North Country Opera" are scheduled at the Ark February 1-4, 2003, with a preview performance on January 30. "North Country Opera Continued" will run at the Ark May 3-6. Tickets are $20, $12.50 with a student ID, Union Card, or Fishing License.