A Spring Lake Park High School graduate has been cast in a world premiere “Deal! The Musical” now showing at The Ritz Theater in Minneapolis.
Aly Westberg, a 2005 graduate, plays the part of Julie, a character raised on a farm who has worldly dreams. Like going to college. Traveling. Owning nice things. But reality and the family’s lack of money puts her at odds with her mother, Elsie Swenson.
Minnesotans Tom Broadbent and Jerry Seifert wrote the show set in the small town of Stacey. Joshua James Campbell directs a cast of eight players.
The musical, a drama sprinkled with humor, tells the true story of growing up in Minnesota in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Art and Elsie Swenson, poor farmers, are raising their two daughters. Enter some colorful friends and relatives who join them around the dining room table in a poker game, and Deal! morphs into a highly entertaining and insightful evening.
“It’s really sweet,” Westberg, 24, said in an interview. “What’s sweet about it are the relationships that unfold during the show.”
Julie, Westberg’s character, spans the ages of 15 to 27 in the musical. She’s an adamant young woman who wants more than her family can afford to give. To play the dozen-year age span, Westberg uses a change in hair styles. Barrettes to sport a teen look and a more brushed out look for the young woman Julie.
“Deal!” is a Tyrol Hills Music production.
She acted at SLP High School
Westberg got her start in theater in a fifth-grade Christmas production, playing a girl who wanted to be Santa Claus.
She attended the former Kenneth Hall Elementary School and Westwood Middle School.
She honed her acting skills at Spring Lake Park High School. Among shows she appeared in as a chorus member were: “The Music Man,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Oklahoma.” She played a leading role in “The Boyfriend.”
Westberg graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, in 2010 with a BFA in musical theater.
While at UMD, she performed in “Footloose” as part of an exchange program to Istanbul. Recently, she was one of six cast members in “Bye Bye Liver” at Camp Cabaret in St. Paul.
In Minneapolis, Westberg has played Maria in the Eat Street Players’ “The Sound of Music” at Howard Conn Theater.
Among challenges one faces in a budding career in theater are the auditioning process, scheduling the auditions and marketing herself, Westberg said. In her audition for “Deal!” Westberg zinged up to a high D, sang 16 bars of a song from the musical and nailed a song the judges selected at random from a music audition book.
Westberg has long cast off her performance jitters. She had them when she first started out, but no more.
“Now, the nervousness has turned into excitement and an eagerness to get on stage,” she said.
Sharing a story is best part
Westberg’s parents Mary Arellano and Tom Westberg are her role models. She also names SLPHS teachers and directors Tom Young and Jeff Wressell, who “taught her a lot about being on stage.”
Westberg works as a supervisor in a Minneapolis Caribou Coffee shop. Her acting, for now, supplements her income.
For Westberg, the best part of acting is sharing a story with the audience.
“My hope is that I can continually find success and continually hone my craft and become better and better,” she said.
“Theater is magical. It’s something that makes me feel alive. I just love it. I can’t imagine not doing it.”
“Deal! The Musical” runs through May 6. Tickets $29. The Ritz Theater, 345 13 Ave. N.E., Minneapolis. For more information, visit ww.dealthemusical.com or call 612-436-1129.
Elyse Kaner is at firstname.lastname@example.org