Lake Superior Theatre - 270 N Lakeshore Blvd. Marquette, MI 49855

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History of Lake Superior Theatre, Inc.

The planning process and creation of Lake Superior Theater began as a joint effort with Northern Michigan University and the City of Marquette during their Sesquicentennial Year in 1999. Dr. Shelley Russell, a Theater Professor at Northern Michigan University was approached by the City of Marquette to write a historical musical, Beacon on the Rock, for the city’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1999. Lake Superior Theater was born from that collaboration and has been working every summer since toward its mission of acting as a regional theater which presents and preserves the unique culture and history of the Upper Peninsula and fosters the performing arts. The Board of Directors has since then determined the plays which will be performed in the boathouse venue. Lake Superior Theaters Season is six weeks beginning at the beginning of July and running through mid-August with typically a total of 30 performances.

Lake Superior Theater, Inc., is a non profit semi-professional organization with 501 c (3) status that was founded in 1998 in Marquette, Michigan, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Lake Superior Theater’s mission is: to present and preserve our past by developing and presenting original, professional dramatic productions of a cultural/and or educational nature which will further the knowledge and appreciation of the heritage of our area and region through the creation, development, publication and presentation of live theater.

Our strategies include conducting arts and education outreach programs and introducing audiences to live theater performances. Our goal is to keep our ticket prices affordable so families who attend will be motivated to explore and preserve their past. We have a volunteer Board of Directors which offers tremendous support, and we receive immeasurable support from the cast and crew. The cast and crew are a mix of semi professional actors, student interns and community members.

The unique venue for Lake Superior Theater’s summer productions is the Frazier’s Lake Superior Theater Boathouse, which in the winter months actually serves as a working boathouse and in the summer is transformed into a theater for the productions. The boathouse is located on the shores of Lake Superior. We can seat approximately 180 persons for each performance and have five shows per week, Wednesday through Sunday. The building is handicap accessible. The Fraziers’ lease the building to the theater for $1.00 per season. Because of the uniqueness of the venue, many persons who attend our theater performances are people who otherwise would not go to see a play at “a theater.”

The Board of Lake Superior Theater received a National Endowment Chairman’s Discretionary Grant in 2001 from Chairman Bill Ivey, who attended the theater during the summer of 2000. This grant was used to upgrade the lighting of the boathouse theater space. The theater is supported annually by the community through special fundraisers, City of Marquette and Northern Michigan University support, donations and ticket sales.

Production History

– Produced historical musical Beacon on the Rock in 1999, written and directed by Shelley Russell with music written by Robert Engelhart.

– Produced historical musicals Beacon on the Rock and Haywire in 2000, original historical musicals.

– Produced historical musicals Beacon on the Rock, Haywire and new musical Points North in 2001.

– Produced 4 plays in 2002 – Beacon on the Rock, Superior Heroes, Points North and Escanaba in da Moonlight.

– Produced 3 plays in 2003- Superior Heroes, Holdin’ Our Own: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and Voelker: Life on the Fly.

– Produced 4 plays in 2004- Songs on the Shore, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Dear Edwina, Jr. and Beacon on the Rock.

– Produced 4 plays in 2005- 1776, Honk Jr., Songs For A New World, A Gala Day At the Co-Op.

– Produced 4 plays in 2006- A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Into The Woods Jr., The Christmas Schooner, Proof.

– Produced 3 plays in 2007- Anything Goes by Cole Porter, Guys and Dolls Jr., Keepers of the Light (locally written musical play themed around Lighthouses and Lightkeepers of Lake Superior).

– Produced 4 plays in 2008- Beacon on the Rock 10th Anniversary, Jeff Daniel’s Escanaba in Love, Treasure Island, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

– Produced 4 plays in 2009- Guys on Ice (ice fishing musical), Anatomy of a Murder, McSith, The Orphan Train. Sponsored first Drama and Dreams Playscape Drama Camp.

– Produced 6 plays in 2010- Lake Stories (original script), Little Women, The Last Five Years, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, The Lion, The Slave and the Rodent (original opera) and A Home For Me (original script youth production). Sponsored second Drama and Dreams Playscape Drama Camp.

– Produced 4 plays in 2011- Guys on Ice musical, The Love List play, The Secret Garden musical, Willy Wonka Jr. youth musical, and sponsored Drama and Dreams Playscape Drama Camp. Assumed responsibility for City of Marquette Arts and Culture Center’s Youth Theatre year-round program which produced Marquette Goes Hollywood Fundraiser Concert.

– Produced 6 plays in 2012- A Thousand Clowns, Dandelion Cottage world premiere, The Mouse That Roared (youth theatre), Behind the Dandelions (original production), Bobby Glenn Brown and Friends, Annie Jr. (youth theatre) and sponsored Drama and Dreams Playscape Drama Camp.

–  Lake Superior Youth Theatre produced Annie Jr. in 2012.

–  Lake Superior Youth Theatre produced Disney’s The Little Mermaid Junior and the original historical play A Man Named Marquette in the winter and spring of 2013.


Lake Superior Theatre has received and participated in various awards and designations throughout the years.
  • Marquette Community Foundation Catalyst Award 2011
  • Marquette Distinctive Destination Participation 2010
  • Peter White Award- Marquette County History Museum for preservation and enhancement of history in Marquette County 2010
  • Barbara H. Kelly Historic Preservation Award 2008
  • Michigan’s Cool U.P. Nominee
  • 2004 All-American City Presentation 2003 (Marquette a winner)
  • Great Lakes Community Arts Award 2001
  • City of Marquette Arts Activist-Peter and Peggy Frazier 2001
  • National Endowment for the Arts Chairman’s Action Grant 2000 Michigan Humanities Council Grant 1999
  • Michigan Historical Society Award 1999
  • Outstanding Marquette Citizen Award- Peter and Peggy Frazier
  • Outstanding Arts Organization Lake Superior Theatre 1999
  • Michigan Historical Society Award 1999
  • Michigan Humanities Council 1999
  • Peter White Scholar Award- Shelley Russell/Lake Superior Theatre 1998/99