Cast members and guest musicians have begun rehearsing for an old-styled radio theater show that will be performed Saturday evening at 7 p.m. on Feb. 11 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Vasaloppet.

"This should be fun," said Gary Hirsch, project director of the show. "It's finding an interesting way to look at the Vasaloppet."

Titled "A Vasa Trail Companion" the show is patterned after the popular "Prairie Home Companion."

The show will be filled with music, sketches and a look at many aspects of the race.

"We've tried to mix in a lot of humor," Hirsch explained.

Several also will be called up from the audience to talk "everything Vasaloppet" including Jim Wallace, one of the ski trail groomers and Wade Weber about skiers preparing for race day.

And, of course, there's a "Gar Noir" sketch where the private detective must help track down the missing winner's wreath.

Many of the cast members and guest musicians are seasoned vets. Both Nolan James and Linda Nord are guest musicians for the night. James is a guitar player who Hirsch says, "will surprise you with his finger-tapping style.

Linda, who will also sing a few numbers, is an exceptional vocalist.

"We've tried to show off the local talent and we think you'll be impressed," said Hirsch.

Cast members include Wendy DeGeest, Amy Brosnahan, Ben Rossow (sound effects), Terry Nord (music director) and Roger Nieboer.

But many of the cast members are also part of the band. Brosnahan on the fiddle, Rossow on bass, Terry Nord on the keyboard and both Nieboer and Hirsch playing guitar.

Kevin Nikodym will also join the band on drums.

"We've assembled a great group of people; a good time will be had by all," said Hirsch.

Initially, the performance was to be performed in the Celebration tent beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday evening of race weekend; however, the venue and time have changed to Paradise Theatre at 7 p.m.

There are also plans to broadcast the performance live on radio. Listeners can tune to 100.9FM.

The performance is funded, in part, by a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council with funds provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.

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