At The Phipps Center for the Arts

Free Books & Benches Events on the Art Bench Trail

Children will be able to gather at the art benches, listen to stories, earn their own junior ranger badge, and take home free books at a series of Books & Benches events this summer. These free events are organized by The Phipps Center for the Arts in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and local libraries.

Books & Benches events are scheduled to take place in Hudson, Wis., on Wednesday, July 12 and 26, at 11:15 a.m.; in Prescott, Wis., on Friday, July 21, at 10:30 a.m.; and in Bayport, Minn., on Tuesday, August 1, at 10:30 a.m. During each of these events, the local children’s librarian will hold their story time program and a National Park ranger will engage youth in hands-on art and nature activities. By participating, children will earn their very own junior ranger badge.

Books & Benches is a project of the Somerset Elementary family picnic book drive in partnership with local libraries, to increase summer reading and expose young readers to community art in the St. Croix River Valley. The Junior Ranger Art Bench Trail program is presented by The Phipps in partnership with the NPS. The Art Bench Trail is presented by The Phipps Center in Hudson, in partnership with the NPS and St. Croix Valley Foundation.

For more information, go to, call Anastasia Shartin at 715-386-2305, or stop by the center.

Minnesota Orchestra Free Outdoor Concert July 9 in Hudson

The Phipps Center for the Arts proudly announces the 29th annual free outdoor concert by the Minnesota Orchestra on Sunday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lakefront Park band shell in Hudson, Wis.

Under the direction of associate conductor Roderick Cox, the acclaimed ensemble will delight music lovers of all ages with a mix of well-loved popular and classical music.

The program selections are John Stafford Smith’s “The Star-Spangled Banner;” Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from “Eugene Onegin;” Antonín Dvorák’s Slavonic Dance in C major, Opus 46, No. 1, Slavonic Dance in E minor, Opus 72, No. 2, and Slavonic Dance in G minor, Opus 46, No. 8; Richard Wagner’s Prelude to “Lohengrin,” Act III; John Williams’ March from “Raiders of the Lost Ark;” Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia,” Opus 26, No. 7; Traditional/arr. Robert Lowden’s “Armed Forces Salute;” Johann Strauss, Sr.’s “Radetzky” March, Opus 228; and Tchaikovsky’s “1812,” Solemn Overture, Opus 49.

“Trailblazer … a conductor who will be in the vanguard” is how the Star Tribune described Cox, someone with the potential to be “instantly endearing … a new guy who quickly earned the musicians’ respect,” according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He was named the orchestra’s associate conductor in 2016, following a year in which he served as the assistant conductor. Before arriving in Minn., he served for two years as assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Alabama Symphony Youth Orchestra. He was awarded the Robert J. Harth Conducting Prize from the Aspen Music Festival in 2013, which led to national recognition and a return to the festival as a fellow. He has also held fellowships with the Chicago Sinfonietta as part of the Project Inclusion program and the Chautauqua Music Festival, where he was a David Effron Conducting Fellow.

This concert is sponsored by the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, the Margaret Rivers Fund, and the William H. Phipps Foundation.

The Lakefront Park band shell is located west of The Phipps Center at the corner of First and Locust Streets.

Summer Theater Camp July 10-14

“Dehydrated Nursery Rhymes!,” for ages 5-10, will be offered by Brian Erdrich and Liz Malanaphy on Monday-Friday, July 10-14, 1-4 p.m. at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis.

The instructors comment, “Take some good old classics that depend on water to tell the story, and create your own dried-up versions. A little science, some fun theater games, and a lot of fun and imagination will help bring several short plays to life this week.” The students’ original plays will be presented to family and friends on Friday. The class fee is $129.

Erdrich is a writer and performer based in the greater Twin Cities area, who has been the Summer Art Camp coordinator for the past two years.

Malanaphy has taught classes at The Phipps for six years. Her classes are hands-on fun for young artists and scientists who want to learn more about the world around them. She is a mother of five who has worked with hundreds of students through the Hudson Destination Imagination program and various other community projects.

To enroll, send the fee(s) to The Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust Street, Hudson, WI 54016. Registrations may also be made by calling 715-386-2305 or by going online to to register with any credit card.

Anything that can go wrong does in ‘Play On!’ at the Phipps

“Play On!,” a comedy by Rick Abbot, will run July 14-30 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., as well as Sundays at 2:30 p.m. at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis.

Director Gorden Hedahl is back at The Phipps where he previously staged “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” A mostly retired professor of theater and dean at UW-River Falls, he has directed over 75 productions for university, community, and semi-professional theaters, and so brings great experience and insight to this play within a play. He knows firsthand what it takes to have a troupe of actors rehearse and perform a quality production. But in this play, a resident playwright prevents that from happening with riotous results.

Hedahl uses the physical layout of the main theater in his interpretation of Abbot’s amusing story. He has decided to use the side stages to give the audience a real sense of what goes on behind the scenes, turning them into the green room and the backstage area where the crew members and offstage cast can be seen. This adds a unique dimension that illustrates what can go wrong in spite of how hard everyone involved is working.

With this new perspective, the audience gets a sense of how the rehearsals are dependent on everyone working together like a well-oiled machine. In this case, the playwright throws a monkey wrench into the works by continually changing lines, scenes, and even adding characters, when all the while the actors are trying their best to remember the latest changes. In addition, even the author can’t even remember all her changes to the British drawing room mystery she has created. In the final act of “Play On!,” we see everyone onstage and backstage frantically trying to keep the play afloat with hilarious consequences.

Hedahl notes, “The theater really is the ‘mirror up to nature’ that Shakespeare talked about, and even the distorting funny-house mirrors of comedy can help us understand and reflect on the ways that we all have to find what we need to do to work together to make something special happen.”

Tickets are $26 for adults and $19 for students of all ages, with a $2 discount for seniors on the Sunday matinees. Reservations may be made by contacting The Phipps ticket office at 715.386.8409 or online at

17-18 season tickets

Tickets are now on sale for the 2017-18 season of The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis. Community theater and children’s theater productions, concerts ranging from popular to classical music, Wurlitzer theater pipe organ concerts, dance performances, gallery exhibitions, and classes in the visual and performing arts are all offered throughout the year.

The theater series consists of the theatrical comedy “Play On!,” the touching comedy “The Savannah Sipping Society,” The Phipps Children’s Theater production of “Madagascar – A Musical Adventure Jr.,” the fairy tale musical comedy “Once Upon a Mattress,” and the Nero Wolfe mystery “The Red Box.”

The music series features the pop/rock/jazz ensemble Brio Brass, the traditional jazz of pianist Butch Thompson together with guitarist and fiddler Pop Wagner, The Rose Ensemble performing “Land of Three Faiths: Voices of Ancient Mediterranean Jews, Christians, and Muslims,” the bluegrass quintet The High 48s, and Dan Newton’s Café Accordion Orchestra performing “Cinema.”

The organ series consists of the award-winning Justin Louie, sponsored by the Organ Historical Society; Clark Wilson accompanying the silent film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame;” and the talented young Milwaukee organist Zach Frame.

Special events include the Classic Big Band with the Nostalgics; “New York, New York!” and “The Jazz Age” by The Phipps Dance Theater; Patrick Ball, Celtic harper and storyteller, performing “Come Dance with Me in Ireland: Encounters with W.B. Yeats;” The Phipps Festival Chorus performing “Glad Tidings from Stage and Screen;” the ice fishing musical comedy “Guys on Ice;” Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience; The Phipps Choral Society performing Schubert’s Mass in G; and Rueben Ristrom and the Bourbon Street Boys Jazz Band.

In addition, season subscribers have the first opportunity to purchase tickets to “New Year’s Eve on Broadway.”

A season package of any seven events costs $126, which is $18 per ticket; a five-show package costs $95, which is $19 per ticket; and a season subscription to three events is $60, which is $20 per ticket. Subscribers are also able to exchange their tickets for another performance free of charge.

For a season brochure, contact The Phipps Center ticket office at 715-386-8409 or visit for a complete season schedule.