High school youth tour to perform at Lord of the Mountains
New Wine youth tourWhen: 7 p.m. Friday, July 6Where: Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in DillonAdmission: Free
DILLON – The Rev. Todd M. Mattson of the First Lutheran Church in Morris, Minn., has been turning high school students into performers since 1981. Mattson is the founder of “New Wine,” an ecumenical drama and music group that produces original contemporary Christian musicals. First Lutheran Church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.Each summer the group of high school students tour throughout the country. The 2006-2007 production features 48 teenagers who star in “The Family.”
The Family is a fast-paced musical comedy that addresses the question, “What does it mean to be a family?” As generational differences are played out, greater similarities are discovered. Both single- and two-parent families explore the same issues. Using a series of documentary-style asides and a story line focusing on growing conflict between a boy, his mother and his stepfather, the cast redefines what it means to be a family. In the end, all realize it is the family of God that matters most, according to Mattson, author of the production.Performers audition annually in November and rehearse most Sunday evenings through May to prepare for their public performances. “We work really hard. It’s a fun experience to see how we touch peoples’ lives when we perform in other towns,” said Charles “Chuckie” Michealson, who plays “Robert” in the production. Although New Wine is a financially self-sufficient group, each cast member must pay between $250 and $350 for the summer tour. The group raises funds to offset travel costs, including selling pizzas and hosting a dinner theater. A portion of leftover funds is donated to a congregation or charity chosen by the youth. Last year, New Wine donated $3,000 to help build a retreat center in New Orleans.
Not everyone would be able to travel with 48 teenagers in vans for two weeks, but Mattson believes in the value of seeing the world. “When I was a kid my parents took me camping, so travel is in my blood. I always try to organize tours in towns that are very different from Morris so that the kids gain an understanding of those around them,” Mattson said. Congregations host the New Wine performers throughout the tour.Each tour also serves as a retreat for the cast and their counselors. Throughout the day the teenagers are expected to read materials and answer questions from their tour books focusing on the theme of family. Each day concludes with a devotional period.New Wine will began its latest tour on June 24. Destinations along with Dillon include Omaha, Neb., Lakewood, Los Alamos, N.M., Roswell, N.M., Las Cruces N.M., El Paso, Texas, Durango and Pine Ridge, S.D.
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