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St. Olaf premieres the musical ‘LIGHTHOUSE’


St. Olaf is hosting the world premiere of the musical “LIGHTHOUSE,” co-written by St. Olaf alum Abs Wilson ’21 and Veronica Mansour and directed by William Sonnega. The show features a small, six-person cast, show-stopping musical numbers, a unique and authentic setting, and a journey following an 18-year-old unreliable narrator.


“It’s a psychological journey with an 18-year-old girl,” Wilson said. “I wanted to write something that felt very honest and new. The initial thought was about lonely women in the midwest.”


The show focuses on 18-year-old protagonist Bus, who longs to escape her small, Minnesota hometown. “I grew up in a cornfield,” Wilson said when talking about existing stereotypes about small towns in the Midwest. 


“We’re telling the story of the storytellers,” Sonnega said.  “We’re talking about mental health and dysfunctional families.”


The creative team behind “LIGHTHOUSE” has worked hard to do justice to an already emotional and complex show. “The great and demanding challenge is that it’s psychologically dense. These are not two-dimensional Midwest hicks,” Sonnega said.


The show’s premiere was chosen to be at St. Olaf partially due to the setting of the school. “I’m really happy to have the show at St. Olaf,” Wilson said. “It feels like the right audience.”


“We literally live in a vast cornfield,” Sonnega said. The show takes place, similarly, in the middle of cornfields in a small town in Minnesota.


“LIGHTHOUSE” is a show that is meant to inspire hope in its viewers. “It’s about learning to be receptive to the love that others are offering,” Sonnega said. “Bus manages to take a step forward towards acceptance.”


Wilson will be on campus for the show’s premiere. “People are going to be blown away by the songs,” Wilson said. “I’m excited to see the show, I haven’t seen it yet.”


“LIGHTHOUSE” has already received acclaim for its storytelling and songs. “Runaway Girl” by Mansour won Taylor Louderman’s Write Out Loud Songwriting Contest. The musical also won the 2024 Richard Rodgers award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


“The story opens you up,” Sonnega said. “The music gets inside of you.”


“LIGHTHOUSE” is premiering on campus at the Kelsey Theatre on March 14 at 7:30 p.m. with shows continuing through the weekend. Tickets can be reserved on the Theater Department’s webpage and are free for students and staff.

Lauren Hanna
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