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Ordway Memories

2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. This St. Paul institution has been home to local and touring shows, big names and small, and has become an important part of Minnesota's arts community along the way. To commemorate this anniversary, MPR wants to hear about your most memorable moment from the Ordway—whether it happened in the lobby, in the seats, or on stage. Share your memories.

Wendy Lane (St. Paul)

I was fortunate to work in human resources for eight years at Ordway Center. I cherish many memories in my interactions with dedicated and talented staff over that time.

On my first day of work, we had an all-staff meeting, and former president, Kevin McCollum, described the anticipated new season to the staff. His introduction included sharing engaging stories about behind-the-scenes Broadway, and singing and dancing a few numbers from the coming shows. It was an inspired meeting, and I knew I was going to enjoy my new job.

No less memorable was opening night of "Anything Goes," in June 2002. The union stagehands went on strike that day, and in an effort to open the show while negotiating with the union, management staff was invited to help out. Not having a theatre background, I offered to do anything that didn't require extensive training. I ended up assisting backstage as needed. There was a big tap dance number in the show, and I watched as Coca-Cola was poured onto a towel in a plastic bin. Sandy Duncan and the other dancers wiped their tap shoes on the towel before stepping on stage. I asked what she was doing and was told the stickiness prevented her tap shoes from sliding too much on a slippery stage floor. I observed many tricks of the trade that night that helped me appreciate what it takes to create the magic of theatre. At the end of the evening, everyone who helped out was invited on stage to take a bow. Looking out on the audience from that stage is a thrilling and daunting affair I won't soon forget. Nor will I forget the many opportunities I had to watch world-class performances in a state-of-the-art facility.

Barb Minor (Cottage Grove)

My shining Ordway memory involved new love and the Minnesota Opera. It was January 1995, and I had just begun dating a wonderful man. For one of our first outings as a couple, he invited me to a performance of Puccini's "Turandot." I've never been a big opera devotee, and he wasn't either. I think he got the tickets free through his employee, but it didn't matter. I was impressed that he would even consider such a venue for our blossoming romance. So there we were, on a crisp winter night, bustling into the main entrance to the Ordway. It glittered like a jewel on Rice Park, especially with love in the air. Our seats were in a box, stage right, with a great sightline.

The staging of the opera was premiered by the Minnesota Opera that year, and variations were still being produced ten years later. I didn't know how to pronounce "Turandot," much less what it was about. But the impressive sets, the sumptuous costumes, and the story of lovers and puzzles was entrancing. And who wouldn't thrill to Calaf's soaring "Nessun Dorma," Pavarotti or not? Sharing it with my new amour made it even more special. Alas, our romance only lasted a year. But my memories of that shared night of music and closeness at the Ordway are still cherished and warm.

Happy anniversary.

Judith Lester (St. Paul)

In 1986, my husband and I had season tickets for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concerts, and we decided that one of us would take each of our three children, ages 12, 11 and 9, to an evening concert. It was such a grownup event for them to get dressed up and go alone with one parent. I was surprised how much they knew about and enjoyed classical music. It was very fun to do.

Kali Pederson (Albert Lea)

Bobbi (McFerrin) with guest performer Chick Corea climbing into the piano to pluck the strings during intermission! Animalia, the second performance of "Phantom" – the heat off that chandelier was amazing! The night I had an MSG allergic reaction, fainted and hit the brass railing with my jaw and ended up in the Ordway’s first aid room listening to the second half of a performance. I was bruised for two weeks! Yothu Yindi and the incredible standing ovation – no one could sit still. The theater resonated and played up the vibrations of the didjeridoo so well. So much energy! Sharon Isbin.

Lynda Gradert (Minneapolis)

Lynda Gradert A friend and I were at a performance of "Oklahoma," when John Schneider played Curly. The performance was outstanding. He was the best Curly I've ever seen. I was surprised at what a great voice he had. Anyway, the play ended, there was a standing ovation, and I believe they did an encore. The entire theatre (all of us) started singing "Oklahoma" and kept singing it as we left our seats. It was like none of us wanted it to end. For some reason it didn't feel odd at all to be singing as we walked down the stairs. I think the singing finally stopped when we stepped outside. I thought moments like that only happened in the movies.

Cynthia Kaldor (Mayville, ND)

In 1998, my husband and I took our youngest daughter and a friend, both of them students at Augsburg College, to see the musical, "Oklahoma," at the Ordway. Neither of them showed any enthusiasm, even though we told them John Schneider had the lead. I wore a pair of binoculars around my neck and offered to share them several times prior to the curtain rising. The girls just weren't interested in a closer view.

The curtain rose, and all of a sudden both girls recognized the star, grabbed at the binoculars (placing me in a strangle hold), and exclaimed, rather loudly, "Bo Duke. It's Bo Duke!" We stuck around after the show just so the girls could meet Mr. Schneider. They were both still so star-struck that when he tried to carry on a conversation with them, they both just replied, "Uh-huh." We still laugh about their reaction. The experience at the Ordway did get my daughter interested in attending "arts events" whenever possible.

Mary Joyce (Brownsville)

I was watching public television on opening night of the Ordway. Just as the performance began, they cut to WCCO-TV anchor Bill Carlson commenting at the foot of the stairs in the beautiful lobby. A woman started to descend the stairs wearing a pink, maybe light lavender, gown, with, as I remember, a man on either side of her. And she stumbled – while Bill kept talking, not knowing that she was falling behind him. The men (maybe man) picked her up just before she almost landed on Bill Carlson.

Kirsten Peterson (St. Paul)

Kirsten Peterson In 2000, Sir James Galway was in town to play with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra at the Ordway. My then nine-year-old daughter, Hannah, was chosen to play in a student flute choir with Sir James at the Family Concert on Saturday morning. The students were well prepared by Julia Bogorad-Kogan, and Sir Galway came to their final rehearsal. He graciously answered questions and signed autographs for everyone. The morning of the concert, we dropped her off at the stage door and went to find our seats. That was my first experience as the nervous mother of a performer. I've been told that the concert was charming and wonderful, but I only remember praying the whole time that she wouldn't play any wrong notes, cough, scratch, fidget, or drop something. For Hannah, it was a turning point and an impetus to devote herself to the flute. She has gone on to have many wonderful musical experiences (and yes, I still get nervous), but that was the beginning and we will never forget it.

Joyce Bjorklund (St. Paul)

In 1985, I was part of the 3M Orchestra (now East Metro Symphony Orchestra), which played three concerts at the Ordway (Jan. 30 to Feb. 1) as part of Winter Carnival festivities. Our concerts were some of the first to be held at the Ordway, so we were very excited to be there. I am still playing in the Orchestra, and have been since 1973.

Toni McDonald (Plymouth)

Several years ago, the dance group I was with, the Twin Cities Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, held its 10th anniversary ball in one of the Ordway’s rehearsal studios. We had a catered dinner and a large cake to celebrate our ten years of dancing as a branch of the RSCDS. Imagine the live music, ladies in long gowns and men in kilts and fancy jackets. It must have been quite a sight.

Michelle Barry (St. Louis Park)

I have two amazing memories from the Ordway. The first is the first time I heard Chanticleer sing, maybe 20 years ago at the Ordway. It was a recording session for "St. Paul Sunday." It was the first time I realized how amazing the human voice can be.

The second is when the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra was introducing their new associate concertmaster, Ruggero Allifranchini. Ralph Vaughn Williams' "Lark Ascending" was on the program. I had been to many performances of the SPCO, and I had even heard an SPCO performance of this piece. But these previous SPCO performances were mostly in the neighborhood venue, at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie. When Mr. Allifranchini started on this piece, the notes soared and floated above the stage, much like the lark he was emulating. It was so amazingly beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes, and made me truly appreciate the amazing acoustics at the Ordway. Thanks, Ordway, for 25 years of great entertainment!

Barbara Graham (Robbinsdale)

My most memorable Ordway experience was when I won tickets over WCAL to "Rigoletto." It was my first opera experience and my first time to the Ordway. My husband and I were delirious. I remember us going downstairs to use the facilities before entering the theatre. We exited at the same time, and were beaming by the facilities and walking up the blue stairs together. What an awesome introduction to the magical road we were about to embark upon.

Sieglinde Gassman (St. Paul)

When I walked into the Ordway for the first time 25 years ago during opening events, I felt as if I was entering a beloved place I'd been coming to for years. The welcome of the foyer, the warmth of the wood, the colorful carpet that was both elegant and homey – all of these things made me comfortable, happy to settle into my place. I've experienced the same welcome and comfort each time I have walked in the door, and was delighted to introduce my youngest grandchildren to the warmth of the Ordway this past year.

Angela Braun (St. Paul)

Angela Braun As a native Eastside kid and a life-long patron of the St. Paul Central Library, I spent plenty of time gazing across Rice Park at the Ordway's glistening exterior, warmly lit wall of windows and smartly dressed visitors coming in and out. It was a charming and romantic structure that made the little square of Landmark Center, St. Paul Hotel and historic library even more enchanting to a teenager who loved history, architecture and her hometown. In high school I also fell in love with classical music.

In 1987, I saved all fall and bought Christmas gift tickets for my best friend and me to see the Ordway's presentation of Handel's "Messiah," the sing-along version. Stepping off the bus in our long skirts and into the deep snow of the park was breathtaking—the twinkle of the lighted trees in the winter darkness, the festive decor of the building, the cheerful bustle of the other ticketholders in their Christmas best. Our mezzanine seats made us feel enveloped in luxury. We relaxed in velvet armchairs and watched the crowd seating below. Gold and red drapery, the black-robed choir, and the enormity of the music were like nothing I had ever experienced. And when we rose to our feet for the "Hallelujah" chorus, I wasn't a bit self-conscious to be tearfully moved both at the beauty of the moment and the message of the music. My first visit to the Ordway was one of those events of youth that shape your life in a way nothing else like will again, and every time I visit Rice Park, I am grateful for the memory and the place.

Rose Kennealy Karas (Inver Grove Heights)

Rose Kennealy Karas A short time before the Ordway opened, a reception and concert was held for everyone who worked on the building project. My husband, Chuck, worked for Cemstone Concrete at the time, and had delivered many loads of concrete to the Ordway. It was a lovely event with wine, cheese and other treats. I loved the building the moment we walked in—the lighting, the view—everything was beautiful. The concert began and I was listening to all the wonderful sounds of the orchestra. All of a sudden, people were screaming. A bat was flying around near the front of the theater. I remember a man stood up, caught the bat and threw it down. I am pretty sure the orchestra continued to play during the episode. It was an evening to remember, in more ways than one.

Barbara Anderson (St. Paul)

Barbara Anderson For 10 years I enjoyed the work and camaraderie of ushering at the Ordway. One evening while taking tickets and admitting patrons to the theater, I looked up from the tickets to see a very tall woman (I'm about 5 feet) and thought to myself, "Wow! That woman looks just like Sophia Loren!" Then I looked at her companion and saw a Jack Lemmon look alike! However, they were indeed the real actors, in town to film "Grumpy Old Men," and staying right across Rice Park at the Saint Paul Hotel. After that, we often saw Jack Lemmon walking his dog in Rice Park. As an usher, I got to see a lot of wonderful actors, on and off the stage, and I loved the plays and musical events. The Ordway has always felt like a magical place to me, and I was privileged to be a part of its "black tie service" in the early years.

Marilyn Heltzer (Bemidji)

Marilyn Heltzer I was the vice president for programming at MPR when the Ordway opened. The MPR organization was much smaller then, with no producers to bring things like this together. Michael Barone hosted the program. Getting permission to broadcast Leontyne Price's concert was no small task, and was granted only in the last few days before the event. I dealt with a gentleman in New York City, with repeated, pleading phone calls. At one point, I had a very bad cold, and could barely speak, but soldiered on in this task. Ms. Price's manager became very concerned about me. He said something like, "You've really gotta do something about that cold. Drink lots of hot lemonade with honey. It's what opera singers do for their throats." So I did. And she did. And we all lived happily ever after—the Ordway, Leontyne, Michael, and me.

Laura MacLennan (Minneapolis)

Laura MacLennan My husband and I have been Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra subscribers since we moved to Minneapolis as newlyweds in 1992. We were at a concert at the Ordway in the fall of 1994, at which time I was three to four months pregnant with our first child. When the orchestra played its first notes, I felt the baby move for the first time. This was completely thrilling. Fast forward to early February 1997. We had decided it was time for our first-born son to have a sibling. I found out I was pregnant on a busy Friday, one of those days when you're both working and you don't connect with your spouse until evening. We had tickets to see the SPCO at the Ordway that night. I waited until we were at the Ordway, sitting on a bench by the window on the second floor, looking out at the white lights in snowy Rice Park, to give my husband the good news. Two of our happiest memories as parents—both at the Ordway. Magical.

Ian Yue (Edina)

My first visit to the Ordway was after I had learned about getting student rush tickets to the Broadway show, "The Drowsy Chaperone," in the spring of 2008. I had grown up listening to my mom playing her favorite Broadway soundtracks on the family LP player, and since then learned to love musical theater. My mom had not visited a theater in a while, so I wanted to treat her to a show that I thought she'd enjoy. I arrived at the Ordway an hour before the show was to start, expecting a long rush line like those that form in New York City at dawn. I was surprised to see that I was the first (and only) person waiting on line. An Ordway employee saw this, and talked with the box office to allow me to buy a pair of tickets a half-hour before rush sales were scheduled to start. Finding my way into the theater, I was shocked to see that the Ordway gave my mom and me fourth row seats! It ended up being a wonderful time for mother and son to spend together. I've since seen multiple shows at the Ordway using student rush. To no surprise, I've always enjoyed great seats!

Pauline Walle (Rochester)

In the late 1940s I shared junior high at Villa Maria Academy in Frontenac with a mischievous redhead, Jackie Nicholson of Spring Valley. She spent several sessions in the library, with folded hands, working out demerits. (I was a goodie goodie until I broke an outdoor light with a snowball one winter, and went sheepishly to the principal's office. Unlike her usually stern self, the principal said, "It's about time!")

Jackie and I didn't see each other again until she married and lived in Rochester. The spunky redhead became a real lady, serving the community and her church in many ways. A Mayo Clinic employee, Jackie loved the music from "Les Mis," and took me to the show at the Ordway some years back. I could tell that she could have sung along with the cast, and knew the show backwards and forwards in that venue, which seemed like a charming opera house. I bought a recording and play it often. Jackie died just before Christmas in 2000. I miss my dear friend but the music lives on.

Jared Hoke (Marine on St. Croix)

Jared Hoke I was in the chorus (Minnesota Chorale) that participated in the Ordway's opening concert (we sang the "Regina Coeli" of Mozart). During the first year of the Ordway's operation, the women of the Chorale were tapped to render Messiaen's "Trois Petites Liturgies," a particularly rapt and spiritual piece that alternates between jagged rhythms and harmonies and the most sublimely consonant and legato singing and playing (especially Maria Jette's solo). I was so taken with the piece, and the commitment of the conductor, musicians, and singers to it, that, when I found the accesses unlocked (construction was not quite finished), I sneaked up onto the highest catwalks above the stage, where the central lights were adjusted. I witnessed the performance from on high—the phrases rolling upward to me and past me, on their way to heaven itself. An unforgettable experience!

Liz Capouch (Blaine)

Liz Capouch I was seated in the fourth row at the touring production of "Rent" at the Ordway, a show I had seen there on a couple of other occasions, and continue to love today. The show was coming into the closing song sequence, where the character Mark brings in a projector on wheels. He came cruising in on it, like you'd ride on a shopping cart or a skateboard, and when he reached his spot, jumped off the cart. Unfortunately, the cart stopped and the projector didn't. It came tumbling off, hitting the stage and breaking into several pieces. Mark didn't skip a beat. He pulled a backup projector from offstage, and attempted to restart the scene. Much to his shock, the backup projector wouldn't work, either. He stood up, smiled, and shrugged to the audience, as if to say, "Welcome to live theatre." With the band in a vamp, one of the stagehands slid onto stage, attempted put back together the pieces from projector number one, and pushed the power button. As the filmstrip started to roll, the audience broke into wild applause and the show continued to its end.

Elvin Heiberg (Northfield)

Elvin Heiberg On April 19, 1985, my wife and I took my 89-year-old parents to hear Alfred Brendel play at the new Ordway Theatre. We stayed overnight at the St. Paul Hotel. My father was legally blind. He did not feel up to walking across Rice Park to the hotel after the concert, so I brought our car to the front door of the Ordway. He helped me locate them by standing at the curb and swinging his white cane. We all enjoyed the concert and are happy that we have been able to attend many concerts there during these 25 years.

Mary Vujovich (Eagan)

Mary Vujovich I don't know the exact date, but think it was in the fall of 2005. I was sad and doing nothing one weekend, and was anxious to get out of the house and away from my thoughts. I saw a listing showing Josh Bell was in town and playing Vivaldi. I called just everybody I could think of, but no one was available to attend the concert with me. I almost stayed home, but at the last minute decided to see what was available at the box office. I headed down to the Ordway, and got one of the last tickets—in the very first row. I wasn't too sure I would like a concert that close to the stage, and figured I would miss the lovely sound that one would hear about ten rows back, but... WOW. For a beginning violinist to sit in that front row as Joshua Bell played less than 20 feet away from me was absolutely phenomenal. I saw all of his fingering, and heard each sound so clearly. The music was unforgettable, and I could have sat there for hours more. yt

Michael Barone (St. Paul)

Michael Barone As part of a week of "Minnesota residency" by the British Broadcasting Corporation (their producers were originating programming from the MPR studios and filing reports on the cultural life of the Twin Cities), we did a live broadcast for the BBC of a Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concert from the Ordway (conducted by Christopher Hogwood) at 2 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon (heard in London at 8 p.m. GMT). Our usual SPCO broadcasts were pre-produced, with special opening elements involving music "teases" and clips from interviews. We decided to replicate our usual style in this live broadcast, which meant that there were numerous pre-recorded clips that needed to be inserted into the live continuity, while also choreographing the musicians so that they did not come onstage too soon at the beginning of the program and after the intermission. Thanks to backstage vigilance by my producer Laurel Kartarik, and control-booth virtuosity by engineer Alan Stricklin, I managed to keep a cool head under pressure. And, amazingly, the broadcast went off flawlessly. Quite a trick.

Joseph Tambornino (Walnut Creek, CA)

Joseph Tambornino Many people will remember that terrible evening at the Ordway in the fall of 1991 when poor Beth Printy, singing Tosca with the Minnesota Opera, took a bad fall after flinging herself out the window staged for Tosca's suicide leap. I was singing one of the small parts in that production, and I clearly remember how the whole cast was terribly shaken by our lead's misfortune. Nevertheless, we put ourselves emotionally back in place, management scrambled and found Stephanie Sundin to finish out the run in Beth's place, and we went on with the already sold-out show, to everyone's credit. High drama, both on-stage, and just behind it.

Bonnie Kamel (St. Louis Park)

On Easter Sunday, a few years back, Frank Gorshin, may he rest in peace, played George Burns. I bussed to the Ordway, and was given a tour by the bus driver, as I didn't know where to get off. There was the cigar smoke on stage, with no smell, just affects. It was a fantastic program. There were remnants of the ice sculptures in Rice Park, and I learned about a part of St. Paul I wanted to revisit. I still remember that performance, and I thank Ordway for that day.

Steve Anderson (St. Paul)

Steve Anderson This was a concert sometime in the '90s, and we still talk about it as the epitome of atrocious. It is the bar by which we judge all other bad music. Nothing has sunk to such depths since. We were seated near the back of the main floor of the Ordway, and behind us were several Mac computers taking up the last couple of rows. On stage was a poor violinist wired to the hilt, as was her violin. One would have thought she was on her deathbed with all the wires and straps she had attached to her body. The only thing missing was an IV drip. It was an MIT experimental instrument called the hyper-violin. Words are inadequate to describe the discordant, screeching, eardrum-shattering sound that emanated from this instrument. I'm surprised that anyone walked out of there with their eyeglasses intact. At the time, one of the violists for the Minnesota Orchestra was our neighbor. We heard third graders in their first violin lessons sound better than this instrument. We were never so happy to have a concert end.

Rie Gilsdorf (Minneapolis)

Rie Gilsdorf I'll never forget showing up for my first show at the Ordway. It was the live version of "Edward Scissorhands," and we were greeted by full-sized, fanciful topiaries on the lawn outside the front doors. The ornamental bushes continued inside the lobby, effectively pulling us into the story before we'd even taken our seats.

Anne Shainline (Minneapolis)

Anne Shainline I arrived early at the Ordway to hear the advertised pre-concert interview with Minnesota composer, Stephen Paulus, whose oratorio, "To Be Certain of the Dawn," I had recently heard and greatly admired. Mr. Paulus was seated on the stage with Brian Newhouse of MPR. The interview had barely begun when Thomas Hampson, the featured baritone for the evening's concert, strode cheerfully onto the stage. He greeted the seated men and proceeded to explain to them and the audience how he had conceived of his "Song of America" tour. He was obviously proud of his conception, and orated at length about the songs themselves and the many cities that would benefit from his renditions of the music. He monopolized and consumed the entire period of allotted time for the interview, exiting the stage only in time for his concert to begin. As he spoke, my annoyance grew and affected my frame of mind for the coming concert. As Hampson sang though, my negative mood was overcome by the sheer artistry of his voice. I forgave him.

Susan Moss (St. Paul)

Susan Moss My favorite memory is the night I attended "Phantom of the Opera." We were sitting in the first row of the mezzanine. In the opening scene, the huge chandelier of the opera house was in front of us. I can still remember the ear-piercing scream and the organ music as the chandelier fell. I couldn't wait for the next scene. I listen to the CD of "Phantom" from time to time, and as I am listening I can still picture that potent combination of scream, organ, and falling chandelier from the Ordway production.

Anastasia Verdoljak (St. Paul)

Anastasia Verdoljak My parents are very musically inclined, my mom being a piano teacher and my dad being a lover of "good" music in general. So it may or may not come as a surprise to hear that my parents have listened to the "Les Miserables" soundtrack since I was a baby, and hence, so did I. When we were still very little, my younger brother and I often would dance in our mother's piano studio to "Look down, look down." The music and voice of Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean became part of my bones. Then, after an eight-year or so hiatus, I rediscovered the musical in my first year of high school and listened to it constantly for a few years—this time, much to the dismay of my parents. So, four years later, I called up my French-major friend, Alyce, and we waited excitedly for standing-room tickets at the Ordway. I finally was able to see the theatrical genius of the musical with the well-used rotating stage and massive cast. I made sure to call my dad before it started to make him guess where I was!

William Neumann (Minneapolis)

William Neumann I was fortunate enough to have been at the gala opening of the Ordway. Pinchas Zuckerman was conducting, as I remember, the Turkish by Mozart. We were sitting in the second row, and I thought that I was the pinnacle of cool being at this venue listening to this music. (I was very early twenties.) Pinky (as the cognoscenti called him, or so I heard) was having a marvelous time. He was fiddling and dancing, and had the most incredibly huge grin on his face. It was enchanting. And for the first time I realized that it was a very beautiful world, and I wanted to live a beautiful life that had nothing but extravagance of sensory pleasures. Life has not let me down. Since that time I have been extremely fortunate to have been to some incredible concerts and operas around the world. (Someday I will tell you about sitting next to Miuccia Prada at "La Traviata.") Congratulations, Ordway!

Karen Bolstad (Brooklyn Center)

Karen Bolstad I have enjoyed many plays at the Ordway. The most moving was "Les Miserables." At the end of the play, I desperately needed tissues so I went to the restroom to get some. I plowed through the long line saying, "I'm only getting tissues!" I grabbed a handful and went out.

Kevin T. Houle (St. Paul)

Kevin T. Houle I am a former Ordway employee, and eight years working in the production office provided plenty of memories. From divas like Dionne Warwick and Robert Goulet, to consummate professionals like Itzhak Perlman, to the friendly and humble Yo-Yo Ma, to Broadway stalwarts like Colm Wilkinson and Terrence Mann, to the wacky, pants-less Jerry Lewis wandering the dressing room hallways—there was always something interesting and exciting happening backstage. Some of the big events that come to mind include the launch of the nationwide "Rent" tour, the multiple engagements of the "Les Miserables" Broadway tour, a couple of St. Paul mayor inaugurations, and a varied group of Ordway staff members literally coming together at the last minute to put on a week's worth of "Anything Goes" performances after the stagehands went on strike. But my most memorable moment was probably Sept. 11, 2001.

The St. Paul Companies was scheduled to hold its annual meeting that morning on the Ordway main stage, with special guests, George H.W. and Barbara Bush. As the attacks on the East Coast began to unfold, the Ordway was put in complete lock down even though the Bushes hadn't arrived yet and were supposedly still in flight. No one could enter the building and no one could leave. When you're stuck in a closed building with Secret Service agents who are scrambling for information and direction, you know something very bad is happening. What helped calm the fear and the concern that day was my fellow employees.

I was fortunate enough to work with and get to know many talented and intelligent people at the Ordway. Kevin McCollum, the former Ordway CEO, used to talk a lot about theatre and the performing arts as being a shared experience—a common bond. And that's what makes my own memories so worthwhile. Whether they are good or bad, they are shared memories—shared with a great group of artists, administrators, and audience members dedicated to "the crown jewel of Saint Paul."

Rick Halverson (Vadnais Heights)

I sat in the front row center for a Jesse Norman recital. She came on stage, and the hall was silent. Her voice and presence was so commanding no one dared cough or move a muscle. It was a spectacular concert.

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