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WST Hosts World Premiere of Locally Written "Gone Fishin"


September 4, 2021

Warroad Summer Theater is set to premiere “Gone Fishin” for their fall dinner theater. A new play written and directed by Roseau native Ben Johnston, “Gone Fishin” takes it’s inspiration from growing up near Lake of the Woods, and the colorful characters you can meet in Northern Minnesota. The play also has undeniable influences from shows like “Grumpy Old Men” and “Escanaba in da Moonlight”.

Set in Ole’s Tackle Shop, the story follows the rivalry of Ole (played by Matt Stein) and his nemesis Bert (Jeff Galle), who owns the competing Bert’s Bait Shop next door. The rivalry comes to a head as Ole’s annual fishing tournament nears and Bert claims to have a surprise ringer who can dethrone the tournament’s current champion, Ole’s son Jim (Dustin Solar). The surprise ringer is none other than Bert’s daughter Beth (Melissa Lang), who happens to be visiting home after moving away for college. With pride clouding his judgment, and to the dismay of his wife Lena (Cynthia Cran), Ole makes a bet that puts the entire business at risk.

Though Ben first had the idea nearly 10 years ago, the development of the script started in earnest in 2019, when WST agreed to workshop the idea and premiere the production. Since then, with additional support by a grant from the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council through funding from The McKnight Foundation, over a dozen WST and community members have added their stories and input through writer’s meetings and rehearsals. Making “Gone Fishin” a truly relatable collaboration to the northern communities in which it will be performed.

Do Ole’s dreams of the Bait AND Tackle come true? Will past romances derail the entire tournament? Does their friend Lars (Joe Olson) really fish with powdered donuts? You’ll find out when “Gone Fishin” opens September 22-25 at Seven Clans Casino in Warroad, and October 6-9 at Rock Harbor Lodge at Arnesen’s Rocky Point.

Tickets include meal and show, for reservations and meal options you can call 218-469-1152 for Seven Clans dates, and 218-469-1152 or 218-442-7215 for Rock Harbor dates. For more information go to


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