Bringing History Alive: Local Actors Perform “Otter Tales: The Musical” in Perham
The performance commemorates the 150th anniversary of Otter Tail County
PERHAM, Minn. — If you walk down the streets of downtown Perham, you might hear a musical spin on how the county’s seat moved from Otter Tail City to Fergus Falls in 1872, or how the town of Clitherall, founded by Mormon settlers in the mid-nineteenth century, first was settled.
All of these musical numbers come together to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Otter Tail County.
“[The Otter Tail County Historical Society] brought us in to make these stories more accessible to people on the streets and to connect those stories to the places they were created,” said Andrew Gaylord, a Co-Director for Place Base Productions.
Place Base Productions spent the last year researching the county’s history, and figuring out ways to creatively showcase key moments in the county’s history.
The team recruited actors from across Otter Tail County to focus on how towns like Perham, Pelican Rapids, Parkers Prairie, and Battle Lake evolved.
“Watching everyone connect and kind of become a new community even though we live in different places across the county. We’ve really created a sense of family over the last six weeks that we’ve been working together,” said Ashley Hanson, a Co-Director for Place Base Productions.
The final product, “Otter Tales: The Musical” is divided into three different historical segments, but it’s not all a walk down memory lane.
“What we really hope our audience takes away is thinking about how we look back and build upon our past so that we can work together for a better future,” said Hanson.
Each of the four performances took place in various parts of the town the actors performed in. In Perham, people went to three different locations along Main Street, truly making it a mobile production.
“We love to stage in these really unique settings, it’s like an unbelievable backdrop to get to just use what’s here. We can never recreate this in a black box theatre,” said Hanson.
After traveling hundreds of miles and performing in four towns across three nights, the organizers say the chance to help Otter Tail County celebrate its history is an opportunity unlike any other.
“It’s one of the most exciting parts of my life. Being in Perham, I’ve fallen in love with this town. I feel like I’m oozing thankfulness,” said Gaylord.
After performances in Perham, Pelican Rapids, and Battle Lake, “Otter Tales The Musical” will have its finale on Sunday at noon in Parkers Prairie.