Sweet Land Brought to Life in Musical at the History Theatre

Based on a film, this Minnesota story is coming to the History Theatre.

Imagine being a German immigrant in the 1920s coming to America to marry a man you’ve never met. When you finally get there, you are shunned by the locals and unable to marry the man you’ve come to see.

This story is based on the 2005 film by Ali Selim of the same name, set in Minnesota. Now the production is coming to the History Theatre in the form of a musical.

The making of Sweet Land: The Musical was not a short process. According to Ron Peluso, artistic director of the History Theatre, turning a movie into a play requires obtaining the rights for the film from the writer and then rewriting and changing parts to fit a stage production.
Perrin Post wrote the book for the musical. Post recalls telling someone at one time, “It may sound crazy, but I kind of want to turn it [the film] into a play.” She saw the film the year it came out and it resonated with her.

In 2009, she met with Selim about obtaining the rights to the film. Selim had offers from others who wanted to turn the film into a play, but he ended up choosing Post to carry on the story— as long as she also took inspiration from the short story A Gravestone Made of Wheat by Minnesota author Will Weaver.

Post  brought her friend, Laurie Flanigan Hegge, to the project to help with writing the book and the lyrics. They worked with Dina Maccabee to compose the music.

The three went through many workshop versions, and received offers from various theaters, the History Theatre among them. “I was very impressed [with the workshop],” Peluso says.

After the run at the History Theatre, Sweet Land: The Musical, will  tour for three weeks, courtesy of a Minnesota Touring Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. 

The musical runs until May 28. Tickets range $25-$52, with student ticket $15. Check the website for performance details.