70 Years After Taking The Stage, Worthington’s Jean Doeden Can’t Wait For Memorial Auditorium’s Reopening

26August 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After COVID-19 kept them closed, the curtains are rising again at Minnesota theaters as live shows take the stage.

WCCO’s Liz Collin visited her hometown of Worthington, where a new season means the return to a love story that started 70 years ago.

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For 16 months, Memorial Auditorium’s stage and 600 seats sat empty. As the pandemic made live shows at the 90-year-old theater impossible to plan. Tammy Makram is the auditorium’s managing director.

“The arts to me are the like heart and soul of what our lives are about,” Makram said. “We thought it would be for a few weeks, no shows until May, then we postponed shows until summer then we decided we just needed to hold off.”

It gave Makram more time to choreograph a memorable season. One that first will spotlight Children’s Theater Company’s Dakota Players and the “Missing Mountain Mystery” Friday night. But it’s a production in March, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance,” that holds special meaning.

“When Jean came forward and said, ‘Oh by the way, I was in “Pirates of Penzance” on this stage 70 years ago,’ it was a story I couldn’t resist,” Makram said.

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Jean Doeden was a sophomore in high school in 1951 when she eyed a certain senior on stage who played the lead — her late husband Sidney.

“I liked the idea of getting into the choir of course so tried out the day I looked up to look at see if I got on. I was on the list,” Doeden said. “I was a little sophomore and he was a senior, so he found me.”

The Doedens went on to raise kids grandkids who followed their footsteps to this very theater, where Jean has her own seat in the back and barely misses a show. She’s looking forward to a better view for her full-circle moment come spring.

“I didn’t buy the back seat though. I told Tammy to get me something closer to the front,” Doeden said.

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There are nine shows in total running from Friday night until April at the Memorial Auditorium. Click here for tickets.

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