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Forum Editorial Board, Published July 15 2009

Forum editorial: Trollwood kicks off a new era

The new south Moorhead location of the Trollwood Performing Arts School is beautiful and functional. Trollwood opens its main stage season tonight with “The Wiz,” a musical adaptation of the timeless “Wizard of Oz” story. Patrons can expect another high-quality, high-energy performance.

The new setting along the Red River has been in the works for several years. In addition to the spectacular amphitheater, the site features environmentally friendly buildings, pathways and wooded tracts.

Not all structures are up and running. The plan is progressing as funding becomes available. The spring flood unexpectedly affected the site because landscape work last fall was not completed due to wet weather. Damage was minimal, repairs were done, and the show will go on.

Trollwood began in 1978 as an arts program of the Fargo Public Schools. From a modest start at Trollwood Park in north Fargo, the program developed into one of the finest performance arts programs in the nation. Its summer main-stage shows are among the best young peoples’ shows in the country. But it’s not only about the actors, dancers and musicians that patrons will applaud, beginning tonight.

Trollwood’s enduring strength is the depth and breadth of its theater arts education programs. Young people work behind the scenes with professionals to learn everything from costume preparation to lighting, from set carpentry to catering, and more. It’s a complete and comprehensive experience – opportunity – for young people with talent in many theater arts disciplines. They test themselves. They learn. They discover talents and skills they didn’t know they had. Some of them have gone on to careers on stage or behind the stage, and they often credit their Trollwood summers with giving them an excellent start.

So, in addition to a reliably great stage performance, audience members participate in a broader educational focus that has enhanced the lives of thousands of area young people for three decades.

It’s a new era for Trollwood. Certainly nostalgia for the idyllic north Fargo site will be part of tonight’s opening performance. But perennial damage and delays caused by Red River flooding made the move to safer, higher ground necessary. The south Moorhead tract is the right place. When the full development is complete, it will be a unique showcase of exceptional talent and unflagging community support for the performing arts.

Enjoy the show. Go early and stroll through the new Trollwood. It’s a great place.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.