Chippewa Falls is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, but what was the city like when it was originally founded?
“Chippewa Falls 1869: The Musical” is set for four performances at the Heyde Center for the Arts later this month. The musical is set in 1869 and tells the story of the founding of Chippewa Falls, including depictions of prominent figures at the time and events/challenges the city experienced including a major flood, a massive log jam and a devastating downtown fire. All of these depictions are accompanied by period appropriate music with modern lyrics to best reflect on the time.
The musical will hit the stage at 7:30 p.m. each night on Thursday-Saturday, March 28-30, and a 2 p.m. show on Sunday, March 31. Tickets are $15 for adults, $14 for seniors and $8 for youth. If you are interested in the Karl’s BBQ Express dinner package, tickets are $34 for adults, $33 for seniors and $27 for youth.
Jerry Way is the mastermind behind “Chippewa Falls 1869: The Musical” as he wrote the script and wrote the lyrics to the essential songs in the musical. Way said the 36-member cast inspired him to update the musical with additional material after a successful original run of the production in 2011.
“We’ve added two new scenes to it, because we have a lot of new actors in our group since the original production,” Way said. “These scenes add a little comedy and interest to the story. So, anyone who saw it back in 2011 will be in for a different experience if they come back.”
Way said that while the production was a lot of work to come to fruition, a critical person needed to help bring it to life is his wife, Carol Way. Carol is responsible for what will be the paintings used for the projected backdrops and set pieces for the dozen or so different locations in the production. She and Jerry have collaborated heavily the past few months to help make the production a hopeful success.
“We brought it back this year because this year is the 150th anniversary of Chippewa Falls becoming a city,” Way said. “It is the exact year (1869) that we are depicting in the play, so that will be cool for people to see how the city was when it was originally founded.”
Another coincidental aspect of the musical is the fact its showings come extremely close to an important event in Chippewa Falls’ history. The original proclamation to make Chippewa Falls a city was signed on March 25, 1869 — the same week and just a few days before the production begins its run at the Heyde Center.
Way said he is grateful to be able to bring “Chippewa Falls 1869: The Musical,” back and said the crowds are in for a great night with multiple enjoyable aspects of the event.
“People will be in for a combination of entertainment, music and comedy,” Way said. “Also, people who saw the original production remarked a lot about how much they learned. They learned things about Chippewa Falls and the Chippewa Valley that they hadn’t realized before going to the show.”