Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Area Voices: Bemidji play pays tribute, creates lifelong bonds

Portrait photos of three cast members of the Sweet Delilah Swim Club
Bemidji Community Theater
Cast members Kay Sanders, left, Vicki Stenerson and Jessica Robertson of Bemidji Community Theater's "The Sweet Delilah Swim Club," to be staged in May 2024.

Bemidji Community Theater presents “The Sweet Delilah Swim Club.” The director Evie Halvorson joins Area Voices to talk about the impact of community theater and the bonds created.

BEMIDJI — Putting on a play takes a team effort.

Actors, director, producer and technicians all work together to deliver a community performance with impact. Local productions build strong personal bonds and the Bemidji Community Theater’s production of The Sweet Delilah Swim Club aims to entertain the audience as well.

The play opening Friday, May 10, features five women who have been best friends since their early 20s, growing up together. On Area Voices, Director Evie Halvorson said the show is about how important relationships and the friendships you have come to define who you are.

A photo of Rick Anderson leaning on a table wearing a black shirt.
Evie Halvorson
A photo of Rick Anderson, who will be honored by the Bemidji Community Theater production of "The Sweet Delilah Swim Club" in May 2024.

Tribute show

Halvorson was in The Sweet Delilah Swim Club 10 years ago playing the role of Bernadette. Her friend Rick Anderson convinced her to join the show and she became lifelong friends with her castmates.

Sadly, Anderson found out he had cancer during the production, and died later the same year. The current production from Bemidji Community Theater is in memory of him.

“I wanted to do this show just because it was so influential in my life, and because he was so influential in my life," Halvorson said.

The bonds Halvorson created a decade ago are forming again in this production. She said she is witnessing lifelong friendships being created with the cast and crew.

“There's quite a few people that I'm working with this time around that I really see as mentors that I'm going to be turning to for the rest of my life," she said.

Photo of director Evie Halvorson wearing swimming goggles on her neck.
Bemidji Community Theater
Evie Halvorson is the director of Bemidji Community Theater's production of "The Sweet Delilah Swim Club" in May 2024.

Theater beginnings

Halvorson became interested in theater when she was in third grade in Walton, Iowa, during a production of Christmas in July.

“I think I was the third wise man once removed under study,” she said. She described the experience as so much fun and it led her to realize she loved being on stage.

She started directing plays in her mid-20s and discovered she loved directing as much as she loved being on stage.

“It’s a whole different kind of rush for me," Halvorson said. " ... Sometimes it isn't about being on stage and the accolades for yourself, but it's about the greater good, and it's about being able to help someone else realize how much they have in them that they maybe didn't know was there before.”

It’s a play, but it’s really about life

When asked on the KAXE Morning Show if directing a slice-of-life play like The Sweet Delilah Swim Club is more difficult than a musical, Halvorson said it can be tougher in some respects and easier in others. One scene shows a character tidying up before guests arrive. It can be tough to make a mundane task exciting compared to a song and dance, but the audience can relate to it more because it’s something they’ve experienced themselves.

Halvorson added a couple extra weeks to the rehearsal schedule because of the personal nature of the show. Taking the time to rehearse longer brought the intimacy to the forefront of the performances.

“Week One when they first stepped in, I said, ‘This show will change your life. End of discussion.’ ... These folks that have been doing this for the last 10 weeks, they are ready to change your life and I'm excited to watch them do that.”

A show and more

Bemidji Community Theater is teaming up with Keg N’ Cork to try something new. During the Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows, they will serve drinks at a cash bar. Keg N’ Cork will also serve popcorn during the play.

One of the performances will be on Mother’s Day, and there will be a flower bar put on by Petals + Pine Floral Studio and people will be able to purchase bouquets. It’s also a fundraiser for the BCT Kids Club for their trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul to catch as much theater as they can.

Halvorson believes Bemidji Community Theater adds to the already strong arts scene in the area, and she thinks it is because of the participants.

“These are all volunteers,” said Halvorson. “They do it because they love it. They don't do it because they're getting paid. They don't do it because their mom's making them. ... They're doing it because they love it.”

Performances for the Sweet Delilah Swim Club are May 10-12 and May 16-19, with Thursday through Friday performances at 7 p.m. and Sunday performances at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at Ken K. Thompson Jewelry, McKenzie Place, or on the BCT website.

Tell us about upcoming arts events where you live in Northern Minnesota by emailing

Area Voices is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

Stay Connected