Episode 1004 | Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Proof Public and Fancy Ray

(lively music) (lively jazz music) – My name is Laura Wilhelm,
and I am the Props Master at Chanhassen Dinner Theater. And this is my eleventh season. – I was dropped in as a
draper on Fiddler on the Roof, and that was three
Fiddler’s ago. – I started here, as a child
actor, when I was nine. – I would say I’ve
acted in probably– – Seven or eight shows. – 42 shows. – 64 shows here. – Well, dinner theater
started in the early 50’s, and there were, pretty much,
hundreds of dinner theaters. Today, I think,
there are maybe, 10. But the 10 that are
left, are fantastic. (lively music) – When we opened the
dinner theaters, in 1968, I was 13 at the time. And I remember the building
being under construction and walking through it with
my dad and him telling me, “Well, that’s where
the stage is gonna go”. So, with big eyes thinking,
this is all pretty amazing. My family was always interested
in theater in general. My dad was very creative and
certainly an entrepreneur, but he was also a
really practical guy. And he thought, you got
to be able to eat dinner and have theater and have it
all kinda rolled together. And our family, although we
sold the operation in 1989, we’ve stayed connected. And it’s also always
like coming home. So many of the
people that are here, are people that worked for our
family all those years ago, which is pretty remarkable. – Michael Brindisi,
our Artistic Director, and myself were working
together as a creative team when the theater was for sale. And went out and
found some investors. We were able to buy the business
and ensued our new roles, really managing the
day to day operations, and turning it into
what it is now. – When we’re looking for a
play, I try to keep the audience first in the top of my mind. Because I don’t want to pick
a play that I want to do, I want to pick a play
that they want to see. And then I think, secondly,
I look for something that I believe has some kind
of important message. – Our first day of
rehearsal is really special, we call it the
first day of school. The emotions are really bright. There’s a lot of
people who maybe have been gone,
who are now back. It’s a lot of energy
and excitement about the creation of
a new theater piece. – First day of
rehearsal is, probably, the scariest day for me. Even more scary than the
first opening performance. It’s like a blank
canvas and they’re like, “Oh, I hope we paint
the right picture”. So, you know, take a
deep breath and jump in. – And it usually starts
with Michael Brindisi in his sermon-like way, his
vision of what the show means. – This is our 50th Anniversary. (clapping) And, I think we spend
way too much time concerned about
what we need to get, the money we need to make,
the job we gotta have. All that stuff is a
big waste of time. Instead of just, like the
play says, every now and then it’s a good idea to just pause
in our pursuit of happiness to just be happy and that’s
what I think the play is about. – For the 50th season, we’re
doing as a big celebration, the great Irving Berlin
musical, Holiday Inn. – You know, this is the largest
show we’ve ever done here. It hits close to 200 costumes. We are one of the
four shops in town where everything
is produced here. And most of it is
produced from ground up, which is becoming a rarity
across the United States. – We go through the
design of the show. All of the designers,
from the costume designer to the wig designer, to the
sound and light designer, then we jump into
music rehearsal, and that’s a fast
and furious process. And then, usually,
we’re up on our feet, day two or day three. – And lights up inside. – Hi. Sorry I’m late. I had papers to grade and
there was snow to shovel, and all the excuses. – That’s quite all right. – What I love as Michael
Brindisi, as a director, is his sense of
humanity in the work. – [Michael] I feel like,
the first part of it, could move a little more. – Michael is a fantastic
person to work with. He’s an actor’s director. He let’s the actor use their
intuition and their skills, but then he’s also
there to guide you when you need some help. – I like that much better. It gives it someplace to
go with the dramatic part. – Tam works right
alongside with Michael, so it’s a seamless production
of where the dance starts and the scenes end. So it works really well. – Yeah, I think that, Tony,
hand the bouquet on, “Oh, no”. When I choreograph a show,
it really comes from a place of storytelling before the day. (tapping) ♪ Going to a dance ♪ – I love working with
Tam as a choreographer because she really
knows how to take each individual person’s
talent and make them shine. – It’s like boo-boom, yeah. Huh? Yeah. – A lot of people say
this, but it’s true. Working at Chanhassen
is like coming home. – This particular space and
these particular people, because several of us
have worked together for many, many years,
has a very familial feel. There are fathers and
mothers in the group, there are aunts and
uncles in the group, there are the irritating
cousins in the group, (laughs) but at the end of the day,
you have each other’s backs. And you have to have trust
to be able to do what we do every night with each other. And this is a
group that I trust. – Opening night is not
scary for me, it’s sad. Because I stop
being a part of it. It’s like a kid going
away to college. I don’t have too much
control over it anymore. I usually stand here
and watch the show, two or three times
a week at least, then the actors know I’m there. They see me in the
back, they know I care. And me, I’m on to the next show. – 50 years is kind of
an amazing milestone. I actually remember talking
to my dad about the age of the theater on the occasion
of the closing of I Do, I Do, which was 25 years ago. He asked me whether I
thought this place would ever be on the National Register
of Historic Places. But I remember telling him, “Well, it has to be
50 years old, first”. And, he just kind
of laughed and said, “50 years, now that
will be something”. I always harken back to
that short conversation and realize 50 years really
is pretty remarkable. ♪ Oh no, you haven’t a chance ♪ ♪ when I go into my dance ♪ – I love musical theater. I fell in love
with it as a child. It is a high art form, but it connects to
people in, I think, a very simple and true way. It brings people together, and I think that’s what
makes it really special. – When talking isn’t
enough, you burst into song. And when singing isn’t
enough, you burst into dance. And there is just
something in the joy of being able to
express yourself fully. – I actually love theater because of the impact you
can make on people’s lives. When I did the play,
Phantom, I got a letter from a gentleman saying
that the play, for him, was about not wasting his life. And he said as a result
of seeing your play, I decided to call my
ex-wife and say we need to get back together
and try again. And he did, and they did. And I was like, oh my god, the
power we have on that stage. And I’ve never
underestimated the impact you can have on an audience. (clapping) (peaceful music) (lively music) – There’s so many things
I love about print making. There’s an ineffable quality
where you just pull a print and it’s this moment of magic. I fell in love with it the
first moment I touched it, and specifically with
letter press printing. There’s this
connection to the past, as well as the here and
now, where I’m maintaining and using these tools from, in some cases in my shop,
over a hundred years ago, to make work that’s
relevant to today. I have been a letter press
printer for just about 10 years, which makes me a newbie. There’s an incredible community
of letter press printers that have years and years of
experience that kinda help newbies along ’cause we want
to keep the tradition alive. Around the end of 2016, I began
feeling like I really wanted to do what I could to advance
equity in our communities. And I said, I want to have
a community print shop. Who’s with me? And, to my surprise, a large
group of fellow print makers wanted to be involved. And we’ve since decided
on the name, Proof Public, and a mission, which is to
amplify marginalized voices through printing. Hi, welcome. We are having a free
printing open house. And, so we’re using the tools of traditional letter press
printing and allowing anyone who wants to, who
has something to say, to put it in print on paper. We will be printing on
all of these tonight, so– – Oh, wow! – There’s something really
powerful and important about traditional print making. And the power of pulling
print and being able to make multiples of
your message and see it, physically on the page. We wanted to make that
accessible to everyone. Letter press is not a
very accessible medium and you need a lot of
equipment and a lot of space for very big, heavy machines
that they don’t make anymore. So, we had this studio space, and wanted to open it up
to the public at no charge. – I always wanted to
check out press printing. This is cool. – I’m glad you found us. – Yeah! – The open houses
people really print anything and everything
that you might imagine. I didn’t know, when we
started Proof Public, if this love I have for the
process would be universal. That moment of magic and
empowerment that happens when you pull a print. But so far, the people who
have come to the open houses, has been true. They just feel
like it draws them and they want to come
back and do more. People find it a positive
and empowering experience. Thanks for coming. (happy, peaceful music) – Well, I’ve never encountered a lending library
for art before. – Borrowing art is
unique for my personality because I am terrible
at committing. – It’s a constant rotating
gallery, for me, in my home. – Never have I
re-borrowed a piece. – I have my favorite artworks
that I continuously borrow. – You don’t have
to pay anything. You get it for three months. It’s all original art. – I’m probably gonna end
up buying it at the end ’cause I just fell
in love already. – The Minneapolis Arts
Lending Library is innovative. – Fantastic. – Awesome. – Inclusive. – Just so simple. – Such a wonderful
program, kind of amazes me. – It’s one of my
favorite things to do. (peaceful music) (lively, peaceful music) – The Minneapolis
Art Lending Library is an alternative
model for collecting and distributing artwork. The Twin Cities community
has a unique opportunity to come and check an
artwork, free of charge, and keep it for a
three month period. – I’ve been a borrower
for, probably close to five years already. In fact, they started as a
program in someone’s apartment, and I went to one of
those early events. So, I’ve introduced to
it for a very long time. – The Minneapolis Art Lending
Library was founded by Larsen Husby, Mac
Balentine and Julia Caston. And they had actually
visited Europe, done a study abroad trip, and went to all these
art lending libraries. And thought it was a
really unique idea, and that they wanted to
bring it to Minneapolis. (lively rock music) A couple years ago, we
developed a partnership with the Minneapolis
Parks and Rec board. So we’ve had a lot
of lending events at the parks and rec spaces
throughout Minneapolis. – You’re coming to a community
event that’s hosted at either public park space or
the like, the library tonight. It’s both communal and speaks to something
more than ourselves. – Having a lending event at the
Minneapolis Central Library, it’s an opportunity
for us to try to tap into some new communities
here, in this vibrant city. – So many times, you
know, across the country, art is in these big
intimidating buildings. MALL just does something unique in bringing it to where
people already are. – It offers and makes art
really accessible for everybody. – It gives you a connection
to people in the community that you might not
get another way. It’s a nice way
to experience art that I’ve never
encountered before. – Having an artwork in your
home, is an experience. And it’s experience that
everyone should have, if they’d like. By having an artwork in your
home, for a three month period, you are able to really
understand someone else that maybe, is outside
of your particular world. (peaceful music) (lively rock music) – Who is Fancy Ray McCloney? Well, I’m the best
looking man in comedy. I’m the human chocolate orchid. I’m the first, the last,
the best, and the most. I’m the heartbeat
of Minneapolis, and my beauty is coast to coast. (lively jazzy music) I’m a performer. I’m an entertainer. I’m an actor. I’m a T.V. pitchman,
and most of all, I am a man who brings love
and joy to this world. We need some folks to
be in a commercial. Who’s all in? Who wants to be in a commercial? I need about a
half dozen people. One, two, three all right. No matter what
platform you see me on, television commercial,
the comedy stage, or see me walking
down the street, I wanna touch your life. I wanna improve your life. There’s a power
working through me. There’s a beauty, there’s
a joy, there’s a goodness and it touches folks
out there watching, so let your star shine. Let your beauty unfold. Right now, here with me,
Fancy Ray, can y’all feel it? – [Group] Yes. – Top of the world. Top of the world. Top of the world. No matter where I am
walking down the street, if Fancy Ray you should
be lucky to meet, you know one thing, the
experience will be sweet. Hi, this is Fancy Ray. Tell me why you shop at So Low. – I shop at So Low because
the prices are so low. – Where the prices are? – So low! – So low. – So low. – So low! – So. – Low. – So.
– Low. – So.
– Low. – So low. – Where the prices are? – Right. (laughs) – The best meat store
in the Twin Cities. One more time, one
more time, ready. The best meat store
in the Twin Cities. Wow, there you go. Oh, lord, there’s
a good one there. I can’t take a bad picture. Fancy Ray is my legal name. If you don’t think
Fancy Ray is my name, write a check for a hundred
dollars to Fancy Ray and see if I don’t cash
that song of a gun. (laughs) In many ways, hair is the
foundation to look good. Whoo! – [Woman] What’s up? – I’m on top of the world. Because no matter what happened, before I even go buy some
food, my hair is gonna be done and my nails are gonna be done. Because, number one, you
gotta look good to feel good. When you feel good you look
good and life is better. You know, I did
have a bad hair day. I’m lying, I never had no damn– (laughs) – He is a great comedian,
a great showman, all that, but he is genuinely a great
guy who is really good to the people around him and
really good to the community and good at giving back. I think that’s part of what
makes Fancy Ray so great. – Now something that’s
also what Fancy Ray does, see when I come here I
got my Reverend Ike book, and I always have my celery
and cucumbers with me. Now, the key to beauty
is, number one, is
thinking positive, be thankful for today, and
fresh fruits and vegetables. (laughs) (laughing) I am the best looking
man in comedy. I’m not saying I’m the most
beautiful man whoever lived. No, I didn’t say that. But, there’s not
another man in this room who has ever been mistaken
for Michelle Obama. (laughing) Standup comedy is
the basis of all that I do in show business. All of it is based upon humor,
comedy, love, and laughter. That’s a WTF. You know what WTF stands for? No, Wow That’s
Fancy, come on now. I’m a student of comedy. I’ve had the great pleasure
of working with names like Richard Pryor, Chris
Rock, George Wallace. It’s all about humor, because something that
touches peoples hearts. Two things, music and laughter. Well, I can’t sing, but
I can make you laugh. Let me explain to you
what’s happening right now, what’s happening at
this very second, okay, listen, check this out. The sun is 93 million
miles from Earth. Light, traveling at
186,000 miles per second. It takes it eight minutes to
get from the Sun to Earth. Traveling at that same speed, it takes it four and a half
years to get to Alpha Centauri. My only point is this, no matter
where you are in this room, Fancy Ray is your closest star. (laughing) (lively jazz music) A lot of folks don’t know
this, I started my career, surprise, surprise as a
Little Richard impersonator. First Avenue Night Club, I was king of the
lip syncs down there. That launched me to
the national T.V. show, Puttin’ on the Hits. ♪ I put a spell on you ♪ ♪ Because you’re mine ♪ ♪ Yeah ♪ (cheering) And after doing that T.V. show,
I came back to Minneapolis, and I’d be out in the
community and folks would say, “Hey, Fancy Ray!
Hey, Fancy Ray”. And something
clicked in my mind. I say there’s power on
being on television. – [Announcer] A
perfect score of 30! – Low and behold,
the seed was planted and a chocolate
orchid, blossomed. (laughs) (lively music) Lot of folks in the Twin Cities
learned about me initially, from my T.V. show,
Get Down With It, later known as the
Fancy Ray Show. The big question, how does
this guy from cable access T.V. get all these national
celebrities to come on his show? – Can we go on a
first adjective basis? – [Fancy Ray] Yes. – Awe, thanks, Fancy. – [Fancy Ray] Thank you, Weird. – Oh! I feel like I’m at home. – We had folks from Tiny Tim,
Donny Osmond, Whoopi Goldberg, Bo Diddley, Ice-T,
George Clinton, it
goes on and on and on. I mean, we had
everyone on the show from Carol Channing
to Ron Jeremy. We got a very popular singer
here in the Twin Cities, with a beautiful
falsetto, Prince. What do you think of Prince? – I think Prince is a prince. I think he’s wonderful. I think he’s got a great style. – Tell us, have you seen
someone in Hollywood as pretty as I am? I’m the best looking
man in comedy. – Well, I was about
to say the same thing. You took the words
right out of my mouth. – Come on, try it. Like that. Come on, Kirby. You would come in and
tune in and find this joy, this happiness, this optimism,
this positive message. We really touched
lives, woke people up, and made folks feel good. (lively jazz music) – I thought I would surprise you with some old
photos of yourself. (laughs) – That was my Miami Vice
kinda look right there. Just kinda sexy
and on the scene. This right here, is
my beautiful mom, this is Tony Jay McCloney. TJ! – Here is a picture
of my father, here. Fancy Wade. – I had three big
heroes growing up. Muhammad Ali, James
Brown, and Fancy Wade. He was bigger than life,
but at the same time humble. He always had this
dignity, class, and beauty that was inside that he showed. And so I want to
epitomize and demonstrate that kinda love and
joy that he had. – [TJ] I perceived him as a
performer very young in life. – [Fancy Ray] Yeah. – And I involved him in
politics very early in life. I love politics. – Fancy Ray McCloney wants
to be your next governor. He’d be Minnesota’s first
governor named Fancy. He’d be Minnesota’s
first governor named Ray. From the Peoples Champion
Party, Fancy Ray McCloney. – Well, Ray and I decided to run for governor and
lieutenant governor. We felt that we could make
the state of Minnesota much better place. – [Director] Who won that year? – The wrestler. The hell was the name? – [Fancy Ray] Who cares? (laughs) Jesse Ventura was getting so
much steam and popularity, and I said, “Jesse is great, “but Jesse is not
speaking for you “and Jesse is not
speaking for me”. There’s no one talking for
the little people out there, the little black
kids and brown kids. I got a son, his name is
Treyvon, he’s watching T.V. Hi Treyvon, daddy loves you. I’m talking for
the kids out there, that they can look at the
election and say look, one of us is in the race. People are living check to check and say look, one
of us in the race. You know this whole election
is nothing but a big joke, so I say hire me a
professional comedian. – We were the first blacks
to ever run for governor and lieutenant governor
in the state of Minnesota. – And also the first
man to run for governor, have the lieutenant
governor as his mom. (laughs) Most candidates dance
around the issues. Fancy Ray dances all the time. – All right, now I want
to ask you about that– – After the election, a
homeless gentleman approached me on Franklin Avenue, and
he gave me hug and said, “Hey man, thank you for
what you did in the race”. I started show boating. Did you vote for me? I wanna know, did
you vote for me. He said, “No, man, I don’t
have a permanent address, “I couldn’t vote for you. “But, I heard what
you had to say, “and I want to thank you for
delivering that message”. Good morning! – [Congregation] Good morning! – Give the day a big
round of applause. (cheering) My spiritual journey
is one of love and joy, and it is one of inclusion. I teach and speak on new
thought, ancient wisdom. There’s a philosophy
that says that you can be what you want to be. Do what you want to do. And have what you want to have. You get out of life exactly
what you put into life. That’s why we say the power
of change your thinking. You can change your life. Everyone has special talents. Everyone has special gifts. Everyone has a light. And my light
recognizes your light, and together we
can make a flame. That flame is joy. That flame is love. (lively jazz music) All my life I’ve
been a searcher. As I kid, I studied
many, many different religions and philosophies. In fact, I studied with
Jehovah’s Witnesses. Then I started studying
the Eastern religions. Buddhism, Hinduism,
and Confucianism. Confucius said, “The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step”. I say, the journey
of a thousand miles begins with you
picking out your shoes. (lively jazz music) – [Narrator] This
program was made possible by the state’s Arts and
Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

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