Hephzibeth, Woman of Iron

By Camelot Productions

Written by Lauren L Nickisch

The Merritt family discovery of the Mesabi Iron Range and subsequent loss of their empire to John D Rockefeller inspires audiences to persevere in the face of hardship. A one-woman play by Lauren Nickisch
The creators say this show is appropriate for ages 7-11 and up
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Hephzibeth, Woman of Iron 08/04 8:30 PM Ritz Theater Studio $3.00

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Cast and Crew
Lauren Nickisch
actress (Hephzibeth)
Lauren has participated in more than 90 theatrical productions as actress, director, vocal director, choreographer, pianist, flutist and playwright. Lauren is active with Pequot Lakes Community Theatre and Central Lakes College Theater in roles as diverse as Mama Rose in "Gypsy" and Miss Hannigan in "Annie" and as director of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast." She toured nationally with Troupe America. As a founding member of the Impart Players troupe, she co-authored and performed murder mystery-dinner theater productions for regional convention entertainment for 18 years. Lauren is a retired music educator for the Brainerd Public Schools. She and her husband, C.J. Anderson, reside in Pequot Lakes.
Craig Anderson
Craig combined engineering with his love of theatre and became a theatre engineer. He moved to Greece in 1986 and started his special effects and theater engineering company: Craig Anderson Magic Effects Laboratory of Theatre where he also worked as Artistic Director of the Drakeia Cultural Association and Special Effects Engineer for the Volos Municipal Theatre, designing sets and special effects with famous producer/directors such as Xenia Kalogeropoulou. In 1997, he relocated in Pequot Lakes, MN where he became involved with Greater Lakes Area Performing Arts and Pequot Lakes Community Theatre as an actor, director, musician, technical director and instructor of technical theatre.
Beth Selinger
Stage Crew
Beth is affiliated with Brainerd Community Theater, Pequot Lakes Community Theatre, and Great River Arts Community Theater as an actress and director. Her theatrical career involves all genres of theatrical arts. Beth is the founder of the Cream of the Crop Theatre Company in Randall, MN.
Nancy Waller
Stage Crew
Nancy is currently affiliated with Pequot Lakes Community Theatre as director and actress. Her theatrical acting resume includes regional theaters from Iowa to northern Minnesota. As a founding member of the Impart Players troupe, she co-authored, performed, and managed murder mystery-dinner theater productions for regional convention entertainment for 18 years.
Tegan Smischney
Stage Crew
Tegan is a Systemic Family Therapist. She also volunteers for the Girls on the Run program. Tegan is a member of the Merritt family, the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Hephzibeth Merritt.
Cheri Rosenberger
Stage Crew
Cheri is the Marketing and Social Media Director at Helmer Dance Studio in Hudson, WI. Her background is in graphic design and communications. She has been with Helmer Dance Studio since 2003 and has been involved in technical and media production in relation to dance competitions and recitals for them.
Jeanne Wyman
Stage Crew
Jeanne is a retired computer programmer. She enjoys world travel with her family in addition to knitting and quilting.
More Information

Hephzibeth Jewett Merritt arrived at the Head of the Great Lakes in the fall of 1856, pioneering the forested wilderness with her husband and eight boys. Together, they helped to shape what eventually became the city of Duluth. Her sons sealed the fate of northern Minnesota with their discovery of the Mesabi Iron Range, but it is in the troubled times following this discovery that Hephzibeth, Woman of Iron takes place. 

On the day her sons lose the Mesabi to John D. Rockefeller, Hephzibeth, matriarch of the family at the age of 84, tries to shore up the spirits of her granddaughter, Ruth. She shares stories of her youth and her struggles of the early days in Oneota (now West Duluth) hoping to help Ruth through this time of crisis. Hephzibeth recounts a midnight cutter ride across the ice of St. Louis Bay to assist a sick neighbor many miles away. She tells of the impact Indians had on her life and how death affected her family. As the discovery of iron on the Mesabi is woven into her tale, the audience discovers the strength and courage that is Hephzibeth Merritt.

The stories and facts used in this play are historically accurate, researched by the author/actress, Lauren Nickisch, who is Hephzibeth's great-great-great-granddaughter through her son Leonidas. Nickisch is active in theater in the Brainerd Lakes area. She has performed Hephzibeth, Woman of Iron across the state of Minnesota including such venues as St. Cloud State University, Central Lakes College, Northland Community College, and New York Mills Regional Cultural Arts Center. 

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