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Her treat: creating theater

Afton resident Calyssa Hall started her very own theater company, Only A Dim Image Dessert Theatre, roughly a year ago. The theater company performs at various theaters throughout the Twin Cities. Currently, Hall and her theater company partner with Merrill Community Arts Center for rehearsal space. (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)

For Afton resident Calyssa Hall, the sweetest place to be is backstage at a theater performance.

“I love going up on a dusty catwalk,” she said. “You’re the one making it happen on stage, you’re making the art and I am backstage getting to watch them create.”

Hall’s passion for theater was realized a year ago this month when she started her very own theater company, Only A Dim Image Dessert Theatre.

“I know this is God’s s plan for my life – I can feel it,” she said. “I feel so validated.”

Only A Dim Image Dessert Theatre put on a production of “Lady Be Good!” earlier this month, Sept. 11-14, at the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis.

‘It was meant to be’

Hall, 23, first became introduced to theater when she started volunteering at the Phipps Center for the Arts on the technical side before taking jobs as stage manager with Stillwater Community Theater and South St. Paul Community Theater.

“I fell in love with the backstage stuff,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a professional stage manager and it was going to be great.”

After some events in her life made her step back and think, Hall said she decided it was the perfect time to take a risk and start her own company.

“I’ve kind of been shy my whole life and afraid to fail,” she said. “But, now is the time that I need to stop being afraid of what people think and just go for it.

“You either have to go for your dream or you’ll be building someone else’s.”

Hall, a theater and music student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, started recruiting friends and acquaintances, including her music professor to serve as the music director, to round out her company.

“We didn’t have any money, we didn’t have any people,” she said, “we just had faith.

“We went out on a limb and it all just fell together – it was meant to be.”

The pieces continued to fall together this year when Hall, whose father and sister are involved in Woodbury Community Theatre, began renting rehearsal space at Merrill Community Arts Center.

A tasty take on theater

Hall came up with the name for her theater company after a Bible verse truly connected to her and her passions.

The passage, from 1 Corinthians 13:12, reads: “What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete.”

“Even the most beautiful thing you see now is only a dim image of what’s to come,” she said. “This is what I need to do for theater.”

Only A Dim Image Dessert Theatre’s first production, “Gigi,” was at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis last September.

“I took the $2,000 out of my savings account and rented the space and bought the rights,” Hall said.

The vision for her theater company is two-fold – dessert and beauty.

Hall said she always enjoyed going to dinner theaters as a child, which is why she wanted to bring something similar to her theater company.

“We all love dinner theatres,” she said, “but the dessert is the best part.”

During performances, Only A Dim Image Dessert Theatre sells desserts before and after performances and during intermissions.

Hall’s company has partnered with Buttercream Bakery in St. Paul for its desserts.

The other part of Only A Dim Image Dessert Theatre is bringing beauty to the stage, Hall said.

“We just want to create something beautiful,” she said.

Hall said Only A Dim Image Dessert Theatre will focus primarily on the “classics” and reinventing them for the modern audience.

“We want to do beautiful, artistic versions of the golden age of movies,” she said. “I love bringing back the classics and letting them shine on stage.”

Emerging from the dim

Hall said she hopes her theater company continues to thrive and one day hopes to have her own building, complete with a bakery, somewhere in the east side of the Twin Cities.

“We definitely want to be a presence in the cities,” she said. “We want to be a destination, not just a building.”

Only A Dim Image Dessert Theatre is planning to have a full theater season this year with its next production in November at the Southern Theater.

“Our success and future all hinges on this year,” she said. “I know in my heart this what I’m supposed to be doing.”

More information on Only A Dim Image Dessert Theatre can be found online at www.dimimage.com.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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