Sasha Andreev from Ronston! A ROCK MUSICAL at History Theater

1898. Swedish immigrant Olaf Uhmann digs a rock at his property near Kensington, Minnesota with a “Story about Carved Runes” that tells that Vikings were the first Europeans to set foot in Minnesota. He was praised for his discovery but soon controversy erupted and his life was turned upside down with allegations of “Fake! Scam! Liar!” Go back in time and enjoy the ride with exotic rock ‘n’ roll music. go ahead!!

We talk to Sasha Andreu who plays Olof Uhmann in Runestone!

How do you feel when live audiences and theaters return?

As much as we’ve pivoted and innovated over the past few years with virtual solutions, the performance in front of people alive is unparalleled. The audience is a big part of the dynamism, and their energy is an integral part of the show, because we feel their reaction and thus they are empowered by it. So I am delighted to be in front of a live audience, and appreciate the support of our patrons, especially at a time when the pandemic continues to affect our livelihoods.

What inspired you to pursue a career in performance?

Becoming an artist has always been the default choice for me, no matter how much I try to pursue other paths. Growing up, I would show programs to family and neighbors, and when they weren’t around, I would put up puppet shows of myself in front of the mirror, or use our camcorder to make silly movies. This eventually led to participating in school plays and then pursuing a drama degree in college. I feel so lucky to make a living as a performer, and even when the frustrations of working feel frustrating, I still find my way back because I feel so good.

How does this role compare to other roles you have played?

As Olof, I spent the show fighting for the truth, which is not unlike some of the other roles I’ve played. However, this show required all of us to flex a lot of muscle, swinging between goofy comedies, dramatic scenes, dance numbers, and rock beats. I would say that the variety of performances that Runestone demands of the group as a whole is what made this experience so unique.

What is your process for developing your character?

As I research Olof Uhmann and his family, research photos, and snapshots, as well as visit the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, the character created by playwright Mark Jensen, was ultimately my roadmap throughout the process. Olof begins the show full of optimism and ambition, and as the show progresses, he finds himself facing multiple challenges, including (spoiler alert) death, only to return as a ghost to continue the fight for his legacy. My focus was finding the truth of the scenes and navigating the spiraling and earthly world we created as a group.

Do you have a favorite song on the show?

I admit I have a weak place in Olof’s lament – the last digit Olof sings alone on stage, asking the audience what they think is the truth after witnessing his journey. I also have to give props to the Knights Templar, which the whole band performs. It’s catchy, silly, has fun choreography, and the staff make noise to perform. I’m not into that number, so I always enjoy watching him from the sidelines.

Did you encounter any challenges with your character or production?

The Swedish/MN accent was quite a challenge for me. As someone who is not originally from MN, and who has English as a second language, it took a while to find the right balance. Now I don’t seem to drop it, even when I’m out of the real world. chastity! I admit that transitioning to rock status as someone with a traditional music background takes some effort, but thanks to the guidance of composer Gary Rowe and music director Brian Bicol, I’ve been enjoying rock music.

How was it working with the cast and creative team?

Right from the start, Tyler Michaels, our Director, set out to create a group-driven environment, because that’s the storytelling mechanism of the show. We tell this story collectively, with the cast turning into different characters to drive the narrative forward. Collaborating with this group has been very rewarding, especially because I haven’t worked with many of them before, and I go with many new friends.

What do you hope the audience gets from watching this production?

In today’s world, we often forget that at the heart of our conversations are mediated by real people, and it is easy to misrepresent information without considering the consequences. I hope the audience will think about the concept of truth and how we often manipulate information to fit our personal narratives rather than looking at the big picture. And of course I hope they walk in an entertaining way, humming one of the tunes.

What are your favorite local sites?

I’m in love with Black Sheep Pizza, which is just down the street from the History Theater, with another location a few blocks from my home in Minneapolis. This is what I like! I also recently learned about Clancey’s Meats in Linden Hills, which might make the best sandwich I’ve ever had. Quang Deli always hits the spot if you have a craving for a Pho or wonton soup. I know these are all related to food, but what can I say? I love to eat!

Thank you very much Sasha for your time!

For more information about the ticket and the offer, click here

Photo by Rick Spaulding

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