Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

“Sweet Land” coming to Faribault & I’m in September 18, 2017

I KICKED BACK in the recliner attempting to read while my eyelids fluttered in fatigue. Randy relaxed nearby on the sofa, eyes focused on the Faribault Daily News. He started to say something, then stopped. “Never mind,” he said. Now that grabbed my attention. But I didn’t press. I figured if he wanted to tell me whatever, he eventually would.




The next morning Randy flipped open the paper and pointed to a display ad for the Fesler-Lampert Performing Arts Series at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault. Targeting his finger on the October 12 performance of “Sweet Land, the musical,” he asked me to order tickets. This, he said, would be my birthday gift, albeit late and on his birthday. Mystery solved.


Ann Michels in the lead role alongside Robert Berdahl. Photo courtesy of the History Theatre.


I am delighted with this birthday gift to a musical I had hoped to see on stage at the History Theatre in St. Paul. But we never got there and now the performance starring Faribault native Anne Michels as German immigrant Inge Altenberg is coming to my community, to the campus of a noted college prep school just across the viaduct from my home.

The Faribault performance is among seven on a summer and fall travel tour of “Sweet Land” to towns in greater Minnesota. Other upcoming shows are in Detroit Lakes, Grand Rapids, Red Wing and Worthington.


A promo for the film from the Sweet Land website.


My excitement for this musical traces to my deep love of the award-winning independent film, Sweet Land, based on Minnesota writer Will Weaver’s short story, “A Gravestone Made of Wheat.” The movie, filmed in my native southwestern Minnesota prairie, tells the story of a mail-order bride and the challenges she faces as a German immigrant. The topic is especially relevant today.

Yet Sweet Land is much more. It’s a story that also focuses on the love between two people in a place where the land weaves a strong presence into the storyline.

To have this opportunity to see Sweet Land locally rather than travel into the metro is a gift, birthday or not.


FYI: Click here for more information about the History Theatre’s tour of “Sweet Land, the musical.” Click here for specific info about the Faribault show.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to ““Sweet Land” coming to Faribault & I’m in”

  1. The movie poster is amazing- so beautiful and stark- it conveys a story. And the scene from the show looks like fun. What a wonderful birthday treat for both of you!

  2. Sandy Bessingpas Says:

    You will love Sweetland. It was in Alexandria this summer and it was the best play I have ever seen. Great story, outstanding performers, I would go again if i had the opportunity

  3. Kiandra Judge Says:

    I absolutely love that movie! It’s such a sweet wonderful story. My husband’s grandpa lived in Sogn Valley on a farm just south of Cannon Falls and when he was growing up, his father told him not to date women from the “other side of 52” because they were German! He married a Norwegian like himself. The funny thing is that I’m 100% German and my husband is a Norwegian and we now live on that same farm! We broke the “rules” and are happily married 😊

  4. Bernadette Says:

    I have not seen “Sweet Land,” but am intrigued by your description and that it was filmed in SW Minnesota. Also I want to find and read the short story you mentioned. What a great birthday gift – experiences trump things!

  5. Jackie Says:

    What a fun birthday gift to Randy, and you both get the benefits! This looks really good, Detroits play is October 7th, we just may be upnorth during that time. Only about 40 minutes from us….it would be a fun night out.

  6. Beth Ann Says:

    What a great birthday present for both of you! Enjoy!

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    That is a gift worth waiting for.

  8. I shall be looking for this musical in my area.
    It sounds FAbbbbbbB.
    Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, dear)))!! xxx from Duluth.

  9. Michael Lambert Says:

    I saw the musical at the History Theater this last summer and loved it …. I may be biased, as I am a HUGE fan of the ultra-talented-and-lovely Ann Michels ever since we did community theater together in Faribault oh, so many years ago. But it is a lovely, heart-filled story woven together by the music and characters in the telling of this timely tale. We shape our future through our history. Enjoy!

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