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Paul Bunyan Playhouse: A trio of sweetness, optimism and melody

"The Sisters of Swing: the Story of the Andrews Sisters" opens tonight at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.

This true-life story by Beth Gilliland and Bob Beverage and directed by Artistic Director Zach Curtis tells of the Minneapolis-born Andrew Sisters is the first play of the 2009 Playhouse summer season.

"Sisters of Swing" runs through June 20 with 8 p.m. performances Wednesday through Saturday and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

The sisters, played by Amber Swenson (LaVerne), Katherine Tieben (Maxene) and Kristen Husby (Patty), bring the Andrews Sisters to life as they dance and sing memorable hits including "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy;" "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and "Rum and Coca Cola." Music Director Jake Endres said the trio is able to deliver a sound and style that is instantly recognizable as the Andrews' trademark.

At 6, 8 and 13 years of age, the girls began touring and performing. They worked hard to develop their craft and rehearsed daily, often practicing in the back of their father's Buick while he drove them to their next show.

Returning to the Paul Bunyan Playhouse for another season, comedic actor Ari Hoptman will perform an array of characters including a soldier, radio announcer, Bing Cosby, Danny Kaye, Johnny Carson, plus 15 other supporting roles. This two-hour show with one intermission will offer a unique behind-the-scenes perspective of how hard these women worked to achieve their success.

"This play eclipses anything we have previously done," Curtis said. "We are particularly delighted to have Jan Puffer, the original choreographer of the play, with us to ensure that the complex story lines, songs, music and moves synergize to deliver a top professional production."

Tickets are $22 for evening performances and $11 for the matinee. Student tickets are $10 for any student younger than 21. Tickets can be purchased through the Playhouse Box Office at 751-7270 or online at Box office hours are 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.