After acting in The Pavilion at the Jungle Theater, Terry Hempleman knew he wasn't done with the play. The opportunity to revisit comes now, as the veteran actor takes a turn in the director's chair for Yellow Tree Theatre's production of the Craig Wright work.
The connection with the Osseo-based company came last fall, when Hempleman shared the stage with Yellow Tree co-founder Jason Peterson in the Jungle's Fool for Love.
"I started working on him backstage," Hempleman says. "He asked me if I would be interested in directing this play. It's a perfect play to get."
Wright -- who graduated from St. John's -- has written a number of successful plays and has also had a hand in number of television shows. The Pavilion centers on a pair of former high-school sweethearts who re-engage at their small-town Minnesota 20th high-school reunion.
"It has met with some criticism because people couldn't believe how innocent it was. It is straightforward and achingly beautiful and innocent," Hempleman says.
Hempleman is working with actors Bonnie Allen and Michael Lee -- along with Peterson -- for the production. The veteran cast has made the job that much more satisfying, he says.
As has the chance to be in charge of the production.
"I love directing. I feel like it is in my skill set," Hempleman says. In fact, the performer has long been interested in that side of theater. Before he moved to Minnesota in 1991, Hempleman had contemplated going back to school for directing. In the years since, he has directed a few pieces around town, including work at the Playwrights' Center and in the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
Then again, there is one difference this time around. "I'm directing a play at a strip mall in Osseo," Hempleman says.
While the exterior may not be the funkiest spot in the Twin Cities, "when you go inside they have done a beautiful job with the lobby. The space is just charming," Hempleman says. "Rather than just creating some sort of outpost where city folks can go, they seemed to have developed a relationship with the local community."
That development has made the theater attractive to the professional core of actors in the Twin Cities. "You are getting more and more professional people going up there and working," he says.
The audience is also building, as Yellow Tree draws from the greater Twin Cities area.
"There is serious work going on up there [in Osseo]. This is a gem of a play that is going to get a serious production. I'm going up there and having a ball. It's something great, and I'm thrilled to be part of it," Hempleman says.
IF YOU GO:
Yellow Tree Theatre
320 Fifth Ave. SE, Osseo
For tickets and more information, call 763.493.8733 or visit online.