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The Root Beer Lady at History Theatre

On Saturday night I was lucky enough to attend opening night of The Root Beer Lady at the History Theatre in Saint Paul. This one woman show written and performed by Kim Schultz and directed by Addie Gorlin-Han is short at 80 minutes but masterfully captures Dorothy Molter’s 80 year life. The show is engaging, Kim Schultz captures the audience from the beginning and brings them on a trip to the Boundary Waters and through its history through the eyes of one of its most famous residents. At times the story is funny, at times sad, and at times it feels like a survival story.

For those who don’t know Dorothy Molter’s story – she moved to a small island on Knife Lake in the 1930s, to help run a resort. Her steadfastness to follow the life that she wanted made her quite a trailblazer for the time. She drew media attention with articles written about her with headlines like "The Loneliest Women in America" (despite the multitude of guests coming to Knife Lake). She was also dubbed The Root Beer Lady – after her home-made root beer which grew famous for and was so popular that her customers (passing canoeists) had to be limited to 2 bottles.

Schultz shows that Molter was so much more than the headlines would lead you to believe. She was a woman in search of happiness. She was strong, and resourceful and determined. A great role model for today. All audience members will find inspiration in Dorothy’s story to live life your own way.

Dorothy’s sexuality and relationships are not touched on that much in the show. After all Dorothy was a real person, who was somewhat private. The one thing that we do learn from the show is that she and her business partner and mentor Bill were just that and nothing more. That being said I couldn’t help watching her story played out on the History Theatre's stage and see her as a queer icon. But that is what is so brilliant about the story – different people will be able to find and see what they want from this inspiring story.

The show is perfect for this time of year – it makes you realize the beauty of a Minnesota winter and also brings you to the warm summer days ahead.

The Root Beer Lady is running at the History Theater until February 19th. Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.


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