Telling the stories of our community

Built with the support from over 400 donors, including lead gifts from Mike & Karel Helgeson, Deb & Steve Palmer, and The Morgan Family Foundation, the Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre doubles as a stage and a fully equipped classroom for local artists and actors to create an adventurous range of bold, diverse and unique theatrical experiences where the stories of our community can be shared!

We strive to ensure everyone in central Minnesota will have access to the transformative power of the arts. The Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre is GREAT’s answer to the community’s need for increased programming and access for all. The goal is to boldly and thoughtfully tell the stories of our community. It’s a space that allows us to examine and dig in to the stories that aren’t being told.

Every experience in the Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre can adapt to the needs of the production in this intimate venue that features mobile staging, seating, and state-of-the-art theatrical lighting and sound. You’re invited to get involved onstage, backstage, and in the audience. Together we utilize the Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre as a place to create, expand, and educate – and we hope you will join us.


710 Sundial Drive, Waite Park (next to Crafts Direct)
The Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre is location inside of GREAT Theatre.

The Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre

710 Sundial Drive, Waite Park, MN, USA

GREAT has hosted, produced, and/or partnered on over 54 events in 7 years (plus, camps and rehearsals!) in the Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre! 

  • GREAT Theatre’s The Secret Garden // June 20-25, 2017
  • Script In Hand: The Prince and The Pauper // September 30, 2017
  • Script in Hand: Harriet the Spy // October 10, 2017
  • PLAYlabs in partnership with KVSC Radio: War of the Worlds // October 27 & 28, 2017
  • PLAYlabs: A Christmas To Believe In, an original play by Buddy King // December 11, 2017
  • GREAT Theatre’s The Nine Who Dared: Courage In Little Rock // January 10-19, 2018
  • PLAYlabs: Dancing With Many Voices // March 10 & 11, 2018
  • GREAT Theatre’s CLUE The Musical // April 27-May 20, 2018
  • Script In Hand: Arthur Miller’s All My Sons // June 9, 2018
  • Script In Hand: The Importance of Being Earnest // June 26, 2018
  • Script In Hand in partnership with District 742 Project Challenge: Understanding Your Pet With Doctor Marla Brett // July 26, 2018
  • Community Arts Alive: Vanessa German & Black Out Improv // August 17 & 18, 2018
  • PLAYlabs: A Day in the Life of Girls, a devised theatre project // August 25, 2018
  • PLAYlabs: How To Have Fun In A Civil War by Ifrah Mansour // October 6, 2018
  • GREAT’s Directors Circle Donor Gratitude Dinner // October 8, 2018
  • PLAYlabs in partnership wth KVSC Radio: Night of the Living Dead // October 27, 2018
  • PLAYlabs: Two Days In Saint Cloud, an original play by Anthony Schrock // November 9-11, 2018
  • Chamber of Commerce Business Lunch Host // November 21, 2018
  • Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation Innovation Awards Host // November 30, 2018
  • Project Challenge Holiday Concert Host // December 7, 2018
  • GREAT Theatre’s The Giver // January 11-20, 2019
  • Habitat for Humanity Gratitude Donor Event Host // February 22, 2019
  • The Best Program Ever: African-American Experience Host // February 24, 2019
  • PLAYlabs: Goodnight Moon // March 6-10, 2019
  • Acting Workshop in partnership with District 742 Project Challenge // March 27, 2019
  • GREAT Theatre’s Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story // April 26-May 19, 2019
  • Script in Hand: End Days // June 9, 2019
  • PLAYlabs in partnership with Joshua Cash: Six Characters in Search of An Author // July 11-13, 2019
  • PLAYlabs in partnership with Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project: Birds Sing Differently Here // July 18 & 19, 2019
  • KVSC Radio Show: Sherlock Holmes // October 2019
  • GREAT Theatre’s Youth Artist Project: Rainbow Fish // November 2019
  • Stage Combat Workshops //  October 2019
  • Stage Combat Workshops // December 2019
  • GREAT Theatre’s Akeelah and the Bee // February 2020
  • Parking Lot Dance Workshops // Summer 2020
  • GREAT Theatre’s The Laramie Project // October 2020
  • GREAT Theatre’s Miracle 34th Street: A Live Radio Musical // December 2020
  • GREAT Theatre’s Youth Artist Project: Charlotte’s Web // March 2021
  • Telling Our Stories: Great Women of Stearns County in partnership with Stearns History Museum // September 2021
  • GREAT Theatre’s Youth Artist Project: Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus // March 2022
  • Collide Theatrical: Our Stories // July 2023
  • Devised Mental Health Project: Back on Track // August 2022
  • GREAT Theatre’s Murder on the Orient Express // October 2022
  • KVSC: The Great Gatsby Radio Play // November 2022
  • Collide Theatrical: Wonderland // January 2023
  • GREAT Theatre’s Youth Artist Project: Naked Mole Rat, The Rock Experience // March 2023
  • Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation Board Appreciation: Broadway Revue // June 2023
  • Jason Schommer Fringe Workshop // July 2023
  • GREAT Theatre’s Youth Artist Project: A Year with Frog and Toad Kids // October 2023
  • Every Brilliant Thing // October 2023
  • Transformation to Terrell X // November 2023
  • Somali Museum Cultural Dance and Music Concert // January 2024
  • Minnesota Citizens for the Arts: Conversation on Arts // January 2024
  • GREAT Theatre’s Silent Sky // March 2024
  • GREAT Theatre’s Native Gardens // May 2024

Over the past two years, we have shared our plans for the Helgeson Learning Lab Theatre at GREAT Theatre, a flexible space for collaboration and creativity that joins the Historic Paramount Theatre as our two theatrical homes to deliver transformative theatre experiences for all.

Every experience in the Learning Lab Theatre can adapt to the needs of the production in this intimate venue that features mobile staging, seating and state-of-the-art theatrical lighting and sound. In the months ahead, hundreds of students will use the space for Summer Theatre camps and in January of 2018 we will premiere the play “Nine Who Dared: Courage At Little Rock” as part of our dynamic 20th anniversary season.

Thank you to our Capital Campaign Committee, the GREAT Board of Directors, our donors, volunteers, staff and the entire community. YOU DID IT. 


GREAT Theatre is grateful to all the donors who supported the Setting The Stage For Tomorrow Capital Campaign.

$10,000+ Donors
Adventure Advertising
Rollie & Barb Anderson, Anderson Trucking Service
Benton Telecommunications Foundation
Bernick Family Foundation
Dick & Mimi Bitzan
Bonnie & Stephen Bologna Family
Robyn, Steven, Cole & Carter Bright
Barclay and Janet Carriar, Proviant Group
Central Minnesota Community Foundation
Warnert Commercial Real Estate, Sheila DeVine
The Dorsher Family
Tammie & Taggart Downare Family
Jason & Debbie Erickson
GNP Company
Don Helgeson and Sue Shepard Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation
Karel & Michael Helgeson
Chris and Joanne Kudrna
Tom & Denise Lenarz, Heidi, Holly, and Hayden
Logeman Family & Executive Express
Mardag Foundation
Bill and Chip Martin-Chaffee
Dan & Susan Miller
Jim & Marion Miller
Morgan Family Foundation
Nahan Printing, Inc.
Deb and Steve Palmer, Palmer Printing
PAM’s Auto Inc.
James & Connie Reagan
Michael, Janet & Sean Reagan
Marc & Marie Sanderson
Schlenner Wenner & Co, CPA’s
Tom & Joyce Schlough
St. Cloud Morning Optimist Club
Tony and Karen Toepfer Family
George and Shirley Torrey
United Arts of Central Minnesota 1985-2016
Dennis, Scott & Jacob Wachtler-Whipple
The Weber Family, Ryan, Melissa, Kylie & Camille
Penny & Bob White

Rick & Karen Ahles
AIS Planning, Cathy & Darren Juilfs
Rick & Marianne Arnzen
Rick & Miki Backes
Jerry & Elaine Bauerly Family Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation
Rick & Helga Bauerly
Gary & Kay Bechtold
Dorothy C Becker Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation
Dante & Jaimie Beretta
Ameriprise, Jim Beste
Kelly Bobick
Bursch Travel
Mary Calantoc & Kevin Hanks
Carlson Advisors CPAs and Management Consultants
Barbara Carlson
Central Minnesota Arts Board
Christenson Family
Rick and Pat Cicharz
Steve Dinndorf
Kevin & Beth Donnelly
Patricia Dorsher
Farmers & Merchants State Bank
Steve & Judy Feneis
Kimberly & Nicholas Foster
Bob & Patti Gartland
Outlet, Jim & Sondra Glenn
Granite Equity Partners
Great River Federal Credit Union
Linda Gustafson Berreau
Albert & Janice Hammond
Lucinda Hawker
Stephen & Michele Heller
Joe, Tina, Riley & Reagan Hengel
Patrick Henry & Patricia Welter
Chad & Kelsi Holien
Anita, Brad, Brynn, & Spencer Hollenhorst
Brady & Lynette Hughs
Kathy & John Huls
Bob & Judy Johnson
Mike & Ruth Johnson
Steve & Brenda Joul Family
Bonnie & Brian Kay
Chris & Shawn Klimpel
Scott & Shelly Kopel Family
Pat & David Krueger
Laraway Financial Advisors, Inc.
Dorrie & Scott Larison
Ron & Wannetta Lloyd
Cathleen & Harry Machesky
Murray & Sue Mack, HMA Architects
Mahowald Insurance Agency
John & Joyce Matsuura
Deborah McCarl & Marilyn Skurdahl
Julia Menken
Meta 13
Aimee & Joel Miron
Patrick & Jane Mitchell Family Fund
The Moran Family, Asha, Marty, Priya and Martin
Lee & Vicki Morgan
Eric, Gina & Priya Nacey
Connie & Mike Nahan
Robert & Lysa Neitzke
Steven Nohner
PAN-O-GOLD Baking Company
Beverly & Jim Pehler
Plaza Park Bank
Proviant Group
Quinlivan & Hughes, Attorneys At Law
Katie & Paul Radeke
Refine Dermatique Skin & Laser Center
Nathan & Valerie Reuter
Julie & Ken Ripp
Dr. James & Ann Romanowsky
Patti & Pete Rothfork
Judy & Luther Rotto
James & Lacey Schirmers
The Schlecht Family, Crafts Direct
Mike Schlough & Becky Bastien
Judith C. Schmid
Nancy & George Schnepf
Laurie & Bill Senn
St. Cloud Area Sertoma Club
Chuck Stenger
Heidi & Bill Strong, Austin, Kaden & Rylan
Shrewd Real Estate, The Tangen Family
The Paint Store…and Mooore!
David & Jonna Thomas
Pat, Ron & Alex Thompson
Scott, Kary, Morgan & Grace Tillmann
Dave & Janet Tilstra
Vela Strategy
Sue Wahl Storbeck
Janet & Tim Wensman
Steve Whipple
Diane Wojtanowicz
Yassin Family
Midwest Financial Partners

Gifts up to $999
Jessica Abson
Kathleen Allen
Luke Anderson
Tia Arnzen
Victoria Ashbrook
Patricia Atwood
Barb & Steve Avery
Deb & Alan Baggenstoss in memory of Diane Baggenstoss
Jaynelle Balicky
Barbara & Dennis Gregory Family Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation
Jeanine Barrett
Marge Bates
Carla & Trinity Bauer
Tara & Tim Bayerl
Beaver Island Brewing Company
Caren Bedard
Jessica Behrends
Bob & Karen Bellmont
Don & Nancy Bellmont
James Berg & Mary Kruger
Lisa Berg
Ruth Berg
Mary Bergeron & Wally Westerberg
Rory & Tiffany Bidinger
Deborah Biorn
Gary & Kelly Blake
Jeffrey Bleam & David DeBlieck
Rose Blesener & William Daly
Blueprint Fundraising, Jill Dalager Brunner
Margaret & Robert Boatz
Deb Bollig
Samantha Bosacki
Lorna Bounds, in honor of her niece Tina Hengel
Craig & Karen Broman
Phyllis M. Brown
Mary Brunberg
Linda Buchholz
Lori & Ralph Buettner
Dannielle Bunting
Christina Buttenhoff
Mary Carlin-Goenner
Ann Carlson
Mike & Sue Carr
Amy & Carlos Castrillon
Bennie & Desiree Clark
Doug & Tarryl Clark
Joe & Rachel Clarke
Josh & Patti Clymer
Paulette & Tom Como
Dan & Elaine Cotton
Kent & Suzette Dahlen
Jennifer Dahlstrom-Lage & Steve Dahlstrom
Kristin & Kyle Darnall
Mary Daubanton
Dick & Terri Deal-Hansen
Jan & John Decker
Jeanette & Leonard DeLong
Jeanne & Stephen Dirksen
John & Leann Donovan
Steven Dorsher
The Edeburn Family
Deb Egeland
John & Sara Ellis
Lisa Enns & Gregory Knoll
Ann & Jeffrey Erdmann
Jessica & Barry Fahey
Andrew & Dru Ann Faith
Dan & Jane Fark
Alison Feigh
Karen, Loren & Max Finlayson
Greg & Karel Fleck
Blake Fleege
Jerry Ford & Marienne Kreitlow
Jill Fox
Martin & Paula Franzmeier
Sharon Froehle & Marsha Woolcott
Michael Gallagher & Kateri Mancini
Julie & Mark Gartner
Jeff Gau
Julie Gay
Jim & Lois Gebhardt
Debra & Gerald Gillman
Tracy Gordon
Brad & Peg Goskowicz
Janet & Thomas Grones
Diane Hageman
Bridget & Scott Hamak
Samantha Handley
Roger & Wendy Hansen
Ann & Brad Hanson
Brad & Lisa Hanson
Katie & Mike Harens
Garth Harris & Heather Mastromarco
Nancy Henderson
Andre Heywood
Ruth Hinnenkamp
Angie Hochhalter
Jane Ann & Mark Hollenhorst
Laura Howard
Nancy & Robert Huber
Susan Iten
Barbara Izdepski
Mark & Rita James
Sharon Jendro
Nancy Jeske
Betty & Cliff Johnson in memory of Jean Bettendorf
David & Peggy Johnson
Janelle & Pete Johnson
Laurie Johnson
Murdoch Johnson & Dianne Tuff
Angelica & Donald Jurgens
Mark & Stephanie Kadlec
LuBell Kendall
Don & Mary Anne Kieser
Clarence & Judy Kiffmeyer
Jean Klosowski
Janet & Tom Knoll
Valerie Knopp
Tamara Kraemer
Dan & Lesa Kramer
Karla & Paul Krueger
Loren & Teresa Krueger
Karen Kruse
Donna Kuhl & Dr. John Mahowald
Janice Kummet
Bill & Phyllis Lacroix
Kristi & Patrick LaLonde
Glen Lauer
Phillip & Sarah Layne
Daryn & Jennifer Lecy
Kay Lemke
Litke’s Veterinary Service, Jamie & Michelle Litke
Jan Loebel
Mill & Sandy Logeman
Joan & Paul Lombardi
Carol A. & Jerome V. Loomis
Carlos & Clara Lopez
Tara & Tom Lopez
David Losoya
Macy’s Foundation
Bob & Marissa Mahowald
Chris & Mary Maier
Christopher & Katie Manar
Bruce Mancini & Betty Nystrom
Greg & Janice Martin
Alison Martinson
Kristen & Thor Mattick
Jerry & Maureen McCarter
Lynn & Michael McClelland
Tamara McClintock
Linda & Tom McGowan
Kathryn & Mark Mechelke
Jill Melby & Paul Weitzel
Cassie & Vince Miles
Lissa & Mike Miller
Paula Monahan
Faye & Gary Mrozek
William Muchow
Andy & Leslie Mulder
Colleen & Tom Nelson
Eileen & Greg Nelson
Jim & Kay Nelson
Pat Nelson
Mary O’Hara
Margaret Mary Obremski
Dana Omann
Elaine & Joseph Omann
Kristie Orn
Nicole Overby
Jane & John Oxton
Mary & Tom Ozbun
Bobby & Lorraine Penly
Brian & Marion Philippi
Cindy & John Phillips
Noreen Plaisance
Marcie Popowski
Lori Potter
Marge Pryately
Carol & Sherwood Reid
Elizabeth & Eric Reisinger
Rethmeier Legal Services
Brandi & Dave Richards-Berger
Ann, Shawn & Bryce Riesner
Virginia Riser
Jacqueline Rogan
Aaron & Michelle Rosenberger
Alyssa & Joe Rosenberger Family
Michael & Sarah Rosner
Roseanna Ross
Diane & Dick Ruegemer
Cheryl Running
SAA, Charles A. Flinn & Elizabeth Hayden
Jean Samuelson
Melinda & Wayne Sanders
Rick & Sandy Schackmann
Clara Schad
Rick & Tina Scheierl
Patsy Schelske
Angie & Curt Schibonski
Bernie & Dennis Schiffler
Carmen Schmoll
Lynn & William Schnettler
Mindi & Ryan Schultz
Brandy Sebera
Monica & Troy Segura-Schwartz
Florence & Gerald Sheesley
James & Michelle Simmons
Adam & Jamie Skeate
David & Jean Solheim
Jada Soltau
Maureen Spanier
Tim Staneart
Carolyn & Eric Stewart
Mary Storkamp
Brooke & Dennis Strassburg
Jill & Todd Stuber
Dean & GeNae Stulz
Marcia Summers
Emily & Willie Swanson
Gretchen Swanson
Joe & MaryAnn Symalla
Linda G. Tenneson
Dan & Diane Thielen
Marilyn & Jane Thielman
John & Patty Tholen
Jeffrey & Molly Thompson
Paul & Kimberly Thompson Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation
John & Molly Timmerman
Mary Alice Tomporowski
Aaron & Jessica Trompeter
Jeffrey & Patricia Turner
Mark Verkuilen
Connie & Jerry Von Korff
Mary Vos
Gordon & Mary Kay Wagner
Patricia & Thomas Waletzko
Mari Walker
Barbara Wallace
Rosemary Ward
Dove & Tracey Watkin
Jeff & Jill Waytashek
Weekend Extensions
Andy & Nicole Welle
Martha Weno
Jayme Westling
Hugo & Rita Weyrens
Jennifer Whitehead
Joan & Scott Wilcox
Carol & Lonny Wild
Sandra Williams
Pamela & Paul Winskowski
Kanthi Yalamanchili
Katey & Pete Zeleny
Lambert & Virginia Zenner
Holli & Matthew Zieske
Dawn Zimmerman


Barb Carlson

Joanne Dorsher

Cindy Hawker

Chris Kudrna

Joanne Kudrna

Larry Logeman

Dan Miller

Gina Nacey

Steve Palmer, Chair

Janet Reagan

Mike Reagan

Marc Sanderson

Lacey Schirmers

Dennis Whipple

“Thank you to the generous donors in our area and to the hardworking campaigners at Great Theatre. They have made the  “high tech” part of the dream come true.  As students learn the technology of lighting and sound in the first learning lab theatre in the country, performances here in central Minnesota will be ever more magical as through the years. “ — Mike and Karel Helgeson

Campaign Chair Steve Palmer says: “I am thrilled to see such amazing support and celebrate the success of the Challenge Match! Thank you to the many donors who have made this possible. The success of the Match enables GREAT to begin the building of the Learning Lab!”

“Steve and I wish to thank all the donors who helped not only meet, but exceed the Match! Together, we are creating GREAT Theatre’s Learning Lab; a place for our families to build life skills thru stage skills.” — Deb & Steve Palmer


The Hegleson and Palmers unite

Steve & Deb Palmer and Mike & Karel Helgeson share why theatre matters to them–from their own childhood and high school theatre experiences to their generous challenge gift to GREAT!