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LTO takes on touching WWII drama

Little Theatre of Owatonna, Color of Stars, new play, Patrick McColley, Owatonna
The Little Theatre of Owatonna cast for “The Color of Stars” includes (from left) Patrick McColley, Courtney Kryzer, Vidette Ostermeier, L McColley, and Mark Zollner. Not pictured: Jason Meyer. Staff photo by Joni Hubred
Joni Hubred, News Editor

Six local actors will bring playwright Dwayne Hartford’s story of “family, patriotism, fear and prejudice” to life this week in Little Theatre of Owatonna’s latest production, “The Color of Stars”.

Director Shelley Fitzgerald said she was asked in 2020 to direct an LTO drama, but COVID-19 sidelined live theater for two years. The show jumped out at her because of the setting.

“I’m a history buff,” she said, “and when I read it, I thought, this is a good story. Some dramas can be heavy, but this one was really appealing.”

The show opens as 11-year-old Eddie, played by L McColley, has been sent to stay with his grandparents on the family farm in Maine. His father, a U.S. soldier, is somewhere in the Pacific, and his mother works at a shipyard.

A 13-year-old Owatonna Middle School student, McColley began acting at age 9, in a production of “Annie” at Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault.

“My dad does community theater and asked me to try out,” said McColley, who is transgender. The role of Eddie “gives me gender euphoria, which is great.”

While there were 15 girls in “Annie,” McColley enjoys being the only young person in “The Color of Stars”.

“Eddie in the beginning is very on edge and not happy. He just moved away from all of his friends, and doesn’t want to be there,” McColley said. “That changes when he meets Felix (Stetler) and starts to connect with him.”

Eddie also discovers a secret about Felix that changes his whole point of view. “Everything changes then, and he really just wants to help.”

McColley hopes the audience will feel the constant change in Eddie and the other characters. “It’s a very comforting show. There’s some emotional points, but it’s very nice and very cozy.”

Owatonna resident Vidette Ostermeier plays Isabel Perkins, the sister of Eddie’s grandmother,

“She’s a bit of a know-it-all with opinions, but deep down, she still cares a lot,” Ostermeier said, adding the challenge of playing the role is moving between those two parts of her character.

As person of “a certain age,” Ostermeier said, she had read about World War II and the fear people had of harm coming to themselves or their loved ones, and the things people do–thinking and unthinking–to protect.

Now in her 30th year with local theater, Ostermeier has done multiple shows with LTO. Along with acting, she has worked behind the scenes in the light booth and as a director.

“Theater has been a lot of fun for me,” she said. “I’m a sucker for being on stage, but the other things are fun, too.”

The cast also includes Courtney Kryzer as Mabel Winthrop, Patrick McColley as Luke Winthrop, Mark Zollner as Alfred Perkins, and Jason Meyer as Felix Stetler.

The final show of Little Theatre of Owatonna’s 56th season runs June 10-12 and June 17-19, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. For more information or to order tickets, visit

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