Commonweal actor glides from character to character

Promotional photo by Peterson Creative Photography and Design

LANESBORO — Ever wonder how an actor goes from one role to the next without mixing up lines, accents, names, and fellow characters?

Then pay attention to Elizabeth Dunn, an actor at the Commonweal Theatre Company, who, after two months and more than 40 performances as the bossy Bavarian airline hostess Gretchen in "Boeing Boeing," is right back at it this month as one of three main characters in "On the Verge."

Moving from play to play and character to character is all in a season's work for a professional actor, especially at the Commonweal where there are often two shows running in repertory.

"When you walk away from one show into another show, everything is so different," Dunn said. "It's going from something that's routine and now you're into a whole new world."

The difference between the routine and the new is stark enough, she said, that the chances for mixups are reduced.


"On the Verge," which opens Sept. 14, is about three Victorian-era women who defy their accepted gender roles to explore the world.

Starting to pick up her new character, while winding down her performances as Gretchen, Dunn said, gave her a sense of renewal.

"Having been out of the rehearsal process for a while, it's nice to have that back," she said. "Now, coming back into it, you feel refreshed and ready for a new adventure."

She described "On the Verge" as "whimsical." "It's very weird in the best sense of that word," Dunn said.

The women in the show embark on adventures that would have shocked most people of their time.

"First and foremost, I love the sense of exploration, getting out of your comfort zone," Dunn said. "There are so many different elements that are just plain fun."

She can relate, to an extent. "I love to get out in nature and be active, but I can't imagine doing that in 19th-century garb," Dunn said.

The "weird" part comes when the women discover they're traveling through time.


Also in the play are Adrienne Sweeney and Brandt Roberts of the Commonweal, and guest actor Betti Battocletti. The guest director is Michael Bigelow Dixon.

Working with a guest director also brings a fresh element to the busy summer season, said Dunn, who is in her fifth run at the Commonweal.

"I come to it as 'We're going to work with someone new, we're going to get their perspective," she said.

"On the Verge" is the fourth show of the Commonweal's 2019 season. Still to come: "Sanders Family Christmas," which opens in November.

What: "On the Verge"

When: Sept. 14 through Nov. 10. Preview performances Sept. 6-13.

Where: Commonweal Theatre, 208 Parkway Ave. N, Lanesboro


Tickets: $35 adults, $15 students; 800-657-7025 and

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