Seen & Heard: Touring theater performance pulls in the Rein

Matt Rein

Rochester native Matt Rein, founding member of the Phoenix Theatre Project, will be performing for his third year in Theatre Latte Da's "All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914," which tours nationally and will be at Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis Dec. 19-22.

I spoke by phone to Matt in Cincinnati, Ohio, on the opening night of the tour — Veterans Day, fittingly enough, as the play is set in the middle of World War I.

"All is Calm" is the true story of Christmas 1914, when Allied and German soldiers laid down their weapons to celebrate the holiday together, singing songs, sharing food, playing soccer and burying each others' dead.

"This is my third year of doing the show," Rein said, "so it's easy to get back into. Most of the show is tucked back in my mind, and in a way, it's something that's always living in me, and the course of my year impacts it.

"I got the chance to listen to some veterans from Minnesota tell their personal stories," Rein said, "so while I was listening to them, I was thinking of how I've got to be cognitive of that and be able to honor that. These aren't made-up characters — it's a true story, about real people."


"All is Calm" is a joint production of Theatre Latte Da and Cantus productions and will be touring nationally for the next few weeks.

Phoenix Theatre Project is a company devoted to bringing people together through theater to inspire social awareness and involvement with community issues.

"We're working on getting a show up for this spring," Rein said, "but I'm trying to refocus on what we are doing. We are working with other theater companies to combine resources and explore how we are making new plays — with more collaboration with the artists and playwrights. We are exploring ways to tell stories and creating new stories but geared toward the audience, in a monthly or biweekly thing, instead of a full-on production."

For more info on Rein, check out .

Local band goes worldwide

Kasson native Kurt Vatland, lead singer and guitarist of the indie-grind-blues band LA Madness, is at it again — this time, overseas. The band will be opening for Papa Roach next week in Germany.

"This is all crazy, and I feel like I'm floating," Vatland said. "I'm walking on air, and my feet haven't touched the ground in days. David Copperfield's got nothing on me."

It all started when Vatland was talking with his new manager about "dream bands" to work with. Papa Roach was one of them. When Papa Roach happened to be in town for a concert, they went. Then Vatland saw a contest on Facebook to be the opening band for one of their shows.


"I called my manager and had him enter us, figuring It was just a shot in the dark," he said. "But then we got a call that we made it to the finals, out of thousands of bands, and there was a 24-hour voting period. I still thought it was a long shot when I went to bed that night, but I woke up to about 200 messages saying 'congratulations.' It's been a whirlwind ever since."

LA Madness will open for Papa Roach on Nov. 23 in Saarbrucken, Germany. The band is also finalizing details for performances in Amsterdam and Paris. None of this was planned til a few days ago.

"We are doing all sorts of last-minute prep and adding some shows," Vatland said. "Our tour is the White Out tour, but now that we are going global, maybe we should change it to the World Wide White Out Tour."

That tour begins Dec. 2 at First Avenue in Minneapolis and goes on to huge venues including Vamp'd in Las Vegas, Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood, and the House of Blues in San Diego. They'll perform at Kathy's Pub in Rochester on Dec. 21.

"I'm always excited to come down and play Rochester," Vatland said. "I'm so grateful of all of the local support I've always received."

For more info, check out

Megan Kennedy is a longtime midday radio personality on KROC-FM. Seen & Heard highlights local people with interesting stories. Send tips to

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