Shakopee resident, Dr. Kari Vaupel, has such a passion for theater that she established a program out of St. John’s Lutheran Church, called Musicals with a Mission.
She volunteers her time and skills to direct and choreograph the musicals—and this in addition to her job as an urgent care doctor for Park Nicollet clinic.
Musicals were a normal part of her church experience growing up, Vaupel said. When she first started directing at St. John’s, the actors in the musicals were only those who attended the church. After taking time off to focus on her family, Vaupel and other members of the church decided not to limit theater to church members only.
“Let’s give back to the community,” Vaupel said the group decided. “Let’s give our God-given talents and reach out to the community and help those in need.”
Musicals with a Mission was born in 2009, and this year Park Nicollet recognized Vaupel’s volunteer work with its Volunteer of the Year/Community Service award. She accepted the award earlier this month at the Park Nicollet Foundation Gala. There are many things that Vaupel enjoys about Musicals with a Mission.
“I love the actors and kids,” Vaupel said, “to see people that don’t know they have talents realize they have talents, to work as a team for a goal, and to help a need.”
There is no charge to see a musical presented by Musicals with a Mission, but there is a free will offering collection. The group donates 25 to 50 percent of the offering to organizations or to people in need. Examples of past donations include to an orphanage in Mexico called Casa Hogar Elim, Camp Odayin for children with heart disease, World Relief, and to help a local family buy a headstone for their child.
Donations from Christmas-time performances often help fund local needs while donations from spring performances help fund more global needs, Vaupel explained. Musicals with a Mission presents two plays a year.
Everyone involved with the program is a volunteer, Vaupel said, including the set and costume designers.
“My passion for theater has just tripled in being able to help others,” Vaupel said. “I love theater. To give to others on top of it is just incredible.”
Musicals with a Mission is presenting Peter Pan's Musical Adventure on Dec. 7-9. Auditions for the spring performance of Footloose will be early in January. For more details, visit the Musicals with a Mission website.