Darin Kerr guests in 'All My Sons'

It's a little hard to believe, but when actor, director and acting instructor Darin Kerr takes the stage Tuesday night for UND's production of "All My Sons," it will be the first time he's acted in an Arthur Miller play.

Kerr, McConnell
Darin Kerr (right) in a scene with Nick McConnell, who plays his son in UND's production of "All My Sons."

It's a little hard to believe, but when actor, director and acting instructor Darin Kerr takes the stage Tuesday night for UND's production of "All My Sons," it will be the first time he's acted in an Arthur Miller play.

Kerr, who has been living in Ohio working on his doctorate in theater at Bowling Green State University, grew up in Grand Forks and has been well-known in theater circles since his days at Red River High School. Since then, he's acted and directed dozens of shows in Grand Forks and the region.

It's been six years since he's done a show at UND, but he had kept in close contact with Kathleen McLennan, chairman of UND's theater department and director of "All My Sons."

"She contacted me about the play and asked if I'd be interested," Kerr said. "I said, 'Absolutely, I'd love to.' It's a great play and one of the great American plays."

"All My Sons" will be on stage at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Feb. 25 at UND Burtness Lab Theatre. Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for students, available in advance by calling the box office at (701) 777-2587


In "All My Sons," a 1947 play that won the Tony award for best author and for best direction, Kerr's character, Joe Keller, considers himself a pillar of the community despite having served time in prison for shipping damaged airplane parts during World War II that caused the deaths of 21 pilots. He's blamed that on his partner.

Joe and his wife, Kate (played by Chelsie Pollert), lost their older son in the war, but Kate still believes he's alive. That hope is put to the test when Chris (Nick McConnell), their surviving son, decides to marry his brother's fiancée (Emily Hogenson). The cast is rounded out by Andrew Caballero, Daniella Lima, Casey Paradies, Hyrum Patterson and Abby Schoenborn,

"More than other playwrights of the time, (Arthur) Miller was concerned about what America's dreams cost," Kerr said. "And in this story, it ends up costing quite a lot."

McLennan, the play's director, said UND has had guest artists in its shows in the past, and the students who auditioned knew Kerr would be playing the Joe Keller role. It has been a good experience for them, she said.

"Darin is a wonderful artist, a talented artist and a great teacher," McLennan said. "And it's great to have a guest artist who is willing to work with the students. He's engaged with the students, talked to them about his work. He's been able to do that in a fashion that it's not overstepping his bounds. I think he sets a fine example because of his professionalism, so he raises the bar. The students have to work pretty hard to keep up with him."

Kerr's theater resume is extensive. After high school, he began an association with Frost Fire Theatre in Walhalla, N.D., that lasted 15 seasons and also was a regular performer at UND, with Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre and the Crimson Creek Players. His acting range is formidable -- he has played a pedophile ("How I Learned to Drive"), a shy, sweet (and claustrophobic) tax accountant in "Sweet Charity" and a frustrated tollbooth worker in "The Great American Trailer Park Musical."

"I don't think I really have a favorite," Kerr said, discussing what kinds of shows he enjoys most. "I certainly enjoy musical theater. I've done a lot of it. I love doing the classics, and that can be anything from Shakespeare to Ibsen. Basically, if someone puts a theatrical project in front of me and says, 'Are you interested?,' I'll say, 'Yes.' People interest me. Getting to examine different psyches and behavior, I always find interesting."

Kerr earned a BA in English and a BFA in theater arts from UND, and an MA in English and in theater arts from UND.


At Bowling Green State University, he was in the cast of "The 1940s Radio Hour" and "Company" among other shows, and directed "Mother Courage and her Children." He's completed his coursework for his PhD and is now working on his dissertation while in Grand Forks. At this point, Kerr said, he doesn't have any definite plans for his future.

Kerr said it has been a privilege to work with the cast of "All My Sons," who he described as engaged and invested in the production. "They're very strong young actors," he said.

"All My Sons" has a lot to tell about how peple maintain a façade and how that façade can fall apart under pressure.

"There's a lot of emotion that's covered over with a veneer of respectability of domestic happiness," Kerr said about "All My Sons." "I think they are typical of a lot of families of the period, in that you had a patriarch who was the breadwinner and, while what he said went in a lot of ways, that didn't mean there weren't disagreements."

Everyone in the story has their own perception of themselves and their situation.

"But things bubble over in this play," he said.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to .

If you go


- What: Arthur Miller's play "All My Sons," presented by UND Department of Theatre Arts

- When and where: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Feb. 25, UND Burtness Lab Theatre, Grand Forks

- Tickets: Adults, $10, students, $5; box office, (701) 777-2587

- Director: Kathleen McLennan; Anthony Albright, assistant

- Guest artist: Darin Kerr, playing Joe Keller

- Cast: Andrew Caballero, Emily Hogenson, Darrin Kerr, Daniella Lima, Nick McConnell, Casey Paradies, Hyram Patterson, Chelsie Pollert, Abby Schoenborn, Austin Suede

- Crew: Brad Reissig, scene and lighting designer; Michelle Davidson, costume designer; Candyce Iseminger, student sound designer; Loren Liepold, technical director; Philip Muehe, stage manager; Rachel Perry, assistant stage manager

- Parking: Guests may use parking lots behind Burtness Theatre, Chandler Hall and Gustafson Hall, and in front of Twamley Hall. A parking attendant will be on site to answer questions, and there will be signs denoting parking


Hogenson, Pollert
Emily Hogenson (left) and Chelsie Pollert in "All My Sons," running Tuesday through Feb. 25 at UND.

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