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Geek Prom Goes Underground

By Christa Lawler
April 4, 2013 | Duluth News Tribune

Trekkies, comic book fans and the mathematically inclined will get their first look at a new venue Saturday sometime after the grand march and before the spaz dance competition.

Geek Prom is the first official event for The Underground, which replaces the Play Ground but will expand beyond black-box theater and live music offerings. The Underground won’t be finished in time for Saturday’s prom, but it will be close enough.

“The space will be a work in progress,” project manager Jeff Brown said. “But it will be a pretty good work.”

The space that formerly held the Children’s Museum has been in transition since fall. The room was stripped to reveal its original floor and exposed brick. An upper balcony level, which will include a lounge area, was carpeted. Dressing rooms were added and a box office has been designed but not yet built.

“Basically we gutted the place and made it look cool,” Brown said. “We want to pay homage to the history of the building with modern twists.”

Saturday’s biennial event starts in the Depot’s Great Hall with prom photos and a life-sized Settlers of Catan game board. The Underground will have gaming tables on the balcony level and a lounge area with couches. The space’s 2,100-square-foot main level will have a DJ, hand-holding booth, dance competition and karaoke gong show.

Crystal Pelkey, producing director for The Underground, said to expect a mix of established events and new programming in the new space. The Nerd Nite series will be held there, in addition to a more specific nerdy spin: Nerd Out with History.

There will be lectures and panel discussions and acoustic music performances that include interaction with the artist “VH1 Storytellers”-style, Pelkey said.

“A lot of stuff will revolve around conversation,” Pelkey said.

There will still be theater, too.

The first show scheduled for The Underground is “Oh, Coward!,” a musical revue by Roderick Cook and Noel Coward. It opens May 2.

A grand opening is scheduled for April 26-27, Pelkey said.