Thursday, June 18, 2020

"A Breath for George" by New Dawn Theatre

New Dawn Theatre is a relatively new #TCTheater company, but they wasted no time in responding to the recent murder of George Floyd and the local and nationwide protests that followed. They have created a film called A Breath for George that features local artists, advocates, scholars, and community leaders sharing songs, spoken word, poetry, and stories about racism. Every night this week, and continuing into next week, the film is playing outdoors at theaters around town. I attended the showing at Gremlin Theatre last night, and found it to be incredibly powerful and moving. I believe in the power of theater to change the world, and I commend New Dawn for taking part in the important conversation around racism that's happening in all walks of life right now.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Tribute to the Minnesota Fringe Festival

In the almost ten years that I've been blogging about Twin Cities theater, my theater consumption has increased exponentially, thanks in part to the Minnesota Fringe Festival. I've attended the fest every year since 2011, since 2013 with a press pass. I've seen a total of 300 shows over those 9 years, and it has become one of my favorite theater experiences of the year. The 2020 Fringe Festival (which would have been my 10th), has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Fringe needs our help to keep going through 2021. Click here to learn how you can support the Fringe by buying a $5 button and/or donating any amount you would like and are able to.

Monday, May 25, 2020

I Listen to Podcasts Now!

I don't know about you, but this global pandemic has left me with a lot more time on my hands. I used to spend 20-30 hours a week at the theater, driving to the theater, writing about theater, scheduling theater, reading about theater. One of the things I'm doing to help fill those empty hours is listen to podcasts. And because I'm me, many of them have something to do with local theater. Here are the ones I'm listening to; please add your suggestions in the comments below!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Weekly Online #TCTheater Events

Hello friends. I sure miss live theater, more than I've ever missed anything in my life. I don't know when we'll be able to gather together again in the same space to share stories, but I know that day will come (watch Guthrie Theater Artistic Director Joseph Haj's inspiring message about that here). In the meantime, you can watch #TCTheater artists sharing their art online almost every night of the week! Below is a list of events occurring weekly. For other events, please visit the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers Event page on Facebook, where we are compiling #TCTheater Facebook events for online performing arts. If you know of any other events not listed there, please comment or send us a message.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Park Square Theatre's Special Zoom Performance of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK

Out of all the streaming theater performances I've watched at home in the past seven weeks, none has affected me as much as Park Square Theatre​'s special zoom performance of their annual production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. This is their 21st year presenting this for student audiences, and I commend them for finding a way to get this ever more relevant and inspiring story out to students (and others) in such a uniquely moving way. It's really well done, with each actor emoting from their own separate little box, but somehow creating a cohesive story as if they were in the same room. The cast and creative team put much thought and care into their at-home costumes, lighting, and props, as well as the way actors appear and disappear from the screen. Anne and her family's horrific experience really puts our temporary isolation into perspective. I highly recommend it for your at home quarantimes (or anytime) theater viewing.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

"Silent Sky" by Theatre Pro Rata at the Bell Museum

'Tis the season for Lauren Gunderson's smart, funny, modern, and inspiring plays about female scientists in history, and I am here for it (keep 'em coming, #TCTheater). A week after seeing DalekoArts' lovely production of Ada and the Engine (about mathematician and computer programmer Ada Lovelace), I saw Theatre Pro Rata's production of Silent Sky (about astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, which I had seen at Lyric Arts a few years ago). It's a great play, but what makes this production truly special is that it is staged in the planetarium at the Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus. Despite the fact that I got my graduate degree (in statistics, you can see why I'm so drawn to women in science plays) at the U of M, I didn't even know this museum existed (in my defense, the gorgeous new building just opened a year and a half ago). I hope to return to tour the museum sometime, but my first experience to it (through theater, natch) was a wonderful one. Being able to look up at the stars as Henrietta talked about them made the story feel so real. A truly inspired pairing of play and location by Theatre Pro Rata.

"Spamtown, USA" at Children's Theatre Company

A character in the new play Spamtown, USA, premiering at Children's Theatre Company, says that writing a play about the mid-'80s Hormel strike in Austin MN is a horrible idea. He couldn't be more wrong. CTC has a way of speaking to children in an intelligent and engaging way, as does playwright Philip Dawkins (see also: The Sneetches). One of my favorite playwrights, Philip Dawkins never doesn't make me cry with his lovely and touching depiction of the full range of humanity, and this play is no exception. It's less about the intricate details of the strike, and more about how the people, in particular the children, of Austin were affected by it. In an endearing bit of fourth-wall breaking, the play admits that some of the facts and timelines are mixed up, but the emotions are true. At it's heart it's a story about how family, community, and friends survive a deep conflict that divides them in a way that seems irreparable. Sounds like a great idea for a play to me.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

"The Convert" by Frank Theatre at Gremlin Theatre

Two years ago, the Guthrie premiered a new play Familiar by Danai Gurira. You may know her from a little movie called Black Panther or the obscure TV show The Walking Dead, but before her success on the big and small screen she started her career in theater, including at St. Paul's Macalester College. Now Frank Theatre is bringing us the regional premiere of her 2012 play The Convert, having previously produced Eclipsed in 2010 (which went on to become Danai's first show on Broadway). While Familiar is a dramedy about a Zimbabwean-Minnesotan family (based on her own), The Convert is a much more serious look at the history of Zimbabwe, in particular the colonialism and missionary work in which the English tried to subdue, subjugate, and convert the native Shona people. In particular it tells the story of one young woman who seems to happily convert to Roman Catholicism, but feels conflict at leaving the ways of her people behind. It's an intense play that humanizes the people on all sides of this conflict, as always thoroughly and thoughtfully realized by director Wendy Knox, the strong seven-person cast, and the creative team.

Friday, February 21, 2020

"Ordway Cabaret: Gotta Dance!" at the Ordway Concert Hall

The Ordway began their second year of the "Ordway Cabaret" series with "Gotta Dance!" This fantastic series of one-night only cabaret shows not only features our amazing local music-theater community, but also allows the performers to tell their own story about what musicals have meant to them in their life. We all are drawn to the theater for different reasons at different times in our lives, whether as performers or audience, and it's wonderful to connect with the artists in this way. Dancing has always been a part of the series, with some choreographed or semi-choreographed numbers. But in this installment, dance takes center stage - literally! It really reminded me of a #TCTheater version of A Chorus Line, but more casual and intimate and true. Read on to find out what you missed, then stay tuned for details about the next installment!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

"Twelfth Night" at the Guthrie Theater

For their annual Shakespeare production, the Guthrie is bringing us a truly delightful, innovative, and playful rendition of the comedy Twelfth Night. And in a surprising and wonderful choice, the cast is 100% local. I'm someone who often calculates that percentage at the Guthrie, and while I appreciate the chance to see national talent on the local stage, I'm also the biggest fan of our #TCTheater community, so I always want that percentage to be higher. It's wonderful to see that rich, deep, broad, diverse, incredibly talented community 100% represented on stage in this production. The show is as Shakespeare's comedies are meant to be - fun, playful, accessible, almost interactive, heartfelt, and hilarious.

Monday, February 17, 2020

"Significant Other" by Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company at Highland Park Center Theatre

Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company is continuing their 25th anniversary season with the regional premiere of the 2017 Broadway play Significant Other. They last produced the work of NYC-based playwright Joshua Harmon several years ago with Bad Jews. Both plays are smart and sharp modern comedies with depth, but while Bad Jews was about cultural identity and family, Significant Other is about, well, finding a significant other. Society put so much pressure on us to be coupled, a pressure that our protagonist Jordan feels increasingly strongly as he watches his friends get married. MJTC's production is top notch and features a fantastic cast and elegant deceptively simple design. If you've not been to MJTC lately, this is a great time to check them out.