Sunday, June 13, 2021

2021 Summer Outdoor #TCTheater and More!

photo taken by me in the BWCA (no filter, it's just that gorgeous)
Updated June 13
I've long believed that one of the best things about a Minnesota summer (besides lakes, like the one at left in the BWCA) is the opportunity for watching outdoor performances. Every summer there are many great options, from music to plays and more. But this year, when outdoors feels like the safest place to be, and we're starved for live in-person entertainment after a year (and counting) of theater closures due to the pandemic, outdoor performances are absolutely necessary to get us through to that joyous day when we can return to the theater indoors. Below is a list of outdoor shows in #TCTheater (and beyond) planned for this spring/summer/fall. I'll continue to update this list as I hear of more, and please let me know via email (cherryandspoon@gmail.com), the comment section below, or social media if there are any I've missed.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

"A Night with Leslie Vincent" at The Belvedere at Crooners Supper Club

I'm becoming a regular at Crooners Supper Club. I returned for my fourth concert this year in their new outdoor venue The Belvedere, this time to see the multi-talented #TCTheater artist Leslie Vincent and her amazing friends. It was such a glorious night, so full of the joy of music and community. It really feels like our vitally important performing arts community is starting to come back to life again*, and Crooners has been leading the way since last summer.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

"Jennifer Grimm Sings Judy Garland" at The Belvedere at Crooners Supper Club

My third show at Crooners Supper Club's new tented outdoor venue The Belvedere (after attending opening weekend with Jamecia Bennett in April, and seeing my favorite local band Storyhill a few weeks ago) was "Jennifer Grimm Sings Judy Garland." I've seen Jennifer in a number of theater productions around town, but I hadn't yet had the pleasure of watching an entire show of her. She's a natural entertainer with a uniquely gorgeous voice, and put on a really fun night of music. This was the premiere of her Judy Garland show, and she's doing it again at Crooners on July 23, and a Christmas version at Plymouth Playhouse this holiday season, so be on the lookout for more #JennySingsJudy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

"A Pickle" by Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company at Harriet Island

Nine months ago, Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company began their "Theater Six Feet Apart" season with an outdoor production of 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, which was the only live in-person play I saw between February 2020 and May 2021. After several great virtual shows, they're back outside* to close out this unique season with A Pickle. This solo show premiered at the Minnesota Fringe Festival a few years ago and tells the true story of Doris Rubenstein, who petitioned the Minnesota State Fair to add a category for Kosher salt brine pickles. It's a funny and engaging play and a perfect choice for safe outdoor theater. In fact it's so popular that their entire run is already sold out! But you can express your interest at their website, so maybe we'll see it again sometime.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Ghostlight Series: "Heroic Acts of Music" streaming from Theater Latte Da

The third installment of Theater Latte Da's fantastic virtual cabaret series called "The Ghostlight Series" is now available! The five-part series began with the powerful and moving Twelve Blocks From Where I Live, Regina Marie Williams's response to the murder of George Floyd in photos and song. Next was Re-Cast, which gave some of our favorites the chance to sing a song from a role they would never be cast in. And now we have Heroic Acts of Music, honoring 20th Century musicians (and others) who used music for protest or support in difficult and dangerous times. All three shows are available to watch now and as many times as you want through August with the purchase of a season pass. These gorgeously filmed and edited 30-minute shows with fantastic performances from some of #TCTheater's best are worth every penny, helping to bridge the gap until we can gather in person again to share stories and music (hopefully very soon!).

Saturday, May 29, 2021

"LOG JAM! A Paul Bunyan Musical Spectacular" by Open Eye Theatre on the Bakken Museum's green rooftop

My second outdoor* theatrical production this year (and hence only the second show I've seen live in 2021) is Open Eye Theatre's delightful new original musical LOG JAM! A Paul Bunyan Musical Spectacular, performed on the beautiful green rooftop of the Bakken Museum** overlooking Bde Maka Ska. The scheduled opening night turned out to be a cold and rainy spring day, but the actual opening night one day later was a gorgeous, sunny, cool evening. In just over an hour this group of talented performers, including many familiar faces I've greatly missed seeing in the last 15 months without theater, told a sweet and silly story about Minnesota legend Paul Bunyan, and I smiled through the entire show. Fun, safe, and accessible, great for kids and grown-ups alike, LOG JAM is another exciting step in the return of our vital performing arts community (continuing through June 20).

Sunday, May 23, 2021

"In the Midst of Things: In Medias Res" streaming from An Opera Theatre

One fun thing about this virtual theater era is that you can discover new companies that you haven't been able to see before, since they're now easily accessible in your own home. Such as the new opera company called simply An Opera Theatre. I love their mission statement: "to produce socially-relevant works, in order to break down the barriers of the classical art form, and bring communities together," and this: "We hope to promote work for working artists in Minnesota. And it doesn't just stop at opera! AOT believes in fusing multiple art forms to create tantalizing theater events for a diverse artistic community." They've created a new original 15-minute opera that they've been sharing with schools around the area, and will be available to the public May 28 - June 6 on their Facebook page and website. I got to see a sneak peek of In the Midst of Things: In Medias Res; it's really great, and left me wanting more!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

"Wonderland" by Collide Theatrical Dance Company outside the James J. Hill House

Oh happy day - outdoor theater has returned! Kicking off a great year of outdoor performances*, Collide Theatrical Dance Company (who also did an outdoor show last year) is presenting their take on Alice in Wonderland outdoors at the James J. Hill House and Mill City Museum. Over the last eight years, Collide has created original jazz dance musicals set to a soundtrack of well-chosen pop music, and WonderLand continues that tradition. Even better, this one is performed at a gorgeous outdoor location, behind the James J. Hill House on Summit Avenue in St. Paul overlooking the Mississippi River valley (and later this month, the Mill City Museum). It's a wonderful step back into the reopening of our vital preforming arts community. Click here for more info and to purchase tickets for an outdoor performance or to watch the show virtually.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

"Beehive" streaming from Lakeshore Players Theatre

Lakeshore Players Theatre, the community theater of White Bear Lake, has been continuously operating since 1953. They weren't about to let a little thing like a pandemic that paused all live performances end that streak. Their virtual 67 3/4th season is now wrapping up with Beehive: the '60s Musical, recorded on stage at their gorgeous new home Hanifl Performing Arts Center. I watched it virtually with a friend that lives halfway across the country, and at the end she commented "that was swell." There's nothing new or ground-breaking about this benign jukebox musical, but it's chock full of songs that we love from the 1960s, well performed by a diverse all-female cast. That is pretty swell, and you can watch it from the safety and comfort of your own home at specific showtimes through May 16. And then mark your calendar for a special outdoor* performance of one of my favorite Sondheim musicals, Company, in July.

Monday, May 3, 2021

"Audrey Saves the Universe" streaming from Children's Theatre Company

This Friday, Children's Theatre Company is releasing a new original web series called Audrey Saves the Universe, and I was lucky enough get an advanced viewing of this fun, silly, and sweet show. Entirely created/filmed/edited by company members Autumn Ness (playwright) and Reed Sigmund (director), who are conveniently married, this 90-minute saga is split into seven easily digestible episodes as it explores the power of creativity. The show could be subtitled "what artists do when trapped in their house for a year," in the best possible way. They've created an entire universe out of what's available to them, even enlisting their kids and adorable pug in telling this story. Available through May 28, the entire series can be purchased starting at $15 and is a great way to stay connected to the work that CTC does during this extended intermission.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Jamecia Bennett in "The Evolution of Jazz & Blues" at The Belvedere at Crooners

After a long winter of no live in-person entertainment, spring has finally arrived, a hopeful spring which is bringing us vaccines and the return of outdoor entertainment! Even before living under the specter of a deadly airborne virus, outdoor entertainment was one of my favorite things about summer in Minnesota. Now, when outdoors feels like the safest place to be, outdoor venues are even more important to our arts and entertainment industry. Last summer, Crooners Supper Club in Fridley stepped up with an outdoor drive-in performance venue and it was a life-saver for me; I attended four drive-in shows, plus one on their outdoor patio. This year, they've expanded that intimate outdoor patio into a larger space with appropriately spaced table seating under a tent. Called "The Belvedere," it's a great venue for outdoor entertainment that I hope they keep going for years to come. I can think of no one better to christen this new space than the incomparable Jamecia Bennett, local music and theater legend. I was lucky enough to experience one of her two shows last weekend, and if this is any indication, it's sure to be a fantastic spring/summer/fall at Crooners!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

"The Revolutionists" streaming from Lyric Arts

This morning I watched my third streaming Lauren Gunderson play in a week. Last week I watched Steppingstone Theatre's I and You and Jungle Theater's collaboration on Lauren's newest play The Catostrophist (the latter available through May 2, click here for info on both). Today I had the pleasure of watching Lyric Arts's first show since January 2020 - The Revolutionists, recently filmed on their Anoka stage. Like many of Lauren's plays, it tells a fictionalized story of well-known (or should be well-known) women from history with modern language and sensibility, and is funny, smart, poignant, and relevant. If you miss live theater and/or Lyric Arts' popcorn-scented Main Street Stage, don't miss this show (available through May 2 only)!