Mill City Summer Opera has become hugely successful, with six sold-out performances of fantastic outdoor opera in the spectacular location that is the Ruin Courtyard at the Mill City Museum. And even though this year's selection, Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, isn't technically an opera, it works beautifully performed by this 30+ member opera company (and orchestra of nearly that many) in this unique location. Only one performance remains, but tickets have been sold out for months, so watch their Facebook page in early 2017 for the announcement of next year's show, and get tickets early!
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Well friends, it's that time of year again. Time to shirk all responsibilities of adulthood, abandon your friends, family, and pets, and binge on theater for 11 days straight. That's right, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the largest unjuried theater festival in the nation, is upon us. This year's festival includes 168 shows less than an hour in length showcasing the best (and occasionally the worst) that this theater/art/dance/comedy community has to offer. I've steadily been increasing my Fringe consumption every year from a mere ten shows in 2011, my first year of Fringing, to a high of 44 last year. The maximum number of shows that any one person can possibly see, while still obeying the rules of the space-time continuum, is 56. That means seeing a show in every timeslot available. I thought it might be fun to see if I can in fact see 56 shows during the Fringe Festival. Just once, to see if it can be done, and then I'll likely never do it again. And let's face it, I'm not getting any younger, I better do it now while staying up past 11 pm for 11 nights in a row is still (barely) within the realm of possibility. I've run seven marathons, so obviously I like giving myself crazy challenges, just to see if I can do it. And also because it's fun, right? Keep reading for a list of some of the shows I'm hoping to see, and why.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Illusion Theater presents staged readings of new works in a program called "Fresh Ink." This year's selections include Revolving Stage, co-written by and celebrating the life of late Twin Cities actor Phil Kilbourne, and The Gest of Robin Hood, a new musical adaptation of the beloved and familiar tale. After a week or two of workshops with the creators and cast, each has four public performances, followed by discussions in which audience members give feedback on what they've seen, an important part of the new work development process. Revolving Stage was last weekend (sorry, you missed it!) and The Gest of Robin Hood plays this weekend. Head to Illusion if you can to support the creation and development of new work!
Monday, July 18, 2016
Mounds View Community Theater, has chosen it for their summer production this year, and that choice has paid off. It's a charming show with a show-within-a-show format that allows for fun silly numbers and also commentary on the musical form, which is a perfect choice for community theater. Because who loves musicals more than community theaters, a group of people who volunteer their time to put together a show for their community because it's something they love to do and share? That joy and enthusiasm comes through in this well-cast and well-designed show.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
James J. Hill House? I'm in! In by the skin of my teeth, that is. I consider myself very lucky to be one of the 140* people (4 shows x 35 audience members per show) to have had the wonderful experience that was Angels and Demons Entertainment's production of The Marriage of Figaro (with support from the Twin Cities Opera Guild). I'm not much of an opera-goer, unless it's made more accessible by companies like Skylark Opera (who always perform in English, and whose Summer Festival will hopefully return next year). But this was perhaps the most accessible and engaging opera I've ever attended. Sung in English in four different locations within the house that perfectly suited the story, it truly felt like I was in the midst of this crazy upstairs/downstairs story. I only regret that the audience was so limited, and I hope that they bring the production back sometime and expand it so that more people can know this truly lovely and special experience.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Talley's Folly. It's an ambitious season that includes interesting choices (Wit, The Baker's Wife) and big names (Christina Baldwin, Sally Wingert, and Bradley Greenwald). Talley's Folly is a quiet beginning to this big season, but a lovely one. The 1980 Pulitzer Prize winner by Lanford Wilson is a sweet, funny, and poignant romance set in WWII era rural Missouri, featuring heartfelt natural performances by the cast and wonderful production design.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
click here for full details on the conference schedule). I did not attend the full conference, just the session in which I participated, but from what I could tell it seemed to be a really wonderful collection of theater people sharing information and working together to make us all better. Check out the Minnesota Theater Alliance website for more information on who they are and what they do, and watch for news of next year's conference. To see some of what happened at this year's conference, search the hashtag #MTASTC on all of the social medias.
Monday, July 11, 2016
Light in the Piazza). The three performed the concert Sunday night at Orchestra Hall, and it was a charming romance indeed.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Park Square Theatre's Calendar Girls, the play based on the movie based on the real life story of a group of average, every-day, extraordinary women who come together to support one of their own by taking their clothes off. How does getting naked, or rather nude, help their friend? The calendar they pose for and sell raises hundreds of thousands of dollars, er... pounds, for Leukemia and Lymphoma research, the disease that took her husband. The play based on this inspiring story is truly a feel-good summer comedy with tons of heart and sisterhood. You'll laugh, you'll squirm in your seat, you'll shed a few (or many) tears, and you'll fall in love with these women (both the characters and the incredibly talented actors who play them) as they embrace their womanhood and their strength, and each other.
Monday, June 27, 2016
Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1949 musical South Pacific is undoubtedly a genius musical score and a sweeping romance. But as the above quote from composer Adam Guettel (grandson of Richard Rodgers) indicates, South Pacific is so much more than just a pretty musical, and was truly ahead of its time. It told a story of interracial relationships 20 years before Loving v. Virginia abolished laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The song "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" is a brilliant thesis on racism and prejudice. When asked to remove the song because "it's untimely and it's not what patrons want to hear when they go to a musical," Oscar Hammerstein replied, "That's what the play is about!" Nearly seventy years later, with issues of immigration and prejudice on the daily news and in every political debate, South Pacific's themes of fear of the other vs. embracing and accepting the other are perhaps more relevant than ever. It's a perfect choice, then, to conclude Guthrie Artistic Director Joseph Haj's first season, and he does justice to this beautiful and meaningful classic with this wonderful production.