Friday, October 22, 2021
with a pay-what-you-can option to make it more accessible. And what they do is tell stories, in the most delightful and in-the-moment way imaginable, with all the lights on.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Stage North (not to be confused with Stage North Theatre Company in Brainerd) makes its debut in the newly remodeled Capri Theater in North Minneapolis with King of the Kosher Grocers. This charming play that is an homage to the neighborhood, first produced by Mixed Blood Theatre in 1992, is a great first production for a company whose mission is "creating vibrant, live experiences that bring people together to tell and celebrate stories of urban life... Our hope is that Stage North will help bring new audiences and new excitement and vitality to the North Side business district and contribute to the neighborhood's continuing growth and expansion" (read the full statement here). Unfortunately, North Minneapolis is a neighborhood known more for its crime and violence than for the community and culture of the people who live there. Of course, theater can't solve all of the problems, but it can shine a light on overlooked people and communities. This play does just that - celebrates the diverse community of people and the vibrant history of this neighborhood.*
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Open Eye Theatre premiered The Red Shoes, inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story of the vain little girl with pretty red shoes cursed so that her shoes will never stop dancing. The show also "draws inspiration and influences from the vintage detective novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, case studies of amnesia and multiple personality, and black and white film noir movies of the 1940s" (per director and co-writer Joel Sass, along with Kimberly Richardson). They were all set to remount it in March of 2020, when the pandemic shut down all live performance. Happily, a year and a half later, it is opening their live in-person 2021-2022 season in their charming and intimate space in South Minneapolis. Also happily but not surprisingly, The Red Shoes is still "something so curious and unique, odd and chilling, inventive and charming, it's thoroughly captivating from start to finish." And perhaps even more relevant and relatable after we've all spent so much time trapped inside our homes with only our own thoughts and imagination to fill the time and space.
Every Brilliant Thing. After living apart for so long during this ongoing pandemic, Every Brilliant Thing is all about the connections between people and celebrating the little (and big) things that bring us joy in the midst of the traumas of life. As the Jungle's new Artistic Director Christina Balwin notes in the virtual program, "this beautiful play is performed with the audience, not at them." A live audience is what makes theater theater, and it's what we've all been missing. I can't think of a play in which the audience is more vital than this one. It feels so good to be in a room with other humans again, experiencing and even participating in one of the oldest human artforms - storytelling.
Friday, October 15, 2021
Not in Our Neighborhood and will present Not for Sale in February. Both plays deal with with redlining and segregation in St. Paul in the early and mid 20th Century, a local history that feels even more important and relevant now than it did a year and a half ago. Not in Our Neighborhood tells the true story of a prominent and successful St. Paul Black couple who in the 1920s chose to leave the Rondo neighborhood to move into the all-white Groveland Park neighborhood, and the discrimination they faced.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
I Listen to Podcasts Now!" Prior to the pandemic I listened to a few podcasts, but as it probably did for most people, the number of podcasts I listen to has increased exponentially in the last year and a half. One of my few pre-pandemic podcasts was Island of Discarded Women, created and hosted by #TCTheater artist and long-time voice actor on A Prairie Home Companion, Sue Scott. The monthly podcast was recorded live onstage in 2019 (I was hoping to attend my first one in spring 2020), and moved to at-home/zoom recordings during the pandemic. Now the live recordings have begun again in their new home, the Woman's Club of Minneapolis, the second Sunday of every month (proof of vaccination required, plus masks when not enjoying the dinner and drink service). I was thrilled to experience my favorite local podcast live last weekend!
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Collide Theatrical Dance Company has been creating new dance musicals, either with original stories or based on classic works. Even the pandemic didn't stop them - they presented an outdoor dance cabaret last fall when all of us were starved for live entertainment; produced a Valentine's Day video dance piece; and returned to the outdoor stage this spring for a dance musical based on Alice in Wonderland. Now they're back inside the best dance venue in town, the Southern Theater, for the premiere of their dance musical based not just on the well known 19th Century novel Frankenstein, but also on the life of its lesser known author, Mary Shelley. Over 75 minutes of continuous dance, the seven-person ensemble tells these remarkable interconnected stories with great emotion and vitality.
Friday, October 8, 2021
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
Theater is my religion, and I couldn't be happier to return to the mother church; the Playwrights' Center is back! Of course, they never really went away. They swiftly transitioned to virtual readings of new work in March 2020 and have been continuing to support playwrights locally and across the country in the development of new work, while providing jobs to actors and artists in a time when there were not many arts jobs to be had. But now they're back in their South Minneapolis space in an old church with live in-person readings of new works. The Ruth Easton New Play Series is an annual festival of workshops and readings presented monthly, now through February. There will be two limited-seating in-person readings of each, that will be recorded and made available to watch virtually. You do need to make reservations for both in-person and virtual, but it's free! Below is the schedule of readings as well as my thoughts. Click here for all the details and to make your free reservation.
Sunday, October 3, 2021
Broadway is Back. Just a few days later, Broadway is back in Minneapolis, in a big way. The Broadway tour of the musical adaptation of the hit 2013 Disney movie Frozen, which was originally scheduled for May 2020, has finally arrived on Hennepin Avenue. Maybe it's partly because I hadn't seen a Broadway tour in so long (not since The Band's Visit in December 2019), but I, and probably everyone in the nearly packed house, found this show to be absolutely thrilling. Jam-packed with great musical numbers, theater magic creating wow moments, and a heart-warming story about the love between sisters, Frozen is a fantastic celebration of the return of theater (continuing through October 20, click here for details and to purchase tickets).
Saturday, October 2, 2021
The Bungalow Loft is funny and real and brought to us by an all-female cast and creative team.
Friday, October 1, 2021
Rough Cuts" series and their annual Composer-Librettist Studio. Their rare but wonderful full productions seem to pop up out of nowhere, but in reality they've been in the works for years. Such is the cast with the lovely new song cycle Stations of the Heart, which was first presented at a Rough Cuts 18 years ago. Now, as theaters are starting to open after a very long extended intermission, it's finally being presented as a full production, although a small one - three vocalists and two musicians. It's exactly what I've come to expect from Nautilus - innovative, modern yet connected to a long tradition, and musically gorgeous. Performances continue through October 17 with limited seating, so make your plans soon (proof of vaccination and mask required).