Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shows I’m Looking Forward to in 2011

Happy 2011 friends! A new year brings new plays and musicals to go see. Here are a few I’m excited to see in the first part of this year.  (Click on the title for more info and to purchase tickets, although not all of them are available yet.)

Into the Woods, Bloomington Civic Theater, January 14 – February 13
I’ve been hearing good things about the Bloomington Civic Theater and seen it listed in the bios of some of my favorite new actors, so I’ve been itching to check it out. This show fits nicely into my goal to see more Sondheim, so it’s worth the drive across town.
Update: read my review of the show.

Doubt, Ten Thousand Things, February 11 – March 6
There are five reasons to see this show: 1) Ten Thousand Things’ stripped-to-the-core style of theater; 2) A Tony-award winning play about “A fiery battle between a nun and a priest over suspicions of the sexual abuse of a child. Can you get at the truth, when the truth is so colored by our lenses of experience?” 3) Peter Rothstein, my favorite director and Artistic Director of Theater Latte Da; 4) Sally Wingert, who, like Meryl Streep who played the role in the movie, can play anything from comedy to drama and everything in between, and elevates everything she’s in; and 5) Kris Nelson, another of my favorite actors who never disappoints. Any one of those five reasons would be enough to get me to this show, but with all five of them? I’m counting the days!
Update: read my review of the show.

Song of Extinction, Theater Latte Da, February 25 – March 20
Peter Rothstein is a busy man! He’s also directing this Theater Latte Da “play about the science of life and loss, the relationships between fathers and sons, Cambodian fields, Bolivian rainforests and redemption.” I don’t know anything about this play and don’t recognize any of the names on the cast list, but I’ve never met a Latte Da show I didn’t love. And they do a great job casting their shows, so I might discover a few new favorite actors too.
Update: read my review of the show.

HAIR, Orpheum Theater, March 16
You can read more about my obsession with the 1968 musical HAIR near the bottom of my 2010 Top Ten list, but suffice it to say I saw it twice on Broadway last year, including making a special trip to NYC just to see the original cast before they moved to London. So yeah, I’m a fan. There’s not much of a plot, but with great music, incredible heartfelt performances, a message of love and peace and togetherness, and a chance to be harassed by hippies, who needs a plot? Since both the Broadway and London shows have closed, I look forward to seeing some familiar hippies, including original tribe members Paris Remillard and Steel Burkhardt as Claude and Berger.  It's only here for a week so get your tickets now!
Update: read my review of the show.

Little Shop of Horrors, Mu Performing Arts, March 19 – April 3
This musical about the plant that eats people is one of my favorites, and “Suddenly Seymour” is one of the best musical love songs ever. Mu usually does Asian-American themed pieces, but this is their chance to cast Asian-Americans in roles they wouldn’t normally be cast in. Randy Reyes is playing Seymour, and I’m sure he’ll be completely charming and funny and touching, as is required in Seymour.
Update: read my review of the show.

Avenue Q, Mixed Blood Theatre, March 25 – May 29
Avenue Q is a refreshingly original and funny musical featuring puppets, like an R-rated Sesame Street. I’ve seen it once on Broadway and once on tour, and I’m very curious to see how Mixed Blood stages this show in their intimate space.
Update: read my review of the show.

[title of show], Yellow Tree Theatre, April 22 – May 15
My favorite little theater in Osseo is doing a musical, and I can’t wait to see how they do it! Wikipedia says “The musical documents its own creation by two Broadway fans, who want to enter the New York Musical Theatre Festival. It follows the team's struggle to complete the show in three and a half weeks with the help of their two actress friends.” It sounds like it’s right up Yellow Tree’s alley, and I think I’m going to love this "musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical."
Update: read my review of the show (hint: I did love it).

Next to Normal, Ordway Center, May 10–22
I saw Next to Normal on Broadway shortly after it premiered in 2009, and saw it again last year. I walked into the theater the first time knowing almost nothing about the show, other than it had gotten good buzz and it was about a family struggling with mental illness. Sometimes that’s the best way to see a show; I was blown away. It won a Tony for the brilliant rock score, but lost the best musical Tony to Billy Elliot. The six-person cast was amazing, and Alice Ripley won the Tony for her role. Lucky for us she’s reprising her role in this tour. If you want to see a Tony-winning actress in a bold, brilliant, truly original musical, go see Next to Normal. Expect to be emotionally drained by the end of the evening (in a good way ;).
Update: read my review of the show.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Jungle Theater, June 10 – July 31
Again, more Sondheim. I’ve only seen one musical at the Jungle, the completely fabulous Hedwig and the Angry Inch. So I have high expectations for this show. I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.
Update: read my review of the show.

HMS Pinafore, Guthrie Theater, June 18 – August 28
My favorite show that I’ve ever seen at the Guthrie is the Gilbert and Sullivan musical The Pirates of Penzance. It was the final production of my first season as a subscriber in 2004, and I loved it so much I saw it twice. With pirates climbing down from the balconies and flying in on ropes, costumes that were to die for, a fantastic cast, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s clever use of language and rhythm, not to mention a song about the Pythagorean Theorem, this is one of those shows I wish I could travel back in time to revisit. If this production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore is even half as good as The Pirates of Penzance was, I know I’ll love it. I’m also hoping that some of my local musical theater faves will be in it.
Update: read my review of the show.

2011 is shaping up to be another great year for theater in Minneapolis/St. Paul.  I hope you get to one or two of these shows, and let me know if there are others you're looking forward to.  FYI you can always see what shows I've got coming up in my schedule in the "Upcoming Shows" section on the right-hand side of this page.  Click on the show name for more information and to order tickets.

I hope your 2011 is filled with health, happiness, and great theater.