Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer 2015 Twin Cities Theater Preview

For some people, summer means baseball, barbecues, boating, and other outdoor activities. For me, summer means more theater (and iced mochas)! Here are a few shows I'm looking forward to this summer. If I missed any, please add in the comments below.

One of the highlights of the summer theater season is always Skylark Opera's Summer Festival, which I've attended for the past four years. They do two shows in repertoire that fall on various locations on the music-theater spectrum. For their 8th festival, they're doing a Sondheim revue (is there anything better?!) called Putting It Together and Puccini's La Rondine. Both shows can be seen at the EM Pearson Theatre on St. Paul's Concordia University campus, just four performances of each between June 12 and 21 (more info here).

This summer the Ordway is producing not one but two local musicals - Damn Yankees (did someone mention baseball?) in June and Pirates of Penzance in August. Their last local musical, A Christmas Story, was delightful, and I expect more of the same with these two shows (more info about Damn Yankees here and Pirates here).

Park Square Theatre has had much success with their summer Sherlock Holmes plays, and this year they are presenting the world premiere of a new one - Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders. No, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not send his famous detective to Minnesota, but author Larry Millett did, and my favorite local playwright Jeffrey Hatcher has adapted this recent novel into a play. A summer mystery featuring the world's most beloved crime-solver and plenty of local flavor, what more could you ask for (playing June 19 through July 19, more info here)?

Over in Uptown, the Jungle's summer selection is the classic comedy You Can't Take It With You, featuring a huge and star-studded cast, including three real-life married couples - Charity Jones and John Middleton, Angela Timberman and Jay Albright (possibly the funniest couple in existence), and Cathleen and Nathaniel Fuller. The family that plays together... (playing June 19 through August 9, more info here).

More often than not, the Guthrie celebrates the summer with a big beautiful musical. They're following up last year's hit, "the hummable and quotable" My Fair Lady, with another American classic - The Music Man, "the toe-tapping musical for the whole family." It's sure to be a luscious extravaganza with lots of familiar faces in the supporting roles and ensemble (playing June 20 through August 23, more info here).

"Summer lovin', had me a blast!" The quintessential summer musical Grease is coming to Lyric Arts in Anoka, July 10 through August 2. It's sure to be a fun time, but Lyric Arts musicals have a tendency to sell out, so get your tickets soon (more info here).

If you're someone who hates to be inside on a lovely summer day, you can still enjoy theater and the outdoors. Check out one of the many options for outdoor theater, including Mill City Summer Opera (presenting Daughter of the Regiment in the picturesque and historic courtyard of the Mill City Museum in July) and Mixed Precipitation (touring Escape from Alcina's Island in area parks in August and September).

If you're heading Up North to the cabin this summer, don't worry, you can still catch some theater. A great thing to do on a rainy day is drive into Bemidji to the Paul Bunyan Playhouse. I have not yet had the pleasure, but I know that many of my favorite Twin Cities artists go up there in the summer to put on some great theater. They've got five shows on the schedule this summer, including one of the best new plays I saw last year, the local true crime caper Prints, and the hilarious musical Spamalot (more info here).

And of course, you can't talk about summer theater in Minnesota without mentioning the Minnesota Fringe Festival. The full schedule of the hundreds of one-hour shows at a dozen venues will be announced in the next month or so. Until then, check out their website for a tentative list of participants, and cancel all other plans between July 30 and August 9.

I hope you enjoy all of the wonderful things that summer in Minnesota has to offer, including the above theater, because winter will be back again before we know it!

This article also appears on Broadway World Minneapolis.