Monday, August 24, 2015

"Escape from Alcina's Island" by Mixed Precipitation at Falcon Heights Community Garden

For another installment of summer outdoor theater in Minnesota, we have Mixed Precipitation. Every summer they deliver something they like to call a "picnic operetta," which is just what it sounds like - a little light opera with food. Perhaps the "mixed" in this company's name refers to the mixture of food, music, theater, and the outdoors, perhaps it refers to the mixture of classic operetta with pop music. Either way it's a fun, charming, delightful, and yummy example of the outdoor theater that can be had in Minnesota. And even better - they travel around to area parks and gardens, so you can likely find a performance near you.

Handel's opera Alcina, about a seductive sorceress (Carolyn Cavadini) who lures Ruggiero (Dan Piering) away from his beloved Bradamante (Maggie Lofboom) with the help of her sister Morgana (Lizz Windnagel), has been transformed into a story of truckers on the road (adaptation by Director Scotty Reynolds and Music Director Marya Hart). This allows them to bring in some great old Country-Western road and heartbreak songs like "Six Days on the Road," "Heartaches by the Number," "The Race is On," and the classic George and Tammy duet "We're Gonna Hold On." It's great fun to hear these songs played by the four-piece classical/country orchestra, interspersed with Handel's lovely music sung mostly in Italian (with some surtitles charmingly rolled out by hand on a scroll to the left of the stage).

Morgana's Melon Margarita
There's nothing serious about this show, except that this cast can seriously sing. The show is loose and playful, performed with great enthusiasm by the large ensemble which includes several children and teens. Their Western attire adds to the fun and informality of this operetta. The acoustics aren't always great with the wind and the nearby soccer game, but that's part of the charm and spontaneity of outdoor theater.

Alcina's Antipasti
And then there's the food (created by Nick Schneider and Kimlinh Bui). The five courses are announced by the cast and somehow worked into the plot, usually as Alcina offers her guests hospitality. Each of the courses is a perfect little bite of flavor, all of them vegetarian and some of them vegan (make sure to ask about any dietary needs). Plates are passed among the crowd seated on the ground or in camp chairs as the show continues. So come hungry (but not too hungry, they are small bites).

Mixed Precipitation offers a unique, fun, and summery opportunity to enjoy good food and entertaining music-theater in your neighborhood park. I know it's mid-August, but summer in Minnesota isn't over yet so be sure to get in this last taste of outdoor theater before the snow falls! Performances continue at parks and gardens around the Twin Cities area and beyond - see their website for the full tour schedule.

the charming scene at the Picnic Operetta - the race is on!