January in Minnesota doesn't just mean bitter cold temperatures and the desire to hibernate. On the contrary, it's the time of year to get out of your house, head to lovely downtown St. Paul, and participate in the development of new plays and musicals at the History Theatre! One of the best theaters in town at developing, supporting, and producing new work, The History Theatre is presenting a reading of four new works this weekend. Unfortunately my schedule only allows me to attend two of the four this year, but each of them looks incredibly promising, and the talent listed below is mind-boggling! Many of the new works presented as part of the "Raw Stages" festival in the past have had successful full productions at The History Theatre, including The Debutante's Ball and Glensheen in 2015. So bundle up, heat up the car, and make your way through the bitter cold temps to The History Theatre to experience the joy of new and original theater!
Wednesday January 13 7:30 pm
Disorderly Houses by Ruth Virkus (cast: Carolyn Pool, John Middleton, Karen Weber, Aimee K. Bryant, Charles Fraser, Luverne Seifert, Andrea San Miguel, Elohim Peña)
I attended this reading last night and found the topic to be utterly fascinating. The play successfully brings to life the stories of real-life people in 1900 Minneapolis, including corrupt mayor Doc Ames and successful madam Ida Dorsey. Stories of power, politics, greed, determination, and friendship. During the post-show discussion (a feature of Raw Stages that allows the creators to gather information as they continue to develop the work), playwright Ruth Virkus said she wanted to write from the perspective of the women in the story, who found their power in whatever way they could in a world in which men made all the decisions. It's a promising play that's already funny, smart, thought-provoking, historical, and educational.
Thursday January 14 7:30 pm
Sweet Land: The Musical by Perrin Post, Laurie Flanigan-Hegge, and Dina Maccabee (cast: Ann Michels, Robert O. Berdahl, Michael Gruber, Tinia Moulder, Jon Hegge, Kendall Anne Thompson, Jim Ramlet, Matt Riehle, Sarah Burk, Kellie Rae Nitz, Luke Pickman, Nic Delacambre)
This is my fourth Sweet Land experience over the last few years, and I've written many many words about my love for this gorgeous, sweet, funny, poignant new musical based on the the lovely Minnesota-made movie. So I won't repeat myself again (click here to read all of the words). I'll just say that after watching it again last night, I am so ready to see a fully staged production, and the work is ready for it too. The music, book, and this brilliant cast already create something so special, that when movement (by Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan, which we got a peek of last summer), sets, costumes, lighting, and all of the other theatrical tricks are added, it's going to be truly breathtaking. Let's get this thing on stage already!
Saturday January 16 2 pm
Paper Daughters by Jessica Huang (cast: Song Kim, Eric "Pogi" Sumangil, Anna Hashizume, Katie Bradley, Rich Remedios, Anna Sundberg, Tyson Forbes)
"A haunting, poetic story about one family’s migration to Minnesota during the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act" written by the playwright of Mu's recent Purple Cloud.
Sunday January 17 2 pm
Teen Idol: The Bobby Vee Story by Bob Beverage (cast: Tyler Michaels, Gary Briggle, Bowen Cochrane, Abby DeSanto, Emily King, Peter Middlecamp, Peggy O'Connell, Jordan Oxborough, Kory Pullam, Geoffrey Randall, Matt Rein, Matthew Rubbelke, Austene Van, Leslie Vincent, Kenneth Watson)
"The musical journey of a kid from Fargo whose rise to fame began 'the day the music died.'" Starring the uber-talented Tyler Michaels. Oh how I wish I could see this one!