Yellow Tree Theatre space, where for the 10th year in a row you can experience an original Minnesota holiday play, a silly comedy mixed with local references, and a heartfelt message of home and community underneath it all. YTT co-founder Jessica Lind Peterson has written four such plays - two installments of Miracle on Christmas Lake,** A Hunting Shack Christmas, and this year's selection, a reprise of last year's smash hit A Gone Fishin' Christmas. They've brought back most of the original cast, plus a few fun additions, and if possible it's even better than it was last year. It's a really fun feel-good show, with outrageous hilarity mixed with tender moments, plus an original song by Blake Thomas! The Wednesday performance I attended was not sold out, but tickets will get harder to come by, especially weekends, as the season continues, so make your plans now to visit the ice house before it's too late (more info here).
Thursday, November 30, 2017
"A Gone Fishin' Christmas" at Yellow Tree Theatre
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
"A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theater
Guthrie Theater's annual production of Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol. Now in my 15th year as a Guthrie season subscriber, I've only missed it a couple of times in that span. As I wrote last year, "I never tire of seeing it, because Charles Dickens' story of redemption, community, family, and human kindness never gets old. It's a beautiful and necessary thing to be reminded that what brings us together is greater than what drives us apart.' That it's never too late to change, to grow, to become a kinder and more generous person." This timeless story of generosity, gratitude, compassion, and kindness is something we need to cling to, perhaps now more than ever.
Monday, November 27, 2017
"And Then There Were None" at Theater in the Round
Agatha Christie. If one can overlook the horribly offensive original title and the song from which it came (which, to be honest, I'm not sure one can), it's a suspenseful and gripping tale of the most deadly game of Survivor. Christie herself adapted the story into a stage play, even changing the ending. I'd never seen or read it, and I love a good mystery play, so I found Theatre in the Round's production to be an entertaining and surprising afternoon at the theater.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
"Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley" at the Jungle Theater
Miss Bennet: Christmas* at Pemberley is very reminiscent of Jane Austen, but also fresh and modern and new. It's a witty, smart, utterly charming new play that celebrates not just literal sisterhood, but women working together and supporting each other, both onstage and behind the scenes. I can think of nothing we need more at this moment in time.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
"Waitress" on tour at the Orpheum Theatre
Monday, November 20, 2017
"Coney Island Christmas" at Lyric Arts
Coney Island Christmas. Clocking in at just 80 minutes, Coney Island Christmas manages to create that warm and wistful feeling of nostalgia, while making a plea for all of us to respect each other's traditions, even (or especially) if they're different from ours. A highly entertaining cast of children and grown-ups, a heart-warming message of community, and some of the best worst carol singing you've ever heard make this a lovely addition to the holiday theater season.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
"Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus" by Green T Productions at the Historic Mounds Theatre
Leslie Odom, Jr.'s concert at Orchestra Hall, I decided to check out Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus. I'd never seen a show by Green T Productions, never been to the Historic Mounds Theatre, and the show is 90 minutes no intermission (my favorite thing) - perfect for a spontaneous Saturday night trip to the theater! Mounds Theatre is a perfect venue for this creepy tale (my friend told me it's haunted), and Green T has created an ambitious and innovative new telling of this 200-year old tale. While I didn't always get everything that was going on, it certainly held my interest and created some memorable moments.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
"LimeLight" at Minnsky Theatre
Gypsy). Minnsky Theatre is located in nimbus theatre's old space in Northeast Minneapolis, which has been transformed into a more glam version of its former self. I felt a little like I had been transported back in time to the days of Vaudeville, with a variety of age-old entertainment on display. Combining theater, music, dance, acrobatics, burlesque, and circus acts, Minnsky puts on a good show that was thoroughly enjoyed by the large and enthusiastic audience. LimeLight closes tonight, but I encourage you to check out Minnsky sometime for some fun, and a little risque, entertainment.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
"Based On / A True Story: Two New Plays" by Raw Sugar and Theatre Corrobora at Southern Theater
At the Southern Theater this weekend, you can see two new one-act plays, both very much worth seeing. They're very different plays, but what they have in common is that they're written and performed by women, telling their own personal, authentic stories. Produced by two companies whose work I want to support based on their mission ("Raw Sugar creates imaginative, adventurous productions led by feminists" and "Theatre Corrobora is a group of young artists who strive to create meaningful, challenging, and intelligent works of original theater by and about young women"), Fadeaway Girl and The Critic and the Drama Queen are both funny, thoughtful, and engaging new plays, and you should go see them (five performances this weekend only!).
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
"Sister Act" at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is bringing back their smash hit from 2015 with mostly the same cast, but while the show might be the same, the world is a much different place than it was two years ago. This beautiful story of sisterhood, friendship, community, and standing up together and raising your voices for joy, love, and faith, may be needed more now than it ever was.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" by Zenith City Horror at Camp Bar
you can read all of the many words I've written about it here). I can think of no better way to celebrate my 44th birthday (a day early) than with one of my heroes, who has taught and continues to teach me to be misfit myself, and hold my wig high while doing so. The best part of getting older is being more comfortable in your own skin and caring less and less about what the world thinks of it. And that's what the beautifully flawed human we call Hedwig represents. Zenith City Horror has brought their fantastic version of the show from Duluth to Camp Bar in downtown St. Paul, go see it if you need a little more Hedwig in your life (and who doesn't?!).
Monday, November 13, 2017
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Children's Theatre Company
Sunday, November 12, 2017
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" at Mixed Blood Theatre
which I saw and was impressed by the clever and inventive storytelling. Now available for regional productions, Mixed Blood Theatre is bringing us their take on the play. The West End/Broadway production was very tech-heavy, and I was curious what this story with a smaller-scale production and in a smaller house would look like. It turns out I like it even better, but I generally always like smaller cast, smaller scale, smaller house versions of plays and musicals which make the story feel more intimate and real. In this case, the 15-person Broadway cast has been reduced to just 9, with very smart casting and direction by Mixed Blood's Artistic Director Jack Reuler. There are still some pretty impressive tech effects, but also some great low-tech effects that all serve this story of a 15-year-old boy with an unspecified autism-like condition who goes on an epic journey in search of the truth. And it still has a real live puppy and real live maths!
Saturday, November 11, 2017
"Roller Derby Queen" by SOS Theater at Gremlin Theatre
A new #TCTheater company is debuting a new play by a first time playwright in a new St. Paul theater space that just opened this summer. What's more exciting than that?! The good news is that Roller Derby Queen is a great play - smart, funny, and well-written, with quirky but real characters played by a dreamy cast, clearly directed in this intimate space. I'm not entirely sure what SOS Theater is about yet, but based on the first offering of this "new production company dedicated to producing evocative works that present fresh and entertaining perspectives of this ludicrous thing called life," I'm intrigued, and hope to see more.
"Ludlow" by nimbus theatre at the Crane Theater
Colorado Coalfield War of 1913-1914, the deadliest labor dispute in US History, resulting in the deaths of dozens or even hundreds of people. Playwright Josh Cragun and director Liz Neerland, Co-Artistic Directors of nimbus, have created an ambitious new work with a large and talented ensemble that not only brings the lives of the victims and survivors to life, but also speaks to current issues of unions, immigration, and the haves vs. the have-nots.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
"Moby Dick" by Theatre Coup d'Etat at Fallout Arts Initiative Co-op Studio 3
Moby Dick, one of the most well known and well respected American novels, this line that opens the book was familiar to me. And so it was a certain kind of thrill to hear the line spoken Monday night in a small art studio space in South Minneapolis, my first experience with this epic tale. Theatre Coup d'Etat's Artistic Director James Napoleon Stone adapted the novel into a two and a half hour play and directs this production, with a terrific 13-person cast, a cool found space, interesting movement, and lovely musical accompaniment. The result is an epic yet intimate telling of this classic American story.
Sunday, November 5, 2017
"The Privateer" by Transatlantic Love Affair at Illusion Theater
Transatlantic Love Affair's newest creation The Privateer, TLA company member and first-time director Derek Lee Miller humbly said, you don't want to hear me lecture about pirates for an hour and a half. As someone who quite enjoyed listening to him lecture about bananas for an hour this summer, I most certainly do want to listen to Derek Lee Miller lecture about pirates! Because it would be sure to be fascinating and educational and delightfully nerdy. But even better than a lecture, this excellent company tells a story about pirates through movement, words, and music. TLA fans are sure to love this new, exciting, dangerous tale. And if you haven't seen TLA before, what are you waiting for?!
"Independence" by Chameleon Theatre Circle at Bloomington Civic Theatre
Chameleon Theatre Circle is spending their 20th season at various locations north of the Minnesota River. Which, as a Northeast suburbs dweller, makes me happy. Because they've got a great line-up this season, including the rarely produced musical Chess, coming to the new Gremlin space in St. Paul next month, and the cult favorite Little Shop of Horrors at the Sabes JCC next spring. But first, they're opening their season with the family drama Independence, by Playwrights' Center core writer Lee Blessing. Playing in Artistry's Black Box theater (opposite the sold out Music Man), it's an intense, intimate, and well done look at a family dealing with mental illness, unwanted pregnancies, separation, and years of pain.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
"Finding Neverland" on tour at the Orpheum Theatre
now playing at the Orpheum Theatre, is not what one would call an original musical. Although based on the life J.M. Barrie, the author and playwright who created Peter Pan, the characters and plotlines are not particularly original either, with cliched relationships and predictable plot turns. But don't worry, there's a but. Even if it's not the most original musical you'll see, it's still quite delightful in execution. I had never heard the score before, and found parts of it quite lovely. The design is magical, the movement and choreography is innovative and interesting, and this touring cast (including children and a dog) is wonderful. As long as you're not expecting anything too deep or original, Finding Neverland is sure to delight, at least in some moments, and has an inspiring message about the power of imagination, which is what theater is all about.
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