Tuesday, October 27, 2020

A Love Letter to Theater

I sent this letter, along with two paper cranes, to Broadway Up Close, a tour company and gift shop in NYC, for their "Broadway Paper Crane Project," in which theater lovers all over the world are making cranes with a wish for the return of theater. They're a great follow on Instagram (or Facebook, where you can find details of the Crane Project) that's helping me feel connected, at least a little bit, to Broadway and theater in general. I also ordered some of their merch, including a beautiful custom engraved wooden magnet representing the ticket stub from when I saw Hamilton, and a Broadway passport in which I've recorded the 60+ shows I've seen at the 41 Broadway theaters over the last 20 years, which I hope to add to next year.


Dear Broadway Up Close friends, 

Sending much love from the Mini Apple to the Big Apple! I've been a theater blogger in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for over 10 years, but I've never experienced a year like this one. I went from seeing 3-5 shows a week to none (except for the occasional outdoor show, and not counting streaming shows). I'm lucky in that theater is "just a hobby" for me, so my job and income have not been affected. But my soul is poorer, and my heart breaks for all of the theater artists and companies I know and love that are suffering right now. Broadway has a (tentative) return date; #TCTheater does not, although I'm hopeful for sometime in 2021, with smaller companies perhaps having more flexibility to do shows for smaller, more spaced out audiences.

I'm sending two cranes to represent my theater history. The first is made from the cover of the program from the first time I saw my favorite musical RENT, the first national tour in 1997 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul (which ironically features Adam Pascal, who obviously was not in the tour). The great thing about the Ordway is that not only do they host touring Broadway productions, as well as local companies like the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Opera, but they also produce original shows featuring local and national talent. Theater gods (and a vaccine) willing, they will be doing an original production of RENT next summer directed by Martha Banta, who was an associate director on the original production of RENT #fullcircle. My wish for this crane is that next summer I will be sitting in the Ordway, watching RENT, likely weeping with joy through the whole show.

The second crane is made from the cover of a program from my first year as a Guthrie Theater subscriber, the 2003-2004 season (which included main stage shows: Pride and Prejudice, The Night of the Iguana, A Christmas Carol, Crowns, Romeo and Juliet, and The Pirates of Penzance). The Guthrie is truly a model of regional theaters, having been founded by Sir Tyron Guthrie in 1963 after a nationwide search for a location, which Minneapolis won. My 17 seasons as a subscriber have truly opened my eyes to all that theater has to offer, and the incredible talent that exists in the Twin Cities. In that time they've built a beautiful new three-stage theater on the Mississippi river, and increased diversity of programming. My wish for this crane is that my 18th season happens in 2021 (albeit a shortened season), including a planned production of Lynn Nottage's Sweat, the sequel of which, Floyd's, the Guthrie commissioned and premiered last summer.

Of course these two theaters only represent the tip of the iceberg that is #TCTheater, which is so amazing because of the 70+ theater companies that are part of the community. Some of them likely won't survive this extended intermission, but I have no doubt that others will be created to fill the empty space once this pandemic is behind us. 

These cranes hold my wish that #TCTheater comes back stronger and better after the lessons learned in 2020. And I look forward to my next visit to NYC to see as many Broadway shows as I can fit in, take a real live tour from Broadway Up Close, and see my cranes flying with the other 998 on display at your shop.

One day closer!
Jill
Cherry and Spoon

my Broadway passport

a gorgeous souvenir of a memorable day

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