Saturday, July 17, 2021

2021 Summer Outdoor #TCTheater and More!

photo taken by me in the BWCA (no filter, it's just that gorgeous)
Updated July 17
I've long believed that one of the best things about a Minnesota summer (besides lakes, like the one at left in the BWCA) is the opportunity for watching outdoor performances. Every summer there are many great options, from music to plays and more. But this year, when outdoors feels like the safest place to be, and we're starved for live in-person entertainment after a year (and counting) of theater closures due to the pandemic, outdoor performances are absolutely necessary to get us through to that joyous day when we can return to the theater indoors. Below is a list of outdoor shows in #TCTheater (and beyond) planned for this spring/summer/fall. I'll continue to update this list as I hear of more, and please let me know via email (, the comment section below, or social media if there are any I've missed.

Crooners Supper Club: a life-saver last year with their drive-in concerts, this year they've opened a brand new expanded outdoor tented table-seated performance space. I attended opening weekend starring the fabulous Jamecia Bennett (click here for more on that), and have several more shows on my schedule. Crooners features local musicians, including some #TCTheater artists like Jennifer Grimm and Leslie Vincent. Click here for the full line-up.

Yellow Tree Theatre: the Osseo theater is hosting an outdoor concert series at Boerman Park. Shows are about every two weeks from June 10 through August 24. Click here for the full line-up which includes some familiar names from #TCTheater.

Great River Shakespeare Festival: after taking 2020 off, my favorite theater festival is back for its 17th season, with three shows performed outdoors in rep (plus some intern performances and other related events). I've attended GRSF twice and found it to be not only excellent theater (not just Shakespeare) but also a wonderful community and theater-intensive weekend. Located in the charming river town of Winona just two hours from the Twin Cities, it makes for a great mini-vacation. You can find the calendar (June 23 - August 1) and information about their stages and other events here, and read my review here.

Stages Theatre Company: the children's theater in Hopkins is presenting You're A Good Man Charlie Brown in a park, sure to be fun for all ages. Performances run July 9 - August 8, click here for all the info.

Illusion Theater
: starting July 14, Illusion is hosting a weekly Wednesday evening show at the amphitheater in Lyndale Gardens in Richfield. Performances are a mix of music and theater, well-known names and students, and continue through September. View the full schedule here.

Lakeshore Players Theatre: add 'em up Bobby! LPT is bringing us one of my favorite Sondheim musicals, Company, from their new outdoor stage in the parking lot of their gorgeous new theater in White Bear Lake. Tickets now on sale for six performances July 16-25.
Mixed Precipitation
: their picnic operetta has long been one of my favorite summer traditions, in which they mash-up a classic opera with pop music and serve deliciously fresh small bites during the show. Last year they debuted a smaller version of that called the "Pickup Truck Opera" and they're bringing it back this summer. The Odyssey (a mash-up of the Monteverdi opera and the songs of Dolly Parton) has scheduled performances July 18 through September 12 around the state. They'll also be popping up around town, and you can book the Pickup Truck for your event (details here).

Zephre Theatre
: the Stillwater theater is doing Mamma Mia! (July 22-25) and As You Like It (August TBA) outdoors at Lowell Park next to the St. Croix River and the historic lift bridge. Click here for info and tickets.

Steppingstone Theatre: newly partnered with Park Square Theatre, Steppingstone will be presenting Madagascar - A Musical Adventure Jr. at 7th Place Plaza in downtown St. Paul July 27 through August 8. Click here for details and tickets.

Minnesota Fringe Festival: after an entirely virtual 2020 festival, the Fringe is back this year with a virtual schedule as well as some independently produced shows in-person at theaters (and likely outdoor locations) around town. This year's festival runs August 5-15, so put it on your calendar and check back in a few months for details.

Have a great summer, theater friends! And remember to get your vaccine and continue to wear a mask where required/requested so that indoor theater can return to stay. In the meantime, enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer, including theater! If you know of any outdoor theater events, please comment below or send me an email at

Closed outdoor shows:

Collide Theatrical Dance Companythe company that specializes in new original jazz dance musicals is taking on Alice in Wonderland, and they're doing it outdoors. Wonderland runs May 15-30 outside the James J. Hill House and June 5-20 outside the Mill City Museum, and there's also a virtual option. Find all the details here, and read my review here.

Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company: they opened their "Theater Six Feet Apart" season with an outdoor play (the hilarious and poignant 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother, the only play I've seen in-person in the last 14 months), and now MJTC concludes the season with one too. You might have seen the delightful one-woman show A Pickle at the Fringe Festival a few years ago. Now #TCTheater favorite Sally Wingert will be performing in this true Minnesota State Fair story at various parks and homes around town. Click here for the full schedule (May 27 - June 13) and to order ticketsRead my review here.

Open Eye Theatre: performed on the rooftop of the Bakken Museum (on the shores of Bde Maka Ska), LOG JAM! A Paul Bunyan Musical Spectacular is described thusly: "A live band, witty songs, and rustic folk-art puppetry combine to make a night of family-friendly entertainment." The 40-minute show runs May 27 through June 20. Open Eye is also doing their annual Driveway Tour: "This award-winning community program brings high-quality, original puppet shows with live music to neighborhoods all across the metro." Dates and locations TBD, or host one in your own neighborhoodRead my review here.
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
Ordway Cabaret: Live at the Loading Dock was one of the few live in-person theatrical events I saw last year, and it's coming back for a second year! Performed outdoors behind the theater, this cabaret show will feature local performers singing selections from the Ordway's recently announced upcoming season. Click here to get your tickets before they're gone, eight shows June 18-27.

Black and Funny / Twin Cities Improv Festival
these two improv festivals are combining forces this year to produce an outdoor improv festival on the green rooftop lawn of The Bakken Museum. Three shows a night pairing two improv troupes for each show, June 24-26. View the full line-up and purchase tickets here.

Off-Leash Area
: combining live music, dance, and imagery, Mulier Dierum is "an epic project that mirrors the strength of cumulative generations of women," presented at Caponi Art Park June 25-26. For details, see their website.

Classical Actors Ensemblethey've been doing Shakespeare in parks around the Twin Cities for years, so for CAE it's back to business as usual. This year is everybody's favorite rom-com, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Find a location near you, bring a picnic and lawn chair or blanket, and experience Shakespeare the way it was meant to be - "playful, immediate, approachable, and accessible to all" (to quote myself). Click here for the schedule (June 18 – July 18) and locations (all performances are free but registration is encouraged). Read my review here.

Rough Magic Performance
: this company "dedicated to supporting women artists and telling women's stories" is producing their first non-Fringe show, Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, July 1-18th at the Mill City Farmers Market space. And it sounds fascinating: "A thrilling and thoughtful meditation on the destabilizing and destructive power of beauty, drawing together Helen of Troy and Marilyn Monroe." You can find all the info here and read my review here.

Pillsbury House Theatre
: in their first show back, PHT will be performing What to Send Up When it Goes Down outdoors in their parking lot July 2-18. It sounds like a beautifully appropriate play to do just a few blocks from George Floyd Square, "Part ritual and part theatrical experience... a fiercely innovative play that sets out to disrupt the pervasiveness of anti-blackness and rejoice in the resilience of Black People throughout history." Click here for info and tickets and read my review here.

Wayward Theatre: 
continuing their storytelling series, Mixtape: I Forgot How to Do This will be presented on The Bakken Museum's lovely green rooftop July 15-17, featuring a half dozen local storytellers and performers. Info and tickets here.

Vox Medusa and 
Infiammati FireCircus: the partnership that brought us a fiery and feminist retelling of Medusa as part of the 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival returns with Eurydice, "a reimagining of the Orpheus myth from his mysterious wife's viewpoint of her harrowing journey." Performances July 16-18 at Harriet Island across the river from downtown St. Paul, click here for details