If you grew up in Minnesota, or have spent any time here, you've heard about Paul Bunyan, the mythical giant lumberjack accompanied by the blue ox Babe. In this retelling (book, music, and lyrics by Josef Evans), Paul (played with much gusto by Maren Ward) chose to become a regular human for the love of a woman, and now has pretty much retired from his heroic life, while Babe (a charming Antonio Rios-Luna) still lives with Paul but is pursuing a scholarly life. That is until Betty (the always effervescent Suzie Juul) comes to find him and bring him back to her small Minnesota North Woods town to save her mother (the radiant Anna Hashizume) from freezing and the town from the evil businessman they call the Big Swede (Tom Reed, hilarious as always). In this heart-warming tale of community, of course our heroes prevail, with some commentary about the coming spring and people being together again after a long time apart that feels very relevant and poignant right now.
|the cast of LOG JAM (photo by Galen Fletcher)
While they may have dropped "Figure" from their name, Open Eye Theatre has a strong history of puppetry, which is on full display here. Created by Steve Ackerman, the array of puppets big (a giant Paul Bunyan) to small (tiny figures of our heroes travelling across the landscape) is astounding and endlessly entertaining, as are the props from giant axes to the Big Swede's Model T car. Costume designer Kathy Kohl has clad these quirky characters in equally quirky costumes - fun and colorful and with every kind of plaid imaginable. The whole thing is a feast for the eyes.
I can't tell you how thrilled I am to go back to the theater again after a very long extended intermission, outdoors for now, indoors soon. LOG JAM! A Paul Bunyan Musical Spectacular is super fun for all ages and a reminder of what I love about theater - talented artists doing something unique, creative, imaginative, silly, heart-warming, and entertaining.
|the green rooftop stage (photo from @cherryandspoon Instagram)
**The Bakken Museum, "a historic mansion, unique collections, medicinal gardens, dynamic exhibits, and rich education experiences," is open before and after showtime for audience members to explore. There is a parking lot for the museum, and street parking available in the neighborhood.