Thursday, December 30, 2021

"Another Miracle on Christmas Lake" at Yellow Tree Theatre

It almost took a miracle for me to see Yellow Tree Theatre's annual original holiday* comedy based in the fictional and very Minnesotan town of Christmas Lake. I arrived at the theater with a group of friends on a warm and rainy December night to find that the performance had been cancelled due to a tornado warning (in Minnesota in December?! and climate change isn't a thing). The next week everyone was busy with Christmas plans, so a subset of the group rescheduled to see one of the last performances this week. Amidst a slew of show closings on Broadway and locally, this show did indeed happen! A perfect final show of 2021, closing out a less than perfect year of theater, but one that saw growth, ingenuity, and a return to some form of normal (more on that in the coming days). There are only two performances left of Another Miracle on Christmas Lake, but you can still get yourself to Osseo to see it if you act quickly. Or make plans for their two upcoming shows in 2021 which are both brilliant and rare choices - the funny, feminist, historical, and modern play In the Next Room; Or, the Vibrator Play and the musical Passing Strange.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Kate Beahen and the Hometown Favorites at Lyric Arts

When Lyric Arts had to cancel a few weekends of their production of It's a Wonderful Life due to breakthrough COVID cases amongst the large cast, they called on Kate Beahen to help fill a few dates on the calendar, and encourage patrons to remember Lyric Arts or other local theaters in their year-end giving. A Lyric favorite and native of the Anoka area, Kate has appeared many times on the Main Street stage, as well as other stages around town, in both plays and musicals (my favorite: playing the Idina Menzel role in Lyric's regional premiere of If/Then and absolutely making it her own). She recently formed a band with her brother Bob and a few of her friends, calling themselves The Hometown Favorites and appearing at Crooners Supper Club. In the few days before Christmas, they did two holiday* shows at Lyric, and I was lucky enough to catch one of them. Kate's an incredibly talented vocalist and performer, and is also a natural at hosting a show and bantering with the band and the audience. It was a much needed fun and festive evening of holiday music and cheer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

"Family Dinner" and "The Mess" at HUGE Theater

After pivoting to a very 2020 Zoom version last year, everyone's favorite improv show Family Dinner is back at HUGE Theater where they belong! Where we can watch a delightfully dysfunctional family reunite for a holiday* dinner and actually eat it, live in front of us! I saw the show last weekend with my blogger friends from Play Off the Page and The Stages of MN (and then stayed to watch the also hilarious improv troupe The Mess), and laughed harder than I have in a long time. Family Dinner is hugely popular and often sells out its twice-weekly shows from mid-November through the end of the year, because everyone can relate to that awkward family dinner, even if this one is a bit more extreme in awkwardness and drama. But it's never mean-spirited, you get the sense that this improvised family loves each other, even whilst driving each other crazy. The final two performances this year are on New Year's Eve and Day - get your tickets now! While you're on the HUGE website, check out what else is going on, with live shows six days a week.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

"The Red and the Bright" by nimbus theatre at the Crane Theater

photo by Todd Craig
nimbus theatre is celebrating 20 years in #TCTheater with their 50th production, the original play The Red and the Bright. From my first nimbus show, the original and locally historical play Bohemian Flats in 2013, to the harsh look at race and racism in America in Nacirema, to the breathtaking design of Ghost Sonata, to a fascinating look into art forgery in From Darkness, to many historical dramas and even a comedy, what I've come to expect from nimbus is something interesting, thoughtful, and unique. Sometimes a little weird, sometimes a little rough, but always intriguing, forward-thinking, and worth checking out. They often do original plays, as is the case with The Red and the Bright, written by co-Artistic Director Liz Neerland and directed by co-Artistic Director Josh Cragun. They began working on it before the pandemic, and it's finally seeing the stage, presenting a fantasy world that feels real and complete unto itself, from the language spoken, to the relationships amongst the tight community, to the detailed design. Only two more performances remain; click here for info and tickets.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

"A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theater

The Guthrie Theater's first production post-pandemic (not counting their hosting of the Broadway tour of What the Constitution Means to Me) is their annual tradition, A Christmas Carol. This is their 47th production, and my 15th time seeing it. It's obviously a beloved holiday* tradition in the #TCTheater community, one that I also love and have rarely missed in my 18 seasons as a subscriber. But why? Why do they keep doing it? Why do people keep seeing it? Why do I go back year after year? Read on for ten reasons to see the Guthrie's A Christmas Carol this year before it closes on December 27.

Monday, December 13, 2021

"Amahl and the Night Visitors" by Skylark Opera Theatre at Park Square Theatre

Time to celebrate the return of another theater company back after the extended intermission of 2020-2021, namely Skylark Opera Theatre, who brings us accessible opera in English! They return to live performance after more than two years with Amahl and the Night Visitor, a one-act opera by Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti. The first opera written for American TV (in 1951), Amahl tells the Nativity story through the eyes of a child who sees the star and is visited by the Three Kings. It's a sweet little story (just about an hour long), well performed by the large and talented cast in the intimate space of Park Square Theatre's Andy Boss thrust stage. But only three performances remain this weekend, so act fast to catch this charming holiday* offering for kids and adults alike (click here for info and tickets).

Thursday, December 9, 2021

NYC Theater Trip 2021: "Six" at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre

Show*: 5

Title: SIX

Location: Brooks Atkinson Theatre

Written By: Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss

Summary: The six wives of Henry VIII tell their own story in the form of a rock concert.

NYC Theater Trip 2021: "Clyde's" at Second Stage Theater at the Helen Hayes Theater

Show*: 4

Title: Clyde's

Location: Second Stage Theater at the Helen Hayes Theater

Written By: Lynn Nottage

Summary: A sort of sequel to her 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat which explores the post-prison future of one of the characters.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

NYC Theater Trip 2021: "To Kill A Mockingbird" at the Shubert Theatre

Show*: 3

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird

Location: Sam S. Shubert Theatre

Written By: Aaron Sorkin (adapted from the novel by Harper Lee)

Summary: A new adaptation of the American classic.

NYC Theater Trip 2021: "Company" at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

Show*: 2

Title: Company

Location: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

Written By: Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and George Furth (book)

Summary: A revival of the Sondheim favorite about a singleton turning 35 in the midst of married couples, but this time the singleton is a woman.

NYC Theater Trip 2021: "Freestyle Love Supreme" at the Booth Theatre

Show*: 1

Title: Freestyle Love Supreme

Location: Booth Theatre

Created By: Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Veneziale

Summary: 90 minutes of freestyle, i.e, improvised rap and hip-hop music.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

"Black Nativity" at Penumbra Theatre

Another holiday* tradition is back this year - Penumbra Theatre's joyful production of Langston Hughes' Black Nativity. They've been doing this show for over 30 years now, and this version is very similar to what I saw three years ago. It's a wonderful tradition that fills the soul; recommended if you've never seen it before, or if you've seen it a dozen times. Continuing through Christmas Eve at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Broadway Tour of "Fiddler on the Roof" at the Ordway Center

Broadway is back at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in beautiful downtown St. Paul! The first of their four-show season of touring productions (hopefully they'll add in their fantastic original productions next season) is Fiddler on the Roof. This revival premiered on Broadway in 2015, and has played in the Twin Cities before, but this is my first time seeing it. The last time I saw Fiddler was the 2019 Off-Broadway Yiddish production, which felt like how it was always mean to be (although the musical was originally written in English, it was based on Yiddish stories). Barring the language, this touring Fiddler is also about as authentic as it gets. Featuring fresh new choreography that still honors the iconic original, an incredibly talented cast largely composed of Israeli and Jewish performers, and a brilliant and beloved score, this story of a man and a family struggling to hold on to their traditions and identity in the midst of modern advances and persecution is more moving than ever. While not explicitly a "holiday" show, Fiddler represents all of the ideals of this season - family, tradition, community - and would be a great choice for a family, friends, or solo outing. But hurry, it's only here for two weeks before Tevye and his family pack up and head to the next town (click here for info and tickets).