2015 Spring Arts & Dining

Arts Previews by John Townsend & Shane Lueck
Food Pairings by Joy Summers

Hir. Photo by Rich Ryan

Hir. Photo by Rich Ryan

Hir
Mixed Blood Theatre Company
www.mixedblood.com
Through March 22
Prepare to let go of some of your assumptions. Obie Award-winning drag artist and playwright Taylor Mac challenges heteronormative patterns and values within the family unit in Hir. The title stands for a new pronoun that replaces “him” and “her” with “hir;” “ze” is a term that replaces “he” and “she.”

At Mixed Blood Theatre, Jay Eisenberg plays the role of Max. He shares:

“Trans roles don’t come along very often, and unfortunately, when they do, they tend to be focused on broad and superficial aspects of the trans experience. In theater, film, and television, we now see a lot of narratives that focus on the ‘right’ kind of trans character: generally, someone who still presents within the gender binary; someone who has ‘always’ known that transitioning is ‘right’ for them and never questions it; someone who, post-transition, will likely appear to be in a ‘straight’ relationship. What I love about Max is that ze defies that palatable narrative. Ze is sometimes selfish, obnoxious, and brash, not because ze is transitioning, but because ze is a teenager, and teenagers are awful. I say this as someone who is trans, but, more importantly, perhaps, as someone who was once an awful teenager. Like Max, I thought that I knew everything when I was a teenager, and now, as a 25-year-old, I’m fairly convinced that I know nothing. Max’s flamboyance and bravado is often a cover for hir confusion and lack of self-assuredness, and I know that tactic well. I’m imagining Max as though ze has just barely finished hir first puberty (that of an assigned-female-at-birth person) before beginning hir second puberty with the help of testosterone — a potent combination of hormonal upheavals to have happen in such a short span of time.”

As Max, Eisenberg shares the ze is exploring “the insecurities of being a teenager intersected with the insecurities of transitioning, and how we learn to belong somewhere when we’ve never really belonged anywhere. And, as a highly physical actor who’s still navigating my own transition over the course of this rehearsal process, I’m attempting to figure out how I can fully embody a character while my body goes through some fairly big changes of its own.
—John Townsend

Other Desert Cities
Bloomington Theatre and Art Center
Black Box Theater
www.btacmn.org
Through March 22
A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, this is the story of Brooke Wyeth who returns home after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother, and her aunt. Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history, a wound they don’t want reopened. Playwright Jon Robin Baitz makes sure our sympathies keep shifting among the members of the wounded family portrayed here.
—Shane Lueck

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Dan Norman

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Dan Norman

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Guthrie Theater’s Wurtele Thrust Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
Through March 29
The most popular comedy ever has been staged with sumptuous sensuality. Shakespeare’s consummately magical play traffics in young love, desire, deception, and fantasy worlds hidden within nature and between dimensions. Acrobats! Ariel dynamics! An Amazon Queen and an Athenian Duke! Fairies and a Fairy Queen! Imagination gone wild!
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Victory 44
www.victory-44.com
Mischief and merriment are just as evident on the plate at Victory 44 as it is on the Guthrie stage. Erick Harcey is having fun with his menu, turning expectations sideways and delivering stunning plates of food packed with layers of intriguing flavor.

Into The Woods
Theater Latté Da
at The Ritz Theater
www.theaterlatteda.com
Through March 29
Stephen Sondheim’s epic musical reimagines classic Brothers Grimm fairytale characters in a unique situation. Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel all intertwine into the lives of a baker, his wife, and a vindictive witch. Peter Rothstein, who knows Sondheim well, directs.
—John Townsend

Huck Finn. Photo by Rob Levine

Huck Finn. Photo by Rob Levine

Huck Finn
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
Through April 4
Mark Twain may be the most popular classic American writer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is perhaps his greatest work. The story of young Huck and runaway slave, Jim, is one of the most truly American relationships ever put to pen. The inventive Greg Banks directs.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Fika
www.asimn.org/visit/fika-cafe
The lingonberry might be the closest we’re going to get to a huckleberry in this part of the country. The tart, zingy little berries paired with the saucy Swedish meatballs at Fika are second to none. This is also a fantastic place to dine with kids and just a hop, skip, and jump away from the theater. Dining by a castle before setting off on a wild adventure? What could thrill a kid (or those of us that are still kids at heart) more?

Mary Poppins
Channhassen Dinner Theatres
www.chanhassentheatres.com
Through April 11
Classic novel. Blockbuster film classic. And finally a smash Broadway musical. Mary Poppins gets its local premiere at the nation’s foremost dinner theater. Enjoy a delicious meal and watch the gracious Ann Michels descend and ascend as the most beloved nanny in the history of London, if not the history of the world!
—John Townsend

50 Shades of Gravy. Photo by Dani Werner

50 Shades of Gravy. Photo by Dani Werner

Fifty Shades of Gravy
Brave New Workshop
www.bravenewworkshop.com
Through May 2
Get out your handcuffs! You just knew that the popular sex novel (now turned into a popular film) would have to be the subject of a comedy revue by the region’s foremost comedy theater. Politics, pop culture, and the writing of erotica fuel the humor in this eagerly awaited show.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Colossal Cafe
www.colossalcafe.com
What could be sexier than dousing yourself with gravy? How about making that some saucy sausage gravy? Oh, yeah. Colossal Cafe serves the best b&g in the Cities at both their Minneapolis and St. Paul locations. The biscuits are made from scratch and that gravy is a pile of creamy goodness. Plus, the enormous name for the tiny cafe — it’s funny! The BNW folks would get it.

Thurgood
Illusion Theater
www.illusiontheater.org
March 6 – 15
Acclaimed actor James Craven plays the first black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. During the second half of the 20th century no black public figure commanded as much public attention. He fought for civil rights, labor, and education. Controversial and beloved, he rose from obscurity to greatness.
—John Townsend

Death Tax Photo by Travis Anderson

Death Tax Photo by Travis Anderson

Death Tax
Pillsbury House Theatre
www.pillsburyhouseandtheatre.org
March 6 – April 5
In Lucas Hnath’s play, a nurse is caught between an ailing older woman and what appears to be the greedy intentions of her patient’s daughter. A new estate tax goes into effect at the end of the year and the older woman tries to thwart her daughter’s supposed ambitions.
—John Townsend

The Manchurian Candidate
Minnesota Opera
at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.mnopera.org
March 7 – 15
Politics and paranoia collide in this heart-pounding new opera, making its world premiere with the Minnesota Opera. An American soldier, decorated during the Korean War, is brainwashed into becoming an unwitting assassin in a conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government. Tenor Leonardo Capalbo, who received critical and audience admiration during his stint in Minnesota Opera’s The Elixir of Love, returns to the Ordway stage.
—Shane Lueck

Leah’s Train
20% Theatre Company Twin Cities
at Sabes Jewish Community Center
www.tctwentypercent.org
March 7 – 22
The passing of a Jewish matriarch shifts the relationships within a family. Ruth and her mother do not get along. Ruth is abruptly abandoned by her boyfriend. Within the grieving process it becomes apparent that they have idealized their grandmother. Out of this comes an awakening and the will to change.
—John Townsend

The Woodsman
Theatre Pro Rata
at Nimbus Theatre
www.theatreprorata.org
March 7 – 22
Theatre Pro Rata takes on that most controversial topic of all: child molestation. What is a sex offender released from prison is up against? Should the public be more compassionatate? What is gained or lost by stigmatization? A timely play given the current dialogue about Minnesota’s sex offender policy.
—John Townsend

Hollywoodland
Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
March 7 – April 17
The 1930s and ’40s were Hollywood’s Golden Age, and like it or not, we can never escape its power, its beauty, and its seductiveness. Main Street School of Performing Arts students and alumni are collaborating to pay homage to the stars of the beloved and despised studio system.
—John Townsend

Correria Agwa
Compagnie Käfig
at Northrop Memorial Auditorium
www.northrop.umn.edu/events
March 10
Correria (running) plunges us into a frantic, hectic race just like the one that governs our daily lives. Agwa (water) is all about water, at once a vital component of our bodies, a precious natural resource to be economized and preserved, and a symbol of renewal. The dancers mix hip-hop, capoeira, samba, electronic music, and bossa nova to create a dance with amazing acrobatics, stuffed energy and invention.
—Shane Lueck

Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
March 10 – 15
Beauty lies within. When Disney’s Beauty and the Beast became a smash hit musical a generation ago, it expanded the idea of what was possible on the Broadway stage. Based on the Oscar-winning animated feature film, this spectacular production has been seen by over 35 million people worldwide.
—John Townsend

These Are The Men
Savage Umbrella
at Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
March 14 – April 18
The Oedipus Rex tale of Greek mythology gets told through the eyes of Theban Queen Jocasta. Time, Fate, and free will are some of the big ideas to be explored. And to top it all off, it’s a Savage Umbrella production — a group that has excelled in ancient-themed work before.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Butcher and the Boar
www.butcherandtheboar.com
Just…order the footlong hot dog. We offer the visual of meat lolling over a split bun without further comment.

The Nature Crown
Theatre Forever
at Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio
www.guthrietheater.org
March 20 – April 5
Innovative theater director Jon Ferguson is known for staging highly physical shows that push the limits. The Guthrie presents Theatre Forever’s production of The Nature Crown. This world premiere production is an upbeat narrative about origin, innocence, community, and universal change. An example of the Guthrie reaching out to local talent.
—John Townsend

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
March 20 – April 12
A brother and sister expect to adopt a boy to help them out at their Prince Edward Island home. However, the orphanage sends a girl instead and everyone’s life is changed. Sylvia Ashby’s stage adaptation hews close to L. M. Montgomery’s literary classic.
—John Townsend

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Old Log Theater
www.oldlog.com
March 20 – May 30
On the French Riviera two con men with very different criminal styles target rich women to swindle with various sob stories. Proving that there is honor among thieves, they agree to a winner-take-all wager about an American soap heiress. Based on the popular 1988 film.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Vincent – A Restaurant
www.vincentarestaurant.com
Before joining these swindlers inside Beaumont Sur Mer and before they take on the Fox, get into the French mood with a dinner inside Vincent in downtown Minneapolis. The golden lighting lends extra intimacy to any date night and the food is worth swooning over. Just don’t forget the cork, for the fork (and your eye patch and triton).

The Debutante's Ball. Photo by Craig VanDerschaegen

The Debutante’s Ball. Photo by Craig VanDerschaegen

The Debutante’s Ball
Mu Performing Arts
at History Theatre
www.muperformingarts.org
March 21 – April 12
Minnesota’s Filipino-American community has gathered for an annual debutante’s ball since 1978. This feel-good “coming of age” play was written by former debutante escort, Eric “Pogi” Sumangil. See six teenagers prepare for the event. Traditional Filipino love songs (called haranas), hip-hop, and waltz are blended into the mix.
—John Townsend

Short Town Showoff: Short Shorts!
Bedlam Theatre
www.bedlamtheatre.org
March 26 – 29
An eclectic array of developing new work performing all around Bedlam Lowertown. These works in progress are created and performed by a special blend of community and professional artists through Bedlam’s ongoing performance lab called Short Town.
—Shane Lueck

Plastic Language. Photo by Armour Photography

Plastic Language. Photo by Armour Photography

Plastic Language
ARENA Dances
at The Cowles Center for the Performing Arts
www.arena-dances.org
March 27 – 28
Kicking off the 20th anniversary season, ARENA Dances presents Plastic Language, an evening-length trio that deconstructs everyday moments to investigate their simplest form. Inspired by the surrealist works of painter Miro, this avant-garde work undulates between confined and open spaces as dancers attempt to establish communication between each other.

“I had this feeling that modern dance was dead,” says Mathew Janczewski, ARENA’s founder and artistic director. “People were not exposed to it, and didn’t know about it. I felt like we were performing for audiences who were hardly there — physically and psychologically. I was newly interested in my process, questioning, ‘What does inspire me? What do I do with that?’ I came up with the idea of taking the everyday and abstracting it. I believe that everyone dances, yet we’re societally taught not to be expressive. It is a form a communication — a central theme to the work.”

With this piece, Janczewski seeks to blur the line between audience member and being a voyeur. This piece reveals the intimate world of three people, allowing the audience entrance into this special place. “It’s called Plastic Language because I feel like people didn’t know what modern dance was,” he says. “I’m a kinetic mover; I’m trying to communicate something with you! These communication struggles occur within the realm of the dancers, and between performer and audience member, and certainly in our day-to-day lives.”

For this 20th anniversary season, Janczewski looked back at works that are strong representations of his voice, and the scope of his vocabulary, ranging from the theatrical to the highly virtuosic and technical. One of these pieces is Picturing That Day, a new work to be premiered at the Bedlam Theater in winter of 2015/2016. Inspiration came from gold sequin costumes and Gershwin – something he remembered from a journal entry over ten years ago.

For more information on ARENA Dances’ upcoming season, Janczewski’s vision, and Plastic Language, check it out here.
—Shane Lueck

Fruit Fly: The Musical
Illusion Theater
www.illusiontheater.org
March 27 – April 11
The 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival hit has been expanded thanks to development within Illusion Theater’s Fresh Ink Series. Sheena Janson and Max Wojtanowicz, who met as kids in a St. Cloud area community theater, show us the beauty of friendship between straight women and gay men. Music by Michael Gruber. Nikki Swoboda directs.
—John Townsend

Shooting Star
Park Square Theatre, Proscenium Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
March 27 – April 19
They once were hippies but now he’s a conservative traditional family man. Snowed in at an airport, they catch up on old times and new times and find out some new things neither expect. Sally Wingert and Mark Benninghofen star. Written by Steven Dietz. Leah Cooper directs.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
112 Eatery
www.112eatery.com
Save dinner for after the show and hit this restaurant, one of the few that stays open late into the night, for a lingering conversation of your own. The foie gras meatballs nestled into tagliatelle is a sumptuous feast for the senses and a serious conversation starter.

Forgiveness. Photo by Nico Swenson

Forgiveness. Photo by Nico Swenson

Forgiveness
Bedlam Theatre
www.bedlamtheatre.org
March 28
Twelve hours of performers creating art of all different genres around and about the theme of forgiveness. The piece invites the participating audience members and artists to open the term “forgiveness,” exploring it as a transient and deeply subjective experience.
—Shane Lueck

If You Don’t Weaken
Freshwater Theatre
at Nimbus Theatre
www.freshwatertheatre.com
March 28 – April 11
Playwright Jenna Zark imagines a young woman’s year-long ritual of mourning for her grandfather complete with 1930s porn, a Jewish day school, and a crumbling synagogue. Directed by Ariel Leaf, known for her boldly sexual stage work. Freshwater’s artists often examine non-mainstream views of gender and sexuality.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Hola Arepa
www.holaarepa.com
Sometimes unexpected combinations lead to the best kind of entertainment — and eating. By now, everyone knows that Hola Arepa has these fabulous cocktails and a menu that shines like an affordably priced jewel, but have you ever thought to save room for dessert? The pastry menu continually evolves with glorious selections that play at the edge of savory and sweet. Hot Cheeto brittle? Yeah, it’s amazing. Corn-Pops-and-Frito-flecked cookies wrapped around ice cream? Oh, yeah, baby. Bring it on.

The Recollection Collection. Artwork courtesy of Freshwater Theatre

The Recollection Collection. Artwork courtesy of Freshwater Theatre

Recollection Collection
Freshwater Theatre
at Nimbus Theatre
www.freshwatertheatre.com
March 29 – April 8
Freshwater Theatre offers a new anthology production. Recollection Collection will be an evening of short plays focused on the theme of human memory. Writers include James McLindon, Michael Weems, Claudia Haas, Anthony Neuman, Amanda Petefish-Schrag, and Joe Swanson. Freshwater is a group unafraid to wrestle with controversial ideas.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Murray’s Steakhouse
www.murraysrestaurant.com
Revist the dining memories from an earlier era inside this elegant dining room. This classic eatery has managed to remain relevant even as time has marched on. The Silver Butter Knife Steak is not just a culinary legend; it’s real and waiting for you to create all new dining memories to live through the ages.

Annie
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
March 31 – April 5
The classic cartoon strip became one of the most enduring musicals of the past century. Leapin’ Lizards! How can you not love Little Orphan Annie and such singable tunes as “Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You” and the joyously optimistic “Tomorrow?”
—John Townsend

Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play

Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play

Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play
at Guthrie Theater’s McGuire Proscenium Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
March 31 – May 10
Playwright Anne Washburn (The Internationalist) can create a whole new reality with her unique use of language combined with her wild imagination. After the apocalypse, a group of survivors try to recreate an episode of The Simpsons. Named by the New York Times as one of 2013’s 10 Best Plays.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Burch Steak
www.burchrestaurant.com
Don’t have a cow, man. Or, order a grass-fed or corn-finished steak paired with an exquisite cocktail before heading over to the show. It’s all about the sides. Even Sideshow Bob would find something that wouldn’t ignite his fury, like the curly strands of sauerkraut topped with a poached egg. Even those who don’t love the cow, will find plenty of delicious dishes to enjoy at Burch.

Chewing Marbles
Bedlam Theatre
www.bedlamtheatre.org
April 2 – 11
A love story takes over the Bedlam Lowertown, immersing itself in the space from the bar to the stage and beyond. Picture Manhattan meets Company meets silent films, all scored by a live orchestra.
—Shane Lueck

The Other Place
Park Square Theatre, Boss Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
April 3 – 19
Linda Kelsey stars as Juliana, a neuroscientist about to break through to a major advance in Alzheimer’s. But Juliana’s husband has left her. Her daughter has eloped and her health and identity are both on shaky ground. Can she put her life on track? Written by Sharr White and directed by Aditi Kapil.
—John Townsend

And The World Goes ‘Round
The Jungle Theater
www.jungletheater.com
April 3 – May 24
Kander and Ebb gave us Cabaret so bet that And The World Goes ‘Round could potentially soar. Savor lyrics like “Sometimes you’re happy and sometimes you’re sad, but the world goes ’round,” or “life is a cabaret old chum” and “maybe this time she’ll win!” John Command, King of the Upbeat, directs.
—John Townsend

Prelude and Revolt
Martha Graham Dance Company
at Northrop Memorial Auditorium
www.northrop.umn.edu/events
April 10 & 11
Martha Graham has single-handedly defined contemporary dance as a uniquely American art form, which the nation has in turn shared with the world. Showcasing seven works throughout the weekend, Martha Graham’s dance company breathes life into glorious pieces, including The Rite of Spring and Diversion of Angels. Bonus: the first piece of the weekend will feature 33 U of M dance students as part of the extended Martha Graham Dance Company.
—Shane Lueck

Jesus Christ Superstar
The Chameleon Theatre Circle
at The Ames Center
www.ames-center.com
April 10 – 26
When Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice co-created Jesus Christ Superstar they were hailed as sinners and saints. After decades, their way of demystifying the most famous person in western history has taken its place as perhaps the greatest rock musical ever. Presented by award-winning Chameleon Theatre Circle.
—John Townsend

The Crucible

The Crucible

The Crucible
Guthrie Theater’s Wurtele Thrust Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
April 11 – May 24
Arthur Miller’s masterpiece addresses the 17th century Salem witch hunts where certain women were automatically suspected of witchcraft. God-fearing citizens turn their sadistic accusing hands on blameless Elizabeth Proctor, whose husband is also drawn into their punitive malice. Written as a comment on the McCarthy era. Joe Dowling directs.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Travail
www.facebook.com/Travailkitchen
Man, do those Puritans know how to kill a good time. Balance the stuffiness with the most raucous dining experience in the Twin Cities. There is nothing like the full-on tasting menu at Travail. The chefs are serious about the dishes they serve, but the interactive dining experience is unadulterated fun. Yes, you might get a piece of bread lobbed at your head, those Nerf guns might be creatively used, and yeah, your cocktail is smoking.

Blue Stockings
Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio
www.guthrietheater.org
April 15 – 26
Jessica Swale’s new play makes its American premiere. It’s 1896 when Girton College became the first British college to admit women. So the first year class faces real challenges. Directed by Joel Sass with U of M/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Actor Training Program’s Senior Company. See the stars of tomorrow!
—John Townsend

Down Below, or the Womb of the Worlds: A Shadow Opera. Photo by Erik Ruin

Down Below, or the Womb of the Worlds: A Shadow Opera. Photo by Erik Ruin

Down Below, or the Womb of the Worlds: A Shadow Opera
Bedlam Theatre
www.bedlamtheatre.org
April 17 – 26
A feature-length performance incorporating shadow puppetry, live music, and narration based on the life and work of the great surrealist painter and author Leonora Carrington. A “shadow opera,” where live music from Spires That In The Sunset Rise courses throughout the production in a dreamlike fashion, with Erik Ruin’s beautiful projections guiding the way.
—Shane Lueck

Pussy Valley
Mixed Blood Theatre Company
www.mixedblood.com
April 17 – May 10
Four strippers find the poetry and athleticism of live pole dancing. Set in a contemporary MIssissippi strip club, Pussy Valley taps into the lives of women across racial and sexual orientation spectrums. Resilient women facing socio-economic servitude and misogyny make for serious drama. Another bold Mixed Blood choice.
—John Townsend

Next To Normal
Yellow Tree Theatre
www.yellowtreetheatre.com
April 17 – May 17
The breakthrough musical of a woman whose struggle with bipolar disorder causes great pain, not only for her, but for her immediate family. Can she keep them together when her treatments continue to get more and more aggressive? Ben McGovern directs for acclaimed Yellow Tree Theatre.
—John Townsend

Peter Pan
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
April 21 – June 21
A musical version of the children’s classic will send you flying to the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning in Neverland. You’ll see lost boys, pirates, and a crocodile. It’s a new version that the Children’s Theatre has never done before.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Smalley’s
www.smalleyscaribbeanbbq.com
Did you know the guy that owns this place is a real pirate? Well, that and an accomplished chef who used to cook at La Belle Vie. The setting inside this Stillwater restaurant is perfect for kids, with treasure chests and weird wall decor, but it’s the food that is really the star attraction. Inside it’s not just acceptable, but encouraged, that you eat with your hands and suck that sauce right off your fingers. (And be certain to order a side of mac and cheese, it’s pretty much the best thing ever.)

For the Loyal
Illusion Theater
www.illusiontheater.org
April 23 – May 16, 2015
Illusion Theater premieres acclaimed playwright Lee Blessing’s latest. Two heterosexual grad students are expecting a baby. Toby, an assistant sports coach, comes across a secret that threatens their future. Mia, in turn, is faced with some serious ethical choices. Blessing brought us Independence and Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music.
—John Townsend

Detroit ’67
Penumbra Theatre Company
www.penumbratheatre.org
April 23 – May 17
Chelle and Lank inherit their childhood home in Detroit and begin hosting “basement parties” to make ends meet, spinning the newest records to come out of Motown (a risky business as police crackdown on after-hours joints in black neighborhoods). As tensions between police and black residents rise, Chelle and Lank suddenly find themselves in danger. Winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, Detroit ‘67 is a tense, entertaining portrayal of the hazards of idealism at the epicenter of the riot.
—Shane Lueck

Silk Road, Dusty Realms, & Into The Spin. Photo courtesy of James Sewell Ballet

Silk Road, Dusty Realms, & Into The Spin. Photo courtesy of James Sewell Ballet

Silk Road, Dusty Realms, & Into The Spin
James Sewell Ballet
at The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts
www.jsballet.org
April 24 – May 3
Remarkable contemporary music for a remarkable ballet troupe: the sounds of cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Norbert de la Cruz III’s haunting and mysterious Dusty Realms, and verse-maker Dessa are all featured. Eastern traditions, Western traditions, and counter-cultural savvy all come together.
—John Townsend

Carousel
Bloomington Theatre and Art Center
Schneider Theater
www.btacmn.org
April 24 – May 17
Rodgers and Hammerstein loom as colossal co-creators of American musicals. Carousel portrays the ill-fated love between innocent young millworker Julie Jordan and swaggering carousel barker Billy Bigelow. Nonetheless, Billy gets one last magical chance at redemption. Featuring “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “June is Busting Out All Over.”
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Betty Danger’s
www.bettydangers.com
Before going ’round and ’round on the carousel, grab a ‘round-the-way meal on the only food-and-beverage-serving Ferris Wheel in town. Betty Danger’s twisted country club serves Mexhampton-style cuisine: lots of flour tortillas, cheese, and salsa. Even if you’re afraid of heights (or cheese) there’s plenty of pre-show fun to be had at the mini golf course or at the bottom of one of their powerful margaritas.

Happy Days – A New Musical
Minneapolis Musical Theatre and Hennepin Theatre Trust
at New Century Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
April 24 – May 17
The nostalgic television series that glorifies the simple times of the 1950s hits the stage. When Arnold’s malt shop is slated to be razed, a dance contest and wrestling match are held to save it. Will Richie, Potsie, “The Fonz,” and the rest of the gang save it in time?!
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Convention Grill
www.conventiongrillmn.com
We haven’t got an Arnold’s, but we do have a diner that serves great burgers and creamy malts big enough for two straws. This spot has barely changed since first opening and a pair of bobby socks or a letterman jacket would not be out of place here.

Bedroom Farce
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
April 24 – May 17
Alan Ayckbourn is Great Britain’s most popular comedy playwright. He is to the U.K. what Neil Simon is to the U.S. When a married heterosexual couple find their relationship is in trouble they visit the bedrooms of three other couples one night. No playwright captures romantic foibles like Ayckbourn.
—John Townsend

Carmen
Minnesota Opera
at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.mnopera.org
April 25 – May 10
The smoldering femme fatale, Carmen, is one of the most captivating heroines in all of opera. If you don’t know the name, you’ll know the music. Obsession turns deadly when Carmen’s gypsy seductions ensnare both a love-sick soldier and a swaggering toreador. Bizet’s tour de force sizzles in a new staging.
—Shane Lueck

Jersey Boys. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Jersey Boys. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Jersey Boys
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
April 28 – May 3
The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons shows their rise as blue-collar kids to phenomenal chart success. It’s a production that blows your mind with the authenticity of the Valli sound. Features hit songs “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What a Night,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”
—John Townsend

Q Stage
20% Theatre Company Twin Cities
at Intermedia Arts
www.tctwentypercent.org
May 1 – 9
20% Theatre Company’s annual Q-STAGE: New Works Series will show that “queer” means different things to different people. These works consider the word “queer” in terms of radical self-definition. It can relate to personal gender, sexual identity or expression, presentation, artistic approach or content, and more.
—John Townsend

River Road Boogie: The Augie Garcia Story
History Theatre
www.historytheatre.com
May 2 – May 31
This new musical by Joe Minjares explores the life and music of a man who became a Minnesota music legend. After returning home to St. Paul from the Korean War, Augie Garcia created a unique style of music that blended the sounds of his Mexican heritage with R&B. Working his way across the music scene, Garcia made a name for himself and, in 1956, opened for Elvis Presley at the St. Paul Auditorium.
—Shane Lueck

Flying Foot Forum
Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio
www.guthrietheater.org
May 7 – 17
Joe Chvala is a great company choreographer. He has also made his mark as a pre-eminent stage musical choreographer. With his own Flying Foot Forum you will experience the signature percussive dance style along with two of their strongest works, “Red Walls” and “Berserks,” inspired by Norse myth.
—John Townsend

The Language Archive

The Language Archive

The Language Archive
Park Square Theatre, Proscenium Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
May 8 – 31
Playwright Julia Cho illuminates the paradoxical power and impotence of words. A linguist devoted to recording disappearing languages of disappearing cultures is unable to find the words to keep his wife from leaving him. On top of that, his assistant cannot express her feelings toward him. Rick Shiomi directs.
—John Townsend

Camelot
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.ordway.org
May 12 – 17
For “one brief shining moment” there was a place called Camelot. Lerner and Loewe’s Broadway triumph returns with a majestic new staging. King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table are honored with a score that includes “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood,” and “Camelot.”
—John Townsend

War With the Newts
Sandbox Theatre
at Park Square Theatre, Boss Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
May 13 – 30
The physically oriented Sandbox troupe re-imagines Karel ?apek’s 1936 dystopian sci-fi novel with their signature use of stylized movement, language, and design. The dark side of nationalism and free-market economics surface in a cautionary tale about self-destruction. Iconic American playwright Arthur Miller was a great admirer of ?apek’s.
—John Townsend

The Forgery Play
Nimbus Theatre
www.nimbustheatre.com
May 16 – June 14
It is discovered that a major museum has the replica of a masterpiece rather than the real thing. The crime of forgery is juxtaposed with the abstract worlds of Warhol, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp. Nimbus presents a company collaboration that raises questions about the quality and qualities of contemporary art.
—John Townsend

God of Carnage
Bloomington Theatre and Art Center
Black Box Theater
www.btacmn.org
May 21 – June 14
When two couples attempt to work out the damages of an altercation between their young sons, their efforts mutate into an altercation itself. Playwright Yasmina Reza probes the self-deception of liberal straight couples with lacerating intensity. She asks: just when should parents intercede with kids and when should they not?
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Spoon and Stable
www.spoonandstable.com
Release the mounting tension of this production with a meal inside one of the most mesmerizing, elegant dining rooms in the Twin Cities. The space at  Spoon and Stable is a Nordic zen meditation and the meals are simple and stunning. Toss back a stiff cocktail like the beautifully re-imagined Cosmopolitan and steady those nerves.

Juno and the Paycock
at Guthrie Theater’s McGuire Proscenium Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
May 23 – June 28
Joe Dowling of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre came to the Guthrie in the ’90s as the penultimate director of Irish drama. His American star was launched in 1988 on Broadway with Sean O’Casey’s classic set after the Irish Civil War. He revives Juno at the Guthrie. How thrilling is that!
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Paddy Shack at The Half Time Rec
www.halftimerec.com/restaurant/1255742
Every day comedy and tragedy are found leaning against a well-worn bar, shaded from daylight where the regulars know all the bartenders’ best stories. Dive bars are the heart of a hard working neighborhood, but seldom are they accompanied by an innovative menu. Order the deceptively simple chips (that’s Irish for fries) topped with house-made corned beef and snappy, tart cabbage at Paddy Shack inside The Half Time Rec.

Betty’s Summer Vacation
Ames Center
The Chameleon Theatre Circle
www.ames-center.com
May 29 – June 7
Chameleon Theatre Circle goes wild. Gay master playwright Christopher Durang tapped into the serial killer pre-occupation that had gained traction in the 1990s. Atrocity, bisexuality, a crazy landlady, and charades are fodder for Durang’s madcap style. Moreover, there are mysterious laughing voices in the ceiling. Yikes!
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Sandcastle
www.sandcastlempls.com
Celebrate the kickoff of summer at this divine beachside spot that will have only just opened for the season as the show gets rolling. Celebrated local chef Doug Flicker (of Piccolo) is just one of the people behind this outdoor dining concession spot next to Lake Nokomis. Don’t expect any super fancy fare, but instead dive into the Nokomis dog. A snappy bit of tube meat topped with kraut and teeny pickled peppers that closely resemble drops of blood. Perfect, sunny and possibly terrifying, if seen through the right eyes.

William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night
Mu Performing Arts
at Mixed Blood Theatre
www.muperformingarts.org
May 29 – June 14
“If music be the food of love, play on.” Mu Performing Arts is a pan-Asian theater company open to the marriage between East and West. Randy Reyes directs Shakespeare’s cross-gender classic in which shipwrecked Viola dons male apparel to make her way in a new land. Bold identity transformation!
—John Townsend

Black Tie
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
May 29 – June 21
A.R. Gurney loves to make us laugh about the downside of being a wealthy WASP. At his only son’s wedding rehearsal dinner, protagonist Curtis finds that his own family members don’t align with his traditional values. Gurney (Sylvia, The Dining Room) is one of the most widely produced playwrights.
—John Townsend

The Gospel of Lovingkindness
Pillsbury House Theatre
www.pillsburyhouseandtheatre.org
May 29 – June 28
In Chicago, two black boys’ lives are contrasted: one just sang for the President, the other was kicked off the basketball team. Their mothers’ views are also represented. Advantages and disadvantages within black communities are examined in a play that speaks to current chronic violence within the Windy City.
—John Townsend

Space Girl. Image by Justin Spooner and Peter Rusk

Space Girl. Image by Justin Spooner and Peter Rusk

Space Girl
Bedlam Theatre
www.bedlamtheatre.org
April 30 – May 8
Light years from Earth, Space Girl travels to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, battling aliens, robots, and interstellar villainy in her quest to protect the universe. Will our galactic heroine succeed? Find out, as pulp science fiction meets puppet theatre in this low-brow high-tech adventure across the galaxy.
—Shane Lueck

The Illusion
Theatre Pro Rata
at Park Square Theatre, Boss Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
June 10 – 28
Finally, a local production of gay master playwright Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s classic comedy. A sorcerer is tasked by a father to track down his son who has left home to seek his fortune. The young man’s fate doesn’t quite turn out the way the father thought it would.
—John Townsend

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Old Log Theater
www.oldlog.com
June 12 – August 29
A Texas brothel called the Chicken Ranch  has been a pleasure palace since the 1850s. Politicians and college athletes are steady customers but when the puritanical Watchdog brings his television cameras, righteous indignation meets libertarian defiance. Hypocrisy of politicians and athletes vs. the anti-sex brigade! Who will win out?
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Revival
The owners of Corner Table have been teasing this restaurant for what seems like ages, but it’s finally arrived and the fried chicken is glorious. How better to toast the demise of the Chicken Ranch than with a heaping plate of succulent, savory fried chicken?

Choir Boy
Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio
www.guthrietheater.org
June 16 – July 5
Tarell Alvin McCraney (Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet) once again examines homophobia in a black milieu. The conservative African American Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys has a prestigious gospel choir. When highly qualified Pharus wants to take his rightful place as choir leader, his gayness comes into play. Will discrimination win?
—John Townsend

Damn Yankees. Photo courtesy of the Ordway

Damn Yankees. Photo courtesy of the Ordway

Damn Yankees
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.ordway.org
June 16 – 28
Probably the American musical theater’s top sports musical.  A baseball fanatic makes a deal with the devil to transform into a star slugger for his favorite team so they can beat the New York Yankees. A unique take on selling your soul. The Ordway is ideal for big musicals like this one.
—John Townsend

Church Basement Ladies
Plymouth Playhouse
www.plymouthplayhouse.com
June 18 – November 15
In 2005, the first Church Basement Ladies musical became a legendary hit and it now returns. Growing Up Lutheran authors, Janet Letnes and Suzan Nelson, shaped ideas drawn from affectionate memories. A Lutheran church kitchen is the meeting place for women of different generations and viewpoints in a Minnesota town. Delicious delight!
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Haute Dish
www.haute-dish.com
What’s a meal with the church ladies without a fat plate of tater tot hot dish? Chef and owner Landon Schoenefeld is known for taking hearty comfort foods and twisting them into new and innovative dishes. The “haute dish” has been on the menu since they opened the doors on this North Loop eatery. The ladies likely wouldn’t approve: porcini mushrooms, haricot verts, and tender-as-the-night short ribs aren’t exactly like the food of your memories, but there are tots — handmade, ethereal, fried crispy tots. Oh, jah.

Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders
Park Square Theatre, Proscenium Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
June 19 – July 19
Larry Millet’s mystery pays homage to Sherlock Holmes and sets it during St. Paul’s Winter Carnival. A groom goes missing. A bride curiously discards her wedding gown. A corpse turns up in the Ice Palace. Park Square’s annual mystery thriller selection has become a summer tradition. Peter Moore directs.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Public
www.publickitchenstpaul.com
Settling into the lower level bar area inside Public, with its leather couches and low lighting, feels like the room where a Sherlock Holmes mystery would climax. All the suspects are gathered around, sipping cocktails and gnawing on dainty little lamb chops, suspiciously eyeballing each other and the man who stalks the room. At any moment, the chaos could erupt the deceptive calm, although in this gorgeous Lowertown restaurant, the climax might just be a few rounds of dessert.

You Can’t Take It With You
The Jungle Theater
www.jungletheater.com
June 19 – August 9
The Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy of 1937 is a feast of eccentricity and creative expression. A family that lives outside the mainstream is celebrated in all its individuality and free-spirited view of life and living. Director Gary Gisselman has a knack for American drama. This is his Jungle debut.
—John Townsend

3rd Annual Minneapolis One-Minute Play Festival
Walking Shadow Theatre Company
and Southern Theater
www.walkingshadowcompany.org
June 20 – 21
90 plays, 50 playwrights, 1 minute… and counting! Walking Shadow and the Southern Theater present an evening of one-minute plays written by local writers. The One-­Minute Play Festival is America’s largest and longest running short form theatre company in the country. The work attempts to reflect the theatrical landscape of local artistic communities by creating a dialogue between the collective conscious and the individual voice.
—Shane Lueck

The Music Man
at Guthrie Theater’s Wurtele Thrust Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
June 20 – August 23
Meredith Wilson’s Tony-winning classic musical is a sure bet. A con man sets out to organize a boys band in a small Iowa town but his life changes when he meets Marian, the librarian. It’s filled with memorable dynamic tunes such as “Gary, Indiana” and “Seventy-Six Trombones.”
—John Townsend

Once. Photo by Joan Marcus

Once. Photo by Joan Marcus

Once
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at State Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
June 23 – 28
A Dublin busker almost throws in the towel when a beautiful woman suddenly takes an interest in his evocative love songs. As they get to know each other better, his music even gets better. A Broadway smash based on the smash hit independent film. Simply, yet powerfully, staged.
—John Townsend

Don’t Drink the Water
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
July 3 – 26
Woody Allen, known for his vast number of Oscar-winning and -nominated movies, made a big splash in 1966 with this Cold War stage comedy that showcases his famous style of one-liners and gags. An American family is suspected of spying behind the Iron Curtain. A goofy spoof on paranoia.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Moscow on the Hill
www.moscowonthehill.com
The Iron Curtain has lifted and, thankfully, we can eat our pelmeni without provocation. Inside this Cathedral Hill restaurant, the vodka flows freely, the food is hearty, and the patio is one of the best kept secret sanctuaries in the Twin Cities.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
July 7 – August 16
Jules Verne’s classic submarine adventure peers into issues of control, power, and sci-fi of the 19th century with Captain Nemo and sea monsters. Children’s Theatre will use the facility to create an immersive theatrical experience that will put the audience in relationship to the action. A consummate sea odyssey!
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Anchor Fish & Chips
www.theanchorfishandchips.com
You want to see an enormous sea creature? Check out the forearm-sized fried fish inside Anchor Fish & Chips. Just eating that perfectly flaky, fried piece of cod is an adventure.

The Matchmaker. Photo by Richard Fleischman

The Matchmaker. Photo by Richard Fleischman

The Matchmaker
Park Square Theatre, Boss Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
July 9 – 26
Thornton Wilder’s comedy is still a unique look into midlife renewal in the gay 1890s. Now that we’re living longer it’s a classic that demands a revival. Matchmaker widow Dolly Levi is hired by a merchant to find him a wife. And she realizes she wants a spouse, too!
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Corner Table
www.cornertablerestaurant.com
There’s never a moment where you’ll feel more alive, delighted, or stuffed than when working your way through the extraordinary tasting menu at Corner Table. The food is gorgeous, playful, but more than anything, it’s moan-inducing culinary true love.

Stage Kiss
at Guthrie Theater’s McGuire Proscenium Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
July 18 – August 30
Playwright Sarah Ruhl gave us the high-larious In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play). She now brings us a comedy about lovers sharing a stage kiss and actors sharing a real kiss. They lose their bearings as they play romantic leads in a 1930s melodrama. Art imitates life imitates art.
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Restaurant Alma
www.restaurantalma.com
For a fun and romantic night at the theater, begin the experience with a meal inside one of the most romantic restaurants in the Twin Cities. James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Robert’s first restaurant remains a jewel of the dining scene. Settle into the warm ambiance, divine wine list, and the food so pretty it deserves its own close-up.

Kinky Boots. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Kinky Boots. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Kinky Boots
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
July 28 – August 2
Here’s a musical that reaches across the aisle. When drag queen Lola needs some sturdy stiletto heels, a stuffy shoe factory owner has to shift his attitude for the sake of his business. Fun Girl Cyndi Lauper wrote the music and lyrics. Gay playwright legend Harvey Fierstein wrote the book!
—John Townsend

Paired with:
Sassy Spoon
www.sassyspoontruck.com
Bring your verve to this adorable little shop in the Nokomis neighborhood. The dishes are gluten-free, but full of flavor. Our gal Tamara Brown pulled her bright pink truck into a parking spot and launched this new restaurant in February. If you missed the mobile eats, now is the chance to get sassy, before seeing Kinky.

Pirates of Penzance. Photo by Tracy Martin

Pirates of Penzance. Photo by Tracy Martin

Pirates of Penzance
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.ordway.org
August 4 – 16
The sparkling Gilbert and Sullivan classic blends music and farce to swashbuckling delight. Damsels in distress, a pirate king with lots of sex appeal, and a Major-General who is clearly a dingbat, make comedy hay on the high seas. This production has been compared to Spamalot.
—John Townsend

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