2016 Spring Arts & Dining Pairings

Arts Previews by John Townsend
Restaurant Pairings by Andy Lien
Produced by Shane Lueck, Linda Raines, and Hubert Bonnet

 

DJ Latinidad’s Latino Dance Party
Mixed Blood Theatre
www.mixedblood.com
Through March 26
A range of stories from award-winning Latino playwrights, choreographers, DJs, composers, novelists, and comedians — Dominican, Cuban, Mexican, Chilean, Colombian, Chicano, Nuyorican, and Sotarican — molded into a theatrical event by conceiver/director Mark Valdez.

Restaurant Pairing: Chimborazo
www.chimborazorestaurant.com
A small, understated restaurant on Central Avenue in Minneapolis serves up some amazing Ecuadorean food. The sopas, the yuca frita, the hornado con papas of roast pork with llapingachos, mote, and tomato-onion curtido are all on the top of my to-order list. Even better if there’s a night of dancing and stories to follow. Add a little Ecuadorean to a night filled with Dominican, Cuban, Mexican, Chilean, Colombian, Chicano, Nuyorican, and Sotarican.

 

Nina Simone. Photo by Tom Wallace

Nina Simone. Photo by Tom Wallace

Nina Simone: Four Women
Park Square Theatre’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
Through March 26
The political transformation of singer and songwriter Nina Simone has been shaped into a new play by Christina Ham, with music. Preeminent musical theater icon Regina Marie Williams plays Simone. She sings “I Put a Spell on You,” “Feelin’ Good,” and the protest song “Four Women,” among others.

 

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Jungle Theater
www.jungletheater.com
Through March 27
Among the best ever all-female crossgender casts in Twin Cities theater history. The Jungle’s new artistic director, Sarah Rasmussen, has staged a look into male rivalry that thrills and delights with some delicious male turns by Christiana Clark, Mo Perry, and Sha Cage. Packed with gorgeous design elements!

Restaurant Pairing: Scena Tavern
www.scenatavern.com
While the set of the play, with its bold pink and tree-centric stage, reminds me of the nearby-but-no-longer Heidi’s 2.0, the Italian story tells me to go to the new Scena Tavern in Uptown. Get some drinks crafted with Bittercube bitters and have that mouth-watering meatball and the pappardelle with veal tongue Bolognese as you consider climbing to the second floor of this eatery like Christiana Clark flawlessly does in the show. It’s all about Italian with a side of braggadoccio.

 

The Critic/The Real Inspector Hound. Photo by Scott Suchman

The Critic/The Real Inspector Hound. Photo by Scott Suchman

The Critic/The Real Inspector Hound
Guthrie Theater’s McGuire Proscenium Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
Through March 27
Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s nasty 18th century spoof on critics, The Critic, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, is wonderfully contrasted with Tom Stoppard’s highly imaginative spoof on critics, The Real Inspector Hound. Michael Kahn has directed these two gems to deliriously and deliciously funny effect. All performances are spot on!

 

The Dutchman and The Owl Answers
Penumbra Theatre Company
www.penumbratheatre.org
Through March 27
Two classic African American plays from the mid-1960s provide a great opportunity to see two groundbreakers that helped form the discourse on race and racism. Amira Baraka’s The Dutchman penetrates the sexual tensions of an interracial hetero relationship. Adrienne Kennedy’s The Owl Answers examines issues around interracial family history.

 

Country Roads: The Music of John Denver
Plymouth Playhouse
www.plymouthplayhouse.com
Through May 1
John Denver was a songwriter and singer who was country by definition but his work was so poetic and wistful that it had crossover appeal like few artists ever. Dennis Curley as the headliner and a six-piece band deliver favorites like “Rocky Mountain High” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

Restaurant Pairing: The Sheridan Room
www.thesheridanroom.com
In this comfort-food paradise in Northeast Minneapolis, they only spin vinyl. And I can imagine eating my beer can chicken and crooning “Take Me Home, Country Roads” from a table in the back of this gem of a new eatery. The first time I ever ate at The Sheridan Room, I swooned over the grilled cheese sandwich made with my favorite cheese, Prairie Breeze, with apples and the perfect smudge of squash. As said by John Denver, it “fills up my senses.”

 

Blithe Spirit
Old Log Theater
www.oldlog.com
Through May 28
This is perhaps iconic gay comic playwright Noel Coward’s most popular, and certainly his most imaginative, play. A séance is held for the ghost of a man’s dead wife. Katherine Ferrand plays the dotty mystic, Madame Arcati. We wonder if ghosts actually do exist and if we can truly summon them!

 

The Working Dead
Brave New Workshop
www.bravenewworkshop.com
Through June 11
This hilarious new revue is a fresh take on today’s workplace. The micro-aggressions of protocols and procedures at work in this high-tech-crazy culture we have evolved into make for unique comic choices. Performed by the region’s premier comedy theater. For over 50 years they’ve been on the sociopolitical cutting edge!

 

Beauty and The Beast. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp

Beauty and The Beast. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp

Beauty & The Beast
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
www.chanhassendt.com
Through Sept. 3
Standards of beauty are rigorously questioned in the beloved Disney musical based on the beloved Disney film. An enchantress turns a handsome prince into an ugly beast. A young woman named Belle is seen as odd, rather than the beauty she really is. Complete with a walking, talking clock and candlestick!

 

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: The 20th Century Abridged
Guthrie Theater’s Wurtele Thrust Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
March 18–19
Taylor Mac travels from Tin Pan Alley to rock ‘n’ roll with a five-piece band to present 240 years of music. Mac is one for pushing the boundaries. From the daringly satirical Hir to this 24-decade history, Mac is a rigorous challenger of general assumptions about gender.

 

Love Person. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

Love Person. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

Love Person
Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
March 18–April 10
The mysteries of bilingual relationships are explored in this new incarnation of Aditi Kapil’s play which first premiered at Mixed Blood in 2008. Since then, it won the Stavis Playwriting Award and has been widely produced. Sexual orientation, technology, and differently abled issues are part of the whole picture.

 

The Secret Garden
Theatre in the Round
www.theatreintheround.org
March 18–April 17
Sylvia Ashby’s adaptation of the Frances Hogsdon Burnett children’s classic is a proverbial child’s mystery and adventure story. When Mary Lennox explores a gloomy old estate she finds a garden that has been locked up for a very long time. Ashby adapted last TRP season’s popular Anne of Green Gables.

Restaurant Pairing: Marin Restaurant & Bar
www.marinrestaurant.com
There’s something about the stately interior of Marin and the somewhat hidden patio just along Hennepin Avenue that reminds me of the wonderful show, The Secret Garden. I can see a kid sneaking around the library in the lower level, but maybe not stopping for a drink like I’d recommend you do. The way our weather’s been warming up lately, by the time the performance opens, perhaps you can consider dining al fresco in the courtyard before the show? Take a hint from the story: live a little.

Watermelon Hill
History Theatre
www.historytheatre.com
March 19–April 10
We are hearing more about unwed pregnant mothers giving up their babies to adoption under the influence of the Catholic Church. History Theatre reflects on a local account of such a story from 1965. The young females were given a new name and strict instructions for secrecy.

 

An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein and Table 12: A Play at a Wedding
Freshwater Theatre Company
at Phoenix Theater
www.freshwatertheatre.com
March 19–April 3
An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein kicks off the evening, under the direction of Ariel Leaf, revisiting the darkly comic adult world of Shel Silverstein, where nothing is as it seems and where the most innocent conversation can turn menacing in an instant. Then, we welcome you to Table 12If you’re seated here, the bride and groom would prefer to avoid you – and for good reason. Your waiter will be by with drinks, food…and restraining orders.

 

Animal Dance. Photo by Dan Norman

Animal Dance. Photo by Dan Norman

Animal Dance
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
March 22–May 1
Preschoolers and adults can see choreographer and performance artist Ann Carlson will have us stamp our hooves and clap our paws with animal friends. It’s a quest for self-expression and understanding. Be very aware that although CTC shows are made for children, adults are apt to find it’s some of the best theater around for any age.

 

ODORI-BA – dancing places
Nenkin Butoh Dan
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
March 23–25
Three different locations in the Southern Theater and three simultaneous performances will feature Nenkin Butoh Dan (Masanari Kawahara, Dustin Maxwell, and Gadu). The performances will not be repeated twice in the same space. A sign that the Southern is a great place to go for the unconventional.

Restaurant Pairing: Zen Box Izakaya
www.zenboxizakaya.com
Japanese dance theater pairs well with Japanese food theater. From the moment I’m greeted while coming through the door of Zen Box Izakaya until the moment I leave with a similar verbal departure, I feel like I’m a part of a flavorful food production. Go with a group, order at least eight dishes, and enjoy the show.

 

Coriolanus & The Normal Heart
New Epic Theater
at The Lab Theater
www.newepictheater.org
March 24–April 16
New Epic Theater runs Shakespeare’s tragedy about a Roman general and his domineering mother in repertory with Larry Kramer’s groundbreaking play about the rise of AIDS. The same cast of eight local actors will perform the plays. Featuring Torsten Johnson (Colossal, One Arm) and Guthrie veteran Michelle O’Neill.

 

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Photo by Daniel A. Swalec

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Photo by Daniel A. Swalec

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
March 29–April 3, 2016
It’s perhaps Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lightest musical, but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat never loses its following. This production is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Andy Blankenbuehler. The biblical story of Joseph and the coat of many colors includes the tunes “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door.”

 

A Night With Janis Joplin. Photo by Joan Marcus

A Night With Janis Joplin. Photo by Joan Marcus

A Night With Janis Joplin
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.ordway.org
March 29–April 3
Polarizing singer Janis Joplin haunts us to this very day. Her distinct voice and her music style that ranged from the melodic to vocal extremes came to an untimely death in 1970 of a heroin overdose. Influenced by rhythm and blues and the Beat scene, she rebelled against her restrictive Texas upbringing.

 

C.
Theater Latté Da
at The Ritz Theater
www.theaterlatteda.com
March 30–April 24
Bradley Greenwald and Robert Elhai’s new musical adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s classic play, Cyrano de Bergerac, is the definitive story of yearning to be loved by someone we think could not love us. Latté Da has been producing some terrific new musicals!

 

Buyer and Cellar
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at New Century Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
March 31–April 24
Charismatic Sasha Andreev exposes the cult of Barbra Streisand in this strange and acclaimed one-person show that uses Babs’s own pictorial book, My Passion for Design, as a satirical springboard. Andreev gets to run the basement mall in the diva’s Malibu basement. (“Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready for My Close Up.”)

 

Catch Me If You Can
The Ames Center
www.ames-center.com
April 1–24
One of Steven Spielberg’s lighter films became an even better stage musical. A teenaged boy impersonates a doctor, a lawyer, a pilot, and forges checks big time. This impostor is pursued by the FBI. Based on a true story, going to show that fact can be stranger than fiction.

 

Twitch
Mathew Janczewski’s ARENA Dances
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
April 1–24
Mathew Janczewski’s ARENA Dances is celebrating its 20-year history. Twitch features selected works from the company’s repertoire and world premiere quartet, Picturing That Day, inspired by the artwork of Jim Hodges and the music of Irving Berlin.

 

Cheer Up Gary
Four Humors
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
April 8–22
What if cheering up people was turned into a business? The UltimateCheerUp packages from Four Humors may be just what you need. You’ll get lots of interesting options at the Southern Theater when you choose to be cheered up by the wild folks from Four Humors.

 

Violet. Photo by Woodford Sisters Photography

Violet. Photo by Woodford Sisters Photography

Violet
Yellow Tree Theatre
www.yellowtreetheatre.com
April 8–May 8
Violet has become a classic and is being produced by a small theater company with an impressive track record with musicals. A woman with a disfigured face in the 1960s looks for a miracle. She hops a Greyhound for Oklahoma to meet a televangelist she believes will provide that.

 

Harvey
Guthrie Theater’s Wurtele Thrust Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
April 9–May 15
The 1945 Pulitzer Prize for Drama went to Mary Chase for her hilariously imaginative tale of a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey. Here’s a bona fide classic written by a woman that has never gotten the full respect it deserves. Harvey’s human friend, Elwood, threatens his stuffy family’s reputation and his sister tries to commit him!

Restaurant Pairing: The Rabbit Hole
www.eatdrinkrabbit.com
This pairing was a gimme. A production with plenty of whimsy requires a meal of the same flair. This delightfully designed restaurant in Midtown Global Market serves up Koreatown-style dishes with names as funny as a six-foot-tall rabbit, like the Bop Bowls and The Harold and Kumar Poutine. Don’t forget an order of the Van Damme Good Brussels. They’re damn good.

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical – Premiere
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
April 12–June 5
A boy named Greg Heffley is structurally at odds with the environment he lives in. Jeff Kinney’s book series has been adapted into a new musical and is produced in special arrangement with Fox Stage Productions and former Ordway president and Rent producer, Kevin McCollom. It’s great to see the plight of boys put on stage!

 

Bullets Over Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Bullets Over Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Bullets Over Broadway
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.ordway.org
April 12–17
The classic Woody Allen film comedy tells of a young playwright in need of financial backing for his next show. As you might expect, it’s New York and the mob and a showgirl figure into it. Its director and choreographer are of Tony fame: Susan Stroman. A stellar example of a wonderful film becoming a wonderful stage work!

 

Sunset Baby
Penumbra Theatre
www.penumbratheatre.org
April 12–May 8
The disintegration of idealism is portrayed as two people face the unimaginable: their dreams of revolution being undone from within by drugs and conspiracy, as well as brutalization in the streets. Penumbra is America’s flagship African American theater. Where do these drugs come from? Who or what originates these conspiracies, real or not?

 

Earthquakes in London
Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio
www.guthrietheater.org
April 13–April 24
Three daughters struggle with their father’s apocalyptic view of the world’s not-too-distant future in Mark Bartlett’s epic play that spans from 1968 to 2525. Presented by the U of M/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Actor Training Program senior class of 2016. A perfect play for our time when so many doomsayers are so worried!

 

Fiddler on the Roof
Artistry
Schneider Theater, Bloomington Center for the Arts
www.artistrymn.org
April 14–May 8
The final years of Tsarist Russia and the poverty and oppression of its Jewish denizens is one of the greatest Broadway musicals. Bask in such splendid tunes as “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Anatevka,” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” Few musicals address the problem of change as we go through life as poignantly as Fiddler.

 

Constellations
The Jungle Theater
www.jungletheater.com
April 15–May 29
The theories of relativity and quantum mechanics play into this acclaimed look into romance between two people. It is also the play that made Jake Gyllenhall a bona fide stage star and not just a movie superstar. In Minneapolis, Ron Menzel and Anna Sundberg star in the local premiere!

 

Lasso of Truth
Walking Shadow Theatre Company
at Playwrights’ Center
www.walkingshadowcompany.org
April 15–May 1
William Marston, inventor of the lie-detector machine, created the preeminent female superhero, Wonder Woman. This play features the two women Marston lived with in a polyamorous relationship. Both women inspired the superhero. Polyamory is one of those taboo topics that seems to finally be getting airing!

 

Six Characters in Search of an Author. Photo by Aaron Fenster

Six Characters in Search of an Author. Photo by Aaron Fenster

Six Characters in Search of an Author
Park Square Theatre’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
April 19–May 8
Imagine a group of people who claim to have sprung from the imagination of an author. They invade in the form of a mysterious, uninvited family on the set of The Maze, a reality TV show reminiscent of Orwell’s Big Brother. Director/writer Alan Berks brilliantly comments on social reality and celebrity.

 

Sleeping Beauty
Ballet Minnesota
at The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University
www.oshag.stkate.edu
April 22–23
Only the kiss of a handsome prince can awaken her. Little fairies watch over and all of our fantasies about true love and happily ever after are manifested in this enchanted timeless tale. St. Catherine University’s O’ Shaughnessy Auditorium has become a serious destination for dance.

 

Band It, Chopin Studies, and Excerpts from Seasons
James Sewell Ballet
at The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts
www.jsballet.org
April 22–May 1
American band music, Nashville Ballet Artistic Director Paul Vasterling’s Seasons, and a reprise of Sewell’s Chopin Studies with live piano accompaniment by Tadeusz Majewski. JSB has evolved into a preeminent ballet company, perhaps the region’s best. They blur the categories between classicism, contemporary, and camp in a masterful way.

 

Charm. Photo by Rich Ryan

Charm. Photo by Rich Ryan

Charm
Mixed Blood Theatre
www.mixedblood.com
April 22–May 8
Mama Darleena is an African American trans woman in her 60s teaching an etiquette class to trans youth experiencing homelessness in Chicago. Her students include a Latina trans woman, a cisgender couple, a local gang member, and a gay suburban teen. They all struggle with each other and their circumstances.

 

Who Has Eyes To See
Uprising Theatre Company
at Andrew Riverside Presbyterian Church
www.uprisingtheatreco.com
April 29–May 7
Shannon T.L. Kearns has written and will play the lead character, Jamie, in a story of a transgender man who is called home by his mother because his sister is in trouble. Being back in touch with his mother and his wife, Jamie sees that life has changed drastically.

 

Leap of Faith
Minneapolis Musical Theatre
at New Century Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
April 29–May 22
When the “Reverend” Jonas Nightingale’s bus breaks down in a small Kansas town, he works his traveling ministry mystification on the gullible in a revival tent. However, he meets with resistance from the sheriff and a local woman who see him as dishonest. Based on the ’90s Steve Martin movie hit.

Restaurant Pairing: Revival
www.revivalmpls.com
Unlike the show about a poser faith-healer, there’s nothing huckster about this joint. The fried chicken is the real deal and the burger is just as soul-saving. As in Leap of Faith, you’ll find yourself yelling “One more!” as you ponder your future and well-being. Simply put, if you don’t already have it, you will find religion at Revival. Now, if we could just get Steve Martin to Minneapolis to serve us some hush puppies, it’d be perfect.

 

Kid Simple: a radio play in the flesh
Swandive Theatre
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
April 29–May 22
A girl invents a machine for hearing sounds that cannot be heard. When the machine is stolen, she teams up with the last boy virgin in the eleventh grade and discovers a fantastical realm where sound is not what we have been made to think it is.

 

The House of Blue Leaves
Theatre in the Round
www.theatreintheround.org
April 29–May 22
John Guare’s comedy probes the foibles of a family in Sunnyside, Queens. Artie dreams of writing songs for Hollywood and loathes his wife. The Pope is coming to Yankee Stadium. Their manic son is AWOL from the army. One of the great American plays of the 1960s.

 

Complicated Fun
History Theatre
www.historytheatre.com
April 30–May 29
Ever wonder how Minneapolis became such a mecca for underground music? Explore the world of First Avenue and the ’80s scene: the Replacements, the Suicide Commandos, Hüsker Dü, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and of course, The Suburbs. The era of Ronald Reagan and Rubik’s cubes is reflected in remembrance of alternative music.

 

Big Pants & Botox
Plymouth Playhouse
www.plymouthplayhouse.com
May 5–Aug. 14
Turning 50 can be a traumatic event for many of us. Kimberly Richards of Late Nite Catechism fame plays in this comedy by Girls Night author, Louis Roche. Aging need not be something dreadful. Maybe the less serious we take it, the more we explore the lighter side of it.

 

Cinderella 1944: A Love Story
Ames Center’s Black Box Theatre
www.ames-center.com
May 6–8
The timeless fairy tale is reimagined in England during World War II when the Nazis were trying to bomb the country to Kingdom Come. Twin Cities Ballet artistic director Denise Vogt interviewed her English relatives about their experiences of that dreadful time as background.

 

The Sparrow. Photo by Eric Melzer

The Sparrow. Photo by Eric Melzer

The Sparrow
Live Action Set
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
May 6–20
There is a cycle to life and to all things in life. A crew of sailors see the arrival of a sparrow as the end of their long journey. The inventively physical Live Action Set celebrates these cycles with an emphasis on life’s joyous possibilities as they blur the edges of genre definitions.

 

Trouble In Mind
Guthrie Theater’s McGuire Proscenium Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
May 7–June 5
Before Lorraine Hansberry, there was Alice Childress (1916–1994), one of the towering African American playwrights. That the Guthrie is finally producing one of her plays should be shouted from the mountaintops! Set in New York, 1957, as rehearsals begin for a racially integrated production.

 

The Shining
Minnesota Opera
at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.mnopera.org
May 7–15
Stephen King’s iconic novel becomes an opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell (Silent Night, The Manchurian Candidate). Campbell is in a class by himself as an opera script writer who has an utterly visionary sense of turning great novels (and films) into operatic powerhouses.

Restaurant Pairing: The Commodore
www.thecommodorebar.com
The reborn sparkling gem of Cathedral Hill in St. Paul, The Commodore gets me in the mood for an operatic, downward spiral story. I wouldn’t mind losing my mind as I wonder if I’m really talking to the bartender at one of The Commodore’s glorious art deco bars, or if it’s a ghost from the past when Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald used to reside in one of the apartments above. The liquors are bootleg-distance local and the food is delectable. Watch for the trick hallway, though. While there aren’t any ghostly twins to be seen, there’s a mirror that might make for a rough night.

 

The Book of Mormon. Photo by Joan Marcus

The Book of Mormon. Photo by Joan Marcus

The Book of Mormon
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
May 10–29
This mischievous musical captures the sardonically snarky world of post-9/11 resignation. Nothing is sacred, from the Mormon Church to Ugandan AIDS sufferers. Creator Trey Parker wants us to stop being so serious and have a laugh. A seriously successful musical, to be sure.

 

2016 Q-STAGE: NEW WORKS SERIES
20% Theatre Company Twin Cities
at Intermedia Arts
www.tctwentypercent.org
May 12–22
Four experimental new works from local queer artists. This experimental series supports local, queer artists and performance-makers who need a stage and resources to further develop and share new work for each other and a public audience. Selected artists engage in a six-month development process.

 

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha
Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio
www.guthrietheater.org
May 13–22, 2016
The Four Humors group takes the Don Quixote archetype, putting the artist and the actor into a collaboration of sorts, to create a new reality, or is it an illusion of reality? What if you can’t leave that “unreal” world? Will the Man of La Mancha be able to continue in that world or not?

 

Blithe Spirit
Artistry
Black Box Theater, Bloomington Center for the Arts
www.artistrymn.org
May 19–June 12
Gay master playwright Noel Coward’s zany look at an English novelist who invites a medium to hold a séance, reels in the laughs when the ghost of his temperamental first wife decides to haunt the house. A humorous look at what, for many, is a scary subject. That’s Coward for you!

 

Queens
Sandbox Theatre
Park Square Theatre’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
May 19–June 4
The time is the early 1900s, a generation after the Civil War, and an aging African American boxer is preparing for his final fight. Jim Crow America is new territory for the inventive Sandbox Theatre; an eagerly awaited production.

 

Sons of the Prophet
Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
May 20–June 5
Stephen Karam’s Pulitzer Prize-finalist play looks into the lives of a family whose roots are in Lebanon and now live in the U.S. Family issues, the problem of chronic pain, and insurance make this very much a play of our time. Sasha Andreev plays the gay protagonist in a production directed by Jef Hall-Flavin.

 

The Christians
Walking Shadow Theatre Company
at Mixed Blood Theatre
www.walkingshadowcompany.org
May 20–June 11
Lucas Hnath’s play looks into a church in which an announcement by its pastor changes the very identity of how the congregation regards itself. The dramatic structure is of a live sermon. In recent years, American theater has done much to redefine how we think of Christianity.

 

Scapegoat
Pillsbury House + Theatre
www.pillsburyhouseandtheatre.org
May 27–June 26
The place is Elaine, Arkansas, 1919. Black sharecroppers Effie and Virgil are trying to organize for better wages but are violently thwarted by white residents. This leads to one of the biggest race riots in U.S. history. Written by the accomplished Christina Ham. Part two muses on the effects of this in the future.

 

Buried Child. Photo courtesy of The Southern Theater

Buried Child. Photo courtesy of The Southern Theater

Buried Child
Red Bird Theatre
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
May 27–June 19
Buried Child looms to this day, in the eyes of many, as Sam Shepard’s greatest play. Director Genevieve Bennett is a fine choice to direct this examination of a Midwestern family’s violent dysfunction, chronic secrecy, and a son who comes to break the negative cycle.

 

Macbeth
Chameleon Theatre Circle
Black Box Theatre at the Ames Center
www.ames-center.com
June 3–12
Chameleon Theatre Circle stages Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy, revealing what can happen when ambition is put into motion by merciless bloodletting. A royal couple personifies a sick relationship wherein each brings out the worst in the other. So how can they stop the horrific momentum they’ve launched?

 

Sense And Sensibility. Poster courtesy of Theatre in the Round

Sense And Sensibility. Poster courtesy of Theatre in the Round

Sense and Sensibility
Theatre in the Round
www.theatreintheround.org
June 3–26
No one has examined the subtleties of the female/male relationship like the great Jane Austen. Almost two centuries after her time when she had to hide her manuscripts because she was a woman, it’s bittersweet to know that her novels have been adapted regularly into plays. Here we see two sisters and their opportunities for marriage.

Restaurant Pairing: Betty Danger’s Country Club
www.bettydangers.com
Have you seen Austenland? You really need to. It’s about how we love to live in the era of Jane Austen, but how life just isn’t made to be that way today. So, as homage to then with an update for now, I recommend heading over to Betty Danger’s Country Club before Sense and Sensibility to see how propriety can be flipped on its ear when pomp and circumstance have gone amok, ladies first. The food is fantastic, the drinks are frilly, and the ferris wheel is anything but sense and sensibility.

 

Ballad of the Pale Fisherman
Transatlantic Love Affair
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
June 3–July 17
One of the region’s best physical theaters reprises one of its best productions. A woman who happens to be a seal falls in love with a fisherman and must choose between land and sea. Song, movement, multiple role playing, and dreamy transitions make this an ideal small-scale production.

 

Million Dollar Quartet
Old Log Theater
www.oldlog.com
June 10, 2016–Jan. 21, 2017
How can you go wrong with the reenactment of four legendary rock ‘n’ rollers in a storefront studio in Memphis, 1956? Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley mix it up in the one and only time these four icons-to-be played together. A rock jam session for the ages.

 

Orpheus Unsung
Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio
www.guthrietheater.org
June 16–18
This you don’t want to miss! This world premiere production will feature S? Percussion’s Jason Treuting and musicians of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Kaleidoscopic cinematic imagery and dance shape this “opera without words.” Grammy Award-winning composer Steven Mackey in collaboration with percussionist/composer Treuting.

 

TOT: THE UNTOLD, YET SPECTACULAR STORY OF (A FILIPINO) HULK HOGAN
Mu Performing Arts
at Park Square Theater
www.muperformingarts.org
June 16–26
An immigrant boy travels from the oppressive Ferdinand Marcos-ruled Philippines to the San Francisco Bay Area to meet his long-lost parents. From the profound difficulties of military rule to profound loneliness in the U.S., his subconscious conjures a pro-wrestling fantasy to escape into.

 

Calendar Girls
Park Square Theatre’s Proscenium Stage
www.parksquaretheatre.org
June 17–July 24
Raising funds for a charity compels a group of women to pose in the buff for a calendar behind flowers and cakes. While showing their outer beauty to the world they discover their own inner beauty. Out of this emerges a sense of vulnerability in unison with bonds of friendship.

 

Le Switch
The Jungle Theater
www.jungletheater.com
June 17–July 31
Playwright Philip Dawkins muses on what occurs when marriage equality reaches the U.S. When circumstances send David to Montreal, he falls in love with a florist unexpectedly. What happens when a gay man who has never been allowed to marry finds that he can? How does his self-image change?

 

South Pacific
Guthrie Theater’s Wurtele Thrust Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
June 18–Aug. 28
New Guthrie Artistic Director Joe Haj is passionate about theater reaching across cultural barriers. He has astutely chosen the great Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that looks at two Americans in love, one with a European and one with a Polynesian. Its gorgeous tunes include “Bali Hai” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”

 

The Bridges of Madisson County. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The Bridges of Madisson County. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The Bridges of Madison County
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
June 21–26
Speaking to our hopes for a second chance, an Iowa housewife and a photographer happen into an unexpected romance which shatters their self-perceptions. Based on the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, it stands as a significant look at middle-aged love and the musical version won two Tony Awards.

 

The Jungle Book
Old Log Theater
www.oldlog.com
June 21–Aug. 12
A new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved children’s novel imagines a lost boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungles. Befriended by a laid-back bear and protected by a regal panther, young Mowgli navigates his elemental way that doesn’t rely on human connection, but with connection of animal nature.

 

The Beginning of Things
Dance and Other Behaviors
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
June 23–26
Bold physicality and experimental narrative storytelling infuse the work of Dance and Other Behaviors. Those who also want something familiar, yet groundbreaking in its time, will be interested in a solo work inspired by the landmark feminist fiction narrative, The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Another notable Southern dance opportunity.

 

The Lion King. Photo by Joan Marcus

The Lion King. Photo by Joan Marcus

The Lion King
Hennepin Theatre Trust
at Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
July 5–Aug. 7
See this great and inventive Disney musical, maybe the best Disney musical ever, in the very theater where it was developed. Director Julie Taymor integrated masks, puppets, beguiling visuals, and profound and funny animal characterizations drawn from the enormously popular movie. But it’s better than the movie!

 

Jeeves Intervenes
Theatre in the Round
www.theatreintheround.org
July 8–31
The archetype of the valet/butler was penned by P.G. Wodehouse. Jeeves is the very picture of smoothness and sophistication as he stands by his idle employer and friend, playboy Bertie. Where would those rich folks be if their underlings didn’t look out for them?

 

A Hill in Natchez
Joseph Horton
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
July 14–17
A scenic hill turns into a bizarre bazaar where humans are sold. Music, visuals, and dance tell of a man and a woman caught up in it all. A comment on the New World where new symbols evolve that reflect violence, seduction, and laws asserted by a dubious new power structure.

 

Disgraced
Guthrie Theater’s McGuire Proscenium Stage
www.guthrietheater.org
July 16–Aug. 28
Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and nominated for the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play, playwright Ayad Akhtar gives us a dramatic New York dinner party through which issues of material success, religion, art, and allegiances are thrashed out.

Restaurant Pairing: Eastside
www.eastsidempls.com
Because it’s near the Guthrie, is called Eastside, and screams “dinner party” for lovers of art and the finer things, I choose this restaurant for Disgraced. Not because it’s a disgrace in any way, but I can honestly see myself yelling across a table or flinging a Campari-red drink at a friend while the spicy chicken sandwich heats me up from the inside-out. Eastside looks calm, cool, and collected, but its food gives way to a more passionate buildup.

 

First Nights of a Foot Flight!
Eclectic Edge Ensemble
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
July 21–24
Eclectic Edge Ensemble and Artistic Director Karis Sloss give us an evening of jazz dance. It will probably make you want to move! Newly composed music, concert works by Sloss, guest choreographers, not to mention sneak peek moments from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a future full-length work.

 

A Boy and His Soul
Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio
www.guthrietheater.org
Aug. 9–28
OBIE and Lucille Lortel Award and Tony-nominee Colman Domingo shares his acclaimed performance about coming of age as an African American in Philadelphia in the 1970s and ’80s. This show played to rave reviews at New York’s Vineyard Theatre. An example of the Guthrie’s diverse style in its new era.

 

Rhythmically Speaking 2016
Rhythmically Speaking
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
Aug. 18–20
This annual showcase of choreographers inspired by jazz and rhythm features talent from the Twin Cities both emerging and established. It suits the Southern Theater in its rebirth as a significant center for innovative performance work. It also serves as a reminder that the Twin Cities has a thriving jazz scene.

 

600 Years
Sandbox Theatre
at The Southern Theater
www.southerntheater.org
Aug. 26–Sept. 18
What if original sin were debatable and it was finally clarified that people are basically good? Imagine six centuries from now when murder and deceit no longer exist and women take extraordinary risks and face unprecedented danger to save humanity from extinction. Watch Sandbox employ its signature physical style.

 

Bars and Measures
The Jungle Theater
www.jungletheater.com
Aug. 26–Oct. 9
A universal problem: whether those things that divide us can either drive us apart or lead to reconciliation. Imagine two brothers. Classical music versus jazz. Christian versus Muslim. Living free or behind bars. This stands as one of the fine examples of Jungle Theater producing major new plays.

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