2017 Fall Arts & Dining Pairings

Produced by Linda Raines & Andy Lien
Arts Pairings by John Townsend
Dining Pairings by Bradley Traynor

Fool For Love
Dark & Stormy Productions
www.darkstormy.org
through Sept. 16, 2017
The great Sam Shepard passed away in Kentucky at the same time this revival was in rehearsal. No one wrote of the decaying sense of life in the American West as piercingly as Shepard. And Fool for Love takes family dysfunction to the level of Greek tragedy. Dark & Stormy can be expected to really live into this dark yet beautiful gem of a tragedy.

 

Ghost: The Musical
Old Log Theater
www.oldlog.com
through Sept. 23, 2017
Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Bruce Joel Rubin, adapted the film into among the best stage musicals that originated onscreen. When a young man dies unexpectedly, his spirit still lingers as he senses that the surviving woman he loved is in grave danger. The different dimensions are navigated by an eccentric psychic whose capacities are visionary.

Pairing: 6Smith
You could always keep it simple and dine at Cast & Cru, the restaurant attached to the Old Log Theater, but if you’re looking for another option in the area, you can’t go wrong with the lakeside deliciousness of 6Smith. Whether you’re in a burger mood (don’t miss Burger Friday) or fancy a fancier feast (the steaks are incomparable), this scenic eatery is a scene-stealer all its own.
www.6smith.com

 

The Looney Lutherans in Livin’ La Vida Lutheran! Photo by Tammy Brice

The Looney Lutherans in Livin’ La Vida Lutheran!
Plymouth Playhouse
www.plymouthplayhouse.com
through Oct. 21, 2017
All roads lead to hotdish in this goofy-but-affectionate slice of Lutheran life which has become a staple subject at Plymouth Playhouse. A lovably madcap trio not only promotes a new cookbook, but a “lifestyle guide” as well. Plymouth Playhouse has achieved something remarkable in our time of vicious satire. They remind us that satire doesn’t always have to be mean.

 

Grease. Photo by Dan Norman

Grease
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
www.chanhassentheatres.com
through Oct. 28, 2017
The bestselling production in the history of the nation’s premiere dinner theater company is back. If anything ever captured our fixation on the high school ideal of the late 1950s it was Grease. When it first opened in Chicago in 1971, Grease presaged such iconic ’50s nostalgia vehicles like the film American Graffiti and the television hit Happy Days. Come hang out with the Burger Palace Boys and the Pink Ladies!

 

Guardians of the Fallacy – Executive Disorder
Brave New Workshop
www.bravenewworkshop.com
through Oct. 28, 2017
That roller-coaster known as The Trump White House is given a roller-coaster ride of a revue at the region’s premiere comedy theater. The attitudes of his strong supporters and his strong detractors makes for hilarious skits about Presidential Libraries, a Wagnerian version of Hillary Clinton from the marvelous Lauren Anderson, and and interracial gay couple that sees through the phoniness of “warm and fuzzy” propaganda.

Pairing: Little T’s (Little Tijuana)
A fun night out, full of laughter, deserves an equally fun meal, full of chips. Oh, the tortilla chips at Little T’s. If you’ve never had the chips “fried,” you haven’t lived. And don’t underestimate the burger. I know what you’re saying, “Really? A burger?” Trust me. Get the Whittier burger and you’ll literally send me a thank-you note.
www.littletjs.com

 

We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!
Candid Theater Company
at The Black Forest Inn
www.candidtheaterco.com
Sept. 1, 6-8, 2017
Dario Fo’s classic farce spoofs the outrage over rising prices of common necessities. Protesting women stuff food and other items in their clothing, with one of them pretending to be pregnant. This may be Candid Theater’s first comedy, but given their longstanding and excellent grasp of political commentary, this production is clearly a sure bet.

Pairing: The Black Forest Inn
Lucky for you, dear theater-goer, this production takes place within the walls of a Minneapolis dining tradition worthy of your custom. The Black Forest Inn is festooned with tasty old world charm. German classics and a beer garden vibe make it the perfect before and/or after theater spot.
www.facebook.com/blackforestinn

 

Taking Steps
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
Sept. 8–Oct. 1, 2017
Alan Ayckbourn is to British theater what Neil Simon is to American theater. Like Simon, his plays are widely produced, beloved, and accessible to general audiences because of their universal take on love and relationships. In Taking Steps a tycoon who loves his liquor wants to buy an old mansion. When his lawyer, a contractor, his unhappy wife, his brother-in-law, and others show up, they chase one another from room to room. A farce that TRP’s arena stage will facilitate nicely.

 

Romeo and Juliet
Wurtele Thrust Stage, Guthrie Theater
www.guthrietheater.org
Sept. 9–Oct. 28, 2017
The most popular drama of all time is revived once again by the nation’s flagship regional theater. A feud between two families comes to a head when two of their young members fall in forbidden love and refuse to be separated. Bitter resentment vs. idealistic romance in William Shakespeare’s heart-wrenching story of star-crossed lovers.

 

Aliens with Extraordinary Skills. Photo courtesy of Theatre Unbound

Aliens With Extraordinary Skills
Theatre Unbound
at Gremlin Theatre
www.theatreunbound.com
Sept. 9–24, 2017
The roadblocks set up for immigrant entertainers is the subject of this fast-paced comedy by Saviana Stanescu. When a clown named Nadia, who hails from the Republic of Moldava, receives a deportation order, she goes into hiding in New York City. Produced by Theatre Unbound, the region’s premiere feminist theater group.

 

The Abominables
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
Sept. 12–Oct. 15, 2017
Competition between high school athletes takes center stage at the Children’s Theatre Company. Mitch expects to be a star player for the A Team in the Great State of Hockey. However, things change when a new kid shows up at tryouts. A brand new hockey musical, made in Minnesota.

 

Photo by Cade Martin

In The Heights
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.ordway.org
Sept. 12–24, 2017
The Grammy and Tony Award-winning hit that brought the rhythms of three generations of music to the Great White Way gets a Broadway-caliber staging by the Ordway. The vibrant Latino community of New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood is the setting where wonderful tunes like Hundreds of Stories and Sunrise are sung. This is the final production of outgoing Ordway producing artistic director James Rocco.

 

Man of La Mancha
Theater Latté Da
at The Ritz Theater
www.theaterlatteda.com
Sept. 13–Oct. 22, 2017
Dream the impossible dream in one of the most beloved of musicals. Theater Latté Da presents the 20th century classic based on another classic, the 17th century novel, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantez. The juxtaposition of impossible idealism with the ragged reality of poverty as well as the degradation of the body and the soul are movingly examined.

 

Aladdin. Photo by Deen Van Meer

Aladdin
Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
Sept. 15–Oct. 8, 2017
Remember Aladdin and his wonderful lamp from your childhood? The producer of The Lion King creates a new production that emanates of the magic and mysticism of the original source. When a charming street urchin with a checkered past and a princess connect with one another, things turn deadly. But a visit to a cave moves the hand of Fate.

Pairing: Mercy
Right across the street from the Orpheum, I can’t think of a better comfort food classic to pair with one of my favorites Disney classics. Executive chef Mike Rakun and his business partner wife Abby Rakun are telling a story with Mercy, just as inviting and even more delicious than the one you’ll watch on the other side of Hennepin.
www.mercympls.com

 

Henry and Alice: Into the Wild
Boss Stage, Park Square Theatre
www.parksquaretheatre.org
Sept. 15–Oct. 22, 2017
Dreams of a comfortable retirement are threatened when Henry loses his job. This throws him and his wife, Alice, into a midlife tailspin. So to sort things out they forego their plans at a summer cottage. Their alternative is a camping trip guided by the wisdom of Camping for Dummies. But will this recharge their relationship?!

Pairing: Meritage
Couples would do well to make a meal at Meritage. It’s the perfect little place for a romantic nibble prior to a St. Paul production. My partner and I had one of our best date night meals ever here. If the chilled lobster is still on the menu, do yourself (and your relationship) a favor and order it.
www.meritage-stp.com

 

String
Yellow Tree Theatre
www.yellowtreetheatre.com
Sept 15 – Oct 15, 2017
Yellow Tree cofounder Jessica Lind Peterson wrote the script for the Osseo theater group’s first production. To kick off Season 10, String is being revived with its courtship between a poet and a scruffy pizza delivery man who flunked high school English. He loves her but does he have the sensitivity she requires? Peterson and her husband, Jason, star.

 

?[almost equal to]
Pillsbury House + Theatre
www.pillsburyhouseandtheatre.org
Sept. 16–Oct. 22, 2017
Swedish Playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri ponders what happens when an economy oppresses the citizens. How are we affected psychologically and physically by economic demands? How can we even know how to invest when there are so many competing and conflicting numbers and other messages?

 

The Nether
The Jungle Theater
www.jungletheater.com
Sept. 16–Oct. 15, 2017
Beware. The content of this controversial hit is chilling. Imagine a virtual space where one can live out their most violent fantasies involving children. Playwright Jennifer Haley delves into the ethics of technology in a way unlike any play yet written. Horrific crime can be a consequence of living out certain fantasies as the Dark Web advances into ever darker recesses.

 

How to Use a Knife. Photo by Rich Ryan

How to Use a Knife
Mixed Blood Theatre
www.mixedblood.com
Sept. 29–Oct. 15, 2017
Mixed Blood Theatre loves to dig into the meat when it comes to cultural collisions and now it looks like they’re using a knife! An alcoholic chef recklessly insults Guatemalan line cooks and an East African dishwasher in a restaurant kitchen. When an immigration agent drops in, certain secrets come to life to comedic effect.

 

Watch on the Rhine
McGuire Proscenium Stage, Guthrie Theater
www.guthrietheater.org
Sept. 30–Nov. 5, 2017
Historically speaking, Lillian Hellman is widely regarded as the greatest female American playwright. Her 1940 classic is a vivid example of the complexity of immigration during the nightmare years of World War II. Hellman was Jewish and this surely heightened her perceptions of this when she wrote the play. She raises deep questions of moral obligation, sacrifice, and what it means to be an American.

Pairing: Zen Box Izakaya
Perhaps the best pre-Guthrie gathering spot, Zen Box is perfect for a pre-show nosh and tipple, especially if you like Japanese bar food. And if you’re not quite sure what Japanese bar food is, you’re in for a real treat. Crispy fried chicken, handmade ramen, and melt-in-your-mouth pork belly are among my personal favorites.
www.zenbox.com

 

Balloonacy. Photo by Dan Norman

Balloonacy
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
Oct. 3—Nov. 12, 2017
When a lonely and grumpy old man has to celebrate his birthday by himself, his alienation is challenged when a balloon unexpectedly pops up and prods him to engagement. It’s as if the balloon has a mischievous personality of its own and wants to celebrate with him! The aesthetics of Jacques Tati and the classic 1956 film, The Red Balloon, shine through.

 

All The Way
History Theatre
www.historytheatre.com
Oct. 7–29, 2017
The Broadway hit that won Bryan Cranston a Tony makes its eagerly awaited Twin Cities premiere. When Lyndon Baines Johnson became the 37th U.S. President after the Kennedy assassination he made the Civil Rights Act his priority. However, Bobby Kennedy posed a challenge as many in the Democratic Party didn’t feel LBJ was progressive enough and his commitment to the war in Vietnam divided the nation.

 

Don Pasquale. Photo by Ed Flores

Don Pasquale
Minnesota Opera
at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.mnopera.org
Oct. 7–15, 2018
Ernesto will be disinherited because he won’t marry the woman his uncle, Don Pasquale, has chosen for him. The technicolor world of 1950s Hollywood is the setting where Minnesota Opera has chosen to place this bubbly farcical opera. That bubbly quality is reflected in the music of Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848).

 

The Music Man
Schneider Theater, Artistry at Bloomington Center for the Arts
www.artistrymn.org
Oct. 13–Nov. 5, 2017
A con man must face his flaws in Meredith Wilson’s classic musical. Fast-talker Harold Hill tries to put one over on the idyllic little town of River City, Iowa by convincing parents to purchase uniforms and instruments for a band he says he’ll lead. But he is totally ignorant of music! When the local librarian enters the picture, however, his very being goes into a tailspin.

 

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Proscenium Stage, Park Square Theatre
www.parksquaretheatre.org
Oct. 13–Nov. 11, 2017
When his uncle murders his father and takes his mother as his wife, young Prince Hamlet cannot help but be enraged, devastated, and consumed with seeking justice. Many submit that this is the greatest play ever written. Its insights about the subconscious and the toxic atmosphere of surveillance surely make it one of the groundbreaking plays of theater history and timely today.

 

Suddenly Last Summer. Photo courtesy of Theatre in the Round

Suddenly Last Summer
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
Oct. 13–Nov. 5, 2017
The gay master playwright who many feel is the greatest American playwright, Tennessee Williams, was seldom freakier, darker, and bolder in his expression of sexuality than in this unsettling comedy-drama that often borders on the absurd. The mother of a gay man is out to silence her niece whom she has committed to an insane asylum. Just what does that niece actually know?

Pairing: Revival – Minneapolis
Frankly, it would be a damn shame not to enjoy a night of sultry southern cooking before a Tennessee Williams play. Fried chicken, grits, and homemade biscuits are a worthwhile way to gird the loins for an evening of masterful melodrama.
www.revivalfriedchicken.com

 

Life Could Be A Dream
Old Log Theater
www.oldlog.com
Oct. 14, 2017–Feb. 17, 2018
Doo-wop music pervades the return of this nostalgic jukebox reflection of high school and tortured teen love. The school is Springfield High where The Marvelous Wonderettes attended. In their footsteps is the boy group banned from the senior prom: The Crooning Crabcakes. If they win the contest on Big Whopper Radio, then they’re on their way to stardom! Winner of the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Production of 2011.

 

Wedding Band. Image by Labor

Wedding Band
Penumbra Theatre Company
www.penumbratheatre.org
Oct. 17–Nov. 12, 2017
Finally! One of the great African American plays written by a woman hits the boards at the nation’s flagship African American theater! Perhaps the greatest play by Alice Childress (1916-1994), Wedding Band examines interracial love in a time when that meant arrest or being terrorized by bigots. This classic will sizzle every bit as intensely as it first did in 1972.

 

Dracula
COLLIDE Theatrical Dance Company
at The Ritz Theater
www.collidetheatrical.org
Oct. 27–Nov. 5, 2017
Bram Stoker’s classic horror story is reset in the Big Apple, modern times. This fast-paced jazz dance musical, back by popular demand, is a great way to launch your Halloween season. The pop score includes Bon Jovi, Nirvana, and The Foo Fighters. A fusion of dance, theater, and live music!

 

Finding Neverland. Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Finding Neverland
Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
Oct. 31–Nov. 5, 2017
The back story of Peter Pan, its playwright J.M. Barrie, and a widowed mother. Enchanted by the imagination of her four young sons, he is inspired to write a play that will transport London theatergoers. Pixie dust, faith, and a freely expressive imagination launch his creative juices toward artistic triumph.

 

The Looney Lutherans in Hold the Lutefisk!
Plymouth Playhouse
www.plymouthplayhouse.com
Nov. 2–Dec. 23, 2017
Perhaps no theater in the nation has gotten as many laughs over Lutheranism as the ever-popular Plymouth Playhouse. Keep your New Year’s resolutions with new exercise tips from “The 12 Days of Housework.” The Loonies will demonstrate their Cuisinart 12 and you can learn the secrets of hotdish! A terrific way to celebrate the holiday season.

 

The Architect
ARENA Dances
at TekBox Theater at the Cowles Center
www.arena-dances.org
Nov. 3–4, 2017
A topnotch contemporary dance troupe presents one of its longtime dancers in full-length solo form. In The Architect, Timmy Wagner expresses himself about the creative thought process of making art. Artistic collaborators include Rachel Jendrzejewski and Margarita Jane Arguedas. Experience the unknown and the world of ideas!

 

Sister Act. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp

Sister Act
Chanhassen Dinner Theatre
www.chanhassentheatres.com
Nov. 3, 2017–Feb. 24, 2018
You saw the lively Whoopi Goldberg movie but the stage musical version is a lot better and Chanhassen made its mark when they first produced it a few years ago. When a wannabe diva named Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a crime she is put in a witness protection program in a convent! All hell breaks loose as cross-dressing bad guys intrude on sacred space.

Pairing: Chanhassen Dinner Theatre
Perhaps the easiest pairing on the list for obvious reasons, Chanhassen Dinner Theatre takes dinner and a show to a whole new level. Literally. Every time I sit down to enjoy a meal at this classic Twin Cities theater venue, I’m immediately reminded how the food matches the magic happening on stage. Don’t miss the Chicken Chanhassen.

 

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Dan Norman

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
Nov. 7, 2017–Jan. 7, 2018
One of the great Children’s Theatre repertoire productions. If you haven’t seen it, then you need to pencil it in. The monstrous green Grinch cannot abide the happiness generally felt by the denizens of Whoville. CTC’s production style always evokes the Dr. Seuss style to captivating effect and the spirit of Christmas always shines through.

Pairing: Glam Doll Donuts
Think about it: donuts. For dinner! The kids will love it. Glam Doll is just as colorful and playful as the people of Whoville. And it’s right around the corner from the Children’s Theatre. Just make sure to order an ample armful so you don’t end up the Grinch of your own family Christmas.
www.glamdolldonuts.com

 

Of Mice and Men. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

Of Mice and Men
Boss Stage, Park Square Theatre
www.parksquaretheatre.org
Nov. 9–Dec. 16, 2017
The stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic novel is a moving story two migrant workers, one of whom is mentally disabled. Misunderstandings occur that lead to tragic consequences. This new production involves the migrant subcultures at odds with one another: Latino, white, and black.

 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mixed Blood Theatre
www.mixedblood.com
Nov. 10–Dec. 3, 2017
The bizarre death of a dog is the catalyst for one of contemporary theater’s most unique plays. When a youth on the autism spectrum sets out to investigate, he opens up a Pandora’s Box that reveals significant things about his family, himself, and the community he lives in. The first local production of one of the decade’s major plays.

Pairing: Heyday
Creative, irreverent, and thoroughly contemporary are words well chosen for this pre-show spot. Heyday will excite pretty much every taste bud in your mouth. And the visual, not to be outdone, is equally appealing. Fun and whimsy combine to make your night out more than memorable.
www.heydayeats.com

 

A Gone Fishin’ Christmas
Yellow Tree Theatre
www.yellowtreetheatre.com
Nov. 10–Dec. 31, 2017
The grooviest small theater in the western suburbs gives us Christmas, Minnesota style! Theater Wonder Woman Jessica Lind Peterson’s hilarious new comedy is back by popular demand. The decade’s biggest fishing competition up north is underway on the ice and two sisters go home to Duluth to catch a keeper! But their dreams are threatened by an unseasonably warm winter.

 

The Marriage of Figaro. Photo by Dana Sohm

The Marriage of Figaro
Minnesota Opera
at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.mnopera.org
Nov. 11–19, 2017
Mozart’s comedy of errors in grand opera form enjoys a new staging. A wily servant named Figaro and his fiancee Susanna have to stand up to Count Almaviva whose lecherous ways disrupt civility and decency. Disguised identities and outlandish situations ensue as we root for the lovers to make it to the altar.

 

A Christmas Carol. Photo by Dan Norman

A Christmas Carol
Wurtele Thrust Stage, Guthrie Theater
www.guthrietheater.org
Nov. 14–Dec. 30, 2017
The jewel in the holiday theater crown is Charles Dickens’s timeless tale of greed vs. generosity. Based on his novella, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future put a mirror up to the soul of the miserly and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge. Throughout this mystical rite of passage, the old man learns of empathy and redemption.

 

Swan Lake
State Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
Nov. 17, 2017
Consummate gay Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky gave us Swan Lake. It looms as one of the emblematic ballets. Russian Grand Ballet’s full-length classical production for the first time includes the rarely seen “Waltz of the Black Swans,” and features some of Russia’s most luminous ballet dancers.

 

And Then There Were None
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
Nov. 17–Dec. 17, 2017
The works of Dame Agatha Christie rate right after The Bible, the Collected Works of Shakespeare, and The Communist Manifesto, as the biggest sellers of all time. Many of her mystery book thrillers were turned into terrific stage plays and screenplays. In this one ten strangers are lured to an island mansion off the coast of England. At dinner a mysterious voice outs them for criminal acts.

 

Miss Bennet: A Pemberley Christmas
The Jungle Theater
www.jungletheater.com
Nov. 18–Dec. 30, 2017
Guess what! There is a stage holiday sequel to the classic Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice. When the Bennet sisters and their husbands gather for Christmas a few years after the novel ends, Mary must learn to be the author of her own personal romance. Jane Austen is the gift that keeps on giving. No matter how computerized and technologized we become, that early 19th century author is still the source of wisdom about love and living.

 

Waitress
Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
Nov. 21–26, 2017
The popular Adrienne Shelly film inspired the stage version. A waitress and first-rate pie maker named Jenna wins a baking contest in a nearby county. The town’s doctor offers her a chance for a fresh start, though her fellow waitresses can’t help but weigh in with their own ideas. Out of all this, Jenna seeks to rebuild her life.

Pairing: Hi Lo Diner
Nothing sets the stage for a story about pie in a diner quite like a 1950s Fodero diner that’s been remodeled and subsequently stuffed with some of the best post-Mid-century modern eats around. These ain’t no ordinary burgers and pies sitting before you. They’re scratch-made with the love and patriotic comfort-food-fervor only a good old-fashioned, red-blooded American could muster.
www.hi-lo-diner.com

 

Blithe Spirit
McGuire Proscenium Stage, Guthrie Theater
www.guthrietheater.org
Nov. 25, 2017–Jan. 14, 2018
Gay master playwright and spy, Noel Coward, penned one of the most popular comedies of the 20th century when he wrote Blithe Spirit. When kooky Madame Arcati, a medium and clairvoyant, leads a seance, Mr. and Mrs. Condomine don’t expect for the supernatural to take over the evening. Blithe Spirit’s popularity has never waned since it first opened in 1941.

 

Coco’s Diary – A Christmas Gift to Remember
History Theatre
www.historytheatre.com
Nov. 25–Dec. 23, 2017
Great tunes of the 1920s permeate this look at Clotilde “Coco” Irvine. When she was gifted a diary one Christmas she used it to faithfully chronicle the ups and downs of a roller-coaster year.  For instance, this entry: “This is to be my most private account of everything that happens to me. No one must read further under pain of death! A curse shall befall any who disregard this warning! Everything is quite different in my life because of boys!”

 

A Christmas Carole Petersen
Theater Latté Da
at The Ritz Theater
www.theaterlatteda.com
Nov. 29–Dec. 30, 2017
Tod Petersen warms up the yuletide season with memories of his family in Mankato, Minnesota. In particular, the namesake of the title, his mother Carole. A beautiful example of comedy that is warm and a gay man who knows how to bridge the gap between the realms of gay and straight.

Pairing: The Sheridan Room
One of my favorite little theaters in Minneapolis is right next door to one of my favorite little restaurants. The Sheridan Room serves up a solid scratch-made menu of comfort food classics, perfect for a pre-show nibble in Northeast. Highlights include the juicy beer can chicken, super sumptuous mac and cheese, and the burger.
www.thesheridanroom.com

 

Black Nativity
Penumbra Theatre Company
www.penumbratheatre.org
Nov. 30–Dec. 24, 2017
Director Lou Bellamy and Music Director Sanford Moore collaborate on this homegrown gem of a show with the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Choir and the choreography of Uri Sands. Black Nativity is a Twin Cities tradition where people of all races can come together to celebrate the joys and hopes of Christmas.

 

Image courtesy of Ordway

Annie
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.ordway.org
Dec. 7–31, 2017
Maybe the best musical ever based on a comic strip. Little Orphan Annie has become a staple of both the stage and vintage newsprint. When the spunky and irrepressibly optimistic little girl ends up in the upper tier of society we can only be amazed at the contrast between that and the oppressive orphanage run by the drunken Miss Hannigan.

Pairing: Sakura
Just a few blocks away from the Ordway is a wonderful gem of a Japanese restaurant. In fact, it’s one of the most well-known in the Twin Cities. Whether you’re in the mood for a light flight of sushi favorites or a heaping helping of traditional Japanese comfort food, Sakura always sates.
www.sakurastpaul.com

 

Dot
Proscenium Stage, Park Square Theatre
www.parksquaretheatre.org
Dec. 8, 2017–Jan. 7, 2018
A woman deals with dementia in West Philly in the acclaimed comedy-drama by Colman Domingo. When her three adult children return home for Christmas holidays their preoccupation with their own baggage contrasts their mother’s daunting situation. We see that losing your mind and losing your sanity are two different things. E.G. Bailey directs the Midwest premiere.

 

The Phantom of the Opera. Alastair-Muir

The Phantom of the Opera
Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
Dec. 13–31, 2017
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s box office blockbuster and critical triumph comes forth as a spectacular new production by Cameron Mackintosh and gay master choreographer Matthew Bourne. Some of contemporary musical theater’s must sumptuous tunes reverberate through this tale of possessive love: “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask of You,” and “Masquerade.”

 

Rhinoceros
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
Jan. 5–28, 2018
The crown jewel of absurdist comedy, Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco satirizes the seemingly intractable human impulse to be one of the crowd. What happens when everyone around you is turning into a rhinoceros except for you?! Theatre in the Round is an accomplished producer of modern classics, but the absurdist genre will be less-traveled territory.

 

The Last Five Years
Black Box Theater, Artistry at Bloomington Center for the Arts
www.artistrymn.org
Jan. 13–Feb. 3, 2018
A portrait of a marriage told in reverse. He is a writer and Jewish. She is an actress and is not. Creator Jason Robert Brown is known for his sublime Songs for a New World. He also won Tony Awards for Parade and The Bridges of Madison County. Brown’s first marriage was the inspiration for The Last Five Years.

 

Cardboard Piano. Photo courtesy of Park Square Theatre

Cardboard Piano
Boss Stage, Park Square Theatre
www.parksquaretheatre.org
Jan. 19–Feb. 18, 2018
In a secret candlelit wedding ceremony in Northern Uganda, the daughter of an American missionary and a local teenage girl exchange vows. Into this passionate situation comes a child soldier. Themes of forgiveness, love, and the challenge to rebuild out of the ashes permeate Hansol Jung’s acclaimed play.

 

The Wiz
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
Jan. 23–March 18, 2018
Back in the 1970s, The Wiz was a Broadway show that actually swept the entire nation by storm. The Children’s Theatre starts the year out with a revival that takes the L. Frank Baum classic book while mixing rock, gospel, and soul music. Flow with such great uplifting tunes as “A Brand New Day” and “Ease On Down The Road.”

Pairing: Quang
Ease on down to Eat Street and pop into one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis. A steaming bowl of noodles and a couple orders of spring rolls are all you need to kick off a night of delightful song and dance. And you’re only a hop, skip, and a jump back to the Children’s Theatre.
www.quang-restaurant.com

 

Noises Off
Schneider Theater, Artistry at Bloomington Center for the Arts
www.artistrymn.org
Jan. 27–Feb. 18, 2018
Certainly one of the most challenging slapstick comedies ever written, if not the most challenging. Imagine the playing area and the back stage area like a human body on an operating table being dissected and revealed. But instead of internal organs there are props, costumes, actors, set pieces, and scenery.

 

Dead Man Walking. Photo by Tim Matheson

Dead Man Walking
Minnesota Opera
at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.mnopera.org
Jan. 27–Feb. 3, 2018
You probably recall Susan Sarandon’s Oscar-winning film turn as Sister Helen Prejean. The setting is Death Row and she feels that a condemned man is worthy of redemption. Gay master playwright Terrence McNally’s libretto and Jake Heggie’s lyrical music have reimagined the true and devastating story as an opera.

 

The Royale
Yellow Tree Theatre
www.yellowtreetheatre.com
Feb. 2–March 4, 2018
It’s 1905 and the sport of boxing is racially segregated. But Jay “The Sport” Jackson wants to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world but the racial ban threatens to knock out his chances. The play is creatively told in six rounds and is set in a boxing ring. Written by Marco Ramirez. A regional premier.

 

Assassins
Theater Latté Da
at The Ritz Theater
www.theaterlatteda.com
Feb. 7–March 18, 2018
This multiple Tony Award-winner has one of the most unusual and one of the darkest subjects ever set to a musical. Stephen Sondheim muses on the minds and hearts of four successful and five would-be assassins of American Presidents. Presented by Theater Latté Da, one of the nation’s best musical theaters.

 

Joy Rebel: Claude Purdy Festival
Penumbra Theatre Company
www.penumbratheatre.org
Feb. 8–18, 2018
A granddaughter is loved by her grandmother. However, her perception is changed when she learns that she condemned her parents’ interracial relationship. Khanish Foster’s new play is directed by the man who has been named Lavender‘s Best Director and Theater Artist of the Year, Lou Bellamy.

 

The Pirates of Penzance. Photo courtesy of Park Square Theatre

The Pirates of Penzance
Proscenium Stage, Park Square Theatre
www.parksquaretheatre.org
Feb. 9–March 25, 2018
Embark on board a steamer to New York where a new London musical has been planned to be produced. Unfortunately, the score was left behind in England so the performers have to recreate it with just the clothes in their trunks and ship mates! We get to know sentimental pirates, bumbling cops, and young lovers filled with hope. A Gilbert and Sullivan classic.

 

Jane Austen’s Emma
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
Feb. 9–March 4, 2018
The adaptation of the classic book by the author who many regard as the greatest writer of the English language, Jane Austen, brings protagonist Emma Woodhouse to the stage. She tries to marry off her young and naive friend Harriet to men who are simply not right for her. In the process, will Emma miss out on true love for herself?

 

A Crack in the Sky
History Theatre
www.historytheatre.com
Feb. 10–March 4, 2018
The road less traveled from Somalia to Minnesota begins in 1984 when a young shepherd boy makes a night decision to leave his country. The sweeping story of Ahmed Ismail Yusuf, inspired by Maya Angelou, celebrates the power of the written word. The History Theatre continues its commitment to diversity and the various diasporas present in Minnesota.

 

The Humans
Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
Feb. 13–18, 2018
The national tour of the 2016 Tony Award-winner for Best Play hits the boards at the Orpheum. Set during Thanksgiving, a family comes together in Manhattan’s Chinatown. A lesbian theme also runs through Stephen Karam’s play that was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

 

Two Mile Hollow
Mixed Blood Theatre
www.mixedblood.com
Feb. 16–March 4, 2018
When the wine flows, the secrets of the Donnelly family rise to the surface. A weekend in the country after their estate has been sold becomes a window into how dysfunctional they really are. This white family is a mix of famous and longing-to-be-famous members, so you can just imagine the dynamics! Written by Leah Nanako Winkler.

 

Indecent
Wurtele Thrust Stage, Guthrie Theater
www.guthrietheater.org
Feb. 17–March 24, 2018
Lesbian Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel revisits the controversy surrounding the 1923 Broadway premiere of Sholem Asch’s play, God of Vengeance. A Jewish brothel owner and the lesbian love between his 17-year-old daughter and what we call a sex worker today were more than the mainstream audience of that time would even tolerate. Eight actors not only play music but also 40 roles.

 

A Raisin In the Sun. Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma

A Raisin In the Sun
Boss Stage, Park Square Theatre
www.parksquaretheatre.org
Feb. 22–March 24, 2018
Definitely one of the greatest American plays. Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 examination of conflicting values between different generations in an African American family is still timely today, when the entire nation seems to be at odds with conflicting values. The bisexual Hansberry died young, at 34. She left us with one of the greatest plays of the 20th century.

 

Leonard Bernstein’s Candide
Schneider Theater, Artistry at Bloomington Center for the Arts
www.artistrymn.org
March 1–3, 2018
Voltaire’s satirical view of life follows young optimistic Candide as he journeys to reunite with his wife-to-be. Leonard Bernstein’s fabulous score is supported by a libretto by two other greats: Hugh Wheeler and Lillian Hellman. Presented in concert form under the musical direction of the beloved Anita Ruth.

 

Corduroy
Children’s Theatre Company
www.childrenstheatre.org
March 6–May 13, 2018
Corduroy, the fuzzy little bear created in the Don Freeman books, is always getting into some kind of mischief. At the Children’s Theatre he will rip through a department store on a destructive search for a lost button! A tale of true friendship and lots and lots of action! The potential for slapstick fun is off the charts!

 

School of Rock
Orpheum Theatre
www.hennepintheatretrust.org
March 6 –11, 2018
This, like the 2003 film it is adapted from, has an aspiring rock star who poses as a substitute teacher who turns his students into a rock band. This production features 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber (Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Cats) and all the original songs from the film. Expect high octane energy as a kids rock band plays musical instruments right on stage!

 

Familiar
McGuire Proscenium Stage, Guthrie Theater
www.guthrietheater.org
March 10–April 14, 2018
Danai Gurira’s Off-Broadway hit actually takes place in Minnesota. When a Zimbabwean-American family prepares for their daughter’s wedding family issues rise to the surface. Over 30 years earlier they fled civil war and began the charged process of assimilating into American life with its hope for the American Dream. When conflict occurs around a request for a traditional African blessing, an interracial couple and everyone around them confront notions of cultural identity.

 

The Canterville Ghost
Theatre in the Round Players
www.theatreintheround.org
March 16–April 8, 2018
The classic short story by gay master author, Oscar Wilde, was adapted into a stage comedy thriller by Marisha Chamberlain. The resident ghost of an old English mansion becomes outraged when a family from New York buys the place. This ghost, who was born of noble blood, now lives on the corporeal plane and is very, very cranky!

 

Rigoletto
Minnesota Opera
at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
www.mnopera.org
March 17–31, 2018
Did you know that Giuseppe Verdi’s operatic tale of seduction and revenge is based on a play by Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)? A disfigured jester must protect his innocent daughter from a lustful Duke whose intentions are nothing close to honorable. This 19th century Italian classic was controversial because of its close reflection of certain European aristocrats and their lack of sexual discipline.

 

Dance ’til You Drop. Photo courtesy of History Theatre

Dance ‘Til You Drop
History Theatre
www.historytheatre.com
March 24–April 15, 2018
In the 1930s during the Great Depression, dance marathons provided desperate hope for those who thought they could dance for hours on end (and then some) for a big monetary prize. Film fans recall the Jane Fonda-Gig Young classic, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? The same sort of arena is the setting of this Carson Kreitzer play. What drove people to compete in these marathons and how far is it wise to push human limits?

 

A Wives’ Tale
Theatre Unbound
at Gremlin Theatre
www.theatreunbound.com
March 24–April 8, 2018
Playwright Christina Ham is currently known for her play with music, Nina Simone: Four Women. But an earlier play of hers, the harrowing Crash Test Dummies, was a dystopic look at economic collapse. She enters a similar zone with A Wives’ Tale in which traditional southern values face off with those of post-nuclear catastrophe on a South Carolina Island.

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