Saturday, November 15, 2014

Holiday Theater - No Tinsel, No Holly

Way to go, local theaters! I love that you're bucking the holiday trend and giving us something to watch that's a bit of a break from the usual holiday shows.

Feeling over-holidayed?  Check out these shows for a little non-holiday-themed enjoyment:

Disenchanted - Illusion Theater
October 30-November 23, 2014
"The original fairytale princesses are none too happy with the exploitation they’ve suffered in today’s films, books and merchandise. Snow White and her angry band of storybook friends are “storming the castle” in order to take their lives back!" (

Grounded - Frank Theatre at the Playwright's Center
October 31-November 23, 2014
"A passionate fighter pilot sees her career in the sky interrupted by an unplanned pregnancy. Reassigned to a “desk job,” operating military drones, she grows numb as she tracks terrorists by day and, at night, returns home to play with her daughter and her pink ponies. As the pressure to find a high-profile target mounts, the lines begin to blur between the desert in which she lives and the one she is patrolling on the other side of the world." (

Ghost Sonata - Nimbus Theatre
November 1-November 23, 2014
"A student with second sight longs for beauty, wealth, and the nobility of the upper class. His journey of discovery will show him crimes, lies, regrets, hyacinths. And a talking mummy." (

The Juniper TreeThe Juniper Tree - Open Eye Figure Theatre
November 7-30, 2014
"This classic Brothers Grimm story brims with singing birds, dancing bones, and barking trunks. Add a live band to blast the brutish stepmother and soothe the sobbing sister, and you get a not-to-be missed whirl of fairytale fun where everyone (who’s supposed to) lives happily ever after." (

On Golden Pond - Jungle Theater
November 7-December 21, 2014
"American classic explores the turbulent relationship between father and daughter, the generation gap between young and old, and the difficulties facing a couple in the twilight years of a long and happy marriage." (

The Whale - Walking Shadow at Mixed Blood
November 26-December 20, 2014
"On the outskirts of Mormon Country, Idaho, a six hundred pound recluse hides away in his apartment, eating himself to death. Hoping to find an honest human connection, he reaches out to his long-estranged daughter, only to discover a viciously sharp-tongued teen. Big-hearted and fiercely funny, The Whale tells a story of finding beauty in the most unexpected places." (

Relics - Guthrie Theatre in the Dowling Studio
November 13-November 23, 2014
"The year is 2314. Archaeologists have discovered a 300-year-old colony in what used to be called North America. You are invited to the opening night gala exhibition of the artifacts they uncovered. Move freely through exhibits, life-size dioramas, and reenactments of the daily life, rituals and battles of the 'Ancients.'” (

Love's Labour's Lost - The Moving Company at The Theater Lab
November 21-December 21, 2014
"Gives a makeover to the seemingly familiar, yet totally new - a mad festival of lovers, lunatics, and poets, let loose upon the verdant meadow of Shakespeare's mind." (

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story - History Theatre
November 22-December 21, 2014
"Part biography, part rock ’n’ roll concert, this musical is a toe-tapping, hand-clapping celebration of the life and music of Buddy Holly." (

The Cocktail Hour - Guthrie Theater
November 22, 2014-January 4, 2015
"It’s the 1970s, and John arrives for dinner at his parents’ home carrying the script of his soon-to-be produced play depicting his uptight, upper-crust WASP family. Just as the martinis begin to flow, so do the revelations and recriminations – both funny and poignant." (

4000 Miles - Park Square Theatre
December 5-21, 2014
"At the end of a grueling cross-country bike trip, restless 21-year-old Leo seeks refuge and a hot shower in his elderly grandmother’s New York apartment. Though his liberal ways should mesh with Vera’s history in lefty politics, the two unlikely roommates mostly baffle each other." (

Jonah And The Whale: A New Musical - 7th House Theater at the Dowling Studio
December 19-28, 2014
"Will re-imagine one of the strangest, most familiar stories in the Old Testament in this original bluegrass/folk musical. Featuring thirteen local actors and a completely original score, Jonah And The Whale is an unforgettable story of faith, loss, and survival against unbeatable odds." (

Holiday Theater - New Shows & Holiday Stalwarts

What started out as a teensy post to say, "Hey, let's go see some theater this holiday season," turned into a massive list of shows.  You'll find new shows and old favorites here.  (Feeling Grinchy? Check out our next post for non-holiday-themed shows.)

New Shows for Your Holiday Enjoyment:

A Christmas Story, The Musical - Ordway Center
November 29-December 28, 2014 
Why It's On MY Xmas List:  Because it's an Ordway-produced production directed by James A. Rocco that features a cast of utterly fabulous local talent including (but not limited to): Gary Briggle, Dieter Bierbrauer, Erin Schwab, Jennifer Eckes, Michael Gruber, Suzie Juul, Aja Parham, Kersten Rodau, Randy Schmeling, Austene Van and Tony Vierling.  Need I say more?

The Chanukah Guest - Minnesota Jewish Theatre
December 4-21, 2014
"MJTC's new commission and world premiere,The Chanukah Guest, is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season with your family. This interactive, heartwarming play tells the story of Bubba Brayna, who is renowned throughout the village for making the best potato latkes every Chanukah." (

OWT 2014-2015 season_Christmas-NiatirbChristmas in Niatirb - Open Window Theatre
December 5-28, 2014
"An astute and humorous look at the traditions of “Exmas” and “Chrissmas” through the lives of the fictional inhabitants of the island of Niatirb (Britain spelled backwards). This full-length theatrical adaptation of a little-known Christmas essay by C.S. Lewis brings out the full wit, charm, and inspiring self-examination that so characterizes his writing and creative genius." (

The Hothouse - Dark & Stormy Productions (presented in the atrium of the 1906 Grain Belt Bottling House)
December 10, 2014-January 4, 2015
Why It's On MY Xmas List: That cast and a very intriguing location. Starring Robert Dorfman, Mark Benninghofen, John Catron, Sara Marsh, Bill McCallum, and Bruce Bohne, this "clever and cutting Pinter piece exposes the underbelly of the hierarchical power structure at an ambiguous institution – which is at once functional and falling apart – on one fateful Christmas Day." (

Old Favorites and Annual Traditions:

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Children's Theatre Company
November 11-January 4, 2015
"Whoville is experiencing a seemingly unstoppable crime wave—and who oh who will save Christmas? CTC’s Technicolor, maxed-out musical brings alive the songs, the story, and the Seuss in megadoses of spirited storytelling and fanciful rhymes." (

A Christmas Carol - Guthrie Theater
November 13-December 28, 2014
"This year marks the 40th annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the perennial favorite that received a new adaptation by Crispin Whittell in 2010 and continues the Guthrie’s holiday tradition for families across the region." (

Irving Berlin's White Christmas - Orpheum Theatre
November 25-30, 2014"
"Tells the story of two buddies putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and finding their perfect mates in the process. Full of dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written." ( (Equity tour)

God Rest Ye Scary Gentlemen III - Hardcover Theater at Bryant-Lake Bowl
November 28-December 22, 2014
Why It's On MY Xmas List: I love Hardcover Theater and ghosts.  There you are.
"What’s Christmas without a few ghosts? Dead folks get up to all kinds of mischief in this third installment of Hardcover Theater’s successful series, featuring three new stories of holiday hauntings." (

A Very Asian Christmas Concert - Mu Performing Arts at the Southern Theater
November 29-30, 2014
Why It's On MY Xmas List:  Hosted by Randy Reyes and featuring a ton of great performers, I can't believe I've missed this in the past.
"Santa’s hitting the bottle again, and Jasmine is down in the dumps. The only thing that will cheer her up is singing, dancing, and laughing the night away with her talented friends and family members." (

Black Nativity - Penumbra Theatre
December 4-21, 2014
The Longest NightWhy It's On MY Xmas List:  Having worked at the Fitzgerald Theater for many years, Black Nativity was always a part of my holidays.  I'll never forget the amazing performances and joyful songs--especially T. Mychael Rambo as the preacher.  I love that they keep shaking up this classic, but always have amazing music. Revisits "the nativity story in this concert staging, featuring narration by Lou Bellamy, soloists Yolande Bruce, Greta Oglesby, Dennis W. Spears and with the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church Choir under the musical direction of Sanford Moore." (

The Longest Night - Open Eye Theatre
December 11-21, 2014
Why It's On MY Xmas List: I'd happily watch Bradley Greenwald read the phone book, or sing the stock reports.
 "Bradley Greenwald celebrates winter, the holidays and "hell-idays," seasonal affective disorder, friends, family, Christians and Pagans with pianist Sonja Thompson." (

La Natividad - In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre
December 11-21, 2014
La Natividad at HOBTWhy It's On MY Xmas List:  I love the idea of the procession through the city--a truly unique tradition (for Minnesotans!).
"This unique event honors the Mexican tradition of La Posada, leading everyone on a journey to four sites in our community. Enacted with beauty, humor, soulful live music, and an ending feast. (Performed in English and Spanish)" (

All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 - Theater Latte Da at the Pantages
December 17-21, 2014
"The Western Front, Christmas, 1914. Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. A German soldier steps into No Man’s Land singing Stille Nacht. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music, peace. A remarkable true story, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it." (

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Looking Back at October

Though October is gone, it's not forgotten. I wanted to share a few of my personal highlights from the month.

Eating Raoul: The Musical at Minneapolis Musical Theatre was an unexpected delight! Based on the film and set in the swinging 60s, this musical walks a narrow line between period kitsch and sincerity. The tunes were catchy, with clever lyrics, beautifully delivered by a small but talented cast. The direction of Ryan McGuire Grimes hit the perfect tone, which must have been difficult in a musical featuring a faltering marriage, serial murder, and a dominatrix. This is what MMT does best: presenting shows that don't otherwise get seen in the Cities and showing that there is more to musical theater than the old warhorses.

Sally Wingert is a a marvel. This is not news, but the performance she gave in Master Class at Theater Latte Da was still astounding. Though I'm not convinced that Terrence McNally's script is all that great, Wingert totally embodies the faded diva as she holds a master class at Juilliard. The play was performed in a perfect setting: Antonello Hall at MacPhail Center for Music, just like the recital hall such a class would take place in. The entire cast was quite strong, with wonderful piano accompaniment from Andrew Bourgoin, who also directed the excellent vocal performances of Kira Lace Hawkins, Benjamin Dutcher, and Kelsey Stark D'Emilio. Peter Rothstein directed the opener to an exciting Latte Da season.

Last, but definitely not least, the new play Colossal by Andrew Hinderaker, directed by Will Davis, was part of a rolling world premiere from the National New Play Network at Mixed Blood Theatre. The fantastic script concerns a football player injured on the field and his love for one of his teammates. The main character, Mike, was played by two actors: Torsten Johnson as the football player in his prime and Toby Forrest as the the post-injury player, now in a wheelchair. The playing space was a football field with a scoreboard counting off four 15-minute quarters, and as the audience entered, the team was already running drills. This was an amazingly physical production, with Mike starting out as a dancer, like his father. The football scenes were beautifully choreographed, complete with instant replay, and the action rarely let up. There was even a halftime dance show. But the play was much more than a gimmick, showcasing beautiful performances and a touching story.

Now it's time to look forward to all the great shows coming up in November and December!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Give To The Max (to Local Theater!)

GTMD GiveMNGive to the Max Day is almost upon us!

If you've not participated in past years, here's the long story short:
"Join thousands of Minnesotans as we ignite generosity and raise millions of dollars for nonprofits and schools across the state. Make a donation to your favorite cause on November 13 and be part of Minnesota's annual day of giving!" (
Are you looking for an amazing local theater to support with your generous contribution? Try Minnesota TheaterLove's own list of Local Theaters with links to each theater's website.

And Give to the Max!  So many of our amazing small theaters deserve your gift!