Sunday, January 26, 2020

We're on a BREAK!

Hi theater friends!

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are taking a bit of hiatus from sharing our love for Minnesota Theater.

We'll still do our best to share shows we're loving on social media and posts from our fellow bloggers:

MN Theater Love on Facebook 

MN Theater Love on Twitter

MN Theater Love on Instagram

Until we return, please check out our friends at the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers! They're covering the Twin Cities theater scene beautifully.

We want to give a special shout out to the OG theater blogger, Cherry and Spoon. We are always amazed by Jill's commitment to local theater. 💓

We also recommend the theater writing of:

Jay Gabler at City Pages
Arthur Dorman at Talkin' Broadway
The reviewers at MN Playlist

Happy theatergoing!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Love Letter to SIX - Ordway Center (Guest Post)

Full disclosure, I haven’t fallen in love with a musical since Les Miserables and that includes WickedDear Evan Hansen, and Hamilton (I know). I was 18 and it was my first time seeing a professional touring production. From the moment the music started and that stage floor started to spin, I was hooked. Epic in every way.

Also full disclosure, I am a member of the marketing team at the Ordway.

I reveal these things so that I can freely speak my love of SIX.

I was fortunate to be sent to see the show at Chicago Shakespeare Theater before Ordway announced it as part of the season. I remember leaving with my co-worker and saying “It was fun,” “The music is great,” “Everyone was having a great time but I don’t think it’s life changing.” 

SIX at the Ordway - Photo by Brett Beiner
Then, as we made our way back to our hotel and we talked more about the show, it occurred to me that the show actually did make me want to know more about the Six Queens. It was that bigger Hamilton discussion in that it matters who tells your story and that representation on stage is vital. The more we talked, the more genuinely excited we both were about the show. The soundtrack became a staple in our office. 

Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner
By the time the show opened here in St. Paul at the Ordway on November 29, I was more than ready to see it again. By the end of the run on December 22, I will have seen it seven times.

The show’s creators chose the six wives of Henry VIII not for the love of the topic itself, but because they were looking for subject matter that would allow them to create a musical that featured the incredibly talented women and non-binary identifying performers in their lives. 

They wanted to create a show where each performer had their break-out moment and would be able to shine center stage. They delivered that vision and the Six Queens never disappoint. The show also features a 4-piece rock band--also all female. To have ten women on stage delivering a powerful, funny, and heartbreaking 90-minute set is something I have never experienced before. It needs to be celebrated and I find myself looking forward to the opportunity to cheer them on again.

Adrianna Hicks as Catherine of Aragon in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
There is something powerful that happens in the house every night. The knowing laughs from women when the Queens reveal frustrations of their husband and societal expectations. The intense quiet that happens at the end of “All You Wanna Do,” a song that starts as a fun flirtation only to reveal at the end that the sexual power she thought she held was really abuse and that she had no agency or control over it. I always wonder in that moment how many people in the room have had that same revelation. I think about how lucky I am to have never been in that situation. I think about how lucky I am to have been born in the 20th Century.

Maybe that is the reason I love Six so much. It’s still so relatable today. 

Nicole Kyoung-Mi Lambert as Anna of Cleves in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
Maybe it appeals to me because, since the age of 12, I have been involved in the arts in some way. First as a performer, then in various roles in managing venues, box office, and marketing. 35 years on, I can look back at the times I dealt with the misogyny of the entertainment industry. From club owners who assumed I was always a “groupie” or a “girlfriend” when I was the lead singer of a band to having to politely and professionally turn down sexual advances from artists when I was a manager, the “pitfalls” of being a woman still remain. For many, we are still seen as less than; for what we can provide and not for what we bring to the table. Disposable. 

Samantha Pauly as Katherine Howard in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
Maybe it appeals to me because it spotlights the lack of choice in these women’s lives. Having to marry to not be ostracized. Having to marry because saying no isn’t an option. Having to marry because there is no way to create income for yourself, to survive on your own. This is still relevant for many women. Modern society still has a lot of negative things to say about women who never marry and/or never have children. The expectations placed on Henry’s wives are not so far removed from today.

Maybe it appeals to me because I lost my best friend this year. In the gaping void that was his presence in my life, I realize now more than ever how important it is that your story is told, that your life lives on in those you love. It is important that your life is celebrated and shared in a way that represents you as wholly as possible. Six illuminates the lives of the women who are far more than just one of Henry VIII’s wives. They had their own power. They left their own mark on history. Their stories matter. Their lives mattered. 

Mallory Maedke as Jane Seymour in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
Maybe it appeals to me because, halfway through my life, I feel more powerful and relevant than ever. Seeing that reflected on stage is life affirming.

Maybe the reason changes every night.

All I know is that Six has affected me. The show gives me goosebumps. It gives me a reason to laugh along with the people in the audience who get the joke. It helps me find “my people.” It gives me an opportunity to cheer on ten incredibly talented women. It gives me an opportunity to celebrate women as a whole. 

Anna Uzele as Catherine Parr in SIX.
Photo by Brett Beiner.
Six has been a catharsis and a celebration for me in a year that was difficult in many ways. By the time Katherine Parr (Anna Uzele) transitions into the reprise near the end of the show and sings “We’re one of a kind, no category,, there are usually tears in my eyes. I want to be on my feet. I want to be singing along at the top of my lungs for myself, for all the amazing women in my life whose stories have gone untold, for those that are no longer here, and for the stories yet to come. 

--Shellae Mueller

Minnesota Theater Love note: 
Two of the queens were out during much of the Minnesota run, so we want to give massive love to Mallory Maedke, who took over for Abby Mueller as Jane Seymour, and Nicole Kyoung-Mi Lambert, who took over for Brittney Mack as Anna of Cleves. These performers, along with Adrianna Hicks as Catherine of Aragon, Andrea Macasaet as Anne Boleyn, Samantha Pauly as Katherine Howard, and Anna Uzele as Catherine Parr, were utterly fantastic. We hope this amazing ensemble has the opportunity to perform together on Broadway. Here's hoping! SIX starts previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway on February 13 and we hope New York audiences love it as much as we do.