Sunday, May 31, 2020

How You Can Help

Hello friends. We hope you're all staying safe amidst the many crises we're dealing with today. We'll get back to talking about #TCTheater soon, but first we wanted to share with you these lists of resources, organizations, and peaceful protests that some local theaters have compiled, in case you're looking for ways to join the fight for justice. If you know of any others, please post in the comments below.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Theater Crush Thursday: Theater Latte Da

We've loved Theater Latté Da for many years for many reasons, but right now we love them because they're using this extended intermission to focus on the creation of new work. With their recently announced NEXT UP program, they are investing in the future of music-theater by supporting playwrights, composers, lyricists, choreographers, actors, and more as they write new stories. Stories that we will one day be able to share when it's safe again to gather in the same space together. Theater Latte Da will be ready for that day with some exciting new plays and musicals.

Founded by Peter Rothstein and Denise Prosek in 1998, Theater Latte Da has given us many memorable moments over the last 20+ years, and grown from a small nomadic company to one of the most popular companies in #TCTheater, consistently selling out shows in the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis, which they purchased as their permanent home a few years ago. TLD is a musical theater company, but "they don't do musical theater, they do theater musically." In everything they do, they expand the definition of what music-theater can do and be.
Their productions range from inventive new takes on classic musicals (see: their brilliant production of CHICAGO last fall), to rarely produced musicals (the haunting BERNARDA ALBA earlier this year), to enhancing the storytelling of plays with added music (e.g., UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL in 2018), to new works with a little music (Harrison David Rivers' gorgeous play TO LET GO AND FALL with cello duet) or a lot of music (the stunning new musical adaptation of CYRANO DE BERGERAC - C. by #TCTheater artists Bradley Greenwald and Robert Elhai). Other favorite memories are too many to mention - the regional premiere of the multiple Tony Award-winning ONCE, a lovely VIOLET ten years ago, the crazy brilliant carnival of Sondheim's ASSASSINS, a gut-wrenching RAGTIME, the simply beautiful original holiday classic ALL IS CALM (to be broadcast on PBS this year) - I could go on and on! Latte Da was about to open their unique take on the opera LA BOHEME when all public performances were cancelled, and they've promised to bring this to the stage whenever it's safe.
Find out more about NEXT UP, and how you can support it, here:

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Streaming Events

If this rain is ruining your holiday weekend plans, click on our EVENT page to find some online #TCTheater events you can enjoy. This week's shows include:
Marie Cooney Stories - Saturday storytelling
HUGE Theater - online improv on their YouTube page
Actors Theater of MN and Camp Bar - Sunday night showtune trivia!
Leslie Vincent Music - Monday night ukulele concerts
Combustible Company - streaming the 2013 production of their original piece HEROCYCLE (today and tomorrow only!)
Rev. Matt's Monster Science - live every Thursday (this week's topic - Tolkien!)
Theater Mu - 24-hour new play festival this weekend
The Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre - Saturday night shows (past shows available to watch anytime on their Facebook page)
Strike Theater and Classic Alley Performers - "you're on mute!"
Theatre Coup d'Etat - Zoom reading of Eugene Ionesco EXIT THE KING

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Theater Crush Thursday: Theatre Elision

Today, on #TheaterCrushThursday the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers want to give our love to Theatre Elision, a small theater company who cropped in 2017 and has since made a name for themselves within the Twin Cities Theater community and found a permanent home in Crystal, MN in 2019. The theater is true to their name, Elision meaning “the process of joining together or merging thing, especially abstract ideas” (I love how they have this front and center on their website. They state their purpose of developing and producing new or little known theatrical works that tell compelling stories with music. And they succeed! I know that many of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, including myself, always try to get to an Elision show in order to experience something new. Unless they are remounting a past successful work (they have brought back Ghost Quartet and Ruthless season after season to very happy theater goers). Every time I go into an Elision show it is the first time I have seen, and heard of the work and I always walk away with a smile on my face and often times frantically searching for a recording online to hear the songs which have just been newly introduced to new over and over again.
In the 2018 Twin Cities Theater Bloggers Awards, the TCTBers choose Theatre Elision as our Under the Radar Award pick, says “They are masters of mounting new or little known works filled with beautiful, well-performed music and just the right amount of absurdity.” Not only do they choose their shows well, they also cast extremely talented performers. In 2019 they were featured in the Star Tribune for this fact. They are a company who hires at least 50% women and pays performers a union wage, impressive for a theater so young.
Theater Elision’s 2019-2020 season as always looked very interesting. It included shows such as Islander – a musical which premiered in 2019 to rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festivals and Elision’s production is slated to be the US Premiere. And City Stories, a play with music that played Off-Broadway and Elision is going to be performing along with Rosabella Gregory who wrote the music. I can’t wait for them to come back so that I can experience these and many more new shows.
If you want to support Theatre Elision they have set up a Patreon 
 where you can unlock clips from some of my favorite of their past shows like Sea Cabinet and Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Streaming Events

Hello friends. Here are some #TCTheater shows for you to attend virtually this week. We know it's not the same as live theater, but it's all we've got right now! You can find more details on our events page, and remember to donate to your favorite theaters in this time.
If you know of any other events, please comment below or send us a message!
History Theatre - stream the 2012 production of COCO'S DIARY
The Feral Theatre Company - the launch of their podcast play project with OVERTONES
The Champagne Drops - Monday night concert from this lovely duo
Rev. Matt's Monster Science - live every Thursday
Park Square Theatre - two virtual plays: the final installment in the 2 Sugars Show trilogy and a new play by Full Circle Yoga Duluth
Theater Mu - Friday night "Mu-tini" hour and Saturday "Family Explorations"
Somerville Productions - Friday night cabaret shows featuring local artists
The Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre - Saturday night shows
and one thing we're very excited about - a weekly showtunes trivia challenge hosted by Actors Theater of MN and Camp Bar!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Theater Crush Thursday: Jungle Theater

Today’s #TheaterCrushThursday comes with mixed emotions.
We’re talking The Jungle Theater, one of the buzziest venues around these days. Founded in 1991, the Jungle won dozens of Ivy Awards over the years and is well known for its taut, creative stagings, but perhaps the most notable aspect of its character is its flexibility and willingness to evolve. That first season hosted plays by the likes of Timothy Mason, David Mamet, Tennessee Williams, John O'Keefe and Samuel Beckett. In the decades since these boards have produced everything from William Shakespeare to Alfred Hitchcock to Louisa May Alcott, Kira Obolensky, Lauren Gunderson and modern, contemporary musicals. The diversity of programming at the Jungle is a wonderful testament to the creative power of theater and a reminder that you don’t need an enormous stage to produce some pretty amazing, imaginative worlds.
I first encountered the Jungle under its vaunted founder, Bain Boelke’s vision. I remember being struck by the intimate size, where every seat is truly a great one leaving clear sight lines to the stage, and the ornate lobby. It was a totally different feel from any theater I’d experienced before and the place where I learned to appreciate plays as much as musicals (what can I say, my dad was a band director – there was no way I was coming out unbiased!).
Since Artistic Director Sarah Rasmussen took over five years ago the Jungle has led a marked shift in the kind of work produced on stages here in Minnesota. Quietly, one production at a time, more women and people of color have been cropping up in every facet of the Jungle’s operations – from acting to scriptwriting to production design and direction. It is now known as a place where you can go to see something completely fresh and new, whether a play like Small Mouth Sounds that was mostly silent, all-female productions like the heartbreaking teenage drama The Wolves or Rasmussen’s stunning pink and black debut production of Two Gentlemen of Verona, or new musicals like Ride the Cyclone that literally leave your jaw on the floor.
So what could be bittersweet about the fresh new voices blazing through the Jungle (and now many, many other #tctheater venues) under Rasmussen’s excellent leadership? It was recently announced that she will be leaving the Twin Cities to take the position of Artistic Director of the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey, one of the largest and most respected regional theaters in the country. While we are very sad to see her go, it’s an amazing opportunity that she richly deserves and we know she will excel at. And with the announcement that Christina Baldwin, who has been mentored by Rasmussen for the last two years, will be stepping in as interim Artistic Director we are confident in the Jungle’s future.
The cruelest part is that what is now Rasmussen’s last season at the helm was cut short by the pandemic, and we won’t be able to see what the end of her particular vision for the Jungle entailed. That said, we are grateful for the wonderful #tctheater memories she left us, the magnificent local artists she introduced us to who are sure to become superstars in their own right, and the sound footing the Jungle is on to remain a theater to watch in the years ahead. Please join us in raising a glass of best wishes to Sarah Rasmussen as she departs Minnesota this month. And while you’re at it, make a donation to the Jungle in her honor (link below) – let’s ensure their next season can kick off with a bang. - Compendium - Minneapolis

Monday, May 11, 2020

Streaming Events

A reminder to check out our EVENTS page to see what's streaming in #TCTheater. If you know of any other events, please comment below or send us a message!
These are some of the shows you can stream this week. Details of how and when can be found in the event pages, linked to on our EVENTS page.
History Theatre - the 2000 production of REZ ROAD and 2012 production of COCO'S DIARY
The Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre - Saturday night shows
Leslie Vincent Music - Monday night ukulele shows
Rev. Matt's Monster Science - live every Thursday
Somerville Productions - Friday night cabaret shows featuring local artists
Theater Mu - Friday night "Mu-tini" hour and Saturday "Family Explorations"

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Theater Crush Thursday: Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

It's the best day of the week, so you know what that means? Time for #TheaterCrushThursday!
Today we are talking about Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. CDT was founded in 1968 and has posted some staggering statistics since then – it is the largest professional dinner theater complex in the nation, the largest privately-owned restaurant in Minnesota, and has served over 12.5 million guests. If you’re a production design junkie, this is a great place to witness some beautiful costumes and sets with local pride (Beauty and the Best and Holiday Inn were particular favorites); all productions are conceived and designed by full-time artistic teams and made on-site 100% in Minnesota. And if musical theater isn’t really your thing, no problem – the vast complex has plenty of other entertainment options including a comedy club, concert series, wedding and events business and Brindisi’s Pub if you just want to swing through for a cold one.
CDT has hosted hundreds of productions over the years. Their past performance list, lovingly reproduced in every program, reads like a who’s who of the musical world. Recent productions have included Holiday Inn, Mamma Mia, Newsies, Sister Act, Grease. One of my all time favorites was Hairspray. They had just opened a production of The Music Man before the COVID-19 crisis closed their doors, and we hope they’re able to hit the ground running when things are up and running again as well as stage their next scheduled show of Cinderella. If you want to learn more (and you should!) check out their About Page below.
Personally, CDT has a special place in my heart because I grew up in a small town in Northern Minnesota, and CDT was the first place I experienced theater beyond the scope of small community theater. I will never forget being a little kid sitting in that dark theater, while the limpid notes of the pit orchestra and foggy set opened upon Brigadoon.
CDT was the only professional theater I experienced for most of my life, through annual school trips, and it was the place that opened my mind to the wonder that theater creates. It is the venue where engaging with theater became an accessible idea to me; I recognized many of the faces I continued to see on stage and was recognized and welcomed when I came through the doors.
I've branched far and wide from CDT in my understanding of #tctheater since my days as a wide eyed, wonder-filled kid, but this remains the source of my love for theater. It's now a familiar place where I can order my favorite entree (Chicken Chanhassen - don't sleep on it) and settle in for a few nostalgic hours. I love my other theaters in the Twin Cities for many reasons, but this is one that brings me back every time. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Streaming Events

#TCTheater-goers, if you're looking for some theater to virtually attend this week, please click on our EVENTS page. If you know of any other events, please comment below or send us a message!
These are some of the shows you can stream this week:
History Theatre - the 2000 production of REZ ROAD
Leslie Vincent Music - Monday night ukulele shows
Lounge Lizzy - storytime Wednesdays
Rev. Matt's Monster Science - live every Thursday
Somerville Productions - Friday night cabaret shows featuring local artists
The Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre - Saturday night shows
Encyclopedia Show Minneapolis - several nights of edutainment
various shows from The Theater of Public Policy
the 2015 surprise Minnesota Fringe hit OREGON TRAIL: THE MUSICAL from Literally Entertainment