Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why Minneapolis Rocks

This is one of my (Paige's) favorite times of the year. I bask in the sun, I blow out my birthday candles (22, thanks for asking!) and I get half-day Fridays at work. Jealous?
But I especially love this time of year in Minneapolis because local theaters (and we have really really good ones) are revealing their upcoming seasons. Most theaters in town run their seasons from September to August (excepting rebels like the Jungle Theater & Pillsbury House Theatre, who do it by the calendar year). And I’m really excited for some of the ambitious, thought-provoking and entertaining productions that are in the works (full disclosure - I work closely with most major theaters in town). Here’s my own, in no way all-reaching or fully informed look at what I’m most excited to see.

A Streetcar Named Desire at the Guthrie (July-August)
• I fell in love with Marlon Brando and his intensity as Stanley in the movie version of this Tennessee Williams play. And Blanche is one of the most fully-drawn female characters out there. I’m especially excited to see TV and theater actress Gretchen Egolf dig her teeth into the role after reading her self-deprecating, sweet and sometimes very raw blog about the rehearsal process on the Guthrie’s website.

The Scottsboro Boys at the Guthrie (August)
• This is the show’s final push to tighten things up before they try it on Broadway. It’s received great reviews so far and I’m curious to see how a big, splashy musical pulls off the subject material (it’s based on the real story of 9 black men who are accused of rape and thrown in jail). But hey, if Les Miserables can put music to the French Revolution, anything’s possible, right?

Wicked at the Orpheum (August – September)
• Yes, I’ve already seen it. Yes, so have most people. But it’s fun, memorable and you can’t get the songs out of your head - who doesn’t get goosebumps when Elphaba defies gravity? I personally love this version of the song sung by Idina Menzel who originated the role …

Vigil at the Pillsbury House Theatre (September-October)
• Pillsbury always does theater that makes you want to immediately go have a drink with whoever you came with and talk about what you just saw. And this one is sure to inspire conversation, given that it’s directed by Stephen DiMenna. Steve’s a good friend of Project SUCCESS (where I work) and does all our training for our classroom workshops. I’ve always been impressed with what he can pull out of our facilitators. I’m excited to see him do it with actors on stage.

A Cool Drink of Water at the Mixed Blood (September-October)
• Here’s what’s cool about the Mixed Blood. They infuse a little bit of humor in everything they do. In this show, they’re taking the characters from A Raisin in the Sun (brilliant play, but not a belly-laugher) and transporting them into a modern-day comedy. Intriguing ….

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – A Penumbra production at the Guthrie (February-March)
• If you can see a Penumbra production, any production, it’s worth it. But they’re never better than when they’re putting on an August Wilson play. Penumbra and Wilson had a very special relationship and he lived in St. Paul for more than 2 decades, honing his craft and working directly with the Penumbra, while they produced many of his plays.

Barrio Grrrl! At the Children’s Theatre (March)
• How great that the Children’s Theatre is doing a musical with a Latina girl as its protagonist? With hummable pop music, and a main character who is dealing with real life stuff like her dad being in Iraq, this show could speak to a lot of girls. Yay empowerment!