FALL THEATER ROUNDUP
Lift the curtain on a full cast of theater productions this fall
By Lianna Matt
Theater in Minneapolis and St. Paul comes in many forms. It comes from the touring Broadway shows at Hennepin Theatre Trust's Orpheum Theatre. It comes from local mainstay talent in the Guthrie Theater's plays or the Ordway's musicals. And it comes from the hearts of the many independent theater companies and venues that put on great works out of pure passion. Whenever you're visiting Minnesota this fall, make sure to check out what's playing in one of our dozens of theater venues! Classics like “Romeo and Juliet” are hitting the stage as well as contemporary pieces like “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.” Minnesota premieres and world premieres are coming to life, and comedies, dramas, commentaries and romances are ready to take the stage for your enjoyment.
Take a look at our show spotlights each month and a list of some of the performances happening in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
“The Nether” at Jungle Theater
(Sept. 16-Oct. 15)
Does virtual reality exist with the same rules as the “real” world? In Jennifer Haley’s 2012 play, a crime and sci-fi thriller called “The Nether,” there is no clear answer.
In “The Nether,” there are two settings. One is a cyberspace called The Hideaway where a dark form of online entertainment is taking place, and the other is an interrogation room in the real world where a detective tries to find the truth within a labyrinth of desires, dangerous secrets, and questions of reality and rights.
While some productions of “The Nether” have made these settings lush with props, director Casey Stangl and her team at Jungle Theater have kept it suggestive but alluring; you might just find that The Hideaway is more comforting than the real world. Although technology is a familiar theme in dystopian plots, what Stangl loves about the play is that both the ideas it tangles with and the characters it creates are sincere and in balance with the other.
“The play presents all of these questions and answers but doesn’t come down on one side or the other of the debate,” says Stangl. “I think she’s dealing with human frailty and human relationship and desire in a way that’s really quite beautiful. … Because [Haley]’s so beautifully drawn these characters, where they feel like real flesh human beings, you can’t help but continue to believe in the power of connection and the power of our relationships with each other.”
- Ongoing-Sept. 9 – Ballast (20% Theatre Company)
- Ongoing-Sept. 16 – Fool For Love (Dark & Stormy Productions)
- Ongoing-Oct. 28 – Guardians of the Fallacy: Executive Disorder (Brave New Workshop)
- Sept. 2-30 – Sh!t-faced Shakespeare (at Camp Bar, Bryant Lake Bowl)
- Sept. 3 – Aventurera (State Theatre)
- Sept. 8-Oct. 1 – Taking Steps (Theatre in the Round Players)
- Sept. 8-Oct. 1 – Einstein: A Stage Portrait (The Matchbox Theater)
- Sept. 9 – The Pickle (Really Spicy Opera)
- Sept. 9-24 – Aliens with Extraordinary Skills (Theatre Unbound at Gremlin Theatre)
- Sept. 9-Oct. 28 – Romeo and Juliet (Guthrie Theater)
- Sept. 12-24 – In the Heights (Ordway Center for the Performing Arts)
- Sept. 12-Oct. 15 – The Abominables (Children’s Theatre Company)
- Sept. 13-Oct. 22 – Man of La Mancha (Theatre Latte Da)
- Sept. 15-23 – When I Nod My Head You Hit It With a Hammer (WLDRNSS at Southern Theater)
- Sept. 15-24 – The Lady with a Lap Dog (Fortune's Fool Theater at Open Eye Figure Theatre)
- Sept. 15-Oct. 8 – Aladdin (Orpheum Theater)
- Sept. 15-Oct. 22 – Henry and Alice: Into the Wild (Park Square Theatre)
- Sept. 16-Oct. 15 – The Nether (Jungle Theater)
- Sept. 21-Oct. 15 – Hoopla Train (Sod House Theater)
- Sept. 22-Oct. 8 – Mala (Guthrie Theater)
- Sept. 28-Oct. 1 – Goblin Market (Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon at The Crane Theater)
- Sept. 28-Oct. 8 – The Pink Panther (Twin Cities Community Theatre)
- Sept. 29-Oct. 1 – SenseAbility (Open Eye Figure Theatre)
- Sept. 29-Oct. 7 – mONSTER (Swandive Theater at Southern Theater)
- Sept. 29-Oct. 15 – How to Use a Knife (Mixed Blood Theatre)
- Sept. 30-Nov. 5 – Watch on the Rhine (Guthrie Theater)
“Balloonacy” at Children's Theatre Co.
(Oct. 3-Nov. 12)
If there’s any balloon story that’s purer than Pixar’s “Up,” it’s this one; it doesn’t even need words. “Balloonacy” is the 45-minute story of an old man spending his birthday alone—until a balloon drifts in. Through clowning, sound effects and music, a surprising story of one man learning how to laugh, play and love again makes the perfect fit for families with children around preschool age.
The show’s only cast member, Robert Dorfman—“The balloon doesn’t get a billing,” he jokes—has a wide portfolio of performances. He’s been a performer on Broadway’s “The Lion King,” a clown for the Wrigley Brothers and the Flying Karamazov Brothers, and an actor in TV shows including “L.A. Law,” not to mention his stints at the Guthrie Theater. Still, there’s something special about doing “Balloonacy,” which he first performed when Children’s Theatre Co. commissioned Barry Kornhauser to write it in 2012.
At the show, there are no adults allowed up front. It’s a children-only zone, where they can sit in front of the stage or walk up to the set, where they can shout and laugh and react without being shushed. If children want to sit in the back with their adult counterparts, they’re welcome to; it’s all about making the theater experience for them.
“Not only is it a great piece for kids, but it’s great for adults to experience it in communion with kids,” says Dorfman. “Kids that age—they don’t edit. They believe in what they see. It’s right before they become skeptical, and to see that sort of pure sense in a play, it just—it reminds me of things I’ve long forgot as an adult.”
- Ongoing-Oct. 8: Einstein, Taking Steps, Goblin Market, mONSTER, SenseAbility, Aladdin, Mala, The Pink Panther
- Ongoing-Oct. 15: The Abominables, Hoopla Train, How to Use a Knife, The Nether
- Ongoing-Oct. 31: Henry and Alice, Man of La Mancha, Guardians of the Fallacy, Romeo and Juliet, Watch on the Rhine
- Oct. 3-Nov. 12 – Balloonacy (Children’s Theatre Company)
- Oct. 5-7, 12-14 – Unzipped (Mark R. Trost at The Open Book Building and The Landmark Center)
- Oct. 6-14 – These Shining Lives (Uprising Theatre Company at The Phoenix Theater)
- Oct. 6-28 – Sam’s Son (Bucket Brigade at Art House North)
- Oct. 6-28 – Tick Tick Boom (Minneapolis Music Theatre at Bryant-Lake Bowl)
- Oct. 7-15 – Don Pasquale (Minnesota Opera at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts)
- Oct. 7-22 – The Minotaur (Theatre Pro Rata at The Crane Theater)
- Oct. 7-29 – All The Way (History Theatre)
- Oct. 13-Nov. 5 – Suddenly Last Summer (Theatre in the Round Players)
- Oct. 13-Nov. 11 – William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Park Square Theatre)
- Oct. 17-Nov. 12 – Wedding Band (Penumbra)
- Oct. 20-Nov. 4 – The Weir (Wayward Theatre Company at The Urban Growler)
- Oct. 21-Nov. 12 – Church & State (Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company at Highland Community Center)
- Oct. 26-Nov. 5 – Twin Cities Horror Festival (at Southern Theater)
- Oct. 27-29 – Birds Sing Differently Here (Guthrie Theater)
- Oct. 27-Nov. 5 – Dracula (Collide Theatrical Dance Company)
- Oct. 31-Nov. 5 – Finding Neverland (Orpheum Theater)
“The Marriage of Figaro” at Minnesota Opera
If you’ve never been to the opera before, what better way to start with what some people have called “the perfect opera”? “The Marriage of Figaro,” Mozart’s 1786 masterpiece, is a blend of drama, comedy, romance and adventure where love triangles, old debts and political upheaval run wild.
Minnesota Opera president and general director Ryan Taylor likens the creation of Minnesota Opera’s 55th season to a balanced meal—just like you have appetizers, entrees, and sweet finishes, here you have a light comedy (“Don Pasquale”) to start, a strong contemporary work halfway through to keep the audience surprised (“Dead Man Walking”), and a grand, sweeping piece of passion (“Thais”). As the second show of the season, “The Marriage of Figaro” nicely slides in as a grounding piece of the whole menu. It’s a classic for those already entrenched in opera, and it’s a beautiful introduction into the rich world for those uninitiated. (You might even know some of the melodies: They've been in pop culture, drifting through shows like Looney Tunes cartoons and “Shawshank Redemption.”)
The Minnesota Opera may be bringing in historic garments and settings for “The Marriage of Figaro,” but Taylor says the opera is played out in a modern way. “You get this idea that these people are sort of trapped in these traditional costumes and traditional roles that you might assume are stereotypical, but because it’s such a key point in political history [right before the French Revolution], they’re starting to really break those down,” he says.
While people can read the synopsis of the opera before they go, Taylor is an advocate for seeing the story unfold without any premonitions. After all, English subtitles are continuously provided above the stage, and the singers’ performances draw you into the world they’ve created in a way that doesn’t need words.
“There are all sorts of things to engage and tease you as you watch one of these shows,” Taylor says. The set, the sound, the story—everything weaves together. “In a way, it’s the biggest multimedia experience you can have that’s not wired.”
- Ongoing-Nov. 5: The Weir, Dracula, Finding Neverland, Suddenly Last Summer, Twin Cities Horror Festival, Watch on the Rhine
- Ongoing-Nov. 12: William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Balloonacy, Church & State, Wedding Band
- Nov. 2-12 – In the Next Room (The Vibrator Play) (University of Minnesota Theatre Arts & Dance)
- Nov. 3-20 – Moby Dick, an Original Adaptation (Theatre Coup d’Etat at Fallout Arts Initiative Co-op Studio 3)
- Nov. 7-Jan. 7 – Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Children’s Theatre Company)
- Nov. 8-Dec. 16 – Of Mice and Men (Park Square Theatre)
- Nov. 10-Dec. 3 – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Mixed Blood Theatre)
- Nov. 10-26 – Hedwig and the Angry Itch (Zenith City Horror at Camp Bar)
- Nov. 11 – Leila’s Death (Guthrie Theater)
- Nov. 11-19 – The Marriage of Figaro (Minnesota Opera at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts)
- Nov. 14-Dec. 30 – A Christmas Carol (Guthrie Theater)
- Nov. 17-Dec. 17 – And Then There Were None (Theatre in the Round Players)
- Nov. 18-Dec. 30 – Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Jungle Theater)
- Nov. 21-26 – Waitress (Orpheum Theater)
- Nov. 25 – A Very Asian Xmas (Mu Performing Arts at North Garden Theater)
- Nov. 25-Dec. 23 – Coco’s Diary – A Christmas Gift to Remember (History Theatre)
- Nov. 25-Jan. 14 – Blithe Spirit (Guthrie Theater)
- Nov. 29-Dec. 30 – A Christmas Carole Petersen (Theatre Latte Da)
- Nov. 30-Dec. 24 – Black Nativity (Penumbra)