Theater

Reviews of theater productions, both traveling and originating in Minnesota.

Enjoy Dragon-Sized Performances by a Halfling-Sized Cast in The Hobbit at Children’s Theatre Company

When it comes to epic tales, J. R. R. Tolkien‘s Middle-earth universe certainly takes the cake. With numerous books, supplements, maps, and a trio of film trilogies (two live action and one animated), geeks have been inundated with material from this magical world for over 80 years. But getting new folks, especially kids, into The Hobbit can be a little difficult due to its length and density. Enter the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company and playwright/director Greg Banks. Banks was...

Potted Potter Is a Fun Night for Harry Potter Fans and Theatergoers Alike

It’s hard to believe the Harry Potter franchise is two decades old. Sometimes it seems like only yesterday that fans were lining up outside bookstores for a new release, trying not to spoil the next book for those of us who couldn’t read 500 pages in one sitting. Now Potter fans have a theme park, 10 movies (with three more slated for release), a play, and endless merchandise for all four Hogwarts houses to choose from. So in the...

The Great Leap Is a Slam Dunk

Minneapolis audiences are pretty terrific for actors. Not to say we’re easy, but as a general rule, standing ovations ought to be the unexpected exception. Hand them out too often, and they become theatrical participation trophies. A good round of applause with perhaps a few discreet “woots” thrown in will do for most shows and are sufficiently gratifying to the performers. We ought to save the standing Os for the performances that truly deserve them—like this one. The Great...

Noises Off at the Guthrie Is So Nice I Saw It Twice

It is said that theater is the result of a series of happy accidents magically culminating in a successful show. While that criminally understates the efforts of a staggering number of people—most of whom never even get the satisfaction of taking a bow for all their work—there is some truth to it. Any show can be tanked if the simply astonishing number of moving parts does not all line up just right. Throw in Murphy’s Law, “Anything can go...

The Guthrie Brings Fire to an Arctic Frankenstein

Frankenstein: Playing with Fire was originally mounted in the late 1980s by the Guthrie Theater shortly after the publication of the play written by Minnesotan Barbara Field. I saw it then, a fact I mention only as trivia really, as I can’t recall much beyond enjoying it and being impressed by the more graphic flourishes. Still, that earlier production can stand as a point of reference, as this current staging has some retro flair that gives it an ’80s...

Curie Me Away Is a Radioactive Musical Romp

What’s that? A musical production steeped in physics, biology, and chemistry concepts that also tells the compelling story of one of the most important women of science who ever lived? That pitter-patter you hear is my nerdy little heart waking up and capering about like a puppy hearing a ringing bell. Where can you find such a thing? Try the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, where Matheatre’s Curie Me Away is on stage this weekend. This show is a delightful romp through the...

Remy Raygun of the Space Brigade: A Build-Your-Own Space Opera Will Be a Family Hit at the Minnesota Fringe Festival

The Choose Your Own Adventure books by R. A. Montgomery were a staple of my preteen years. I enjoyed the sci-fi/fantasy stories, but most of all I loved being able to have an impact on the direction of the story—and when it ended too early, I could cheat back to the spot where I’d made the fatal decision in hopes of a more favorable outcome. I was in control of the story. Remy Raygun of the Space Brigade: A...

Chromera’s Peek Is a Strange Sci-Fi Adventure at Minneapolis’s Red Eye Theater

There is a new theater ensemble in town, and their first show is something to not be missed. Søren Olsen, formerly of 600 Whale, and Dolo McComb, formerly of the dance trio //CATHEDRAL\\, have teamed up to create the Lesser Lamps, which is, in their words, a “far-out dance theatre hybrid.” Combine their interests in sci fi, the occult, metaphysics, and fantasy along with their graphic novel obsessions and spiritual practices, and you get, as they describe it, the “bizarro...

Theater Mu’s The Princess’ Nightingale Is a Dazzling Flight of Fancy

Delightful. That’s the word that captures the experience of seeing The Princess’s Nightingale, directed by Randy Reyes of Theater Mu at SteppingStone Theatre in St. Paul. Incorporating singing, dancing, and fighting (plus writing), the show will grab your attention from the moment the curtain rises and hold it throughout. Though a loose adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Nightingale,” The Princess’ Nightingale is given its own voice by playwright Damon Chua. In fact, despite the two stories...

Rated G: The Improvised Family Friendly Musical Is Rated H For Hysterical

One of the great things about improv is that it results in shows that are never the same twice—which really takes the pressure off a reviewer vis-à-vis any possible spoiler infractions. More surprising to those unfamiliar with the form is how, in the hands of skilled artists, what results from a simple topic suggestion is a strangely coherent melange of a show that is astonishingly fun for both audience and actor alike. Rated G: The Improvised Family Friendly Musical,...
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