Theater

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

Farewell, Mary Jo Pehl (Until the Next Time)

If you’re a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you surely know the manic and maniacal Pearl Forrester, played with incessant intensity by the hilarious Mary Jo Pehl—or you’ve spotted Pehl in one of her smaller parts, like Jan in the Pan, Magic Voice, or Minnewegian Amazon. Her presence has been felt even when she wasn’t in front of the camera, as she was also one of the show’s funniest writers. Those who missed MST3K in its heyday might...

Adam Savage and Michael Stevens Satiate the Mind with Brain Candy Live

For generations, being interested in science made you an outcast—forced into the depths of basement laboratories, backyard telescopes, and dusty library sections. But over time, popular science started to break through to the masses, with shows like Mr. Wizard, Beakman’s World, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The last decade in particular has seen a science boom in what is cool, thanks in large part to Mythbusters on television and Vsauce on the interwebs. So in some ways, it’s only natural that hosts...

Klingons, Gender, and Disability on the Feast of the Long Night

The concept of transformative works is not new; it dates back as far as history goes. Typical examples include the Gospels (written hundreds of years after the life of the historical figure of Jesus) and Dante’s Divine Comedy (a self-insert version of the author palling around with his favorite poet, Virgil). In the 20th century we have Sherlock Holmes fans writing their own eccentric-genius stories (the Baker Street Irregulars through Laurie King), Star Trek fans writing licensed tie-ins and...

Imagination Is the Ultimate Escape in The Terror Fantastic

There’s something refreshing about attending a play put on by a smaller theater company. Larger productions can certainly be dazzling, yet they can also feel a trifle overproduced. The expensive sets, the slickly tailored costumes, the perfect sound and effects can actually distance an audience from the immediate experience, and the show becomes more akin to television—something experienced at an emotional remove. Not so with 20% Theater Company’s world premier of The Terror Fantastic by Nicole Jost at the...

The Marriage of Figaro Is a Modern Story of Class Struggle, Dressed in Wigs

Overdressing, cross-dressing, undressing, and a healthy dose of social critique are just a few of the delights offered by the Minnesota Opera’s production of classic opera The Marriage of Figaro. Figaro, our charismatic hero and the personal valet to Count Almaviva, just wants his wedding day to go smoothly. However, his capable fiancée, Susanna, senses trouble afoot. Their boss wants to claim his droit du seigneur: the master’s right to sleep with a servant on her wedding night. To make things...

Swandive Theatre’s mONSTER Explores the Secrets Behind the World Wide Web

When I started college in the mid-1990s, worldwide access to the Internet had been around for a little over a year. I remember the excitement as I received my university-issued laptop and scored one of those AOL floppy disks that gave me 50 hours of web access, free of charge. On any given night, my kitchen was full of fellow students spending countless hours exploring the web, mainly spending them in chat rooms. We went through a lot of...

10 Shows to See at Minnesota Fringe 2017

The three most important things I’ve learned (so far) in my first-ever year of attending the Minnesota Fringe Festival are: Schedule in time for food or bring snacks along with you. There is no way you will see all the shows you want to see. Most importantly, there is a tremendous amount of talent in the Twin Cities. I have had the pleasure, and in some cases the displeasure, to attend over a dozen shows so far. Here are...

Fearless Comedy Combines Improv and Reddit in a New Monthly Show

What happens when you cross improv theater with a popular social news and discussion website? You get r/WhatTheImprov, produced by Fearless Comedy Productions and playing monthly at Honey in Minneapolis. You also get adults laughing hysterically at other adults crawling on stage mooing at each other. r/WhatTheImprov was developed by actor and Redditor Kyle Dekker. After a few years of reading the entertaining and not-so-entertaining comments on the site, Kyle decided to bring it to the stage. The actors...

Human Combat Chess Is Back with Duels, Banter, and Fun

It’s back! Human Combat Chess from Six Elements Theatre is returning to the stage—which is to say chess board—to once again battle for a championship title. After a grueling season it comes down to two teams: the Legion and the Celts. Last year I was introduced to Midwest Combat Chess League’s Human Combat Chess via the 2016 All-Star Tournament, which was not only very entertaining but also educational. I had no idea Human Combat Chess even existed (and in...

Anxiety! The Musical Confronts Mental Health with Song and Comedy

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Those with social anxiety disorder experience an intense fear of being scrutinized and negatively evaluated by others in social or performance situations. Some literally feel sick from fear in seemingly nonthreatening situations.” Simply defined, social anxiety is the fear of interacting with other people. But social anxiety can be selective. Anxiety! The Musical, presented by Fearless Comedy Productions at the Historic Mounds Theatre, is not a show that makes light...
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