This script by Shanan Custer has been two years in the making. In the director’s note, Dawn Krosnowksi explains that the original script had its second read through on March 7, 2020. Just about the time the world went to “hell in a handbasket”. It is an absolute joy to finally see this project up and running. THE BUNGALOW LOFT by Fearless Comedy Production is a heartfelt and funny story of sisters accompanied by their childhood neighbor learning the truth of the mystery that was their Mom.
Performed in the round at the Historic Mounds Theatre in St. Paul THE BUNGALOW LOFT takes place one evening in an almost bare apartment in Uptown. A few months after the death of their mother, two sisters Sam and Liv, and their childhood neighbor Hannah are brought back together after discovering their mother had been keeping a secret for most of their lives. While Hannah and Liv spend the night reminiscing about the great times and leaning into the mystery of why this apartment existed as if they were in a Nancy Drew book. Sam is more skeptical and struggles to understand if her Mother’s actions were because of a mental illness or the side effects of the brain tumor that would eventually kill her. Together the women piece together the memories of their childhood and begin to get a better understanding of the amazing mind of the women they thought they knew.
This was my first experience with Fearless Comedy Production and a wonderful introduction. The cast includes Sarah Broude as the awkward landlord (and more but I don’t want any spoilers), Jen Scott as the older sister Sam who has been internalizing the actions of her Mother since she was a child, Ambrosia J. Webb as the free-spirited younger sister Liv trying to get her older sister to open up, and the naive yet wise Hannah played by Angela Fox. This ensemble of women brought realness and heart to the characters.
The Old Log Theatre welcomed us back with the regional professional theatre premiere of THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG. Being surrounded by that laughter was amazing and so joyful to be part of the excited crowd on Friday evening.
The script by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields is a play within a play. We are introduced to The Cornley Drama Society group who has chosen to perform the murder mystery titled THE MURDER AT HAVERSHAM MANOR. From the very first spot light error you can tell this is not going to end well. This group of dedicated, though accident prone, thespians give their ALL just trying to get through the script and make it to the final bow. From doors not opening, missed lighting cues, and even stage hands filling in for the actors we never knew what funny disaster was coming next.You enter the theatre space to see the “stage hands” Mitchell Dallman, Maureen O’Mally, and Mike Tober prepping the set. They pause from time to time to ask the audience in the first few rows for help, which was such a fun way to pass the time as we settled into our seats.
The entire cast is absolutely HILARIOUS with moments of physical comedy that we had to stop throughout the show to applaud each one of them. A true highlight was watching Carl Swanson as Robert try to keep his act together as set pieces, floors, and props fell around him, putting him in a few precarious positions. Neil Beckman as the overly dedicated to the script Dennis, nervously checked the notes written on his hand and had us in stitches even when he repeatedly mispronounced words. Michael Terrell Brown as the over acting Max who took every advantage he could to milk his scenes and even blow kisses to the audience when we reacted well. Brown did a wonderful job finding this larger than life character without it feeling chaotic. Luke Aaron Davidson as Chris, gives us his all as a recent director/actor just trying to help his fellow castmates make it to the end. The rest of the cast features Greg Frankenfield, Audrey Parry as Annie, the stage hand thrown into the show nervously reading from her script on stage, Emily Scinto as Sandra playing the leading women fighting to keep her spotlight once Annie takes the stages, and Neal Skoy as one of the funniest “dead” characters I’ve seen.
It was the perfect show to reopen their doors, we laughed so hard the set literally started falling apart. Running Thursday-Sunday through February 26th. Tickets and more information: http://www.oldlog.com
I was overjoyed to be back at Yellow Tree Theatre again! It may just be the coziest lobby in MN theatre and walking it was such a treat. Originally scheduled for early 2020, SHERWOOD is back to kick-off their 14th season. It was a hilarious, engaging, and energetic way to start a new season and such a joy to watch. What a warm welcome back to Yellow Tree!!
SHERWOOD by Ken Ludwig reimagines the well known tale of the Prince of Thieves and adds a hilarious spin breaking the fourth wall and welcoming the audience right inside the story. You are instantly transported to the Sherwood Forest with the incredible scenic design by Justin Hooper. It’s always a pleasure to see what Yellow Tree does with their space and with the greenery covered medieval walls and clever use of tree trunks to hold various props. I was not disappointed.
We follow the story of Robin of Locksley (Damian Leverett) as he begins his journey to becoming Robinhood. We see his transformation from child to adult and Leverett brings such a fun energy and attitude to the role. Friar Tuck (Karen Wiese-Thompson) serves as the perfect narrator of the show. She popped out from all over the stage to move the plot along, even introducing themselves when they finally made their own appearance in the story. The new twist in the show presents Maid Marian (Michelle de Joya) as a strong educated woman who may also just be the best archer around. The rest of the strong cast includes Ryan London Levin, Darrick T. Mosely, James Rodriguez, Sophina Saggau, and C. Ryan Shipley who all bring such wonderful vibrancy to the characters they portray.
As should be expected in any Robinhood tale, SHERWOOD makes up for the last 18 months I have had without live stage combat.The production is jam packed with incredible stage choreography by Mike Lubke. The physical comedy and execution of this choreography from the entire cast makes you exhausted just watching them. They jump all over the stage fighting with bows and swords, forging streams and climbing castle towers, and even some swinging from the ceiling. There is a lot of action in just under 2 hours, that you just have to see for yourself.
My first introduction to Lyric Arts was this past April watching the stage/filmed production of THE REVOLUTIONISTS followed up with the NEW VOICES CABARET from the comfort of my living room. I am excited to say I have finally been able to visit their stage IN-PERSON this past weekend as they kicked off their 27th Season with THE 39 STEPS. Located right on Mainstreet in Anoka they have one of the most charming spaces I have been to. We were welcomed by a marquee lit up and brightly inviting all the patrons to come join in on the fun, and WOW did we have fun!
THE 39 STEPS written by Patrick Barlow and John Buchan is based off a Hitchcock film of the same title. We follow Richard Hannay, an average yet dashing man simply enjoying a night at the theatre, who is thrown into a world of spies and forced to go on an dangerous adventure to save the world from an unknown evil. This wacky tale is presented as a play within a play beginning with the 4 cast members prepping the stage for the top of the show, bowing to the audience, then heading back stage. This fun take lent itself well to adding in intentional “mistakes” throughout the show such as missed cues and phones ringing at the wrong time. This approach allowed the actors to lean into the wackiness of the plot and help the audience look past the “over-the-top” moments and just enjoy the pure entertainment in front of us.
Lyric Arts has assembled a great cast that had us laughing all the way through the ridiculousness of this plot. Kyler Chase as Richard Hannay and Zoe Harrtigan as the three specific woman Hannay meets alonghis adventure (Annabella, Margaret, and Pamela) have great comedic chemistry that were a joy to watch play off each other .The duo of Jake Sung-Guk Sullivan and Brendan Veerman as the “clowns” are superb as they fill in the entire world of the story with over 100 different characters between them. Their combined comedic timing, ability to rapidly change between characters and accents, and pantomiming is a true highlight of the production. Waiting to see what crazy this was coming next for this cast kept us on our toes and energized throughout the show, we had a smile on our faces from beginning to the final bow.
The ridiculousness of the plot is out-shine by the presentation of the hilarious interactions and obstacles along Hannay’s journey for safety and answers about the mysterious “39 Steps”. Thank you Lyric Arts for the warm, and hilarious, welcome to your In-Person Season! THE 39 STEPS runs until Oct 17th. For more information and to purchase tickets: https://www.lyricarts.org/the-39-steps
“Open Your Eyes, Be Bully-Wise!: An Anti-Bullying Spectacular!” by an alleged Theatre Company was the perfect kick off to my 2021 Fringe! Jake Mierva, J. McIntyre Godwin, and Danylo Loutchke burst on to stage with energy and ridiculousness that quickly gets the whole audience involved. These 3 play actors (with the same names) that are touring around with their anti-bullying seminar. They creatively interact by having the audience participate in various anti-bullying exercises and icebreakers. Their quick-witted raport and improv was so entertaining and kept me engaged the whole performance. A funny show rooted in the goal of teaching us how to lead a life free of bullying. 2 more chances to see it at the Pheonix Theatre Aug 14th at 5:30pm and Aug 15th at 3:30pm. Masks are required in the Pheonix Theatre.
“Compromised” by Reservoir Frogs was a fully improvised production based on the audience’s suggestions. The motivation behind the story they created was based on greed, failure, and how everyday people can get in over their heads. The team of Adam Boutz, Jenny Benusa, Rob Ward, Amy Zajack, Andy Christian, Heather Jo Raiter, Mickaylee Shaughnessy, and Mike Deneen created a world based on our suggestions of church goers, ice cream shop, and a stuffed squirrel. It was interesting to see how they all interpreted these ideas and found a way to make it all work together. At the end of the day that is the joy of improv.. 2 more chances to see it at the Pheonix Theatre Aug 14th at 4:00pm and Aug 15th at 2:00pm. Masks are required in the Pheonix Theatre.
“Channel” is an chilling and unique theatric experience that was an absolute joy to watch. Elizabeth Efteland is incredible in this one woman production using the entire Crane Theatre as her playground. The way she moved throughout the theatre was brilliant. Even when she was standing next to us in the seats, she was so convincing in the way she looked passed us and made me feel like I truly was just a fly on the wall watching her work. We watch Ld’s (Efteland) evening at the theater unfold as she frustratingly tries to finish her tasks. She is alone in the theatre, only accompanied by phone calls and voicemails of a friend, mom, and a less than supportive director…or so she thinks… 😳
“The Convent of Pleasure” was well… an absolute pleasure to watch! The entire ensemble worked brilliantly together. The script was sharply written and full of wit and word play. Thank you @theatreprorata for making this wonderful piece my final in-person production at Fringe this year. I got to end on a truly high note 🤩
“We got magic to do, just for you. We got miracle plays to play. We got parts to perform, hearts to warm” After an extended intermission these lyrics from the opening number take on a whole new meaning.
I knew absolutely nothing about the show walking in and was quickly sucked into the world of PIPPIN. We are welcomed by the Leading Players who set the scene and invite us to enjoy the show they have prepared. “Heir to the Frankish throne, the young prince Pippin is in search of the secret to true happiness and fulfillment. He seeks it in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh, and the intrigues of political power (after disposing of his father, King Charlemagne the Great). In the end, though, Pippin finds that happiness lies not in extraordinary endeavors, but rather in the unextraordinary moments that happen every day” (EPE Website Synopsis). We follow Pippin’s journey to discovering himself and the magic of everyday life.
They have transformed the parking lot of PiM in Eden Prairie into a circus-like arena. As the sun sets and the stage lights take over you are glued to the stage in front of you and the incredible backdrop to this production. They used the parking lot as their playground and incorporated the cars parked around them in a wildly clever way (*no spoilers). The cast enters from all angles and hidden places on the stage that keep you on your toes to see what they will do next. The large cast numbers are full of energy and humor as they takeover the stage with combat scenes and dance numbers.
The Performing Institute of Minnesota’s Emerging Professionals Ensemble are artists aged 16-24 beginning their professional careers who are committed to ensemble-driven storytelling and collaboration with their peers. The whole cast of PIPPIN was strong in their roles and the mission of being ensemble driven really shone through in this production. Highlighting the cast’s special talents including riding a unicycle, fire blowing, gymnastic tricks, and accordion made the production complete and a joy to watch. Learn more about the EPE and PIPPIN: https://www.pimartshs.org/epe/ ONLY 2 more chances to see it. Aug 6-7 at 8pm.
Mamma Mia! was the perfect show for the inaugural “Broadway by the Bridge” series with Zephyr Theatre. I have been singing all the songs from this popular jukebox musical ever since and for that I say…“Thank you for the music.. for giving it to me”. It was first time seeing a production with Zephyr Theatre and it has quickly risen to the top of my outdoor theatre going experiences so far this summer.
They have transformed Lowell Park in Stillwater into a venue that reminded me of a music festival but in my opinion much BETTER because we got to see a musical! The park area is fenced off with chairs set up and ready for excited patrons to fill them. There is a VIP ticket option with reserved seats and a General Admission option that allowed us to walk around for a bit until we found our perfect seats to settle in to for the performance.
When you looked past the familiar Greek town on stage all you could see was water of the St. Croix River, which added an element that just isn’t possible to achieve in a theatre space. We were transported to this island so quickly and I never wanted to leave. The impact of Donna (Burleigh-Bentz) climbing to the top of the cliff side on stage belting out the final few lines of “The Winner Takes it All” as she overlooked the river was greater than I even know how to put into words.
Now let’s talk about this dreamy cast! Some of them I have had the pleasure of seeing in other productions but so many of these faces were new to me and look forward to seeing them in future shows. Jen Burleigh-Bentz fully encompasses the spirit and many layers of Donna as she plans her daughters wedding while reflecting on who she was (and the choices she made) when she was the same age. Emily Scinto as her daughter Sophie who decided to invite 3 men from her moms past in hopes of discovering who she is and her biological father. She portays the multiple sides of Sophie as both a young wide eyed woman seeking answers about who she is and the woman confidently in love with some steamy chemistry with her on stage her fiancé Sky, played by Mitchell Douglas with such ease.
The trio of “potential dads” Sean Dooley (Sam Carmichael), Reed Sigmund (Bill Austin) and Charles Fraser (Harry Bright) were perfectly cast in their respective roles. Kristina Mitchell (Tanya) and Lynnea Doublette (Rosie) as Donna’s friends and the Dynamos had wonderful comedic timing and brought their characters to life. Doublette and Austin in their duet of “Take a Chance on Me” was an absolute highlight of the production that had the whole audience laughing.
Filling out the world on their little island is an amazing ensemble including; Angela Steele, Ali Daniels, Stephen Neff, Jameson Pieper Brianna Galligan, Cassidy Hall, Jaclyn Mack, Laini Devin, Michael Dufault, Robyn Pfeifer, Tessa Larson, Carter Hoffer, and Chad Bracewell.
In true Mamma Mia! fashion the show ends with a beach party sing-a-long of the favorite tunes that we couldn’t help but jump onto our feet to dance along. #dancingqueens The show closes this weekend so act now and get your tickets and keep a close eye on what’s coming next! For more information and tickets : https://www.stillwaterzephyrtheatre.org/event/mamma-mia-july-22/
I am slowly working my way towards seeing a show in the Hanifl Performing Arts Center. I have joined Lakeshore Players Theatre virtually with THE LADY WITH ALL THE ANSWERS and WAIT UNTIL DARK. This past weekend I was able to join them LIVE… in their parking lot for COMPANY and would gladly sit in a parking lot for another production! Looking forward to being inside their new space soon.
I knew very little about this musical before attending but recognized numbers such as The Ladies Who Lunch and Being Alive. The synopsis found on the Lakeshore Players Website states“On the eve of Bobby’s 35th birthday, their friends are celebrating, but not without their probing questions… “Why isn’t Bobby married? Why can’t they settle down? Why can’t they find the love of their life in the bustling city of New York?” …Sondheim peels back the complicated layers of adult relationships and dives into why being single, being married, and just being alive in the 21st century is enough to drive a person crazy”.
We follow Bobby navigating the world of being single in a group of friends who are all married through a series of vignettes that aren’t in any specific chronological order. It was a very relatable story line with moments of reflection and heart paired with LOTS of laughs.
The cast includes Billy Krager, Lydia Wagner, James Lane, Lindsay Shimizu, Bradley Johnson, Kiko Laureano, James Person, Audrey Johnson, Brendan Finn, Wendy Short-Hays, Martin Swaden, Mary Palazzolo, Katie Rowles-Perich, and Abilene Olson. This amazing ensemble quickly took me into their world of these characters. Each of the “married couples” had quick chemistry wonderfully cast to play off each other.
This is the perfect show if you are looking for a fun way to spend a few hours this weekend full of laughs, heart, friendship, and the puzzling questions involved with finding yourself and a partner to navigate life with. Run time 2 hours 45 min with an intermission. Running until July 25th! Learn more or get tickets: https://www.lakeshoreplayers.org/company
I was so excited to see that Theatre55 had plans to perform this summer. I attended URINETOWN last year and had a wonderful time. They are back with HAIR! The Concert Experience at the Caponi Art Park in Eagan. The cast was full of energy and excitement as they took the stage LIVE and outdoors.
The concert experience moved quickly through each song of Hair! as the cast danced with contagious joy. In the program they have included some of the lyrics to sing along as the cast works the crowd to keep everyone engaged. The final song “Let The Sunshine in” had the whole audience on their feet singing and swaying along. It was hard not to leave with a smile on your face and “Aquarius” stuck on your head.
It was my first visit to the Caponi Art Park and it was the perfect backdrop for the music from HAIR! and added so much to the experience. There is something about the context of the show and music that just makes more sense to be performed in a park space. We all brought our own seating and spread out on the hill spaces to enjoy the show.
I could not think of a better introduction to Theatre Elision and the wonderful space at the Elision Playhouse than Islander. It was recognized at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival as the top musical and went on to a successful run at the Southwark Theater in London. From the moment the lights turn off we are transported to a small island in Scotland with gorgeous projections and music. Folklore and reality collide when the tide washes a mysterious stranger onto the beach and changes the future of the small community remaining on the island. The result is truly enchanting.
Islander is presented with 2 rotating casts featuring Emily Dussault, Christine Wade, and Deidre Cochran. I had the pleasure of seeing Dussault and Wade create the world of characters found in this small island village, seamlessly transitioning between each scene and character like smooth choreography. This story of folklore is rooted in the important relationships of the characters and this duo brought them to life on stage. With palpable chemistry, every new set of characters they portrayed felt as real and honest as the last one.
The music and lyrics by Finn Anderson are a beautiful combination of Scottish folk music and traditional acapella. With the assistance of a looping machine, they layered their voices and clapping to create mesmerizing music that filled the theatre. I have been playing the soundtrack on repeat since Sunday and keep finding new moments to love. It’s intricate and interesting, which makes me very excited to think about the future of musical theatre and the possibilities of what’s to come.