49 Top Tickets for Fall Entertainment
IT’S FALL—time to close up the cabin and step away from the Jet Ski. You’re going to get cultured, and we’re going to help. We’ve examined hundreds of upcoming performances and exhibitions and selected a cross-section of shows we think will engage, enlighten, and energize you over the long, cold season ahead. We’ve also profiled some of the area’s most exciting artistic personalities, ones to watch in the coming year. All you have to do is weigh the options and buy some tickets. And then take your seat.
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1 Playwright and performer Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, never met a female body part she didn’t like discussing in public. If you find that empowering—or if you simply appreciate the fact that hardly anyone uncovers more candid and revelatory stories than Ensler—you’ll love her new show, The Good Body. Staged October 4 to 9 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, it relates true tales of women from around the world who feel compelled to change their looks to fit in—from those embracing Botox to those wearing burkhas. • Call 651-224-4222 for tickets.
2 At a time when a broken nail passes for tragedy, it’s worth revisiting Sophocles’ Antigone. Against a backdrop of endless war, three people take their own lives—needlessly, it turns out—in defiance of a tyrant. Ten Thousand Things Theater Company performs this sequel to Oedipus the King November 11 to 13 at Open Book and November 18 to 20 at the Minnesota Opera Center. The company’s productions, designed to be performed in prisons and homeless shelters, should place all of us at the edge of life’s extreme emotions. • Call 612-203-9502 for tickets.
3 Penny dreadfuls, the British version of 19th-century dime novels, had far-out plots about high-seas adventure and brutal beasts. Could they get any stranger? How about having grave robbers take out small-business loans? Or throwing Queen Victoria and Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis) into a vampire story? Done and done, in Hardcover Theater’s latest adventure in smart and playful literary adaptations, London After Midnight, which runs November 11 to 27 at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater. • Call 612-825-8949 for tickets.
4 You’ve seen this before: old play gets new setting several centuries removed. Fresh insights emerge (sometimes). But a handful of historical oddities make Out of Joint’s decision to set Macbeth in modern Africa, instead of its original Scottish backdrop, especially compelling. The Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, for instance, was obsessed with Scotland and even kindly offered to be its king. And the play, to be staged September 23 to October 2 at the Guthrie Lab, references the real case of a white aid worker who married an African warlord and was dubbed Lady Macbeth. Iambic pentameter never sounded scarier. • Call 612-377-2224 for tickets.
5 For nearly five years, the Plymouth Playhouse has been developing a play based on the books of Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, co-authors of the best-selling Growing Up Lutheran. The result is the musical Church Basement Ladies, which opens September 8. Written by beloved local storyteller Jim Stowell and his wife, Jessica Zuehlke—with music by Drew Jansen, the maestro behind How to Talk Minnesotan: the Musical—the show follows four women as they organize luncheons at a rural Minnesota church in 1965, dishing up laughs and poignancy in equal measure. • Call 763-553-1600 for tickets.
6 After 30 seasons, Park Square Theatre is mixing things up—with an all-Latino cast for Anna and the Tropics and an all–African American ensemble for Constant Star. But they’re starting out with the sure-fire mainstream classic You Can’t Take It with You from September 16 to October 9. Made into a memorable movie that starred James Stewart and Lionel Barrymore, this 1937 Pulitzer Prize–winning comedy pits a lovably kooky family against a clan of corporate titans in a tale of young love conquering old preconceptions and vast socioeconomic differences. • Call 651-291-7005 for tickets.
7 Cirque du Soleil is not your traditional wacka-wacka clown and sad elephant circus. But swapping animals for more acrobats has only increased the bizarro factor—Tammy Faye Baker couldn’t pull off the makeup on these contortionists, aerial dancers, and gymnasts. In their newest spectacle, Corteo, which opens September 23 in the Grand Chapiteau tent near the Walker Art Center, it’s all about clowns. Up to 90 artists will entertain each evening—and none will emerge from tiny cars. • Call 800-678-5440 for tickets and information.
8 Being a single African American woman in New York City in 1905 would be struggle enough, but Intimate Apparel’s protagonist, Esther, deals in the world of ladies’ undergarments—an, um, unmentionable career in that era, and not a great way to meet men. The show, which won last year’s Best Play honors from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, runs September 24 to October 23 at the Guthrie Theater. It follows Esther as she searches for love, befriends a prostitute, mingles with socialites, and ultimately comes to terms with her loneliness. • Call 612-377-2224 for tickets.
9 Rodgers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin reigned during Broadway’s golden years—the 1940s, ’50s, and early ’60s. Barbara Cook, a cabaret legend in her own right, will take you back to that time October 11 to 16 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Barbara Cook’s Broadway, a mix of musical showstoppers and tales of the old Great White Way. Named one of the “Ten Best Theatre Events of the Year” by both the Associated Press and USA Today. • Call 651-224-4222 for tickets.
10 We don’t know the writer behind the mysterious pen name Jane Martin, but that’s never prevented an appreciation of his/her work—not when it’s as inventive as Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage, a twisted take on the classic Western that will be staged at Theatre in the Round from October 14 to November 6. Rob Bob, a rodeo wannabe recuperating at the home of a former rodeo queen, must defend his hostess when villains She Devil and Black Dog arrive. John Wayne would roll over in his grave, but you may well tip your hat to crazy comedy like this. • Call 612-333-3010 for tickets.
11 You can’t help but be intrigued by an actor named Will Power and his show Flow, which will be staged on the new Cargill Stage at the Children’s Theatre November 2 to 19. A mix of original music, hip-hop, poetry, and dance that revolves around stories of the gritty city, the performance was named “one of the Top 10 NYC 2003 Theatre Performances” by the New York Times. You want to understand America’s urban youth? This might be a good place to start. • Call 612-874-0400 for tickets.
12 Dinner and a show, anyone? There’s no cooler musical theater than West Side Story (sorry, RENT), which is Romeo and Juliet set in rough and racist mid–20th century New York City with Puerto Rican Maria for Juliet and the fair Tony as Romeo. It opens November 4 at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, and even if you’ve associated the venue with bus tours and senior groups, this is an opportunity to feel cool in old-school surroundings and discover what insiders know: the Chan’s steady work has long attracted many of the area’s best performers. • Call 952-934-1525 for tickets.
13 Fans of television’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Martin will recognize the good-natured humor in The Dance on Widow’s Row, which opens November 11 at Mixed Blood Theatre. Writer Samm-Art Williams is the mind behind the TV comedy gems and this story of four middle-aged black women who collectively have nine dead husbands. The ladies decide to shake their bad luck by inviting wealthy bachelors to a Southern soiree, which results in a sweet love story and heated gender war. • Call 612-338-6131 for tickets.
14 Storyteller Kevin Kling could read roll call at a Sons of Norway meeting and we’d be rolling in the aisles. There’s something about his quirky Midwestern sensibility—Garrison Keillor after too many cups of glögg—that makes a show like Freezing Paradise: An Evening with Kevin Kling such a heartwarming treat. He’s taken this assortment of ironic and absurd tales around the region, and now it’s returning home, to the Guthrie Lab, from October 19 to 30. • Call 612-377-2224 for tickets.
15 When An Almost Holy Picture opened on Broadway nearly four years ago, starkly different reviews aligned themselves like angels and devils on star Kevin Bacon’s shoulders. Some said the metaphors and plot of this one-man show about a former minister struggling to reclaim his faith were transparent; others were, well, more forgiving. In the end, the play won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize nomination. Decide for yourself September 30 to October 22 at the Pillsbury House Theatre. • Call 612-825-0459 for tickets.
16 Put down the pitchforks. Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, despite being based on the 1970s porn movie, is not one of the signs of the Apocalypse. It’s a campy spoof, and the sex isn’t anything you didn’t see in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas—we’re talking banana jokes. Even the New Yorker thought it was a hoot. So when it’s staged September 30 to October 23 by Fifty Foot Penguin Theater at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage, put on a leisure suit and treat yourself to some of the best fun you can have, dare we say, with your clothes on. • Call 612-381-1110 for information.
17 The Little Prince is a royal treat in the playful hands of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, who will revive their spring production of this short but sweet gem from November 25 to January 8. In classic Jeune Lune fashion, the exotic tale becomes a journey through the imagination, with a long line of life-changing characters to meet. Playing the lead is Nathan Keepers, whose wide-eyed approach draws us into this surprisingly sophisticated story with a childlike sense of wonder. • Call 612-333-6200 for tickets.
18 Adultery has rarely been as charming as in Same Time, Next Year, which had a Tony Award–winning run on Broadway and was made into a 1978 movie starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. The premise—that two people who are married to others could hit it off at a resort and decide to return once a year for a romantic weekend—has something to say about the nature of love and marriage. But mostly, it’s played for laughs. The Jungle Theater stages the comedy November 4 to December 31, with direction by former Twin Cities favorite Casey Stangl. • Call 612-822-7063 for tickets.
19 Actor James Craven followed an Indian guide into the Southwest mountains—where African American “buffalo soldiers” in the U.S. Army battled Native Americans—to get into character for Penumbra Theatre’s Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers. The play, by William S. Yellow Robe Jr., follows the grandchild of a buffalo soldier and a Native American woman as he struggles to find community and identity. Penumbra held casting calls across the country for this world premiere, which will be staged September 23 to October 15. • Call 651-224-3180.
20 What’s still shocking about the musical Tommy, more than 30 years after its debut, is not that this story of a traumatized child–turned-superstar was conceived by wild-man guitarist Pete Townsend of the Who, but that it all revolves around pinball. Pinball! Staged October 7 to 30 by the Minneapolis Musical Theatre at Hennepin Stages, this rock opera nonetheless packs a punch. The power of songs like “Pinball Wizard” is only mildly dimmed by nostalgia and overplay on KQ. • Call 612-673-0404 for ticket information.