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Fall Arts Preview

The top 10 all-time, must-see, holy-cow, get-your-butt-down-here arts events for fall. Plus, 21 more shows you won’t want to miss.

Fall Arts Preview
Photo by Darren Booth (Typography)

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10. Continuous City

October 23 to 25
The Builders Association
WHAT TO EXPECT: Though ostensibly a play about a homebound daughter and a globe-trotting father, this show by the New York–based masters of multimedia is mostly about blowing your analog mind with the possibilities of digital storytelling—a melee of computer animation, electronic music, and film (key scenes will be shot locally).
WHY GO: You can see Rent for the 18th time another day. Glimpse the future of theater now, as commissioned by the Walker Art Center, so you can socialize with your friends from the cultural coasts without embarrassment.
WHERE: Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600

9. Handel’s Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day

September 5 to 6
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
WHAT TO EXPECT: Rare is the choral work so obviously brilliant that Mozart, with a mix of admiration and ego, made his own arrangement of it. Rarer still are the composers who have tackled harmonia mundi—the romantic notion that musical harmony is a key factor in the design of the universe—with such easygoing grace. Handel’s soaring melodies will please polymaths and the science-challenged alike.
WHY GO: To celebrate the SPCO’s 50th anniversary, retired choral giant Dale Warland returns to the stage to lead a chorale assembled just for the occasion.
WHERE: Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 651-224-4222

8. Jazz is NOW!

October 7
The NOWnet ensemble
WHAT TO EXPECT: It’s been several years since local pianist/composer/jazz impresario Jeremy Walker put a band together. And what a band, an all-star lineup including Anthony Cox, Kelly Rossum, and Kevin Washington—respectively the Twin Cities’ most in-demand bassist, top-shelf trumpeter, and rock-steady percussionist.
WHY GO: Walker literally suffered (he was eventually diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder) to bring us jazz the way it was meant to be heard—as an inclusive all-night jam session—at Brilliant Corners, the all-ages club he launched in St. Paul a while back. This marks his fullest re-emergence since the club’s closure in 2004.
WHERE: Minnesota Opera Center, 620 N. First St., Mpls., 612-333-6669

7. Blackbird

November 6 to 30
Pillsbury House Theatre
WHAT TO EXPECT: Stephen DiMenna directed the fantastically claustrophobic Bug at Pillsbury a couple of years ago (who wasn’t prickly with paranoia and adrenaline after that?). Expect a similar slow burn with his take on the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award winner for best new play. Society dictates that two people wildly disparate in age, played here by Guthrie regulars Tracy Maloney and Stephen Yoakam, shouldn’t be together—but is it abuse or love?
WHY GO: As provocative plays go, this story line, which picks up where Lolita left off, is among the most honest in its ambiguity.
WHERE: Guthrie Theater, 818 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-377-2224

6. A Life in the Theatre

September 19 to October 26
Jungle Theater
WHAT TO EXPECT: Bain Boehlke, the Jungle’s artistic director, reprises his signature role in David Mamet’s acclaimed celebration of acting, which in turn may be seen as a tribute to the Jungle. The older and more statesmanlike Boehlke becomes, the more gravitas he lends to this lively reflection on the passing of the torch from one generation to another.
WHY GO: The Jungle has thrived for 17 years at the intersection of sentiment and incisiveness, and this play by one of the stage’s seminal wordsmiths packs a bit of both—it’s passionate, and not in a Fabio book jacket kind of way.
WHERE: Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-7063

5. Pay Attention: GM08

September 13 to October 26
Soap Factory
WHAT TO EXPECT: A who’s who of the Twin Cities’ best emerging artists has been assembled for this survey of the local scene, an event that coincides with the Soap Factory’s 20th anniversary. Among the 23 artists are Jenny Schmid, whose witty etchings depict hipsters frolicking amid medieval imagery; Kristine Heykants, the photographer of disquieting, 1950s-like scenes; and Abinadi Meza, a video artist and musician known for combining natural and electronic sounds in improvised performances.
WHY GO: The show’s producers made 72 studio visits to whittle 200 recommendations down to the final 23 participating artists, each of whom is creating an original piece for the exhibition.
WHERE: Soap Factory, 518 Second St. SE, Mpls., 612-623-9176

4. Vinegar Tom

September 12 to October 5
Frank Theatre
WHAT TO EXPECT: A perfect addition to Frank Theatre’s “rap sheet,” as founder/director Wendy Knox puts it, this provocative Caryl Churchill musical about 17th-century witches meshes well with Knox’s knack for subversion. With such lyrics as “Nobody loves a scold, nobody loves a slut, nobody loves you when you’re old,” it’s Wicked with more wickedness and wicked-good Guthrie regulars.
WHY GO: Frank and the famously feminist Churchill go together like bras and burning— fans still ask Knox when she’ll remount the company’s production of Churchill’s masterpiece, Top Girls, after its brilliant staging a few years ago.
WHERE: Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-436-1129

3. Twelfth Night

October 2 to November 2
Ten Thousand Things Theater
WHAT TO EXPECT: When you hear that Sally Wingert, Sonja Parks, Barbara Kingsley, Maggie Chestovich, and Isabell Monk O’ Connor will all share the same stage, you do not ask why, what, or how—just when and where.
WHY GO: Perhaps only Ten Thousand Things artistic director Michelle Hensley could convince all these queens of the stage to appear together. Her shows are stripped to their essence, allowing actors and audiences the thrill of filling in these reflections on humanity with their experiences.
WHERE: Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Mpls., 612-203-9502


2. Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future

September 13 to January 4, 2009
Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute of Arts
WHAT TO EXPECT: Minnesota’s two largest art museums divide and conquer this monumental retrospective of the modernist architect’s career, from his iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis to the TWA Terminal at New York’s JFK Airport to his classic chairs and tables. The MIA covers his early stuff, plus airports and embassies, while the Walker explores the homes, furnishings, and institutional buildings.
WHY GO: If modernist architecture, at its worst, has given us low-rent Legolands of bunker-like boxes, it wasn’t this guy’s fault: An alchemist of steel and glass, Saarinen conjured up sleek, Atomic Age creations.
WHERE: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 Third Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-3131; Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7600


1. Tina Turner

October 9
WHAT TO EXPECT: Butt-shaking, and lots of it.
WHY GO: Boy, could our tundra tucheses use a lesson in getting down. So you should get down on your knees and praise the diva for including us in her first tour in nearly a decade. She may be nearly 70, but her act is still as soulful and sassy as her legs are long.
WHERE: Target Center, 600 First Ave. N., Mpls., 651-989-5151


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