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The Fall 2011 Guide to Museums, Culture and Entertainment

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A lineup of the season's best performances, exhibits and attractions





Performing Arts

Children’s Theatre Company

Whether it’s a beloved classic like The Wizard of Oz or an original production like Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy or Mercy Watson to the Rescue!, the 2011-12 season at the Children’s Theatre Company celebrates heroes’ journeys on epic adventures. 

Based on the bestselling books by Kate DiCamillo, Mercy Watson to the Rescue! (Sept. 6 – Oct. 23), an original CTC commission, is about Mercy Watson, a toast-loving pig, and the hysterical events that follow after she is introduced to Eugenia and Baby Lincoln, Mercy’s new neighbors. This is a “pig tale” like no other.

“Kate is the award-winning author of Because of Winn-Dixie and Tale of Despereaux, and her Mercy Watson series is beloved by children everywhere,” says Peter C. Brosius, artistic director at CTC. “We’re ecstatic to have the opportunity to bring Kate’s work to life.”

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Wizard of Oz is back, just in time for the holidays! This extremely popular production (Nov. 8, 2011 – Jan. 8, 2012), appeals to audiences of all ages. Peter Rothstein, founding artistic director of Theatre Latte Da, is the talented director of this high-energy show. He previously directed CTC productions of Disney’s High School Musical and Annie

Another world premiere CTC commission, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (March 13 – April 8, 2012), tells the touching story of Lizzie Bright, a young former slave, and Turner Buckminster, the son of a preacher who refuses to be influenced by his church’s racist views. The two forge an against-all-odds friendship and teach us the importance of standing up for what’s right. 


Church Basement Ladies: A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement

The ladies return to the Plymouth Playhouse Aug. 19 for an open-ended run in the smash musical comedy Church Basement Ladies — A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement, the fourth in a series that is more entertaining than “The Joy of Butter” cookbook.

Featuring the original Church Basement Ladies cast, the show offers generous helpings of funny, touching and down-to-earth moments with all-new songs and lessons learned by the ladies in the church basement kitchen, whether it’s watching Beverly turn 15 and go through Confirmation, Mrs. Snustad win top honors at the County Fair for her “Grand Champion” pickles, Karin find new freedom behind the wheel of her husband’s pick-up, or the mixed reactions inspired by the pastor’s second marriage.

All three installments of the musical comedy—Church Basement Ladies, Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping and Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas—were inspired by the books of author/humorists Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, including the bestseller Growing Up Lutheran. The original production opened at the Plymouth Playhouse in September 2005 and has grown to become the most successfully produced show locally and nationally in Troupe America’s 24-year history.

Audiences connect with the Midwest humor and come to this play to laugh, and laugh they do—regardless if they’ve ever experienced a church basement meal in the 1960s. Yeah, you betcha this is family-friendly, feel-good entertainment at its best.

Overnight “Stay & Play “ packages are available (includes a room for two at the Best Western Kelly Inn, a dinner voucher at the Green Mill Restaurant, and two theater tickets to the current show, all under one roof).

763-553-1600 ext. 1

Park Square Theatre

Park Square’s 36th season opens with a perceptible crackle when the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, August: Osage County comes to its stage from Sept. 16-Oct. 2 2011 (previews begin Sept. 9). Leah Cooper, in her Park Square debut, directs this gripping dark comedy.

When their alcoholic patriarch disappears, Violet, the acid-tongued, pill-popping matriarch of the clan, becomes the center of a family storm that includes adultery, suicide, animosity, guilt and denial. Real life husband-and-wife team Stephen D’Ambrose and Barbara Kingsley, who understudied the leads for the national Broadway tour, will star in the Park Square production. 

“I was drawn by the razor-sharp writing,” Cooper says. “It’s simultaneously the most tragic of family dysfunction, Americana gone wrong, and also wickedly, uproariously funny.” Note: contains sexuality, profanity and mature themes.

Another not-to-miss production at Park Square is the Midwest premiere of an inventive new adaptation of Oliver Twist, running Oct. 21-Nov. 6 2011 (previews begin Oct. 14). Combining original Charles Dickens’ text and Victorian music hall tunes, a cast of 13 tells the epic story of a young orphan in London who escapes the workhouse only to fall in with a band of pickpockets.  Director Joel Sass explains, “It’s a primal fear for everyone—to be alone, to be abandoned—and to have to survive with no protection or skills except your own essential goodness. In that way, Dickens is telling a very timeless, moral, almost spiritual adventure story, and that is something which appeals to audience members of any age.”

Tickets for both productions range from $38-58 (preview tickets are $25).


Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

Fun comes in all shapes and sizes in the energetic musical romp Hairspray, on the Chanhassen stage from Aug. 5, 2011-Jan. 28, 2012. The year is 1962, and pleasantly plump Baltimore teen Tracy Turnblad has only one desire—to dance on the popular “Corny Collins Show.” When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star, but she must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a TV network, all without denting her ‘do! Don’t miss Broadway’s musical-comedy phenomenon that inspired a major motion picture and won eight 2003 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Plaid Tidings, the special holiday edition of Forever Plaid, will be on the intimate Fireside Stage at the Chanhassen from Nov. 4-Dec. 31, 2011. This family-friendly holiday treat—starring your favorite Plaid Boys (Sparky, Smudge, Frankie and Jinx)—will get audiences in the holiday mood with their riotous version of The Ed Sullivan Show featuring the Rockettes, the Chipmunks, and even The Vienna Boys Choir.

Performing continuously on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the year is Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe, cracking up audiences with very clean and very funny improv, sketches, and music. If you are celebrating a birthday, company party, or other special events, just give the hostess a note when you arrive and the troupe will do something special during the show.

952-934-1525 or 800-362-3515

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

The diverse 2011-12 fall season at the Ordway offers a full menu of entertaining theater, world music and dance, and Broadway musicals.

Tony Award-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp (Movin’ Out) brings her creative vision to the new Broadway musical Come Fly Away Oct. 11-16 2011, blending the legendary vocals of Frank Sinatra with a live on-stage big band and 14 of the world’s finest dancers. Come Fly Away follows four couples as they fall in and out of love during a song and dance-filled evening at a crowded nightclub, weaving together an unparalleled hit parade of classics like “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Way,” “New York, New York” and “Makin’ Whoopee.”

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, an original Ordway production, will take to the stage Dec. 13, 2011 – Jan. 1, 2012. The hearts of kids and adults are guaranteed to soar while watching this classic fairytale.

The fall performances during the 2011-12 Target® World Music Dance Series include Luna Negra Dance Theater Oct. 25, when Latino artists give expression to their stories and bring new, spirited life to the cultures of their communities; the enchantment of Cuban sones and boleros and sultry, languid Brazilian beats of contemporary Latin American artist Magos Herrera Oct. 28; and Vox LumiereThe Phantom of the Opera Oct. 30, where rock concert meets theater meets classic silent film. Other not-to-miss Ordway performances this fall include the Broadway Songbook Series The Words and Music of Irving Berlin Sept. 23-25, and the Sing-a-long Sound of Music Oct. 21-22.



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