The Fall 2011 Guide to Museums, Culture and Entertainment


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.



Minnesota Opera

It will be a year ofexhilarating singing, riveting theater, and the discovery of a new operatic masterpiece during the 2011-12 season of Minnesota Opera, bringing together world-class artists to create spectacular productions on the Ordway stage.

The season opens Sept. 24 with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s sophisticated comedy Così fan tutte, marking the main stage debut of Twin Cities director Peter Rothstein. For over two centuries this opera—of love’s power to confound reason—was considered risqué. It wasn’t until after World War II that it gained its place in the standard operatic repertoire.

The first commission of the Minnesota Opera New Works Initiative is the world premiere of Silent Night, a production by composer Kevin Puts, librettist Mark Campbell, and director Eric Simonson, based on the 2005 Academy Award-nominated film Joyeux Noël. Opening Nov. 12, enemies become brothers on the western front of World War I as a Christmas Eve truce is negotiated.

Opening Jan. 28, 2012, is Werther, by Jules Massenet, a romantic tragedy inspired by the heartbreaking true story of unrequited love.
On March 3, 2012, it’s Gaetano Donizetti’s powerful and gripping opera Lucia di Lammermoor, the story of Lucia and her secret love/clan’s enemy Edgardo, a forced marriage, and disastrous consequences.

Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini rounds out the season, opening April 14, 2012. Seduced by handsome American naval officer Pinkerton, a young geisha falls deeply in love, but his betrayal leads to one of opera’s most heartrending conclusions.


History Theatre

For more than 30 years, History Theatre has been entertaining audiences by dramatizing history and setting it to music, and this year’s lineup— including everything from Judy Garland to G-men; the Civil War to the war in Vietnam; and the music of the roaring 20s to the classic rock of the 60s—is proof that oftentimes truth is more exciting than fiction.

From Oct. 8-Nov. 6, 2011, the talented Jody Briskey returns as Judy Garland in Beyond the Rainbow: Garland at Carnegie Hall based on Judy’s legendary 1961 Comeback Concert. Featuring “Get Happy,” “That’s Entertainment,” and “Over the Rainbow” (among others), select performances will include a special cocktail hour prior to the show—serving up different brands of Garland’s favorite vice: vodka. The regional premiere of A Civil War Christmas will run Nov. 19 – Dec. 18, 2011, giving voice to the many characters living and working in D.C. during the final days of the Civil War.

1968: The Year That Rocked the World, from Jan. 21-Feb. 19, 2012, will bring unforgettable events, personalities, and music of 1968 to the 3M Auditorium at the Minnesota History Center. The trials and tribulations of a smart, adventurous, mischievous 13-year-old girl growing up on Summit Avenue in 1927 will be told in Coco’s Diary—adapted from the diary of Clotilde Irvine—from March 3-25, 2012. Crime is running rampant in St. Paul in Capital Crimes: The St. Paul Gangster Musical from April 21-May 20, 2012. It’s high stakes at the Hollyhocks with great songs by Drew Jansen, dance numbers featuring G-men and Tommy guns, and a dose of dark humor as we explore the crazy days of St. Paul’s infamous past. Join your friends before select performances for speakeasy cocktails and a classic car show.


Hennepin Theatre Trust

La Cage Aux Folles, starring film and TV actor George Hamilton, will be playing October 18-23 at the State Theatre—the first show in the 2011/2012 Broadway season of Hennepin Theatre Trust.

Winner of three Tony Awards including one for Best Musical Revival, this hilarious new production of La Cage Aux Folles was the biggest hit of the 2010 Broadway season. La Cage, remade as the 1996 American film “The Birdcage” starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, tells the story of Georges, the owner of a glitzy nightclub in lovely Saint-Tropez, and his partner Albin, who moonlights as the glamorous chanteuse Zaza. When Georges’ son brings his fiancée’s conservative parents home to meet the flashy pair, the bonds of family are put to the test as the feather boas fly! La Cage is a tuneful and touching tale of one family’s struggle to stay together…stay fabulous…and above all else, stay true to themselves! With a glorious score of hummable melodies and a dynamite cast featuring the “notorious and dangerous Cagelles,” La Cage is an indisputable musical comedy classic.

La Cage features music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, a book by Harvey Fierstein and is based on the play by Jean Poiret. The production was nominated for 11 2011 Tony Awards, won three Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Revival of a Musical and four Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding Revival of a Musical.

For ticket information:

Shen Yun: Reviving 5,000 Years of Civilization

Shen Yun. For Chinese, the words evoke a sense of wonder, magic, and the divine. To audiences who have seen it, they recall the experience of a lifetime—a moment so powerfully beautiful it touches the soul.

Discover the glory of a fantastically rich culture, that of classical China, brought to life through brilliantly choreographed dance and mesmerizing, all-original orchestral compositions at the Orpheum Theatre from March 9-11 2012. Magnificently costumed dancers—the world’s elite—move in poetic arrangements that evoke pastoral beauty, imperial drama, and the glory of an ancient civilization. This season, discover what art was meant to be.

Discover Shen Yun
For 5,000 years in China, culture was heralded as a divine gift. Its glory was long the inspiration of countless artists and poets, until this heritage was nearly lost …

Based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts seeks to revive this once-majestic tradition by creating a production worthy in its beauty of this noble history—something that enriches the lives of audiences in powerful, lasting ways.

“Brilliant choreography…extravagantly beautiful.”

1-800-982-2787, 1-800-554-5109



Science Museum of Minnesota

With two new highly interactive exhibits and an Academy Award-nominated IMAX film, the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St. Paul is sure to excite the imagination of visitors this fall.

Beginning October 7, visitors will have the opportunity to get inside the forces of nature that have shaped our planet with the new exhibit Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters.  Discover what triggers a volcanic eruption, witness the power of hurricane-force winds, experience the roar of a tornado as it surrounds you, and monitor earthquakes around the world in real time.

Identity: An Exhibition of You is fun for all ages starting October 19. Explore your physical, psychological, and social identity in this new exhibit that asks: what makes you YOU? Compare fingerprints, determine if you are an introvert or extrovert, and view the differences between male and female brains. We’re all made up of a thousand different stories—discover yours.

The Omnitheater’s 90-foot domed screen will feature the majesty and wonder of the rainforest in the film Amazon beginning September 23. This Academy Award-nominated film takes viewers on a journey of discovery through a timeless land where reality is more startling than myth. Witness the beauty, mystique, and importance of the world’s mightiest river and its many inhabitants on one of the only screens big enough to capture the grandeur of the Amazon.

Free for Science Museum Members

The Museum of Russian Art

Whether it’s a 5,000-year-old artifact or the vibrant work of contemporary artists, The Museum of Russian Art is the only museum in North America dedicated to everything related to the art and culture of Russia and its surrounding regions. A unique cultural resource, the Museum features a dynamic rotation of originally curated exhibits showcasing extraordinary works of art seldom displayed in the United States.
Housed in a beautifully renovated historic building, visitors can explore new and diverse perspectives of Russian culture, boasting a long tradition of excellence in the arts.

On tour for the first time in America, the exhibit Antiquities from Ukraine: Golden Treasures and Lost Civilizations, will be on display at The Museum of Russian Art from Oct. 1, 2011 through Feb. 19, 2012. The exhibit covers 6,000 years of history and prehistory of various cultures that once inhabited the territory of modern Ukraine.

Ancient trade routes crossed this part of the world for countless centuries. As a result, trade items from many of the Old World’s civilizations have been found in Ukraine. The exhibit’s storyline follows a chronological sequence, starting with the Trypilian culture dating back to 5,000 BC. Pottery decorated with red and black paints, sacred symbols, as well as temple models and animal sculptures, will be on display.

The 7th and 3rd centuries BC are represented by a dazzling array of bronze sculpture, exquisite gold jewelry, extraordinary rhytons (drinking cups partially in the shape of a ram), black-slip pottery, and amphorae; works from as early as the 1st century BC blend traditions from both Greek and Roman worlds, with bright red and orange pottery, transparent glass, bronze and silver vessels, and jewelry incorporating precious stones, filigree, granulation and inlays; while the Byzantine Empire, spanning the 5th through the 13th centuries AD, is represented through relics, jewelry, utensils, and other objects used by the inhabitants of medieval Ukraine.

Beginning in August and running through February of 2012, don’t miss the works on paper and oil paintings of one of the most important artists to emerge from the Soviet underground art scene—Oleg Vassiliev—during the exhibit Art of Oleg Vassiliev: Discovering 20th Century Russian Masters. The exhibition will include an array of works by Oleg Vasiliev, rooted in the rich tradition of the Russian Realist style and the early Soviet avant-garde. Full of personal memories, his masterful works are an energetic meditation on human memory, forgetting, and a return to one’s home.

Come see for yourself why a small museum can make such a significant impact on the cultural community of the Twin Cities.




Northrop Moves!

One of the University of Minnesota’s most iconic buildings, Northrop Auditorium, is closed for revitalization until fall 2013, but that doesn’t mean the shows won’t go on. Northrop’s world-class dance series will be moved to the Orpheum Theatre downtown Minneapolis in the interim.

When Northrop Dance returns “home,” Northrop Auditorium will feature a world-class, 2,800 seat hall, featuring state-of-the-art acoustics, significantly improved sight-lines, cutting-edge technologies, and updated amenities.

Northrop kicks off its 2011-12 dance season Oct. 22 with Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s epic masterwork, Song of the Earth, as performed by Scottish Ballet.

Nov. 12 and 13 — U.S. premiere of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s avant-garde and technologically-rich interpretation of the storybook classic, Alice in Wonderland.

Feb. 18, 2012 — China’s leading and most provocative choreographer, Jin Xing, and the Jin Xing Dance Theatre Shanghai depict and interpret the contemporary face of China in Shanghai Tango.

March 23-24—Classic ballet lovers will appreciate the razor-sharp dance of the beloved Houston Ballet from March 23-24, including ONE/end/One, the first recipient of the Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance, Christopher Wheeldon and his heralded Rush, Stanton Welch’s acclaimed Indigo, and a special one-night-only performance of Jerome Robbins’ In the Night, with live music performed on solo piano.
April 13 — France-based Ballet Preljocaj brings its imaginative and inspired production of Snow White (Blanche Neige) featuring a “who’s who” of French stage design, including costumes by famed French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier.

May 1Revelations will be celebrated as part of the season finale by one of the most popular dance companies of all time—Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater—on their inaugural tour with the company’s new artistic director, Robert Battle.