The Fall 2012 Arts Guide to Culture, Museums, and Entertainment

Arts Guide 

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





Performing Arts

Burnsville Performing Arts Center

The three-year-old Burnsville Performing Arts Center, adjacent to beautiful Nicollet Commons Park in the heart of Burnsville, is a beautiful and versatile facility hosting everything from local arts organizations to national touring acts. Featuring two theatres—a 1,014-seat Proscenium Stage, and an intimate 150-seat Black Box theatre—the venue is perfect for cultural events, dramas, comedies, dance, and musical acts.

The 2012-13 series features an impressive lineup of shows, including Five By Design’s Club Swing Oct. 21, Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas Nov. 3-4, Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical Nov. 17, Four Bitchin’ Babes: Mid Life Vices March 7, and Street Beat March 8.

Five By Design’s Club Swing celebrates the songs, events, and personalities that defined American culture during the swing era, complete with an eight-piece Club Swing Big Band. Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas is a hilarious Church Basement Ladies comedy set in 1959 during the day of the Sunday School Christmas Program. Rediscover the magic of Christmas during the beloved 1940s classic tale Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical; and laugh at the sophisticated stand-up comedy and harmonies during Four Bitchin’ Babes: Mid Life Vices as these talented ladies celebrate “whine, women, and song!” The last in the season lineup, Street Beat, is a high-energy explosion of hip-hop moves, urban rhythm, and break dance.

Tickets to the shows range from $17 (students) to $39.

Call 952-895-4685 or visit for more information.

Children’s Theatre Company

Arrgh! The Buccaneers are coming to the Children’s Theatre Company! Single tickets to the swashbuckling musical go on sale Aug. 7. The play runs from Sept. 14-Oct. 21 (preview night is Sept. 11).

Buccaneers is a musical adventure that follows in the footsteps of the strong and smart Enid Arabella as her bravery—and devotion to friends and family—is put to the test. Megan Fischer (who starred in the CTC production of Annie) plays Enid, a feisty young lady who is captured by the dreaded Johnny Johné, played by Twin Cities favorite, the Ivey-award winning Bradley Greenwald.  The swashbuckling is accompanied by an incredibly talented young cast, the choreography of Joe Chvala (Flying Foot Forum) and original music by Obie Award winner Ellen Maddow, deeply influenced by the traditional music of Ireland, Africa, and Spain.

Playwright Liz Duffy Adams, whose work has been produced at theatres across the country, was commissioned by CTC to create this exciting new work. Adams has been described as having a way with language that is witty, smart, and funny, reminding audiences why they love theatre.

She created the perfect heroine in Enid, “who faces extraordinary odds and wrestles with the ideas of democracy, humanity, and how to form a government,” explains Peter Brosius, artistic director. “The play is full of terrific surprises.”

Tickets range from $10-56 for adults and $10-46 for children.

Order tickets by calling 612-874-0400 or by visiting

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

“Put on a happy face!” at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres from Oct. 5, 2012-Jan. 26, 2013 as Main Stage produces the musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie, based on the 1963 movie starring Dick Van Dyke, Bobby Rydell, Janet Leigh, and Ann-Margret in her break-through role.

A satire done with the fondest affection, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres breathes new life into the Tony-award winning classic centering around kids—not birds—and what happens when Elvis-like rock and roll star Conrad Birdie is about to be inducted into the Army (much to the dismay of his fans). Soon, the teen nation is united by a national publicity contest where Birdie will bid a typical American teenage girl goodbye—with an all-American kiss!—live on The Ed Sullivan Show, one of the only ways teens of the 1960s were able to gush over their celebrity crushes. (Imagine screaming teenage girls, jumping up and down in front of their parents’ black-and-white TV sets.)

Kim MacAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio wins the honor and all the telephones in her town start ringing off the hook. When Birdie arrives in Sweet Apple, people of all ages begin to swoon—and pretty soon the entire town is reeling.  

The imaginative musical score includes such catchy hits as: “Going Steady,” “Put On A Happy Face,” “Telephone Hour,” “A Lot of Livin’ To Do” and “Kids.” The lyrics of “Kids”—“I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today! Kids! Who can understand anything they say? Kids! You can talk and talk till your face is blue! Kids! But they still just do what they want to do! Why can’t they be like we were, Perfect in every way? What’s the matter with kids today? Kids!”—still resonates with parents today. This is a fun show for audiences of all ages. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, 25 minutes southwest of Minneapolis, is considered the nation’s largest dinner theater. Since opening in 1968, more than 10 million visitors have been through its doors. Dinner and show tickets for Bye Bye Birdie range from $53 (student ticket price) to $81 (Saturday evening). Discounted show only tickets can be purchased 10 days prior to performances through the box office. Discounted group pricing (12 or more) is also available.

For more information, call 952-934-1525 or visit

History Theatre

Celebrate the courageous, the colorful, and the bold during the History Theatre’s 35th anniversary season.

The first show in the lineup is Lombardi, Oct. 6-Nov. 4, an engaging new play detailing the life of Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named. This new play gives audiences insight into one of the game’s greatest legends through the eyes of his players, his wife, and the media.

From Nov. 24-Dec. 23, travel back in time to 1944 with The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Abbott and Costello, and Santa during Christmas of Swing, a joyful celebration of music, family, and patriotism featuring real letters from WWII soldiers, and favorite swing versions of “Let It Snow,” “Christmas in Killarney,” and “Mele Kalikimmaka.”

Nellie, a moving play about local farm girl turned Civil rights and labor activist Nellie Stone Johnson, is from Jan. 26-Feb. 17, 2013, followed by Courting Harry from March 2-24, a brilliant new play by Lee Blessing exploring the lifelong friendship between Chief Justice Warren Burger and Justice Harry Blackmun, a friendship that was tried and tested by politics, ambition, and ideologies. The season ends with This Side of Paradise April 20-May 19, a new jazz musical telling the tale of storied lovers F. Scott Fitzgerald and his muse, Zelda, and a life filled with parties, fashion, and tabloid headlines. 

Tickets range from $15 (students) to $40. To purchase tickets, call 651-292-4323 or visit

Music Box Theatre

Defending the Caveman is a hilarious play about why men and women fight, laugh, and love, leaving audiences roaring with laughter and recognition.

Written by American actor and comedian Rob Becker over a three year period during which he made an informal study of psychology, sociology, and prehistory (basically in an attempt to resolve the war between the sexes), the play has gone on to become the longest running solo play in Broadway history. Today, it is a worldwide, rock-solid tour-de-force, translated into 18 different languages and winning the hearts of millions in 45 countries. For a limited engagement this fall, you can see Defending the Caveman at the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis.  

As Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote in a review, “Despite the club-wielding Neanderthal ring of it’s title, Rob Becker’s one-man show, Defending the Caveman, is a surprisingly sweet, gently comic, even sentimental little celebration of the male and female of the species.”

According to the Miami Herald, “The hilarity of Caveman—and it IS hilarious—comes from keenly observed detail, from truth. Caveman makes us howl at ourselves, whether we’re male or female.”

Tickets range from $31-36. For ticket information, visit or call 612-874-1100.

Caution: Affectionate nudging may occur during and/or after this performance.


Minnesota Opera

Minnesota Opera is celebrated as a leading producer of new works in North America and known for its dynamic productions. This year is a memorable one for the company as it celebrates its 50th anniversary, and the appointments of Kevin Ramach as president and Michael Christie as music director.

“Our 50th anniversary season is a time to look back on the history of our company,” Ramach says. “It’s a great opportunity to show our appreciation to all the members of the community who supported the growth of Minnesota Opera over the years.”

The season opens with the opera Nabucco, the dramatic work of Giuseppe Verdi about the plight of the Jews as they are exiled from their homeland by King Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco). With its soaring choruses, triumphant arias, and dramatic flair, Nabucco established Verdi’s reputation as an operatic icon and national hero. In November, a notorious life hangs precariously in the balance in Anna Bolena. The walls are closing in on Anne Boleyn as she fails to produce a male heir to King Henry VIII, whose affection is transferred to one of her ladies-in-waiting, Jane Seymour. January launches the world premiere of Doubt, composed by Douglas J. Cuomo with libretto by John Patrick Shanley, based on his Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play and popular film. Grammy award-winning soprano Christine Brewer makes her Minnesota Opera debut with celebrated mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves returning after her debut in Minnesota Opera’s 1991 Carmen. March brings Hamlet, based on Shakespeare’s classic. Starring fast-rising American baritone Brian Mulligan as the Prince of Denmark, this rediscovered treasure of French Grand Opera is rich with luxurious melodies. The season closes in April with the powerhouse finale, Turandot, which boasts one of opera’s most popular arias, “Nessun dorma.” 

Minnesota Opera’s 50th anniversary season is a great time to try opera. With English captions projected above the stage, you’ll understand every word. Tickets range from $20-$200. All operas are performed at Ordway in St. Paul. Planning ahead will get you the best seats for the best price.

Visit today and “like” Minnesota Opera on Facebook.

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

In the 2012-2013 season, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts—recognized as one of the nation’s leading nonprofit performing arts centers—presents Broadway favorites Anything Goes, Chicago, Billy Elliot the Musical, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, and Elf The Broadway Musical as well as exciting and innovative international music and choreography as part of its Target® World Music and Dance Series.

Since its 2005 London debut, Billy Elliot the Musical has delighted critics, earned 10 Tony® Awards (including Best Musical), and captured the hearts of millions worldwide. Based on the film Billy Elliot, about a boy who trades in his boxing gloves for ballet shoes, Ordway guests can see this exciting and inspiring show from Oct. 9-14. A talented cast of more than 45 includes local youth actor Zack Manske, the Tony Award-winning team of director Stephen Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling, and writer Lee Hall, and original music by Elton John.

Also making its way to the Ordway from Broadway is the hottest holiday ticket in town: Elf The Broadway Musical, running Dec. 5 through Dec. 30. A musical adaptation of the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, Elf The Broadway Musical tells the story of Buddy, a young orphan child who believes he is an elf, despite his enormous size and inability to make toys. Buddy’s misadventures in the North Pole and across New York City make for a hilarious tale!  

For more information or to purchase tickets to a show, visit or call 651-224-4222.

Park Square Theatre

Park Square’s artistic director Richard Cook will direct the regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning play, Red, a riveting drama about the relationship between artist and creation running Sept. 21-Oct. 7, (previews begin Sept. 14).

The opening scene depicts a New York studio in the late 1950s. Artist Mark Rothko, played by J.C. Cutler, stares at his painting: an impressive commission for the exclusive Four Seasons restaurant on Park Avenue. Stephen Lee Johnson makes his Park Square debut as Ken, Rothko’s young, eager assistant. Under the threatening presence of a new generation of artists, we see the intense portrait of a brilliant, yet angry mind.

During the filming of Sweeny Todd, playwright John Logan visited the Tate Modern in London and was inspired to write Red after seeing some of Rothko’s Four Seasons murals. “The paintings struck me and wouldn’t let go … They are, above all else, highly emotional works.”

Following Red, Park Square will present an imaginative new twist to Shakespeare’s King Lear, running Oct. 26-Nov. 11, (previews begin Oct. 19). Shakespeare’s tale of Lear, the aging king of Britain, is set in the Prohibition era, with Raye Birk as Lear. Director Peter Moore explains his unique mafia setting, “The play is about family, power, money, loyalty and betrayal. Those elements are central to a mob family. I wanted to do an American Lear, something with muscle and danger that a contemporary audience could connect to instantly.” 

Tickets for both productions range from $38-58 (preview tickets are $25). For more information call 651-291-7005

Plymouth Playhouse

The holidays are a time of community, so come gather ‘round the woodstove with some old (and new) friends, and celebrate this festive time of year—the cowboy way—during Christmas On The Ranch: A Cowboy Musical, running at the Plymouth Playhouse Nov. 1, 2012- Jan. 13, 2013.

Sing along with Miss Monica (played by Monica Heuser, best known by audiences as Patsy Cline in A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline) and “The Bunkhouse Boys” as they belt out Christmas classics and some new favorites like “Two Step Round the Christmas Tree,” “The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball,” and “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy.” You’ll delight in the wit and wisdom of colorful characters like Big Finn, Sheriff Andy, Long Tall Joey, and Little Jenna. The cast will share some of their favorite cowboy jokes and stories, and you’ll get to hear the two winning Christmas poems from the Plymouth Playhouse Cowboy Poetry Contest—read by real cowboys!

Another Plymouth Playhouse original—the fourth in a series of Church Basement Ladies productions—is the musical comedy, A Mighty Fortress Is Our Basement, running now through Oct. 21, 2012. Audiences are raving … it’s the best one yet! The holiday version, Away in the Basement, is touring nationally this season, and the second version, A Second Helping of the Church Basement Ladies, will be touring in January and February throughout the Midwest. A fifth show, The Last Supper, is scheduled to open in  the fall of 2013. The shows are based on the books of Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson,  including the best-seller Growing Up Lutheran. Audiences connect with the Midwest humor of writer Greta Grosch and composer/lyricist Drew Jansen and come to these plays to laugh, and laugh they do—regardless if they’ve ever experienced a church basement meal in the 1960s. This is family-friendly, feel-good entertainment at its best.

For tickets to a show, call 763-553-1600 ext. 1, or visit the website at For groups of 12 or more call 763-383-1073.

Overnight “stay and 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).

The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts

The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts will kick off its second season in September with a wide variety of performing arts events. Starting the season will be the internationally acclaimed a cappela group from Germany, vocaldente, Sept. 15-16. Unlike other a cappella groups, vocaldente doesn’t rely on technical devices, amplifiers, or special effects. The art is purely acoustic, taking a cappella back to its roots. The repertoire of vocaldente takes audiences from the Roaring Twenties to the latest pop hits.

During the weekend of Sept. 21-22, check out Matthew Janczewski’s Arena Dances, premiering an avant-garde group work, titled Les Petites Choses, set to a variety of music (most namely the French band, Katerine). Stay after the performance on Sept. 21 for Arena’s “Meet the company” talk back session.

Native American artistry and spirit take center stage Sept. 27 in an evening of traditional and contemporary dance, stories, art, music, and comedy of First Peoples Fund’s First Peoples Celebrates, a program that honors the collective spirit in all of us.

The final September production is Minnesota Concert Opera’s I Puritani Sept. 28-30, a powerful love story set during the English Civil War of the 1640s; a would-be bride becomes unhinged by the battles inside and outside the castle walls.

Tickets range from $15-30. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to or call 612-206-3600.



The Museum of Russian Art

The Museum of Russian Art is the only museum on the continent dedicated to preserving and presenting all forms of Russian art and artifacts, and it’s right in your backyard. This world-class, one-of-a-kind museum showcases originally curated, dynamic and varied exhibits that rotate throughout the year.

In honor of TMORA’s 10th anniversary, the museum is featuring The Anniversary Celebration: A Decade of Russian Art and Culture. With over 40 exhibits staged in the past decade, the museum plans to bring the best of Russian art to the Twin Cities Aug. 18, featuring work from the permanent collection as well as favorites like “Milkmaids, Novella” by Nikolai Baskakov (from the 2007 exhibition Milkmaids and Friends).  

On view Aug. 25, 2012 to Jan. 20, 2013 is the exhibit Discovering 20th Century Russian Masters: Nicolai Fechin, featuring work by one of the most famous and renowned artists of the Russian tradition. It will arrive from Moscow where it is on display at the Tretyakov Gallery. This exhibition is shown under the aegis of the US-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission, which is committed to strengthening democracy, security, and prosperity for the American and Russian peoples alike.

Exciting events at the Museum of Russian Art include youth auditions with the Moscow Ballet Oct. 16 (the Great Russian Nutcracker will show at the Orpheum Theater in December), and Club Red, the new young professionals group at TMORA, partnering with Minnesota Monthly’s New Vintage, a wine club for people in their 20s and 30s. The Club Red New Vintage will be held Nov. 13 at TMORA, with the tasting led by Bill Summerville of La Belle Vie.

For more information about the exhibits or the events, call 612-821-9045 or visit



Northrop Dance

With the Northrop building currently closed for renovations through spring 2014, the second season of Northrop Moves continues in downtown Minneapolis at the prestigious Orpheum and State theaters, with special projects branching off in other locations. The acclaimed Accordo music series will continue with four concerts at the historic Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis, and this fall will mark the debut of the Women of Substance Series, taking place at The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University, featuring Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca Oct. 3, Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre Nov. 29, Bebe Miller Company Feb. 12, and Emily Johnson/Catalyst April 21. Another new program debuting this year is the SOLO: Mcknight Dance Fellows dance program, featuring six of the most talented dancers in the state, Sept. 21-22 at Ted Mann Concert Hall.

The Northrop Dance season is just as electric, culturally diverse, and exhilarating as ever. The fall season features the world-renowned New York City Ballet MOVES Oct. 23-24, complete with live music played by members of the NYCB Orchestra, and Hofesh Shechter Company Nov. 13, described as an explosive “rapid-fire collision of politics and movement.” Catch the Joffrey Ballet Feb. 26, presenting a new work proudly reflecting the diversity of America, and Grupo Corpo March 5, reviewed as “bringing to life the colors and sound of Brazil in a powerful display of dancing.” The season wraps up April 5 with Khmer Arts Ensemble, weaving a Cambodian village tale of love, heartbreak, magic, vengeance, consequence, and redemption.

To order tickets, call 612-624-2345 or visit

Ballet Minnesota

In celebration of 25 years of magnificent, magical ballet, Ballet Minnesota is pirouetting off their season with a free Fall Concert Oct. 26-27 at The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine’s University, where all of Ballet Minnesota’s concerts will take place during the 2012-13 season. The free October concert will feature Handel’s Messiah, with all original choreography, and Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue, produced by Choreographer and Artistic Director Andrew Rist.

From Dec. 12-16, Ballet Minnesota will perform the full-length, traditional Classic Nutcracker, a brilliant, moving performance from beginning to end. The German fairytale, written in 1816 (and first performed as a ballet in 1892), still appeals to audiences nearly 200 years later thanks to the timeless storyline, classic music, and graceful dancing. Ballet Minnesota’s Classic Nutcracker includes original choreography, a cast of more than 130 talented dancers, incredible set design, colorful costumes, and fun special effects that bring Clara’s dream to life. It’s the perfect festive holiday show for families of all ages.

During the weekend of April 5-6, Ballet Minnesota will perform Cinderella, a charming rags-to-riches fairytale ballet appealing to both kids and adults. The Minnesota Dance Festival will take place that same weekend, showcasing the original choreographed work of Ballet Minnesota as well as the work of other regional dance companies.

For ticket information, call 651-690-6700, or visit For more information about Ballet Minnesota, visit