Weekend Best Bets for February 18-20

A treasure map for this weekend’s must-see events.

Friday, February 18

True blues

WHAT: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
WHERE: Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
One of the great pleasures, frankly, of living in the Twin Cities is seeing Penumbra Theatre perform the works of the great August Wilson—in recent years at the Guthrie Theater. This time, Jevetta Steele (Prairie Home Companion, etc.) plays the titular blues belter in a musical romp through a time when a woman like Rainey had to fight and scrap to let her genius be heard. Learn more at guthrietheater.org

Friday, February 18

You had me at cello

WHAT: Alisa Weilerstein and Gabriel Kahane
WHERE: Southern Theater, Minneapolis
WHEN: 8 p.m.
You won’t find a cooler place to hear chamber music than the Southern Theater—or cooler musicians than these two. Weilerstein is a charismatic young cellist who will play two suites by J.S. Bach as well as new music by Kahane, one of those young, incredibly smart composers who’s taking classical music in beautiful new directions. Learn more at southerntheater.org

Saturday, February 19

It’d be a sin to miss this

WHAT: Doubt
WHERE: Open Book, Minneapolis
WHEN: 8 p.m.
It was a great play, then a great movie. Now Doubt, about a priest and a nun debating what’s right and wrong as the moral climate shifts underneath them, is a fantastic play again under the award-winning auspices of Ten Thousand Things and starring Guthrie regulars Sally Wingert and Kris Nelson. Learn more at tenthousandthings.org

Saturday, February 19

Americana the beautiful

WHAT: Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band
WHERE: First Avenue, Minneapolis
WHEN: 6 p.m.
Josh Ritter dresses as well as he sings—and he sings beautifully, almost singlehandedly reviving the role of the troubadour in American music. Last time through town, he played the plush Orchestra Hall. Here, he gets a grittier venue for his smooth but folksy roots music. Learn more at first-avenue.com

Sunday, February 20

Kusher returns

WHAT: Mother Courage and Her Children
WHERE: Lab Theater, Minneapolis
WHEN: 3:30 p.m.
Today is the final performance of Tony Kushner’s adaptation of the Bertolt Brecht classic, admittedly a pretty hard-core tale (of a wartime profiteer in Germany) made visually stunning and contemporary by Kushner. Perhaps the best reason, of course, to see this performance by Chicago’s Bricklayer Theatre and Pris’s Collectif Masque is to see former Jeune Lune company member Barbra Berlovitz back on stage in this rather physical-theatre approach to storytelling. Learn more at thelabtheater.org

Sunday, February 20

Rock-a-bye baby

WHAT: Rock the Cradle
WHERE: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis
WHEN: 11 a.m.
89.3 The Current hosts this annual music and art festival for the hip-parent set, which might be cloying if it the activities weren’t so darned good. The coolest local musicians will play, Open Eye Figure Theatre will do its cool miniature-puppet shows, and cartoonists and various other kids perfect for cool kids. Learn more at artsmia.org

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