1 Playwright and performer Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, never met a female body part she didn’t like discussing in public. If you find that empowering—or if you simply appreciate the fact that hardly anyone uncovers more candid and revelatory stories than Ensler—you’ll love her new show, The Good Body. Staged October 4 to 9 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, it relates true tales of women from around the world who feel compelled to change their looks to fit in—from those embracing Botox to those wearing burkhas. • Call 651-224-4222 for tickets.
2 At a time when a broken nail passes for tragedy, it’s worth revisiting Sophocles’ Antigone. Against a backdrop of endless war, three people take their own lives—needlessly, it turns out—in defiance of a tyrant. Ten Thousand Things Theater Company performs this sequel to Oedipus the King November 11 to 13 at Open Book and November 18 to 20 at the Minnesota Opera Center. The company’s productions, designed to be performed in prisons and homeless shelters, should place all of us at the edge of life’s extreme emotions. • Call 612-203-9502 for tickets.
3 Penny dreadfuls, the British version of 19th-century dime novels, had far-out plots about high-seas adventure and brutal beasts. Could they get any stranger? How about having grave robbers take out small-business loans? Or throwing Queen Victoria and Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis) into a vampire story? Done and done, in Hardcover Theater’s latest adventure in smart and playful literary adaptations, London After Midnight, which runs November 11 to 27 at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater. • Call 612-825-8949 for tickets.
4 You’ve seen this before: old play gets new setting several centuries removed. Fresh insights emerge (sometimes). But a handful of historical oddities make Out of Joint’s decision to set Macbeth in modern Africa, instead of its original Scottish backdrop, especially compelling. The Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, for instance, was obsessed with Scotland and even kindly offered to be its king. And the play, to be staged September 23 to October 2 at the Guthrie Lab, references the real case of a white aid worker who married an African warlord and was dubbed Lady Macbeth. Iambic pentameter never sounded scarier. • Call 612-377-2224 for tickets.
5 For nearly five years, the Plymouth Playhouse has been developing a play based on the books of Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, co-authors of the best-selling Growing Up Lutheran. The result is the musical Church Basement Ladies, which opens September 8. Written by beloved local storyteller Jim Stowell and his wife, Jessica Zuehlke—with music by Drew Jansen, the maestro behind How to Talk Minnesotan: the Musical—the show follows four women as they organize luncheons at a rural Minnesota church in 1965, dishing up laughs and poignancy in equal measure. • Call 763-553-1600 for tickets.
6 After 30 seasons, Park Square Theatre is mixing things up—with an all-Latino cast for Anna and the Tropics and an all–African American ensemble for Constant Star. But they’re starting out with the sure-fire mainstream classic You Can’t Take It with You from September 16 to October 9. Made into a memorable movie that starred James Stewart and Lionel Barrymore, this 1937 Pulitzer Prize–winning comedy pits a lovably kooky family against a clan of corporate titans in a tale of young love conquering old preconceptions and vast socioeconomic differences. • Call 651-291-7005 for tickets.
7 Cirque du Soleil is not your traditional wacka-wacka clown and sad elephant circus. But swapping animals for more acrobats has only increased the bizarro factor—Tammy Faye Baker couldn’t pull off the makeup on these contortionists, aerial dancers, and gymnasts. In their newest spectacle, Corteo, which opens September 23 in the Grand Chapiteau tent near the Walker Art Center, it’s all about clowns. Up to 90 artists will entertain each evening—and none will emerge from tiny cars. • Call 800-678-5440 for tickets and information.
8 Being a single African American woman in New York City in 1905 would be struggle enough, but Intimate Apparel’s protagonist, Esther, deals in the world of ladies’ undergarments—an, um, unmentionable career in that era, and not a great way to meet men. The show, which won last year’s Best Play honors from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, runs September 24 to October 23 at the Guthrie Theater. It follows Esther as she searches for love, befriends a prostitute, mingles with socialites, and ultimately comes to terms with her loneliness. • Call 612-377-2224 for tickets.
9 Rodgers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin reigned during Broadway’s golden years—the 1940s, ’50s, and early ’60s. Barbara Cook, a cabaret legend in her own right, will take you back to that time October 11 to 16 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Barbara Cook’s Broadway, a mix of musical showstoppers and tales of the old Great White Way. Named one of the “Ten Best Theatre Events of the Year” by both the Associated Press and USA Today. • Call 651-224-4222 for tickets.
10 We don’t know the writer behind the mysterious pen name Jane Martin, but that’s never prevented an appreciation of his/her work—not when it’s as inventive as Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage, a twisted take on the classic Western that will be staged at Theatre in the Round from October 14 to November 6. Rob Bob, a rodeo wannabe recuperating at the home of a former rodeo queen, must defend his hostess when villains She Devil and Black Dog arrive. John Wayne would roll over in his grave, but you may well tip your hat to crazy comedy like this. • Call 612-333-3010 for tickets.
11 You can’t help but be intrigued by an actor named Will Power and his show Flow, which will be staged on the new Cargill Stage at the Children’s Theatre November 2 to 19. A mix of original music, hip-hop, poetry, and dance that revolves around stories of the gritty city, the performance was named “one of the Top 10 NYC 2003 Theatre Performances” by the New York Times. You want to understand America’s urban youth? This might be a good place to start. • Call 612-874-0400 for tickets.
12 Dinner and a show, anyone? There’s no cooler musical theater than West Side Story (sorry, RENT), which is Romeo and Juliet set in rough and racist mid–20th century New York City with Puerto Rican Maria for Juliet and the fair Tony as Romeo. It opens November 4 at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, and even if you’ve associated the venue with bus tours and senior groups, this is an opportunity to feel cool in old-school surroundings and discover what insiders know: the Chan’s steady work has long attracted many of the area’s best performers. • Call 952-934-1525 for tickets.
13 Fans of television’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Martin will recognize the good-natured humor in The Dance on Widow’s Row, which opens November 11 at Mixed Blood Theatre. Writer Samm-Art Williams is the mind behind the TV comedy gems and this story of four middle-aged black women who collectively have nine dead husbands. The ladies decide to shake their bad luck by inviting wealthy bachelors to a Southern soiree, which results in a sweet love story and heated gender war. • Call 612-338-6131 for tickets.
14 Storyteller Kevin Kling could read roll call at a Sons of Norway meeting and we’d be rolling in the aisles. There’s something about his quirky Midwestern sensibility—Garrison Keillor after too many cups of glögg—that makes a show like Freezing Paradise: An Evening with Kevin Kling such a heartwarming treat. He’s taken this assortment of ironic and absurd tales around the region, and now it’s returning home, to the Guthrie Lab, from October 19 to 30. • Call 612-377-2224 for tickets.
15 When An Almost Holy Picture opened on Broadway nearly four years ago, starkly different reviews aligned themselves like angels and devils on star Kevin Bacon’s shoulders. Some said the metaphors and plot of this one-man show about a former minister struggling to reclaim his faith were transparent; others were, well, more forgiving. In the end, the play won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize nomination. Decide for yourself September 30 to October 22 at the Pillsbury House Theatre. • Call 612-825-0459 for tickets.
16 Put down the pitchforks. Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, despite being based on the 1970s porn movie, is not one of the signs of the Apocalypse. It’s a campy spoof, and the sex isn’t anything you didn’t see in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas—we’re talking banana jokes. Even the New Yorker thought it was a hoot. So when it’s staged September 30 to October 23 by Fifty Foot Penguin Theater at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage, put on a leisure suit and treat yourself to some of the best fun you can have, dare we say, with your clothes on. • Call 612-381-1110 for information.
17 The Little Prince is a royal treat in the playful hands of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, who will revive their spring production of this short but sweet gem from November 25 to January 8. In classic Jeune Lune fashion, the exotic tale becomes a journey through the imagination, with a long line of life-changing characters to meet. Playing the lead is Nathan Keepers, whose wide-eyed approach draws us into this surprisingly sophisticated story with a childlike sense of wonder. • Call 612-333-6200 for tickets.
18 Adultery has rarely been as charming as in Same Time, Next Year, which had a Tony Award–winning run on Broadway and was made into a 1978 movie starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. The premise—that two people who are married to others could hit it off at a resort and decide to return once a year for a romantic weekend—has something to say about the nature of love and marriage. But mostly, it’s played for laughs. The Jungle Theater stages the comedy November 4 to December 31, with direction by former Twin Cities favorite Casey Stangl. • Call 612-822-7063 for tickets.
19 Actor James Craven followed an Indian guide into the Southwest mountains—where African American “buffalo soldiers” in the U.S. Army battled Native Americans—to get into character for Penumbra Theatre’s Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers. The play, by William S. Yellow Robe Jr., follows the grandchild of a buffalo soldier and a Native American woman as he struggles to find community and identity. Penumbra held casting calls across the country for this world premiere, which will be staged September 23 to October 15. • Call 651-224-3180.
20 What’s still shocking about the musical Tommy, more than 30 years after its debut, is not that this story of a traumatized child–turned-superstar was conceived by wild-man guitarist Pete Townsend of the Who, but that it all revolves around pinball. Pinball! Staged October 7 to 30 by the Minneapolis Musical Theatre at Hennepin Stages, this rock opera nonetheless packs a punch. The power of songs like “Pinball Wizard” is only mildly dimmed by nostalgia and overplay on KQ. • Call 612-673-0404 for ticket information.
21 If you’d like to see Ballet of the Dolls characteristically deconstruct a classic with a wink and a pirouette, catch Giselle—featuring disco and bikers—at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in December. But if you’re ready to sample the more serious side of BOTD, Shades of Lady Grey, at the Southern Theater from October 20 to 23, follows the efforts of a woman who sees only in shades of gray to make sense of the world. Stephanie Fellner plays the vision-challenged star. • Call 612-340-1725 for tickets.
22 Since his debut in the 1940s, Merce Cunningham has choreographed some 200 dances for his company. His revolutionary ideas—abandoning storyline, creating dance steps randomly by letting a computer choose them—continue to inspire, easily making him the most influential choreographer alive today. At 86, he’s hardly slowed down. See his latest works November 5 at Northrop Auditorium. No plots, no pretense of psychology, just bodies in motion. • Call 612-624-2345 for tickets.
23 If you think you know Indian dance from Bollywood movies (a woman shimmying in a sari to shrill singing) you’d be partly right—insofar as Baywatch depicts American culture. Ragamala Music and Dance Theater has toured the world, sharing a more sophisticated take on classical Indian dance. From Temple to Theater, to be staged September 29 to October 9 at the Southern Theater, is their most popular show, featuring both traditional dance and cross-cultural collaborations, which in the past have had Ragamala dancers trading moves with African dancers and grooving to the music of Billie Holiday. • Call 612-340-1725 for tickets.
24 This should be a big year for choreographer Uri Sands, whose TU Dance troupe recently staged its very first performances (see profile on page 58). But young choreographer Mathew Janczewski hasn’t been slacking, either. Janczewski’s fresh and funky work is being performed all over town this fall, and Zenon Dance Company is premiering his latest dances, as well as those of Sands and other artists, at its November 17 to 27 fall shows at the Southern Theater. • Call 612-340-1725 for tickets.
25 Dancer/choreographer Wynn Fricke burrows to her material’s emotional essence, creating accessible works that are a tribute to the possibilities of the human body. In Widening the Circle, staged along with newer works by the Minnesota Dance Theatre from November 3 to 6 at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium, Fricke reprises her Two Fridas performance and doesn’t dance around the life of artist Frida Kahlo—she dives right in, muscling through moves with grace and power. • Call 612-338-0627 for ticket information.
26 James Sewell, leader of Minneapolis’s James Sewell Ballet, was dubbed “one of American ballet’s best choreographers” by the New York Times. But he’s still something of a hidden gem here. Hopefully that will change when Sewell’s troupe puts his inventive, exquisitely modern sensibility on stage in the Guy Noir ballet, a new work based on the Prairie Home Companion character. It will be performed with Garrison Keillor voiceover from September 29 to October 2 at the State Theatre. • Call 612-673-0404 for tickets.
27 In 1929, Americans danced to jazz as the economy crashed around them. This is where Bankrupt City Ballad begins, a collaboration between Theater Latté Da opera company and ARENA Dances choreographer Mathew Janczewski, the recipient of a 2005 McKnight Artist Fellowship. Staged September 15 to 25 at the Southern Theater, Bankrupt City Ballad should tap a never-ending enthusiasm for Jazz Age decadence. • Call 612-340-1725 for tickets.
28 It’s hard to believe, but the first art movement dubbed “modern” (what are we now, post-post-postmodern?) came along about the same time as the Model T Ford. “Villa America: American Moderns, 1900–1950” which opens November 13 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, revisits the revolutionary idea of making painting more personal, which now seems as quaint as a rumble seat. That said, many of the works in this exhibition of early 20th-century artists, such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Grant Wood, still feel contemporary. • Call 612-870-3131 for information.
29 When you hear “Yu-Gi-Oh,” are you inspired to A) gather the kids to watch the latest episode of this Japanese cartoon phenomenon or B) burn all the related trading cards, DVDs, games, and merchandise? Love it or hate it, Japanese cartoon culture has hooked American kids. And the Minnesota Children’s Museum is acknowledging this with “Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture through Popular Art,” an exhibition opening September 24 that explores the comic books, animation, and traditional art of a country obsessed with pen-and-ink expression. • Call 651-225-6000 for information.
30 Don’t think the Textile Center’s annual Artwear in Motion fashion show consists of local matrons gliding around in knit sweaters. Past events have been reviewed on howwastheshow.com, the hip website that typically covers rock bands. The runway show, exhibition, and boutique put on by this organization of textile and fiber artists runs October 22 and 23 and features models in “wearable art” by local and national designers—everything from kimonos to swing coats to handpainted dresses. Enjoy. And leave your latch-hook project at home. • Call 612-436-0464 for information.
31 It may be safe to say that no one ever told the young Thomas Edison to “quit playin’ around.” From the telephone to the phonograph, many inventions have bubbled up from a creative process remarkably similar to child’s play, as demonstrated by a new interactive exhibit that opens October 19 at the Science Museum of Minnesota, “Invention at Play.” Visitors will be able to build wind-powered devices, experiment with a sailboard simulator, and learn about innovators who changed the world—in part because they just never grew up. • Call 651-221-9444 for information.
32 Huang Yong Ping is a provocative artist of the enjoyable kind—one who challenges you to think but doesn’t think challenging you is the whole point. In “House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective,” an exhibition that opens October 16, the Walker Art Center offers the first complete survey of his work. The piece titled The History of Chinese Art and Modern Western Art Washed in a Washing Machine for Two Minutes literally looks like a couple of textbooks took a spin at the laundromat. • Call 612-375-7600 for information.
33 Americans can’t help gawking at two things in particular: celebrities and disasters. And one of the first modern artists to comment (or capitalize) on these twin obsessions was Andy Warhol. In “Andy Warhol/Supernova: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962–1964,” opening November 13, the Walker Art Center juxtaposes the pop artist’s 20 celebrity serial images—of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Elvis Presley—with his artistic appropriations of news items on car crashes, electric-chair executions, and other disastrous ends. You won’t be able to look away. • Call 612-375-7600 for information.
34 If pictures are truly worth a thousand words, “The Pulitzer Prize Photographs: Capture the Moment,” an exhibition on view October 15 to January 15 at the Minnesota History Center, is an epic. The largest collection of Pulitzer Prize–winning photographs ever assembled in the United States, the show includes such memorable images as the flag-raising at Iwo Jima, Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald, and the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. • Call 651-296-6126 for information.
35 Lately, it’s been easy to forget that Russia was once one of the world’s artistic forces—and never more so than during the reign of the last czar, Nicholas II. “Mir Iskusstva: Russia’s Age of Elegance,” an exhibition that opens at the Weisman Art Museum October 8, features 87 exquisite paintings, works on paper, costumes, and set designs from the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. It collectively reflects an apex of interest in the fine arts. And there’s not a sickle in sight. • Call 612-625-9494 for information.
36 “Faith in Women,” the third installment in Intermedia Arts’ “Immigrant Status” exhibitions, continues the series’ mission of exploring cultures through art but gets gender-specific. Running September 23 to January 22, the series integrates film, theater, and discussion into a visual investigation of women and religion, sexual behavior, body issues, and global differences. • Call 612-871-4444 for information.
37 Who said orchestra concerts can consist only of tuxedoed symphony music? Jazzed-Up Fridays with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, a new series of concerts at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, begin with the usual chamber music fare, then, after intermission, give audience members a choice: to return to the concert hall for more or stay in the lobby for live jazz. On September 23, hear violinist Joshua Bell lead the orchestra in music by Verdi and Mendelssohn, then swing out in the lobby after. Consider us jazzed. • Call 651-291-1144 for tickets.
38 Louis Armstrong probably never saw this coming, but he’d most likely approve: in the collaboration between jazz guitarist/composer Bill Frisell and producer/disc jockey Hal Willner, jazz meets rap-style record spinning, flirting with dance grooves and electronica. The duo’s recent recording Unspeakable won the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. When they perform September 25 at the Walker Art Center, they’ll have a small string section, drummer, and bassist—though (alas, Louis) no trumpeter. • Call 612-624-2345 for tickets.
39 These days, salsa outsells ketchup. But America’s appetite for salsa dance has yet to be sated. The newest—and possibly best—band to satisfy the craving is the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, a 13-member ensemble featuring the retro sounds of an upright bass and suave vocalist. Their recording Across 110th Street won the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Salsa/Merengue Album. They’re guaranteed to unleash their music’s rhythmic power when they play live on November 20 at Ted Mann Concert Hall. • Call 612-624-2345 for tickets.
40 If unaccompanied male voices make you think of the time your old boyfriend sent you a singing telegram at work, well, you ain’t heard nothing yet. Cantus is an all-male a cappella vocal ensemble formed by classmates at St. Olaf College 10 years ago. Whether performing Gregorian chants or songs of the Romantic period, these nine clean-cut guys exude contagious enthusiasm. On November 11 and 12, they’ll join the Minnesota Orchestra for the first time, singing pop songs and Verdi opera choruses in an all-local concert led by Doc Severinsen. We should note, however, that they’re not afraid to perform “Casey at the Bat” as a barbershop quartet. • Call 612-371-5656 for tickets.
41 Ah, the Middle Ages, rich with mystical chants, dances…and the plague. Overlooking the latter, no one makes a case for traveling back to the inquisition era better than the Rose Ensemble, local singers of ancient music who were recently honored for their excellence by the nation’s largest choral organization. The chorus gives a free concert at the Landmark Center on October 9 to promote their latest CD, Cantiga!, a collection of medieval Mediterranean spiritual songs, dances, and other meditations on miracles. It’s beautiful, haunting, and plague-free. • Call 651-225-4340 for information.
42 If you notice Minnesota Orchestra music director Osmo Vänskä wearing sunglasses in restaurants, well, he’s had a rock star kind of year. He’s been winning awards and garnering accolades for his invigorating concerts, and, most recently, for the first CD in the orchestra’s Beethoven symphony series. Vänskä and the orchestra have resuscitated Beethoven’s warhorses with a breath of fresh air, as you can hear for yourself January 5 to 14 during the orchestra’s Beethoven bonanza. Catch them before Vänskämäniä gets any more out of hand. • Call 612-371-5656 for tickets.
43 Leon Fleisher, one of the world’s leading pianists, was a child prodigy when he first played at the Schubert Club in 1955. About 10 years later, he lost use of his right hand to a rare disease. But when he plays October 26 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts with the Emerson String Quartet, Fleisher will be using both hands, having regained complete command of all his fingers through an innovative therapy technique. It will be good to have him back in full, performing the dexterity-demanding Brahms Quintet in F Minor. • Call 651-224-4222 for tickets.
44 A fiery diva is trapped in the midst of deadly political intrigue as her artist lover is caught protecting a freedom fighter—is this a new series on Fox? Nope, it’s Tosca, the first show of the Minnesota Opera’s season, to be staged November 5 to 13 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Few singers have seen accolades such as those bestowed on lead actress Galina Gorchakova, said by the London Sunday Times to have “one of the most important dramatic soprano voices in the postwar era.” Beats a night of reality TV, don’t you think? • Call 651-224-4222.
45 Norah Long and Christina Baldwin rocked the Great American History Theatre as two of the three Andrews Sisters in Sisters of Swing. Now the celebrated singers are tackling a more solemn World War II memory, performing in the Minnesota Orchestra’s November 18 and 19 premiere of To Be Certain of the Dawn, a work commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of those held in Nazi concentration camps. Composed by local favorite Stephen Paulus, with a libretto by Michael Dennis Browne, the piece was commissioned by the Basilica of Saint Mary, where it will be staged, appropriately enough, in the sanctuary. • Call 612-371-5656 for tickets.
46 “Two Norwegian royals walk into a St. Paul concert hall” sounds like the start of an Ole and Lena joke, but this is no laughing matter. A command performance of Eduard Grieg’s music from the Henrik Ibsen play Peer Gynt, sung by VocalEssence, will be held for Crown Prince Haakon Magnus and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway on October 18 and 19 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. If it’s good enough for them, it should satisfy us plebes. (Note to paparazzi: the royals are expected to attend the October 19 performance.) • Call 651-224-4222 for tickets.
47 The JazzMN Big Band is shifting venues again—this time to the new 900-seat Performing Arts Center at Hopkins High School—but their knack for importing superstar guests hasn’t been lost in transition. JazzMN’s first concert of the season on November 5 features guest trumpeter Ryan Kisor, a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, a frequent performer with the Mingus Big Band, and, at age 32, one of the youngest of the so-called “young lions” of jazz trumpet. • Call 651-209-6820 for tickets.
48 Tonic Sol-fa is used to doing things without much help, being an a cappella vocal group. Recently the local foursome got some notice in Newsweek for their entrepreneurial sales technique: listening parties that function much like Tupperware gatherings. The parties are working—the group’s new CD, Boston to Beijing, is selling well on the strength of their percussive sounds and doo-wop pop. You can hear them November 5 at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, or just hold a listening party of your own, Mary Kay. • Call 952-979-1111 for tickets.
49 The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra could hardly make it easier for you to appreciate classical music. Ticket prices for the orchestra’s Neighborhood Series in local churches have been slashed to just $10 at the low end, $25 at the top. Neighborhood performances October 27 to 29 will feature conductor/director and pianist Jeffrey Kahane of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Now that the SPCO is practically playing in your living room for less than the cost of a CD, there’s no excuse for missing them live. • Call 651-291-1144 for tickets.
50 Let’s get real: you have a better chance of licking the wraparound Italian shades off Bono’s face than scoring tickets for U2’s sold-out Vertigo Tour gig at the Target Center September 23. There’s always eBay, of course, but for a May concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden, a pair of lower-tier seats sold for $4,250. For that kind of ching, you could buy 331 copies of Bono and the Boys’ rocking new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb—or about 773 pints of Guinness in which to drown your sorrows. We include the show here just in case Mr. Mono-moniker is reading this and wants to flip us a few tix. Or licks.