February Arts and Entertainment Picks

A Midsummer Night's Dream costume sketch

2/7–3/29 A Midsummer Night’s Dream

It’s Joe Dowling’s final Guthrie season, and the kingpin returns to the play he’s directed twice before in Minneapolis—once in his first season here and again in 2008 (in a production that was wildly entertaining and unapologetically fun). I have to admit it’s not my favorite Shakespeare (OK, it’s pretty much my least), but I’m definitely on board to catch Dowling’s latest take, which includes a bank of audience seats placed on the Thrust stage (they’re apparently not kidding when they call this one immersive) and white-hot stage talent Tyler Michaels (star of last year’s Cabaret by Theater Latté Da) as chaos agent Puck. guthrietheater.org



2/11–12 John Mellencamp

It’s a little hard to reconcile for those of us whose adolescence played out to the brat-rock summertime anthems of Johnny Cougar (best heard to the accompaniment of a rusty muffler), but over the course of almost four decades (!) John Mellencamp has compiled a trusty resumé as one of the greats. In addition to penning an amazing run of hit singles, he’s maintained an underdog outsider’s outlook and has been at the forefront of infusing elements of American roots music (fiddles, accordions) to the pop charts (including his latest, Plain Spoken, reportedly a tour of Americana sounds). Opener Carlene Carter knows a thing or two about American roots as well, with a pedigree as June Carter Cash’s daughter and a long career straddling country and rock.

Science Museum of Minnesota Omnifest 2015Through 2/19 Omnifest 2015

This year’s mega-screen Science Museum film fest travels through time and space, and into the far-flung reaches of the planet. Its five films run in rotation on the 90-foot Omnitheater screen: a depiction of the D-day landing at Normandy in film and animation; a journey through the world’s most dynamic landscapes; an intensive look at the scope and complexity of the Earth’s oceans; a radical tour of the universe courtesy of the Hubble telescope; and the story, with a Minnesota connection, of one scientist’s four-decade quest to find the elusive winter home of the monarch butterfly. smm.org



Camille A. Brown and Dancers Ordway Theater2/21 Camille A. Brown and Dancers

The young choreographer, dancer, and conceptualist Camille A. Brown has toured with works that hold up the African American experience to the prism of culture and media, searching for meaning and truth while hewing close to the directness and beauty of movement, image, and music. One previous epic, Mr. TOL. E. RAncE, took audiences through tap dancing and vaudeville to minstrelsy, all the way to hip-hop, with nods to Spike Lee, Oprah, and Dave Chappelle. America is redefining its racial past, present, and future almost hour to hour today, it feels like, and bold artists such as Brown—whose work has been commissioned across the country by troupes including the Twin Cities’ TU Dance—are as vital as any think piece or political punditry.  ordway.org


2/27–3/22 HIR

A young soldier returns home from Afghanistan, where he’s been dishonorably discharged, and hopes to find sanity, calm, and tradition. He’s out of luck. His macho dad has been laid low by a stroke, his mother has been running the chaos-filled house with the relish of a military dictator, and his sister is now his transgender brother. It’s an odyssey of language, comedy, and subverting of reality and societal norms that playwright Taylor Mac terms “absurd realism.” Featuring the great Sally Wingert as the family’s maniacally reborn matriarch, Hir comes with the rep of a great comedy with a heart-shaking twist—just about right for Mixed Blood’s mission of blowing minds with radical yet accessible work that rides the wave of our time’s heartening expansion of social awareness.  mixedblood.com

Quinton Skinner is a writer and editor based in the Twin Cities. A former senior editor of Minnesota Monthly, he held the same post at Twin Cities METRO and 
has written for major national and local publications. He is the co-founder of Logosphere Storysmiths and author of several novels, including his latest, Odd One Out.