10 Twin Cities Theater Shows for Winter

Romance, all-star casts, tough questions, a double-dosage of ”A Doll’s House,” and more await
Layan Elwazani (Maryam) and Gamze Ceylan (Noura) in the Guthrie Theater's production of "Noura" by Heather Raffo and directed by Taibi Magar. Photo by Dan Norman.
Layan Elwazani (Maryam) and Gamze Ceylan (Noura) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of “Noura” (through February 16)

Dan Norman

After talking with my fellow editors, it has been determined that a roundup of more than 15 titles is a little superfluous. But trust me—there are so many Twin Cities theater shows that are worth your attention this winter. Here are 10, plus a few extras thrown in. (I couldn’t help it.) Happy theatergoing! 

A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder (through February 15)

Swing by the Old Log Theatre in Excelsior for some good ol’ fashioned murder with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, winner of the 2014 Tony award for Best Musical. Monty Navarro is a penniless clerk who suddenly has the chance to have it all when he finds out he is ninth in line to inherit a grand estate. All he has to do is get rid of the other eight men in front of him. Simple, right? 

Bridges of Madison County (January 24-February 16)

First a best-selling novel, then a movie starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, Bridges of Madison County became a Tony-winning musical (2014 Best Original Score, Best Orchestrations). Francesca (Jennifer Baldwin Peden) is a housewife living a quiet, rural life when a wandering photographer comes to photograph the area’s famous bridges. Soon, she’s forced to question what she wants: a passionate, all-consuming love or a life with the family and community she calls home. See it all play out on the Artistry’s main stage.

Peerless (January 31-February 16)

Local theater fans may recognize Francesca and Isabella Dawis, two sisters who were born and raised in Minneapolis, performed on multiple Twin Cities stages, and moved away. Now they’re back as Asian American twins M and L in Theater Mu’s production of Peerless. Under artistic director Lily Tung Crystal (her first time directing in the Twin Cities), Jiehae Park’s story of affirmative action, self-righteous immorality, and college admissions is a dark MacBeth-esque comedy. 

Seven of the 10 women in Theater Latte Da's show, "Bernarda Alba"
Some of the women in Theater Latte Da’s “Bernarda Alba” (from left): Britta Ollmann, Nora Montañez, Kate Beahen, Sara Ochs, Regina Marie Williams, Meghan Kreidler, and Stephanie Bertuman

Dan Norman

Bernarda Alba (through February 16)

After her second husband dies, Bernarda Alba (Regina Marie Williams, who was Mama Morton in Theater Latté Da’s Chicago) makes her five daughters live an austere life. Eventually, though, cracks begin to form in the family’s united front. Latté Da director Peter Rothstein brings together a powerful, all-woman cast for this show in order to bring out its tempestuous emotions and restraint, its grief and its longing.

Noura (through February 16) 

Playwright Heather Raffo weaves inspiration from A Doll’s House and her own life into this modern immigration story at the Guthrie. Noura is a U.S. citizen living in New York City, but while her husband and son have seemed to assimilate (and tout Americanized names), part of her still longs for her home in Iraq. When guests come over for Christmas Eve dinner, the feelings that have been whirling inside of her come to the surface, drawing out more than she could intend or know. This play is one of three the Guthrie has pulled together in a call to celebrate Arab artistry. See Grey Rock (January 23-26) on a tour from Palestine, or check out Jogging (January 29-February 2), which is performed in Arabic with English subtitles.

After the Fires (February 7-22) 

In Transatlantic Love Affair’s newest production at Illusion Theater, the world has descended back into wilderness, and the legend of the Healers is the only hope a sick village has. But where are they to be found? Using the company’s seamless and endlessly creative style of physical acting, the cast will take us on the archetypal hero’s journey.

A Doll’s House, Part 2 (through February 23)

Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play A Doll’s House ends with Nora leaving her husband and children. In A Doll’s House, Part 2, written by Lucas Hnath in 2017, she comes back 15 years later. But how does one talk to someone whom you haven’t seen for so long? How are you supposed to feel? With longtime Twin Cities actor Christina Baldwin (Baldwin Peden’s sister) as Nora, the Jungle Theater’s latest production looks at regrets, choices, and what happens when you return—even for a moment—to the place you left behind. 

The White Card (February 4-March 1)

Renowned author and poet Claudia Rankine thrusts microaggressions, unequal systems of power, and self-righteousness into the spotlight with The White Card, playing at Penumbra. With layers of symbolism, Rankine sets up the first act as a dinner where Charlotte, a black photographer, is invited to dinner with the Spencers, who want to show her their latest art procurement—one of many they own that depict the crimes against black Americans. 

Superman Becomes Lois Lane (February 8-March 1)

This world premiere at the History Theatre tells the true story of how Bob Sylvester, a former St. Paul city council president, publicly transitioned to become Susan Kimberly, the first transgender woman to become a deputy mayor of a major American city. While her story should never be forgotten, this play is made extra special because it is written by Kimberly herself.

Twelfth Night (February 8-March 22) 

In Shakespeare’s comedy, Viola is shipwrecked, missing her twin brother, and in a new land. For safety, she disguises herself as a boy, but a love triangle makes everything more complicated. The cast features all local actors, which is a Guthrie anomaly as of late, and well, just take a look at the cast list yourself. It’s fantastic. (Our Minneapolis theater is attracting talent from around the country, but it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling when I see locals on its stages.) For those who already know the play, check out the free reading of Malvolio at the Playwrights’ Center (February 3-4): In this sequel to Shakespeare’s play, it’s Malvolio’s time to get revenge, and find love—all with some of the same Twelfth Night mischief.

And a few more … 

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