Twin Cities 2012 Fall Arts Preview

Our annual fall preview of must-see shows in museums and galleries, theater, dance, choral and classical music.

New York City Ballet


Christopher Hampton


The Guthrie is following up its celebration of American playwright Tony Kushner three years ago with a similar fete of British playwright Christopher Hampton. Though Hampton isn’t nearly as well known in America as Kushner, his catalog of plays puts him at the top of anyone’s list of playwrights working today. “People will know Les liaisons dangereuses, but not the depth of his work,” says artistic director Joe Dowling. Among the plays presented will be the world premiere of Appomattox, a Guthrie-commissioned historical work encompassing the Civil War and civil rights eras, and Tales from Hollywood, about German émigrés such as Bertolt Brecht and Thomas Mann who moved to LA to escape the Nazis.
Sept. 15–Nov. 11. Guthrie Theater 612-377-2224

Sarah Rasmussen


Also referred to as “the vibrator play,” Sarah Ruhl’s story is about the sexual awakening of two Victorian housewives whose medical treatment for hysteria includes machine-induced orgasms. Director Sarah Rasmussen assistant-directed the Broadway production and is one of the few women ever to direct a Jungle Theater production.
Nov. 2–Dec. 16. Jungle Theater 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-7063,

Guy Tillim: Avenue Patrice Lumumba


Chanhassen Dinner Theatres made its name by presenting classic American musicals, but Bye, Bye Birdie is one it’s never staged. “That’s why we’re doing it,” says artistic director Michael Brindisi. After a string of jukebox musicals (Hairspray, Xanadu), Brindisi says he’s excited to be working on an old-fashioned book musical. “The lyric ‘spread sunshine all over the place’ from ‘Put On a Happy Face’ is the hook for me,” Brindisi says. "It’s going to be upbeat and fun.”
Oct. 5–Jan. 26 Chanhassen Dinner Theatres 501 W. 78th St., Chanhassen, 952-934-1525

J.C. Cutler as Mark Rothko


Red, John Logan’s Tony-winning play about abstract painter Mark Rothko, gets its area premiere at Park Square, with J.C. Cutler playing the famed artist. “The play explores the extremes of his passions about art,” Cutler says. “He can rant and rave and be vulnerable within the intimate, insular world of his studio.” But Cutler insists the play is about more than just art: “He wants to be understood.” For many who have wondered why Rothko’s colored squares are considered so great, that will come as a welcome bonus.
Sept. 14–Oct. 7. Park Square Theatre 20 W. 7th Place, St. Paul, 651-291-7005

Why We Do This at The Soap Factory


Theatre Pro Rata’s Lovers & Executioners is a contemporary adaptation by John Strand of a play by Antoine Jacob de Montfleury, a rival of Molière. “It’s a bedroom farce, full of bawdy innuendo and French Restoration sauciness,” says Theatre Pro Rata artistic director Carin Bratlie. “We’re doing it fully period.”
Sept. 29–Oct. 14 Gremlin Theatre2400 University Ave., St. Paul, 612-234-7135


The Pulitzer Prize–winning Broadway musical Next to Normal—the story of a mother who struggles with bipolar disorder—sounds like an odd choice of subject matter for a musical. But Mixed Blood artistic director Jack Reuler was attracted to the play because it “speaks to mental illness as a disability and a barrier to succeeding.”
Oct. 5–Nov. 11 Mixed Blood Theatre 1501 S. 4th St., Mpls., 612-338-6131

The Good Fight


Playwright Anne Bertram developed her play The Good Fight at Babes with Blades, a Chicago theater specializing in stage combat roles for women. It’s the story of the bodyguard for famed early-20th-century suffragette Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, and, as you might expect, it has half a dozen fight sequences. “We’re talking about powerful political movements making progress against severe oppression,” Bertram says. “It’s like the Arab Spring.” Theatre Unbound’s production is the play’s world premiere.
Sept. 29–Oct. 14 The Lowry Lab Theater 350 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 612-721-1186



In this election year, Theater Latte Da artistic director Peter Rothstein wanted to do a provocative but entertaining play about marriage. He settled on Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 musical comedy Company, about a group of married couples who throw a surprise party for their unrepentantly single friend Robert. The play will be modernized, and use a new orchestration.
Oct. 25–Nov. 18 Ordway's McKnight Theatre 345 Washington St., St. Paul, 651-224-4222

Holly Down


Playwright Kara Lee Corthron’s play tells of a pregnant teen who refuses to come up from the basement until she’s given birth. Says Penumbra artistic director Lou Bellamy, “She has dolls of various ethnicities who come alive and talk to her. This is a rare opportunity for Penumbra to work with puppets.”
Sept. 27–Oct. 21 Penumbra Theatre 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul, 651-224-3180



Jim Detmar plays legendary coach Vince Lombardi in this History Theatre production. “Growing up in Wisconsin, I’ve been a Packers fan since day one,” Detmar says. For the sake of authenticity, he had a retainer made to replicate Lombardi’s distinctive gap-toothed smile.
Oct. 6–Nov. 4 History Theatre 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul, 651-292-4323

Ten More Plays to Consider

  1. The Brothers Size Sept. 7–29. Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio, guthrietheater.org
  2. Sunday in the Park with George Oct. 19–Nov. 17. Bloomington Civic Theatre, bloomingtoncivictheatre.org
  3. Love & Marriage, Goes Together Like A… Sept. 28–Oct. 20. Illusion Theater, illusiontheater.org
  4. Buccaneers Sept. 11–Oct. 21. Children’s Theatre, childrenstheatre.org
  5. Turn of the Screw Oct. 5–27. Torch Theater, torchtheater.com Eurydice Sept. 14–29.
  6. Pillsbury House Theatre (by Walking Shadow Theatre), walkingshadowcompany.org
  7. Measure for Measure Sept. 27–Oct. 21. Ten Thousand Things, tenthousandthings.org
  8. Photograph 51 Oct. 14–Nov. 4. Minnesota Jewish Theatre, mnjewishtheatre.org
  9. King Lear Oct. 19–Nov. 11. Park Square Theatre, parksquaretheatre.org
  10. Happy Birthday, Wanda June Oct. 6–28. Nimbus Theatre, nimbustheatre.com