Bill Collins, the managing director of Actors Theater in St. Paul, believes so strongly that theater goers will love the musical cabaret "Mrs. Smith Live" that he is offering a money-back guarantee for anyone who comes to see it.
You could take Collins' word for "the best night of cabaret you will see all year" or you could take the opinion of Bain Boehlke, the Jungle Theater director, who wrote that it is "not just another drag show, but rather a hilariously constructed journey that is absurd and ridiculous. He sings Streisand and Garland better than Streisand and Garland."
Mrs. Smith, aka actor and playwright David Hanbury, weaves "Cabaret, "One Night in Bangkok," and "The Ladies Who Lunch" into a surreal adult travelogue about her life and her missing cat Carlyle. Although Hanbury has also appeared at the Guthrie, Mrs. Smith also appeared in the Minneapolis auditions for "America's Got Talent" in 2011.
The money-back guarantee is unusual among theaters. While it's true that some theaters offer a "pay-what you-can" policy and the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis divvies up free tickets to every performance, theaters rarely give refunds except when patrons find themselves shocked by a play's theme or content. And even those reasons are suspect unless the patron walks out mid-performance. At the Guthrie Theater, for example, refunds are generally offered only when customers have a misunderstanding about the play they were attending, and only if they complain on the same day of the show, not two weeks later, said Guthrie marketing director Trisha Kirk.
Mrs. Smith Live is playing Thursdays through Sundays through Oct. 13 at Camp Cabaret (490 N. Robert St., St. Paul, 1-800-838-3006). Tickets can be ordered at www.brownpapertickets.com or 1-800-838-3006) for $20 to $32. Use discount code FRIEND to save $5 per ticket.