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Park Square Theatre's second stage -- long anticipated -- should be finished in mid-October. The theater announced Wednesday that the 204-seat thrust will open with "The House on Mango Street" (in previews) on Oct. 24. The production will run through Nov. 9, directed by Dipankar Mukherjee.
The thrust, named for benefactor Andy Boss, is projected to cost $3.5 million and is set up to be independent of the main stage, with its own ticket office, lobby, galleries, rehearsal hall and dressing rooms. Nine productions are scheduled for the 2014-15 season, including six by Park Square. Partner companies Sandbox, Theatre Pro Rata and Girl Friday will provide the other shows.
Park Square still needs to raise $285,000 for the project.
"This is an incredibly exciting time for us," said artistic director Richard Cook in a statement. "This is the fourth theater space I've had a hand in creating for Park Square since 1975."
Cook always has been a master of building his theater cautiously and carefully but then understanding when it's time to make a bold move. And adding a 204-seat stage is pretty bold. That's bigger than the Jungle and roughly the size of Mixed Blood and the Guthrie studio. Cook has programmed 18 productions in his two stages this season. Park Square's attendance goal is 90,000.
If you have 30 minutes to spare, check out “Theater People,” a web series created by Matthew Anderson. He wrote, directed and edited ten episodes about the drama behind drama. It’s all locally made – which is important these days, right? At least when it comes to garden produce.
Anderson had toiled for many years in the Twin Cities theater market and then took a stab at Los Angeles. He came back but has put his energy behind a camera. The concept here is just to lampoon the quirks and tics of theater life. But it all feels friendly and cheeky as it lands its punches – kind of like Kate Wetherhead’s “Submissions Only.”
Theaters, private homes and public streets provide cost-free locations and the actors in “Theater People” are doing it mostly for fun.
And it is fun. Stacia Rice and Steve Sweere play former spouses who still run Theatre Unhinged. Sweere is an aging lothario auditioning potential Juliets to his Romeo – but really just trying to make out with young women. Rice’s character watches with simmering but controlled rage. In another scenario, Mark Mattison does a florid and pompous director crafting an original production that he is says is based on the work of Aleister Crowley. Jane Froiland, Jen Rand, Matt Sciple, Katie Willer and Sara Marsh all contribute.
There are ten episodes on the web site, each about eight minutes long. Anderson would like to put together another season and is hoping for some real funding this time. It’s definitely worth having a look and supporting.
Reed Kelly/photo courtesy of CBS
"Survivor" doesn't usually recruit players with Minnesota ties, but the show is making an exception for this upcoming season.
Reed Kelly, 31, may be best known for appearing in Broadway productions of "Wicked" and "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." But around these parts, he's simply the son of former St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly.
Kelly will compete against his boyfriend, composer Josh Canfield, in a season in which loved ones will be pitted against each other.
Kelly isn't the highest profile contestant. That honor goes to former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker.
"Survivor: San Juan Del Sur" premieres Sept. 24 on WCCO, Ch. 4.
The old Brave New Workshop at 2605 Hennepin Av. S., Minneapolis, has been sold and will be rebranded as a performance space operated by a new nonprofit.
Dudley Riggs had moved his comedy troupe into the building in the early 1960s and it served as home to shows almost continuously until 2011, when the owners of the business moved the club downtown.
Still, the Workshop was using the 2605 Hennepin space as the Brave New Institute School, where classes in improvisation and other stagecraft were held. No one from the Workshop was available to comment on the future of that program. Mike Fotis and Joe Bozic, both veterans who had performed on stage, had been co-directors of the school. They both left earlier this year for other jobs. The Brave New Workshop business is owned by John Sweeney and Jenni Lilledahl, who purchased it in 1997 from Riggs.
The theater, which had about 200 seats, will be remodeled and operated as the Phoenix Theatre. A nonprofit called The Arts’ Nest is being launched to program the space, according to the group’s executive director, Jenna Papke.
Papke said the purchase price was $485,000 and the buyer was an individual who has organized a limited liability partnership called ERK. She did not identify the person, other than to say he or she is on the Arts’ Nest board of directors. The building is being rented to The Arts’ Nest for the cost of taxes and insurance, Papke said. Records show that the 2014 tax bill was about $25,000.
Those documents also show that the previous owner was RICMAR LLC, with an address for Richard Kohn of Cumberland, Wis.
Papke said the new space will open in November. Mission Theatre Company will be the first company to use the theater, with a new work by playwright Sam Graber. The play, "Detainee," will run Nov. 6-15.
Hundreds of actors and writers found their legs in The Brave New Workshop at 2605 Hennepin. Al Franken and Tom Davis did shows there. Hollywood screenwriter Pat Proft called the theater one of best rooms for comedy because of the way laughter resounded off the walls. Sweeney and Lilledahl had moved BNW shows to Calhoun Square for about three years but moved back in 2002.
Louis Lee (center) surrounded by Acme club regulars. / Photo by Tom Wallace
Acme Comedy Co. is taking its show on the road in the biggest way possible.
Louis Lee, the owner of the Minneapolis club, is taking three comedians to Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau, the first time the Acme brand has traveled outside of North America.
Lee, who is from Hong Kong, thinks there's a lot of potential in an area that is just starting to get a taste of American comedy through movies and TV sitcoms.
"It's like the '80s were over here," Lee said."Beyond bars and restaurants and hotels, there really isn't a place for comedy yet. But I think it's in the early stages of it happening. The main reason I'm doing this is to see how feasible it is and how the media reacts."
Lee purposely picked three comics -- Pete Lee, Tom Segura and Chad Daniels -- who have never performed in the area.
"That part of Asia gets the same 10 or 15 guys all the time," he said. "I want to try to bring something new and generate some interest over there."
No word yet if the frequent flyer miles go to the comedians or Acme.
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