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Posts about Theater

These shows had sold-out performances at Fringe Festival

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: August 4, 2014 - 2:19 PM

"Native Man the Musical" was among sold-out shows at weekend one of the Fringe Festival. Image provided by Fringe Festival.

Ticket sales for the opening weekend of Minnesota Fringe Festival were almost exactly the same as last year, said Fringe officials Monday.

In the first four days of the Festial, the Fringe issued 17,700 tickets to 347 performances, compared to 17,780 tickets to 384 performances in 2013.

“Last year, we had more performances during the opening weekend, but we have almost identical ticket sales this year," said Executive Director Jeff Larson, "which means our average house size is larger this year.”

There were several sold-out shows over the weekend, including:

“The History of Minnesota – Unscripted” presented by The Theater of Public Policy

“The Finkles' Theater Show!!!” presented by Ryan Lear and Rachel Petrie

“Top Gun: The Musical” presented by Rooftop Theatre Company

"Pretty People Suck"

“Pretty People Suck (And Other Indisputable Fact about the Universe)” presented by Arc Stages Satellite

"Crime and Punishment"

“Crime and Punishment” presented by Live Action Set (3 performances)

“Into the Unreal City” presented by Catalog Models (4 performances)

“Native Man the Musical” presented by New Native Theatre

“The Sex (Ed) Show” presented by V as in Victor (3 performances)

“It Only Takes One: A New Musical” presented by World Tree Theatre

“Slut Club” presented by Showers in the Dark Productions

“Macaroni On A Hotdog” presented by Snapdragon Theatre

The 2014 Minnesota Fringe continues through Aug. 10. A full schedule of the festival’s 169-show lineup and links to buy tickets can be found at fringefestival.org.

See reviews of Fringe shows by Star Tribune writers at startribune.com/fringe

Cheers at the White House

Posted by: Rohan Preston Updated: July 30, 2014 - 12:39 PM

Twin Cities artists and arts leaders were on hand Monday at the White House to cheer on Bill T. Jones, who was presented with the National Medal for the Arts by President Obama.

A multiple Tony-winning choreographer, dancer, director and company founder, Jones has a decades-long association with artists and arts institutions in the Twin Cities, especially Walker Art Center, under whose aegis he has developed, premiered and performed many works. He also directed "Dream on Monkey Mountain" at the Guthrie Theater.

On Monday, Walker director Olga Viso (left) posed with honoree Jones alongside Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, who are, respectively, founder and principal dancer of Ragamala Dance Theater.

President Obama appointed both Viso and Ranee Ramaswamy (who supplied the image), to the National Council on the Arts. The Senate confirmed them in 2013.

Jones was one of 11 luminary winners of the arts medal, among the nation's highest honors for artists. The winner's roster included writers Julia Alvarez and Maxine Hong Kingston, musical theater composer John Kander, musician Linda Ronstadt and pioneering documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles.

Get your Fringe on: an early look at what's in store

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: July 29, 2014 - 11:17 AM

Do you have your comfy walking shoes, shorts and t-shirt ready for Thursday night? That’s our first taste of the Minnesota Fringe Festival and by Saturday the sidewalks and lobbies will be full of avid Fringers dishing recommendations and pans.

I posted some titles from the first Fringe Preview that seemed worthy of a chance. Last Monday’s second preview yielded these possibilities. Again, this is based on three minutes of what you have to assume is the best face the producers could put forward. Go to the Fringe site for more details.


“The Jungle Book” seemed so charming in a little song; “The Confederate” is an interesting story; “Fifth Planet” (at left) is by David Auburn (“Proof”) so it has a pedigree; “Mainly Me Productions’ Our American Assassin” has Shanan Custer – good enough for me; Same with Sam Landman in “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty;” “Into the Unreal City” is a musical that seemed good in preview; “Sole Mates: An Almost Romantic Comedy” is iffy but maybe worth a look; “The Finkles Theater Show” has a clumsy humor that’s well done; “Hi! Hello! Namaste?” had an exciting, slightly ragged and energizing dance in the preview that had me writing “Yes!” until they got to the wooden dialogue; “The Sex (Ed) Show!” (below right) should be enjoyable, the Dirty Curls; “Shakespeare Apocalypse: A New Musical” was great – again, for three minutes.


Glancing through the schedule yielded a few other nuggets that weren’t seen in preview. So this is based

strictly on reputations and hunches (isn’t that how the world works?).


“Amateur Hour” has the Scrimshaw magic, Levi Weinhagen, Joe Bozic and Mike Fotis. Great potential. Speaking of Fotis, he’s back with “Fotis Canyon,” which sounds like Mike sitting around telling funny stories. Fotis is always worth the effort.

Colleen Kruse and Karen Paurus team up for “Becoming Inga.” Funny story teller, great singer and lots of blue material. Definitely worth considering.

I love the Ausland boys, Andy and Rick. They’re back with “Buckets and Tap Shoes” this year. If you need to get your heart re-started, this is the show.

“Crime and Punishment” has this going for it: Live Action Set in the basement of the Soap Factory. ‘Nuff said.


"Unreal City" at the Fringe Preview No. 2. All photos by Renee Schneider Jones.


“Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend” is by Hardcover Theater, which does well with its literary adaptations. More traditional for those who want to feel like they are actually watching a real play at the Fringe.

“Habibi” has James A. Williams in the cast. Not often you see a Broadway actor in the Fringe. “History of Minnesota – Unscripted” has the imprimatur of Theater of Public Policy. “Native Man” is a new musical by Minneapolis playwright Rhiana Yazzie. “Natural Novice” is an out of towner that has gotten some good notice at other festivals.

I like Minnesota history, so “The Ohman Stone” caught my eye. It’s about the controversy over whether the Kensington Runestone is real or a fake. “One Arm” is a Moises Kaufman project using a Tennessee Williams screenplay. Those are pretty good names.

I trust Nautilus Music Theater implicitly so “Reach” should be well worth your musical tastes; “Real Dead Ghosts” is by a New York company that has done good work in this Fringe. You can also trust Peter Moore to do well with “The Second Oldest Profession,” a memoir of sorts of his 40 years in the biz.

Some Shakespeare buffs are putting together “Twelfth Night” and “What You Will,” two pieces of the same script, it appears (I could be wrong). Terry Hempleman, Catherine Johnson Justice, Alayne Hopkins, Sasha Andreev and Sam Bardwell are some of the actors involved. Very impressive.

Finally, “Four Humors Do Every Show in the Fringe” banks on this talented gang of pranksters to find something funny in each of the other 168 shows in the festival.

Otherwise, look for reviews starting Friday morning online at Star Tribune.    

These Fringe shows are selling well

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: July 25, 2014 - 10:33 AM

Cast members of "Another Opening, Another Show" previewed their Fringe show on July 21. Star Tribune photo by Renee Jones Schneider, reneejones@startribune.com

The Minnesota Fringe Festival, that unpredictable, 11-day cavalcade of monolog, dance, comedy, drama and musicals, opens in a week and runs July 31 to Aug. 10. Based on ticket sales in the past seven days, Fringe executives says these are the top-selling shows.

1. There is No Myth
2. Crime and Punishment
3. The Tiger in the Room
4. Top Gun: The Musical
5. A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant
6. A Christmas Carol Passover
7. The Whole World is Here
8. It Only Takes One
9. Sex & Turkey
10. Flushing New York

We preview the risk-takers who produce musicals at the Fringe in a story on Sunday (July 27). We publish the complete Fringe schedule online and in print on Thursday (July 31). Those with intense interest may view this year's complete Fringe listings right this minute right here.

Beginning next Friday and Saturday, watch the Star Tribune for short reviews of 40 Fringe shows by our crack squad of veteran Fringe-critiquers.

The captains of Fringe have gathered short preview videos of a bunch of shows on their YouTube page.



Cast members of "Strangetalk," a Fringe show by Theatre Passe-passe. Star Tribune photo by Renee Jones Schneider.

Date set for memorial for Children's Theatre costume designer

Posted by: Rohan Preston Updated: July 23, 2014 - 9:56 AM

A date has been set for the memorial for Mary Anna Culligan, the Children's Theatre costume designer who died unexpectedly on May 23. She was 52.

Culligan, who had a decades-long career at the nation's largest company for families, was known for her creativity and inventiveness. She often bought items from thrift stores and converted them into costumes for mainstage productions, including "Pippi Longstocking," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Romeo and Juliet."

Culligan also designed costumes for Mu Performing Arts, Mary Worth and other Twin Cities theater companies.

The service will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, July 28, at the Children's Theatre, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls. The celebration will be followed by a dessert reception.


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