It is late July and high time to get out of town. The country is filled with cool evenings, refreshing lakes and the aroma of corn and pine trees. And if you do wish to keep up your theater habit, options abound. Let us begin.
Sod House Productions
Excuse the editorial, but this little troupe is a good example of how Arts and Heritage Legacy money should be used. Minneapolis actor Luverne Seifert and Augsburg theater professor Darcey Engen are in their third summer of taking theater to small Minnesota towns. Last year, these professional actors visited five towns with Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.”
This year, they’ve gone a bit deeper into the canon with “The Visit,” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. A deliciously sinister little play, “The Visit” is about a rich woman who returns to her decaying hometown with a shocking proposition. She will write a generous check if the townsfolk agree to sacrifice a particular resident.
Metaphorically, the play addresses towns that face Hobson’s choices in order to thrive. Wal-Mart, turkey-processing plants and huge hog complexes are all economic benefits — but at what cost? In addition to Seifert and Engen, the cast includes Terry Hempleman, Randy Reyes and Elise Langer.
7 p.m. Fri., 1 & 7 p.m. Sat., 1 p.m. Sun. at Freeborn County Historical Museum, 1031 Bridge St., Albert Lea • 7 p.m. Aug. 1-3, 1 p.m. Aug. 3-4 at Nobles County Pioneer Village, 1600 Stower Dr., Worthington • 7 p.m. Aug. 8-10, 1 p.m. Aug. 10-11 at East Grand Forks Heritage Village, 219 20th St. NE., East Grand Forks • $15 • www.brownpapertickets.com
Theatre L’Homme Dieu
When Jack Reuler got involved in its board of directors a few years ago, the Mixed Blood founder devised a new model for the venerable summer theater up in Alexandria: Book stage-ready shows put together by outside producers. L’Homme Dieu formerly ran a repertory company that churned titles week after week, building them on-site.
Reuler’s idea has worked out quite well. This week, they’ve brought in Jevetta and Jearlyn Steele, with Izzy Monk and a few other friends for a show called “Sisters.” The singers say their show is about the sisterhood of some “middle-aged, Christian, African-American women in the 21st century.”
Billy Steele is music director, Kenyari Jackson handles percussion and Thomasina Petrus is there for her singing and narration. It’s a lot of talent under one roof.
Next week, Minneapolis Musical Theatre brings its production of “Sunset Boulevard” to L’Homme Dieu.
7:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. • 1875 County Rd. 120 NE., Alexandria • $15.50-$17.50 • 1-320-846-3150 or www.tlhd.org
Paul Bunyan Playhouse
At Bemidji, they still do their summer theater the old-school way. A company bunks in on the shores of the big lake that bears the town’s name and they put up show after show in the Chief Theater, a renovated downtown movie house. “Boeing-Boeing,” the French farce that won Tonys for best revival and for actor Mark Rylance in the 2008 revival, concludes this weekend. Randall J. Funk plays the Rylance role, a simpleton flummoxed by a visit to a swanky Parisian pad.
Next week, artistic director Zach Curtis puts the musical “She Loves Me” on stage until Aug. 10. Kristen Husby and Jake Endres play the reluctant romantics who eventually get together in this charming story. You’ve seen this tale in the films “The Shop Around the Corner,” “In the Good Old Summertime” and “You’ve Got Mail.” All are based on the original play “Parfumerie,” by Miklós László.
It’s as sweet as they come, with music and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. Curtis’ cast includes Dann Peterson as the shop owner Mr. Maraczek and Paul Reyburn.
8 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. • Ends Aug. 10 • 314 Beltrami Av. NW., Bemidji • $18-$22 • 1-218-751-7270 or www.thechieftheater.com
It’s only a five-hour, 48-minute drive from Bemidji to Lanesboro. Walk in the park, right? Assuming you’re starting from somewhere closer, it really is a nice drive to the bluff country below Rochester.
Commonweal is running Steven Dietz’s “Sherlock Holmes and the Final Adventure” and “Blithe Spirit” in repertory. Artistic director Hal Cropp assumes Holmes’ Inverness cape and hat, with Commonweal regulars Jeremy van Meter and David Hennessey as Watson and Dr. Moriarty. Michael Bigelow Dixon, the former literary director at the Guthrie, directed this show.
“Blithe Spirit” has Scott Dixon and Amanda Rafuse in the cast. Craig Johnson directed Noël Coward’s frothy comedy about an English gent haunted by his dead first wife.
The shows alternate, with “Spirit” on stage Friday, Saturday and Monday (ending Sept. 7) and “Holmes” Thursday, Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 10).
7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat. & Mon., 1:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. • 208 Parkway Av. N., Lanesboro • $15-$30 • 1-800-657-7025 or www.commonwealtheatre.org
Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299