The rustling of programs and calls of "Places, please" are back — even if, for the moment, they're happening with a side of birdsong and distant lawn mowers.

Theater companies are gearing up for the return of indoor theater, with Chanhassen Dinner Theatres' "The Music Man" returning in early July, but plays are happening now in parks, gardens and driveways throughout the Twin Cities. It's wise to keep an eye on the weather, of course, and you may need to have bug spray and sunscreen on hand to enjoy these outdoor plays, which bring new meaning to the phrase "all the world's a stage."

'The Amazing Cowboat'

When: Throughout summer.

The skinny: Open Eye Theatre's family-oriented Driveway Tour is back with a puppet show in which Binh, a Vietnamese-American boy, finds adventure in his own bathtub, assisted by a part cow/part boat.

Tickets: Information on hosting a performance for your friends and neighbors can be found at Open Eye's website. All you need is a space that's at least 10 by 12 feet.

Why it makes sense outdoors: That's where your driveway is.


When: 9 p.m. July 16-18.

The skinny: Often known as "the wife of Orpheus," Eurydice asserts herself in an ambitious dance/theater/music/film piece from Vox Medusa. The oft-retold story, the basis of the Broadway musical "Hadestown," shifts its focus from the usual — Orpheus venturing into the underworld — to Eurydice, who gets help from a cast of 20 as she figures out who she is.

Tickets: $10-$20,

Why it makes sense outdoors: The multimedia show is inspired by ancient Greek myths. The Greeks, often credited with inventing drama, performed in amphitheaters not unlike the Target Stage on St. Paul's Harriet Island, where "Eurydice" will go to hell and back nightly.

'Log Jam!'

When: 7 p.m. Wed.-Sun., through June 20.

The skinny: A revisionist look at Minnesota icon Paul Bunyan, with brand-new songs and a 12-foot-tall puppet. It's performed atop Minneapolis' Bakken Museum with a view of Bde Maka Ska.

Tickets: $15-$30,

Why it makes sense outdoors: The mythic woodsman did most of his work there.

'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

When: 7 p.m. Thu.-Sun. (3 p.m. June 27), June 18-July 18.

The skinny: Performed outdoors throughout the area, including Lyndale Park Rose Garden in Minneapolis and Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, Minn., Shakespeare's dizzy romantic comedy finds a love potion causing various characters to fall in love with all the wrong — and then all the right — people.

Tickets: Free, although preregistration is recommended at

Why it makes sense outdoors: Practically all of the action takes place in lush forests and meadows, not unlike the venues where "Midsummer" will be performed. Picnic dinners are as welcome as sunscreen.

'The Odyssey'

When: Various showtimes, July 18-Sept. 12.

The skinny: Mixed Precipitation's annual outdoor mashup of classical and contemporary music combines a 17th-century Monteverdi opera with the hits of Dolly Parton to tell the story of Homer (Rodolfo Nieto), returning home to wife Penelope (Momoko Tanno) after years of epic battles. Depending on the dates, audiences will see either a mini-episode of "The Odyssey" or the entire three-act show.

Tickets: $10-$25 suggested.

Why it makes sense outdoors: Performing in parks and gardens throughout the state, Mixed Precipitation makes inventive use of each new setting, turning stalks of corn into forests and park benches into semitrailer trucks.

'A Pickle'

When: Through June 19.

The skinny: Inspired by a true story, the one-woman show finds a Jewish picklemaker (Sally Wingert) battling the Minnesota State Fair powers-that-be when her kosher recipe is rejected by the judges.

Tickets: Sold out, although Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company is tracking interest for a possible return engagement later this summer.

Why it makes sense outdoors: Performed in yards and parks throughout the Twin Cities, the State Fair-themed story should summon memories of sweaty, greasy, late August fun.


When: 2 p.m. June 13 and 20; 7 p.m. June 18-19.

The skinny: Performed outdoors at Minneapolis' Mill City Museum, the show asks, "What is normal?" A few characters who are especially curious about that are adapted from Lewis Carroll, including body-dysmorphic Alice, anxious White Rabbit and a narcissistic queen. Collide Theatrical Dance Company uses a pop soundtrack to help those characters work through their issues.

Tickets: $22-$36,

Why it makes sense outdoors: Alice didn't fall down that rabbit hole indoors.

'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown'

When: Various showtimes, July 9-Aug. 8.

The skinny: Performances are already selling out for the beloved musical, a series of vignettes in which Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy ponder the meaning of life while also trying to fly kites. Rotating casts will perform the show in Hopkins' Downtown Park.

Tickets: $17-$19,

Why it makes sense outdoors: The sketches' settings vary but, between a baseball game, a glee club tribute to life under the stars and a World War I flying ace gunning down the enemy, much of it is outside.

Chris Hewitt • 612-673-4367