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Haunted Basement adds diabolical twists; HUGE brings back ‘Creature Feature’

Courtesy of the Soap Factory/Dan Norman
This year’s Haunted Basement promises to be more terrifying than ever.

Fall doesn’t officially begin until Sept. 22, but it’s already feeling a bit Halloweenish. The Soap Factory is selling tickets to its annual Haunted Basement production, and HUGE Theater’s Monstoberfest is under way.

“Unhinged,” this year’s Haunted Basement production – and it is a production, complete with directors and actors, sound and lighting, sets and even smells – promises to be more terrifying than ever. We are not kidding around about this. Now in its eighth season, the Haunted Basement is light-years beyond spaghetti for brains and grapes for eyeballs. When you walk down the stairs into the inky blackness of the Soap Factory’s basement, prepare to be scared.

Director Noah Bremer, founder and artistic director of Live Action Set, whose “Crime and Punishment” (also set in the Soap Factory basement) was a Fringe hit, has introduced diabolical new twists to the experience. (And Bremer seemed like such a nice guy when we saw him at the American Swedish Institute in “Kom Hit!”) You’ll wear a mask. You’ll start with a group, but don’t count on staying with it. You’ll choose your own path and seal your own fate. Also new this year: a tension-building soundtrack by Michael Croswell and live blood effects by assistant director Tyler Olsen and his team from RawRedMeat Productions in St. Paul. What are live blood effects? Never mind, we don’t want to know.

If you make it through without saying “Uncle” – the safe word, about which the Soap Factory is dead serious: If you say it, someone will immediately lead you out – you can grab a haunted cocktail in the Exile Lounge. Oct. 1–Nov. 2 ($25 weekdays, $27 Fridays and Saturdays), previews Sept. 27–Oct. 1 ($15). 18+. FMI and tickets. ’Fraidy Cat tours (lights on, no scares, and a chance to see how it all works) Oct. 19 and 26 at 11 a.m.; $10 at the door.

On a much lighter note, HUGE Theater has brought back its perennially popular “Creature Feature: The Improvised Monster Movie,” now in its 12th year. You, the audience, offers suggestions of things you fear and possible titles; the cast creates a monster movie (and its sequel) on the spot. Also in Monstoberfest: “Survivors of the Undead Plague,” an improvised zombie movie; “Star Trek: The Next Improvisation,” HUGE’s first big hit; and “Twin Cities Secrets,” in which improvisors base their performance on secrets shared anonymously at www.TwinCitiesSecrets.com. Maybe yours? Shows Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., 9:30 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($10–$12).

Garrison Keillor announced Thursday that a “medical procedure” has necessitated the cancellation of the Sept. 27 broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion.” Keillor said in a statement, “I now know more about the prostate than I ever wanted to … I’ve found an excellent surgeon who will fix everything, and by October 1 I will be thinking more about truth and beauty and less about plumbing.” The Sept. 20 season opener, street dance and meatloaf supper will proceed as planned, as will the remainder of the fall season, which includes a tour with stops in Minneapolis, Duluth, and Rochester.

On sale today: Tickets for the Minneapolis premiere of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” the stage adaptation of the classic film coming Nov. 25–30 to the Orpheum. Buy online or in person (no service fees) at the State Theatre Box Office. Sales begin at 11 a.m. $49–$134.

The Picks

Opens today (Friday, Sept. 5) at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Reedy Gallery in the Visitor Center: “Colors of Fall.” Forty paintings (acrylics and watercolors) by more than a dozen local and nationally-known artists including watercolorist Kairong Liu, landscape painter Bruce Miller and the late landscape master Olexa Bulvitsky. Curated by Keith Wilcock of Excelsior’s Wilcock Gallery. Free with gate admission ($12 for 13+, free for members and under 12). While you’re there, tour the 2014 summer show, “Nature in Glass: The Wonders of Craig Mitchell Smith,” with 32 large, iridescent fused-glass sculptures placed around the grounds. “Colors” continues through Nov. 26; “Glass” ends Sept. 10. FMI.

Tonight (Friday, Sept. 5) at Highpoint Center for Printmaking: Opening reception for “Stand Out Prints 2014,” an international juried print exhibition. Sixty-seven prints by 64 artists across four countries and 23 states, selected from more than 800 submissions. Juror Susan Tallman, art historian and editor-in-chief of Art in Print, will give a gallery talk at 7 p.m. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres. 6:30 – 9 p.m. Free.

Opens tonight at Theatre in the Round: “The Underpants.” In comedian Steve Martin’s adaptation of the 1910 German farce “Die Hose,” a wardrobe malfunction meets gender politics and the 15-minutes-of-fame phenom. Directed by Shanan Custer, with John Zeiler and Amy Pirkl. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($22). Through Sept. 28.

Saturday at 49th Street at Woodlawn Boulevard (east of the Nokomis Community Center, above Lake Nokomis): Minneapolis Monarch Festival. A day-long event centered on the Minnesota–Mexico connection the monarch butterfly creates along its annual migration path. We can celebrate that, and also the fact that the monarch population seems to be on the rebound after record low numbers in the past two years. Performers include Mariachi Mi Tierra, the Kalpulli Ketzal/Coatilcue Aztec dance group, Salsa Del Soul, and Chico Chavez and the Guayaba Tropical Band. Heart of the Beast will raise its own tent for shows at 12:15 and 2:45 p.m. The festival also includes art activities, kids’ butterfly fun runs, food vendors and educational presentations. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. FMI.

Saturday at the Southern: Southern Theater Party. Especially if you’re an ARTshare member, or if you’re considering becoming one (memberships are still available), you won’t want to miss this. The 2015 season will be announced, and the resident companies in the Southern’s bold new experiment – including Arena Dances, Black Label Movement, Four Humors, Live Action Set, Sossy Mechanics and Workhaus Collective – will talk about their upcoming works. Complimentary food and drink, live music by Bad September, and a raffle drawing. 7–10 p.m. Free, but do RSVP.

Sunday at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Dog Day MIA. Who doesn’t love this free outdoor event in Target Park? Bring your dog for an afternoon of pet-friendly activities and educational opps, from a paw-print collaborative mural to a custom caricature, a photobooth, live music, dog training tips, a free consultation with an animal communication specialist and a puppy parade. Dogless? A self-guided tour inside the MIA highlights dogs in the museum’s collection. 1–4 p.m. If the weather outside is frightful, the event will be canceled. 

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