CTC season to include hockey musical ‘The Abominables,’ ‘Balloonacy’

Photo by Dan Norman
Robert Dorfman in CTC’s 2014 production of “Balloonacy”

Hockey fans of all ages, the Children’s Theatre Company will soon have something for you: a brand-new hockey musical. And not just any hockey musical, a specifically Minnesota hockey musical. Because who’s the State of Hockey? We are, that’s who.

CTC’s 2017-18 season, announced this week, starts in September with “The Abominables” by Steve Cosson, set in the world of youth hockey and inspired by interviews with more than 75 players, parents, coaches and siblings at ice arenas, hockey tournaments and practices across Minnesota. In a season of six productions, it’s one of two world premieres and one of three partnerships.

The second world premiere is an adaptation of the classic children’s picture book “Corduroy,” about a teddy bear in green corduroy overalls. Based on the books by Don Freeman, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be adorable.

CTC is partnering with the New York ensemble theater company The Civilians to create “The Abominables.” It’s partnering with Penumbra (for the first time) on a January 2018, production of the musical “The Wiz,” directed by Lou Bellamy and starring “American Idol” alum Paris Bennett as Dorothy. And it’s teaming up with London’s Old Vic theater to present the U.S. premiere of “Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax,” a musical with puppets designed by Finn Caldwell and Nick Barnes, who created the magnificent puppets of “War Horse.” CTC will bring the Old Vic’s production here, and its director, Max Webster.

The season also includes two beloved bringbacks: “Balloonacy,” with Robert Dorfman reprising his role as the old man (his performance in the 2014 production won raves), and the holiday favorite “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” One season, two Seusses? No one will mind.

This season marks Peter C. Brosius’ 20th year as CTC’s artistic director. “Peter has transformed this institution in remarkable ways,” Managing Director Kimberly Motes said in a statement. Under Brosius’ leadership, CTC has commissioned and developed 63 new plays, advanced arts education and literacy, and become more diverse and inclusive. It has attracted and cultivated talent and is one of the few professional regional theaters to employ a full-time professional resident acting company. The nation’s largest theater for multigenerational audiences, it’s the only theater focused on young audiences to win the Regional Tony award.

Subscriptions for the new season are on sale now. Single tickets will be available in the summer.

International Spanish Music Festival

A virtuoso on the viola da gamba, conductor, researcher, co-founder (with his wife, the Spanish soprano Montserrat Figueras) of three early music ensembles and the record label Alia Vox, Catalan musician Jordi Savall will make a very rare Twin Cities appearance next Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Ordway Concert Hall.

Courtesy of the International Spanish Music Festival
Jordi Savall

An early music superstar, often called a living legend, Savall is perhaps best known in the States for his gorgeous, elegant soundtrack to Alain Corneau’s 1991 film “Tous le matins du monde” but has hundreds of recordings to his credit. He’’ll be here to open the second annual International Spanish Music Festival. The first took place around this time last year, the brainchild of Spanish mezzo-soprano Nerea Berraondo, who moved here from Spain in 2016 when her husband, Zachary Cohen, became principal bass of the SPCO. The festival is presented by Casa de España en Minnesota, a nonprofit formed in 2010 to promote Spanish and Latin-American culture in the U.S. Its purpose is to expand people’s perception (meaning our perception) of Spanish music.

As we discovered in 2016, Spanish music is richer, broader, and deeper than many Minnesotans know. “We have a huge heritage, a huge mixture between countries,” Berraondo told MinnPost before the inaugural festival. “Because of the colonization of South America, Spain has had a huge influence on different musics. It has also been influenced by Italy, different countries of Europe and Africa.”

Both heritage and influences will be explored in a series of four very different concerts over four weeks. On Feb. 8 at the Ordway Concert Hall, Savall will lead his award-winning, international early music ensemble Hespèrion XXI in a program of Venetian instrumental music from the 16th and 17th centuries – music whose influence spread across Europe. Performed on viols, violone, theorbo, baroque guitar and percussion, the program includes dances, instrumental adaptations of madrigals and sacred songs, and improvisations over Iberian bass lines.

On Saturday, Feb. 18, the festival will move to Landmark Center’s Weyerhaeuser Auditorium for a concert of Spanish music for violin and piano, performed by violinist Johnny Gandelsman (of Brooklyn Rider and Silk Road Ensemble) and Spanish accompanist Ainhoa Urkijo. The first half features music by de Falla and Bach (a partita containing Spanish influences); the second presents the world premiere of a new work by American composer Edward Pérez and music by Pablo de Sarasate. On Thursday, Feb. 23, at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park, the ensemble Aldatu will sing and play a concert of Sephardic music. (Berraondo and Cohen are both members of Aldatu.)

The festival ends Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, with a Mexican folk music workshop at Mia where violinist Yumhali Garcia and pianist Pamela Mayorga will perform Mexican rhythms while children and families interact, learn and play with instruments.

FMI and tickets for all events. The Mia event is free and open to the public.

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, Feb. 2) at the Dakota: Robert Robinson. Soulful gospel vocals by the singer known as “God’s canary.” If you’ve never seen Robinson live, now is a good time. As he has said, gospel music gives us hope for the future. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30).

Opens Friday at Bockley Gallery: “Winter: a group show.” Works by gallery artists Julie Buffalohead, Andrea Carlson, Pao Houa Her, Stuart Nielsen, Jim Proctor, Elizabeth Simonson and Star Wallowing Bull. 6-8 p.m. P.S. If you haven’t been to the Bockley, it’s in a sweet spot in Kenwood, on the same block with chef Doug Saunders’s Kenwood restaurant and author Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark Books.

Friday at Orchestra Hall: “Future Classics: Emerging Composers Spotlight.” Since last May, seven emerging composers from across the U.S. (including one from Hawaii) have been pinching themselves. That’s when they were chosen as the 2017 class of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute, now in its 14th year. They’ve been in Minneapolis since Jan. 30, working with experts and mentors including Composer Institute director (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Kevin Puts and rehearsing with the Minnesota Orchestra. On Friday, Osmo Vänskä will lead the Orchestra in a evening-length, primetime concert of their works. Fred Child will host. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20).

Opens Saturday at the History Theatre: “The Highwaymen.” How and why was Interstate 94 built where it was – through the beating heart of the Rondo neighborhood, St. Paul’s largest African American community? Josh Wilder’s new play tells the story of the decision-making process. Director Jamil Jude calls the play a “snapshot,” but it’s also a chapter for the history books. FMI and tickets ($25-$40; $15 students, $30 under 30). Ends Feb. 26. Adult language.

Starts Saturday on White Bear Lake: Art Shanty Projects’ Annual Frozen Festival. Imagine a temporary community of fishing houses on a frozen Minnesota lake, except people aren’t fishing, they’re making art and music, dancing, putting on plays, telling stories, playing games, and providing experiences for willing visitors. This is opening weekend for the month-long festival. Hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Events are all free and open to the public. FMI.

Courtesy of the artists
Ravi Coltrane, Jack DeJohnette and Matt Garrison

Saturday at the Hopkins Center for the Arts: DeJohnette. Coltrane. Garrison. Three giants of jazz will touch down in Hopkins for what will surely be an unforgettable evening. Grammy winner Jack DeJohnette is one of the greatest drummers in the history of jazz; his career spans decades and includes collaborations with John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, and we could go on a lot longer. Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is the son of John Coltrane. Bassist Matthew Garrison is the son of Jimmy Garrison, who played with Ravi’s dad from 1961-67. They’re touring behind their new album for ECM, “In Movement.” 7 p.m. social hour (cash bar), 8 p.m. concert. FMI and tickets ($49).

Hot tix

In April, Garrison Keillor will road trip across Minnesota on a Gratitude Tour of one-man shows. He’ll hit five colleges in six days: St. Scholastica in Duluth, Bemidji State University in Bemidji, St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter and Concordia in Moorhead. Tickets are on sale now ($25/$10 school staff/students free).

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