Park Square announces new artistic director; how to get ‘Hamilton’ tickets (maybe)

Flordelino Lagundino
Courtesy of Park Square Theatre
Flordelino Lagundino

Changing the guard, passing the torch, handing over the reins; whatever you call it, Twin Cities theater is doing it. Since summer 2013, Rick Shiomi has made way for Randy Reyes at Mu, Joe Dowling for Joseph Haj at the Guthrie, Bain Boehlke for Sarah Rasmussen at the Jungle, Lou Bellamy for Sarah Bellamy at Penumbra, and Michelle Hensley for Marcela Lorca at Ten Thousand Things.

Now Richard Cook at Park Square Theatre is tossing the keys to his successor. After 43 years, 38 as artistic director, Cook will step aside for a man with a name like a poem.

Flordelino Lagundino is a Filipino American director, actor and producer currently based in New York City. He already has Twin Cities ties. He assistant-directed “Blithe Spirit” at the Guthrie. His performance in “VIETGONE” at Mixed Blood led to a Best Ensemble Ivey award. He knows the people at Mu. He has long lists of directing, acting and producing credits, serves as AD for Generator Theater Company in Juno, and is the Sir John Gielgud Classical Directing Fellow at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Lagundino earlier was AD for Leviathan Lab in New York City, which focuses on Asian and Asian American artists and their work.

Cook had surprisingly little to do with the process of finding and hiring Lagundino. Four years ago, he told Park Square’s board that his last day would be Sept. 1, 2018. In January, Park Square officially announced his coming retirement. Meanwhile, the board had hired Robin Gillette to lead a national search. They had already started working on a job description, talking about values and meeting with constituents. They sometimes, as Cook said, “duked it out.”

Cook explained, “It was crucial to me that they totally owned this process and this decision. They didn’t actually hire me, so this was the first time they needed to take on that responsibility.”

The search drew 113 applications from across the country, including 22 from Minnesota, and two more from the United Kingdom. Lagundino was the unanimous choice.

“Flordelino has been a working professional in a number of areas of the field, which really appealed to me,” Cook said. “He’s an actor, he’s a director, he’s a photographer. He started out in marketing. That’s sort of old school, in a way. He has this founder’s energy. He’s founded three different performing organizations, and one or two of them are still going. He’s someone who can pull people together to do art.”

Not long after we spoke, and after he’d had his coffee, Cook sent an email with things he wanted to add.

“I made an early request to the search committee that our finalists include women and leaders of color,” he wrote. “The process and their own values took us there … Flordelino’s Filipino heritage will give him and Park Square special credibility as the theater pursues its goals to be truly inclusive, resonant and in tune with our churning 21st century. …

Richard Cook
Photo by Petronella Y. Ytsma
Richard Cook

“With Flordelino, I believe Park Square will continue to keep its promises of creating and supporting fine live theater that can both entertain our socks off and add meaning to our lives.”

Lagundino will start work on Aug. 1. Cook will be here for part of August, so there will be some overlap. “I’ve never retired before, so I don’t know how to do this,” he joked. But he looks forward to traveling with his husband, Steven Kent Lockwood, to the Santa Fe Opera. After that? “This is the first time in our history that [Steven] has been able to take the Minnesota Orchestra brochure and just order the concerts he wants to go to, rather than find out what my schedule is. “

In September, Landmark Center will host an exhibition about Park Square’s history and contributions. It will open on Sept. 6 with an evening reception in honor of Richard Cook. A public reception for Lagundino will be held there on Sept. 26.

Hamilton tix on sale

The best way to get “Hamilton” tickets was by subscribing to the 2018-19 Broadway on Hennepin season. We say “was” because subscriptions are sold out. Next best (unless you know someone who knows someone) is becoming a Ticketmaster Verified Fan, then jumping online when tickets go on sale to that group.

If you’re wondering “What the #$% is a Verified Fan?” it’s “a new fan-facing technology from Ticketmaster that allows pre-registered fans to unlock access to tickets without competing against scalpers and bots.” Jeffrey Seller, lead producer of “Hamilton,” said in a statement, “We know how challenging it is to buy tickets and this … will make the process a whole lot easier.”

Verified Fan registration is open now. It closes Friday, June 15, at 11:59 p.m.

Reading down the description on the web page, you’ll find this: “If Verified Fan demand exceeds ticket supply, fans may be selected at random to participate in the Verified Fan sale.” It’s a safe bet this will be one of those times. Still, it’s a chance.

If you’re selected, you’ll get an email on Wednesday, June 20. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. (that’s Central time) on Thursday, June 21. A very limited number of tickets will be available at the State Theatre box office starting at 10 a.m. that day. Tickets will not be available by phone.

The ridiculous weekend ahead part 1

Ordinarily we’d call this the Picks, except we’re not picking anything. We’re throwing out a bunch of things happening this weekend and saying “Good luck.” We like them all. And yes, there will be a part 2 tomorrow.

Thursday through Saturday at Orchestra Hall: Minnesota Orchestra Season Finale: Mahler’s Fourth. Led by Osmo Vänskä, the orchestra is recording all of Mahler’s symphonies. To date, they’ve done the First, Second and Fifth; the Seventh and Tenth are scheduled for the 2018-19 season. Next up, to be recorded this month: the Fourth. Also on the program is the world premiere of James Stephenson’s low brass concerto “Pillars.” Thursday at 11 a.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-96).

Northern Spark
Photo by Dusty Hoskovec
An image from Northern Spark 2016 on West River Parkway. For 2018, the main sites are the Commons, the Minneapolis Central Library and Nicollet Mall.

Friday and Saturday in downtown Minneapolis: Northern Spark. No longer one-night, dusk-to-dawn, the free public art festival returns for two nights, dusk-to-2 a.m. Now in its eighth year, Northern Spark is a whole new way to experience the urban landscape. For 2018, the main sites are the Commons, the Minneapolis Central Library and Nicollet Mall. The theme is Commonality. This year’s 20 art projects include the launch of the 2018 Creative City Challenge winner; “Tolansu Dance” from Catalyst Arts, a multi-layered interactive dance space for social change; “Meme Weaver,” a machine that weaves poems; a mobile glassblowing studio from Foci; MinnPost contributor Bill Lindeke’s “Weird Nicollet Walking Tours”; the return of the popular “Night Library”; and performances and workshops by the Minnesota Sacred Harp Singers. Northern Spark is astonishing. There’s nothing else like it. The website has everything you need to make sense of it and plan your night(s). FMI.

Friday and Saturday at the Wellstone Center: ROOTED: Hip Hop Choreographers’ Evening. This will be the sixth year of the first and only choreographers’ evening that focuses on hip-hop and its history. ROOTED is the residency partner for the 2018 McKnight International Choreographer program, so the evening will include a world premiere. The pantsula group Impilo Mapantsula (Vusi Mdoyi, Sicelo Xaba and Sello Modiga of South Africa) are the McKnight choreographers; their new work was created for 12 dancers from the Minnesota hip-hop community. There will be guest artists from New York. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15 advance/$18 door).

Vusi Mdoyi, Sicelo Xaba and Sello Modiga
Photo by Chris Saunders
The pantsula group Impilo Mapantsula, from left: Vusi Mdoyi, Sicelo Xaba and Sello Modiga.

Saturday outdoors at the Walker: Rock the Garden. One day, two stages, eight bands. Father John Misty, Feist, Kamasi Washington, Nikki Lane, Low Cut Connie, P.O.S., Chastity Brown, U.S. Girls. FMI and tickets ($74/$300 VIP Skybox).

Opens Saturday at the Cowles: Fellow Travelers. The Minnesota Opera’s 2017-18 surprise was added after the rest of the season was announced. Coinciding with Pride, it’s the first full-scale Minnesota Opera production in Minneapolis since 1993. Based on the novel by Thomas Mallon, it tells of a love affair between two men in 1950s Washington, D.C., during the McCarthy Lavender Scare. Opera by Gregory Spears, libretto by Greg Pierce, directed by Peter Rothstein. Sung in English with supertitles. FMI and tickets ($25-85). Closes Tuesday, June 26, so at least it’s not only this weekend.

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