Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Get your tickets for Wordplay; ‘The Hobbit’ opens at the Children’s Theatre

ALSO: “The Consul” at Ted Mann; Jonathan Biss plays Beethoven with the SPCO; and more.

Stephen King
Stephen King will be one of the authors here for the inaugural Wordplay festival, set for May 11-12 in downtown Minneapolis.
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The Loft’s first Wordplay book festival – a two-day spree of famous authors, books, talks, books, workshops, books, kids’ activities, books, and a concert at First Avenue featuring famous authors (and probably books) – is now just under two months away. If you’re a book lover who hasn’t yet blocked out May 11-12 on your calendar, you might want to do that now.

For a new festival, the lineup is big league: more than 100 authors including marquee names like Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Marlon James, Natasha Tretheway, Mitch Albom, Jamaica Kincaid, Jared Diamond, Tommy Orange, Edwidge Danticat and Bill McKibben.

Tickets (actually, wristbands) go on sale tomorrow (Thursday, March 14) for Loft members, Friday for the rest of us. Steph Opitz, Wordplay’s founding director, told the Star Tribune’s Laurie Hertzel that about 10,000 tickets will be available, so the number is finite. If you’re 17 or under, you get in free to the street festival. For everyone else, it’s a $10 wristband.

Wordplay is practically giving us Stephen King. He’ll be in conversation with Benjamin Percy, another master of the horror genre, at 10 a.m. Saturday on the Loft stage, an outdoor stage on the street. Right after, that stage will host Jamaica Kincaid and Edwidge Danticat in conversation. On Sunday you can see Bill McKibben there at noon.

Article continues after advertisement

Events will take place on eight stages: two in the Guthrie (proscenium and Dowling Studio), one in Open Book (the performance hall on the second floor), one in the Mill City Museum (the cooking stage) and four on the street. For Guthrie events, which include Albom, Diamond, Trethewey and James, to name a few, you’ll need a $40 wristband if you want to get in. But that won’t guarantee a seat. Only a $250 wristband will. That’s an all-access pass to everything but the First Avenue concert on Friday night ($40) and generous weekend classes and workshops at the Loft with visiting Wordplay authors ($40-$250).

You can take your chances and just show up, but don’t bring cash. Wordplay is a cashless festival. A safer bet is to decide how involved you want to be and what your budget will allow, then go for it. All wristbands include a $5 book voucher.

The picks

Tonight (Wednesday, March 13) and tomorrow at the Ted Mann: University Opera Theatre and Arbeit Opera Theatre present Menotti’s “The Consul.” Though he’s best known today for his Christmas classic “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” Gian Carlo Menotti won the Pulitzer for “The Consul,” a dark work in three acts that takes place in an unnamed European totalitarian state. Dissident John Sorel is on the run from the secret police; his wife, Magda, must apply for a visa to leave the country. As she waits and waits for a bureaucratic gatekeeper to grant her visa, she loses everything. A performance by students, accompanied by piano. 7:30 p.m. Pre-opera lobby discussion at 6:45. FMI and tickets ($25-5). Arbeit Opera Theatre is a new company in town, created in January 2018 by Kelly Turpin to promote local talent, present socially relevant productions, break down barriers and share the excitement of opera theater with as many communities as possible.

The Hobbit
Photo by Dan Norman
The world-premiere production of Greg Banks’ adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy-adventure is one of the season’s most anticipated events.
Now at the Children’s Theatre: The Hobbit.  The world-premiere production of Greg Banks’ adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy-adventure is one of the season’s most anticipated events. Banks, who has a long history with CTC, has turned the jam-packed book into two hours of theater (including intermission) performed by a cast of five, with everyone except Dean Holt playing multiple roles. Holt is our hero, Bilbo Baggins, who leaves his comfortable life because he must. Joy Dolo is the wizard Gandalf, Bombur, a troll, Gollum, and the Elven Queen; H. Adam Harris is Kili, a troll, and Smaug, the dragon; Becca Hart is Balin, a troll, and a bard; Reed Sigmund is Dwalin, Thorin, and the spider (remember that horrible spider?). For ages 8 and up. FMI and tickets ($15-79); 612-874-0400.

Now at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre: “Apollo 11.” July is the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. This is not the Ryan Gosling “First Man” version, though we’ve heard that’s a pretty good movie. This is a documentary, meticulously pieced together from archival film and audio sources, that the New York Times called “entirely awe-inspiring.” Director Todd Miller mined all-original materials, including a newly discovered trove of 65mm Panavision reels and thousands of hours of uncatalogued audio recordings. See it for the history, the drama, the technological accomplishment, and the thrill. And the seas of white shirts. FMI including trailer, times and tickets.

Thursday at Ramsey County Library – Roseville: Club Book: Emily Bernard. Born in Tennessee, growing up as a person of color in the American South, the mother of two daughters adopted from Ethiopia, authority on Langston Hughes and currently on faculty at a university in the whitest state of America (that would be Vermont), Bernard has perspectives on race worth hearing. She’s touring with her new collection of essays, “Black Is the Body: Story from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine.” 7 p.m. Free. If you can’t come in person, a podcast will be available soon. FMI.

Jonathan Biss
Photo by Benjamin Ealovega
This will be the fourth concert in a remarkable five-year collaboration between pianist Jonathan Biss and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Friday through Sunday: “Beethoven/5”: Jonathan Biss Plays Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. This will be the fourth concert in a remarkable five-year collaboration between pianist Biss and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Each concert pairs a Beethoven piano concerto with the premiere of a new work by a contemporary composer, written in response. So far we’ve heard Beethoven 2, paired with Timo Andres’ “The Blind Banister”; Beethoven 1 with Sally Beamish’s “City Stanzas”; and Beethoven 4 with Salvatore Sciarrino’s “The Dream of Stradella.” This weekend it’s Beethoven 3 with Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s “Watermark.” The SPCO is the lead commissioner on all five new works. 11 a.m. Friday at the Ordway Concert Hall, 9 p.m. Saturday at the Ordway Concert Hall (wait list) and 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi. Mischa Santora will conduct the Shaw. FMI and tickets ($11-50; kids and students free).