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The Guthrie’s new season spans Austen to Zacarías; Kurt Elling to sing at the Dakota

“The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams will open Sept. 14 at the Guthrie Theater.
MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
“The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams will open Sept. 14 at the Guthrie Theater.

Tennessee Williams is one of the faces you see on the Guthrie Theater. (He’s around back.) His play “The Glass Menagerie” has been presented by the Guthrie four times to date: in 1964, 1979 and 1988 on Vineland Place and 2007 in the new Guthrie. It will return – this time to the Wurtele Thrust Stage – in September, with Joseph Haj as director. Williams’ bittersweet play about a struggling family and a gentleman caller will launch the 2019-20 season, a mix of old, new, and new inspired by old.

“The Glass Menagerie” will begin Sept. 14. On Oct. 26, Robert Harling’s women-centric “Steel Magnolias” will move onto the McGuire Proscenium Stage. Because it wouldn’t be Christmas without “A Christmas Carol” – seriously, it wouldn’t – Crispin Whittell’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens tale will begin Nov. 12 on the thrust, with Lauren Keating continuing her run as director. Last year’s “Christmas Carol” featured two Scrooges, Nathaniel Fuller and Charity Jones. Dare we hope for that again?

In the new-inspired-by-old column, the regional premiere of Heather Raffo’s “Noura” will begin Jan. 11 on the proscenium.  Like Ibsen’s Nora of “A Doll’s House,” Noura struggles with identity, belonging, others’ expectations and her own desires. Except Nora-with-a-u is a newly-minted U.S. citizen born in Iraq. This will be the regional premiere of a play that had its world premiere as recently as Feb. 2018. Raffo’s mother is American and her father is Iraqi. The Guthrie produced her award-winning solo play “9 Parts of Desire” in the Dowling in 2008.

Next season’s Shakespeare will be “Twelfth Night,” starting Feb. 8, 2020, on the thrust. This season’s Shakespeare, the well-reviewed “As You Like It,” continues through March 17. The two are considered the Bard’s best comedies. Reaching even further back in time, SITI Company’s production of Euripides’ “The Bacchae” will begin Feb. 19 on the proscenium, with Anne Bogart as director. SITI (the Saratoga International Theater Institute) has reconceived the play, written in 405 BCE, for our present day, putting its focus on women and power. Like “Noura,” this version of “The Bacchae” is very new; it premiered last September.


The Guthrie has had great success with adaptations of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” (2016) and “Pride and Prejudice” (2003 and 2013), so why not “Emma”? Bring on the high-waisted dresses and fire up the turntable on the thrust stage. No word yet on whose adaptation this will be, but the two previous Austens were by Kate Hamill. Some Austen scholars consider the movie “Clueless” a worthy adaptation. “Emma” will begin April 11 on the thrust.

Karen Zacarías’ “Native Gardens,” a comedy about warring Georgetown neighbors, was a hit for the Guthrie in 2017. Her “Destiny of Desire,” a comedy about babies switched at birth, will open May 30 on the proscenium. Zacarías calls her new play “a unapologetic telenovela.” José Luis Valenzuela will direct.

Joseph Haj will direct the final production on the thrust stage, the Guthrie’s first-ever staging of “Cabaret.” It will have been six years since Theater Latté Da’s indelible production with Hennepin Theatre Trust at the Pantages, when a very young Tyler Michaels dropped down from the ceiling in torn fishnet tights and into Twin Cities theater history. That should be long enough for a new take on this great classic. Plus we’re in a different political climate now. “Cabaret” will begin June 20.

The final play on the proscenium will be Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat,” her second Pulitzer Prize winner. It will begin July 25.  This summer, Nottage’s “Floyd’s,” a Guthrie commission, will end the 2018-19 season on the proscenium. The Guthrie earlier produced another Nottage play, “Intimate Apparel,” in 2005.

The picks

Opens today (Thursday, March 7) at the Minnesota Museum of American Art: The Good Making of Good Things: Craft Horizons Magazine, 1941-1979. For nearly 40 years, the American Craft Council’s magazine documented the history of the American craft movement. The new exhibition at the new M – an adapted and customized version of a nationally touring show – presents a selection of studio craft from the museum’s collection and works by makers who are moving craft forward today. Includes midcentury pieces in wood, metal, fiber, ceramic, and glass. Open during museum hours. FMI. Closes June 2. Note: The American Craft Council, formerly in New York City, moved to Minneapolis in 2010. In 1979, Craft Horizons Magazine became American Craft and is still published by the ACC.

Friday at Hopkins High School: Men in Music. Each year, men from the famed Minnesota Chorale spend 10 weeks working with tenors and basses from area high school choirs. Together they explore the lively repertoire for male voices, and the young singers have the chance to perform side by side with professional singers. It’s a win-win, and add another win for those who will hear them in concert Friday. This year’s concert features singers from St. Paul Central and Hopkins high schools. 8 p.m. in the Hopkins High Auditorium. Free.

BRKFST Dance Company
Courtesy of BRKFST Dance Company
BRKFST Dance Company, founded in 2014, is comprised of six performers, each with distinct training backgrounds, aesthetics, and specialties.
Friday through Sunday at the Cowles: BRKFST Dance Company x Kaleena Miller Dance. Breaking meets tap when two powerhouse Twin Cities dance companies meet on the Cowles stage. The BRKFST collective is six performers who draw on breaking, martial arts, burlesque, and contemporary dance vernacular to create something fresh, surprising and new. Credited with updating the tap idiom, Miller is also co-director of the Twin Cities Tap Festival. With music by local composers Renée Copeland, Tom Woodling and Haley. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. FMI and tickets ($25).

Kurt Elling is sublime in the studio, electric before a live audience.
Photo by Anna Webber
Kurt Elling is sublime in the studio, electric before a live audience.
Sunday at the Dakota: Kurt Elling Quintet. Elling followed up the 2018 studio release of his new album, “The Questions,” with a live release of a selection of songs. They’re two different experiences. Elling is sublime in the studio, electric before a live audience. Either way, he has complete control over his four-octave, mahogany-tinged baritone, but live, you get a better sense of what that means, how hard it must be and the risks he takes. “The Questions” is an unusual and pointed collection. It’s not by accident that in the ugly, divided state our nation is in, Elling has chosen to sing Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and a heartbreaking version of Paul Simon’s “An American Tune,” which he recorded on an earlier album, then returned to in Trumpian times. Elling is on a roll; just last weekend at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, he premiered his passion project, a live radio-style drama called “The Big Blind.” Let’s cross our fingers he and his quintet make it to Minneapolis in Sunday’s snowstorm after performing in St. Louis on Saturday night. The 7 p.m. show is sold out, but tickets are still available for 9 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30-40).


Monday at Wentworth Library: Club Book: Alex Kotlowitz. Specializing in the topics of urban violence and community perseverance, the Peabody Award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author is out with his latest, “An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago.” Kotlowitz is also the author of “There Are No Children Here,” about two brothers in a crime-ridden Chicago public housing complex, and “The Other Side of the River,” about America’s racial divides. 6:30 p.m. Free.

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