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New Jungle and Ten Thousand Things seasons; Out of the Box Opera at the A-Mill

"Miss Bennet"
Photo by Dan Norman
A scene from the Jungle's 2017 production of "Miss Bennet" featuring Christian Bardin as Mary and JuCoby Johnson as Arthur de Bourgh.

We’re in the thick of season announcements season. Even if you don’t buy season tickets (though most arts organizations wish you would, and with the funding environment in flux, now would be a good time to show that kind of support), you can at least make notes on your calendar or stick Post-its on the fridge. Then you won’t be saying “I wish I had known about that before it was sold out/over!”

The Jungle Theater announced its 2019-20 season last night at a fundraiser. Artistic director Sarah Rasmussen’s reinvention of a Twin Cities institution continues with more plays written by, directed by and featuring women and people of color that confront and illuminate issues of our time. Even its Jane Austen sequels have a 21st-century edge.

Speaking of those, both “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” and “The Wickhams,” a Jungle co-commission, will return for the holidays, running in repertory. A theater that never had a holiday play now has two, and why not stage both at the same time? Go upstairs and downstairs at the Darcy mansion, Nov. 18-Dec. 29. Christina Baldwin will direct.

Before then, the Jungle will launch its season with a quirky new musical by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell. In “Ride the Cyclone,” most of the characters are dead, killed in a freak accident on a roller coaster. With help from a fortune-telling machine (Jim Lichtscheidl), one will return to the world of the living, but which one? Sarah Rasmussen will direct. Sept. 11-Oct. 20.

In the New Year, Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House: Part 2” will take us back to Ibsen, except years have passed and Nora Helmer has returned. But why, and what will that do to the family she left? Joanie Schultz will direct; Baldwin will be Nora. Jan. 15-Feb. 23, 2020.

Next up, Brittany K. Allen’s “Redwood,” which had its world premiere just last fall. Imagine you’re a young black woman engaged to a young white man. Then you learn your fiancé’s ancestors once owned your ancestors. Where do you find that kind of forgiveness? H. Adam Harris will direct. March 11-April 12.

Spring will bring Amy Herzog’s “Mary Jane,” about a single mother caring for a child with chronic illness. The New York Times called it “a heartbreaker for anyone human.” Sarah Rasmussen will direct, and the Jungle’s production will feature Sally Wingert. May 2-31.

The 2019-20 season will end with Lauren Yee’s award-winning “Cambodian Rock Band,” co-produced with Theater Mu. Thirty years after fleeing Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge, a man returns in search of his daughter. The play is a time-traveling mystery with music. The Chicago Sun-Times called it “crazily clever and compelling.” Joshua Kahan Brody will direct. June 24-Aug. 2.

Rasmussen calls this “a dream season for the Jungle.” It’s a 100-percent 21st-century season. Although the plays themselves cover a large sweep of time, all but one had their world premieres in 2016 or later. (“Ride the Cyclone” made its U.S. premiere in 2015 but opened in Canada in 2008.) So except for the Austen sequels, these will all be plays most of us have never seen. Season tickets go on sale July 22.

In other news, the Jungle’s commission of “Little Women,” which had its world premiere here in 2018-19, will move to Dallas Theater Center and the Old Globe in San Diego in 2020. Rasmussen will direct both productions.

Ten Thousand Things to start 2019-20 with Shakespeare

In its second year under artistic director Marcela Lorca, who succeeded founding artistic director Michelle Hensley, Ten Thousand Things Theater will present three plays, starting with Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” which opens Oct. 3. TTT has always excelled at Shakespeare, making it accessible and fresh for some of the toughest crowds in town, including prisoners.

In case you’re new to the cities or haven’t yet met TTT, the theater doesn’t have a home of its own. Instead, it tours its bare-bones, stripped-down, fit-everything-in-a-suitcase productions to correctional facilities, housing projects, homeless shelters, and schools before moving into Open Book for paid public performances.

The cast of “The Winter’s Tale” will be led by Shá Cage and Stephen Epp, both worth dropping everything and going out to see. Lorca will direct.

Keith Glover’s “Thunder Knocking on the Door” will open Feb. 20, 2020. In this bluesy show with music by Keb’ Mo’ and Anderson Edwards, a shapeshifter challenges a blind songstress to a duel on the Delta Blues guitar. Lorca will direct, with Sanford Moore as music director. “Thunder Knocking” was staged at the Guthrie in 1998.

The season will close with Lauren Yee’s “The Hatmaker’s Wife,” which bends space and time to explore the ideas of family, home and love. Yee also has a play in the Jungle’s new season, and last year the Guthrie produced “The Great Leap,” her play about basketball. Michelle O’Neill will direct “The Hatmaker’s Wife,” which will open April 23.

Tickets will go on sale in September.

The picks

Tonight (Tuesday, May 7) at the Merriam Park Library: Club Book presents Charles C. Mann. Club Book’s current season ends with historian Charles C. Mann, whose first two New York Times best-sellers were set in the late 1400s. His new book, The Wizard and the Prophet, fast-forwards several centuries to look at two scientists who laid the groundwork for the environmentalist movement. 7 p.m. Free. FMI.

Elisabeth Moss in a scene from “Her Smell.”
Courtesy of Sound Unseen
Elisabeth Moss in a scene from “Her Smell.”
Wednesday at the Trylon: Sound Unseen presents “Her Smell.” We’re so conflicted. We love the star — Elisabeth Moss — but loathe the title of Alex Ross Perry’s film about a ’90s punk rock superstar who struggles with sobriety, personal demons and the past. Everyone who sees it thinks of Courtney Love. The reviews are effusive. Here’s the trailer. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($12).

Thursday at 900 Hennepin: Lit Voices featuring Joe Davis. The latest installment of a free monthly series that spotlights the contributions of hometown poets, spoken word and rap artists. This month’s featured artist is Joe Davis, a poet, educator and cultural architect who fronts the soul, funk and spoken word ensemble The Poetic Diaspora, has served as teaching artist at dozens of high schools and universities, and most recently was artist-in-residence at Luther Seminary, where he graduated with a master’s degree in theology of the arts. 7:30 p.m. Free. 900 Hennepin is right next door to the Orpheum Theatre.

Friday through Sunday at the Ritz Theater: Black Label Movement presents “Teamwork 2.0.” The daring, athletic BLM’s 12th Minnesota season features three works by Artistic Director Carl Flink: “Canary” (2012), which Flink describes as “a surrealistic vision of a prom night at the bottom of a coal mine”; “This Bleeding Heart …” (2005), newly paired with an original soundscape by Andrea Reynolds; and the premiere of “Morituri te Salutant” (We who are about to die salute you), with an original soundscape by Greg Brosofske and live video projections created in real time by Off-Leash Area’s Paul Herwig. Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 4. FMI and tickets ($20/10).

Soprano Siena Forest as Galatea
Photo by Mike Madison
Soprano Siena Forest as Galatea in “The Amazing Adventures of Acis and Galatea, the Wonder Nymph.”
Saturday at the A-Mill Artist Lofts: Out of the Box Opera’s “The Amazing Adventures of Acis and Galatea, the Wonder Nymph.” It can truthfully be said that one never knows what OOTB will do next. Creator of the Diva Cage Match and fusion events that combine opera with gospel, jazz and soul, Artistic Director David Lefkowich means to light the fire of opera love in all of us, by any means necessary. This time he’s taking small audiences (limit 60) through the Pillsbury A-Mill for a roaming, site-specific performance of Handel’s “Acis and Galatea” inspired by comic books and the New York underground sensation “Sleep No More” (a site-specific telling of “Macbeth” in an abandoned hotel). The music is from Handel’s “Acis and Galatea,” based on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” a version of which is also on stage at the Guthrie by sheer coincidence. Lyric coloratura soprano Siena Forest, tenor David Walton and bass Andrew Wilkowske will be joined by a “Greek chorus” of five ensemble singers as the performance moves from underground tunnels to the rooftop, with afterparty and full bar. At 5, 7 and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets ($50/65).

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