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New artistic director at Theater Mu; Zenon Dance’s final performances

Lily Tung Crystal
Courtesy of Theater Mu
Lily Tung Crystal will assume her new role in September.

Theater Mu has a new artistic director. Lily Tung Crystal comes to Mu from San Francisco, where she co-founded and currently serves as artistic director of Ferocious Lotus Theater Company, a collective that develops Asian-American artists, collaborates with Asian-American playwrights and creates socially relevant work. In her nine years with Ferocious Lotus, Crystal has commissioned and presented world premieres and directed regional premieres.

Crystal is also an actor and musical theater performer who trained at Studio American Conservatory Theatre, Cornell and Columbia. Plus she’s a leadership and transition coach.

Crystal said in a statement, “With its 27-year history, Theater Mu has been an important influence on the national theater scene, particularly among Asian American artists and the Asian American community at large. Having founded a theater with a similar mission in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve always been inspired by Theater Mu.”

Theater Mu launched a national search for a new AD in January. Just a month earlier, in December, Mu fired its former artistic director, Randy Reyes, following complaints about his conduct. In partnership with Penumbra Theatre, Mu was back on its feet in April with a strong production of “The Brothers Paranormal.” Next up, “Hot Asian Doctor” is set to begin at the Mixed Blood on Aug. 16.


Crystal will assume her new role in September. Theater Mu’s managing director, Shannon Fitzgerald, said in a statement, “I have no doubt that [Crystal’s] leadership and experience will strengthen Mu as we continue to move Asian American theater forward.”

Zenon’s last dances

In March, Zenon Dance Company announced it would close in June, after 36 years. The reason given by Linda Andrews, the company’s founding artistic director: lack of funding. Zenon was supported by the Jerome Foundation and the Target Foundation. It has been known and loved for its artistic excellence, many commissions and world premieres.

Zenon Dance Company in "Pink Martini" by Mariusz Olszewski.
Photo by Steve Niedorf
Zenon Dance Company in "Pink Martini" by Mariusz Olszewski.
Zenon’s last dances will be for the ages: Danny Buraczeski’s “Song Awakened” (2016), set to the songs of Cesaria Evora; Wynn Fricke’s “Wine Dark Sea” (2012), with live music performed by Peter O’Gorman; Colleen Thomas’ “Catching Her Tears (44° N, 93° W)” (2007), with live music performed by Chris Lancaster; Luciana Achugar’s “Molten Substance” (2013), with live music by JT Bates; and Daniel Charon’s “Storm” (2011). Each program will be different.

Zenon Dance Company Final Performance Season: Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. FMI and tickets ($38). Saturday will be a gala performance and farewell, with remarks by Andrews and an after party with music, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast. 7:30 p.m., doors at 6:30. FMI and tickets ($100).

The picks

Tonight (Tuesday, June 11) at the Dakota: Maceo Parker. Calling his music “2 percent jazz, 98 percent funky stuff,” the irrepressible saxophonist played with James Brown in the 1960s, George Clinton and P-Funk in the 1970s, Ray Charles and Prince in the 1990s. Plus he leads his own band. On Sunday, they played the Hollywood Bowl at the Playboy Jazz Festival, and now, with equal heat and funkiness, they’ll play the slightly smaller Dakota. 7 and 9 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-50). P.S. Want to know more about funk? Check out “How James Brown Invented Funk,” featuring Nahre Sol and L.A. Buckner, part of TPT’s Sound Field series.

Maceo Parker and his band to perform tonight at the Dakota.
Photo by Boris Breuer
Maceo Parker and his band to perform tonight at the Dakota.
Thursdays at Mears Park: Lowertown Sounds. Stop by Mears Park every Thursday night through Aug. 29 (except July 4) for free live, local and original music. Each evening will feature two or three local artists or groups. This Thursday’s lineup is Alex Rossi and the Fattenin’ Frogs. Coming up: Jazz Fest (June 20), the Flamin’ Oh’s, Nikkie and the Ruemates, Martin Devaney, Southside Aces, and more. Food trucks, local brews, cider and wine available. 6-9:30 p.m. Here’s the complete schedule.


Saturday at SpringBOX: Sharon DeMark: Dailies: A Year of Drawing Exhibit and Fundraiser. When the news roughs us up every morning, what do we do? Sharon DeMark gave herself an assignment: Create one small watercolor drawing every day for a year and post it on social media. We stumbled across DeMark’s Instagram and were fascinated by the discipline, the artistry and the variety: birds, flowers, bowls, hangers on a closet rod, chairs, a pair of glasses, Jello cubes. DeMark will hold a one-day show on Saturday evening of more than 150 small (4 ½” x 6″) watercolors. Make a donation to the Twin Cities Theaters of Color Coalition (TCTOCC) and bring one home. DeMark is a longtime arts supporter and a program officer for the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundations. 262 University Ave. W., St. Paul. Drinks, snacks, and music provided. 7-9 p.m. Free.

Spider John Koerner
Courtesy of Red House Records
Spider John Koerner
Monday at the Cedar: Spider John Koerner’s 1000th Moon Celebration. This will be one of those evenings that can (and should) only take place at the Cedar. Of the famed ’60s folk trio Koerner, Ray and Glover, Spider John is the last man standing. Tony Glover died May 29, Dave Ray in 2002. And Willie Murphy, Koerner’s partner on “Running, Jumping, Standing Still,” left us in January. This will be Spider John’s 80th birthday. Will he perform? No one knows. But Dan Newton (Daddy Squeeze) will, and Nirmala Rajasekar, Jack Klatt, Charlie Parr, Adam Kiesling, Mumblin’ Drew, Dakota Dave Hull and more TBA. All-ages standing show. FMI and tickets ($15 advance, $18 day of show).

On the horizon

Quick mentions of events just announced or further out.

July 28: Tony Bennett at the Orpheum

Aug. 3: Hazelfest 2019 with Jeremy Messersmith, Kat Perkins, Nicholas David and more

Sept. 4-5: Pat Metheny Side Eye at the Dakota

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