After a rough 2019-20 season, during which it canceled two productions, pushed another ahead and eliminated the position of artistic director, Park Square Theatre has announced a full lineup for 2020-21 and a cohort of new leaders who will help shape 2022-23 and beyond.
The St. Paul theater’s 46th season – supported by a major gift from the John W. Harris Family and officially called the Harris Family 2020-2021 Theatre Season – will include collaborations, premieres, a musical and mysteries.
Among the planned productions, four stand out as solid bets.
Kicking off the season, produced with PRIME Productions, Lauren Gunderson’s “The Revolutionists” (Oct. 2-25) is an irreverent comedy set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Gunderson is the most produced living playwright in America; her “Silent Sky” is currently running at the Bell Museum. “The Revolutionists” was originally slated for Park Square’s 2019-20 season.
Next up will be the world premiere of “Bad Things, Good Whiskey” by Shanan Custer and Carolyn Poole (Oct. 23-Nov. 22). This will be the final installment in the hit comedy trilogy that includes “2 Sugars, Room for Cream” and “Sometimes There’s Wine.”
Summer will bring not one, but two mysteries. Rick Shiomi’s “Fire in the New World” (May 28-June 20, 2021) will continue his popular noir-style series about hard-boiled Japanese Canadian detective Sam Shikaze. Jeffrey Hatcher’s new mystery (July 9-Aug. 15, 2021) is still TBD, but with Hatcher’s track record, success is assured.
The rest of the season looks promising. Chelsea Marcantel’s “Airness” (Jan. 29-Feb. 28, 2021) follows five rock fanatics vying for a place at the National Air Guitar Championship. Written by Curtis Moore and Thomas Mizer, two of America’s most exciting new musical theater writers, “Triangle” (April 2-May 9, 2021) is a musical with two parallel love stories linked by the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City. This area premiere will be a collaboration with the Ordway and directed by its producing artistic director, Rod Kaats.
As a season add-on, Katha Dance Theatre will present the world premiere of “Shaamya – Of Equality” (Nov. 5-8), with choreography by Rita Mustaphi, music composed and performed by J.D. Steele and poetry by Somali poet and playwright Ifrah Mansour.
Looking ahead to 2022-23, Park Square also confirmed Shiomi, Ellen Fenster and Kim Vasquez as the first members of its new group of artistic associates. In a statement, Executive Director C. Michael-jon Pease described them as “working professionals who direct, write, teach, produce and perform. They come to us with rich careers, distinct histories, personal networks and perspectives that will keep expanding Park Square’s circle of artistic relationships.” An open call for additional associates will be announced this spring.
Season tickets are on sale now. Current subscribers have priority through March. Seating of new subscriptions will begin in April.
Midori will return to the Schubert Club in 2020-21
For Twin Cities fans of classical music and the intimacy of the recital, the Schubert Club’s International Artist Series reigns supreme – and has for 125 years, when it was first presented. The world’s great artists perform in St. Paul, and the ticket prices are among the lowest in the United States for comparable concerts. Still to come in 2019-20: Daniil Trifonov, arguably the hottest pianist on the planet; the Danish String Quartet, arguably the hottest string quartet in the solar system; and Angela Gheorghiu, a famously fiery soprano.
The 2020-21 season is suitably star-studded. The biggest news is the return of the great violinist Midori (Nov. 10), who hasn’t played a Schubert Club recital in more than 25 years.
Husband-and-wife duo David Finckel, cello, and Wu Han, piano, will be Schubert Club’s Featured Artists for the season. Playing Schubert, they will appear in the International Artist series (March 4 and 6, 2021), the Music in the Park series (see below) and three more concerts.
The season will also feature two international opera stars making their Schubert Club debuts: tenor Lawrence Brownlee (Oct. 4 and 6) and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton (Feb. 7 and 9, 2021). Composer and pianist Jake Heggie, whose operas include “Dead Man Walking” and “Moby-Dick,” will accompany Barton. Italian pianist Beatrice Rana, Gramophone’s 2017 Young Artist of the Year, will bring the season to a close with her Schubert Club debut.
International Artist Series concerts take place in the Ordway Music Theater and the Ordway Concert Hall.
Founded in 1979 by Julie Himmelstrup, the Music in the Park series merged with the Schubert Club in 2010. Continuing the tradition of presenting top chamber music ensembles in the acoustically superb Saint Anthony Park United Church of Christ, the 2020-21 season will begin with the Pacifica Quartet (Sept. 20), followed by the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds (Oct. 11).
A series of three “Schubert Revealed” concerts in November, January and March will feature Finckel, Wu, and chamber music friends including Minnesota Orchestra concertmaster Erin Keefe, pianist Juho Pohjonen and mezzo soprano Clara Osowski, along with a pair of guest lecturers. Add to these three more “Schubert Revealed” concerts that are not part of either series: two at the St. Paul Conservatory of Music (Nov. 19 and 20) and a third at Westminster Hall (Nov. 21). This series – six concerts in all (don’t forget the one in the International Artist Series) – will give Schubert fans an unprecedented opportunity to experience his chamber music, and lots of it.
The 2020-21 Music in the Park series will conclude with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, an audience favorite (April 25).
Subscriptions to both series go on sale today (Thursday, March 5), single tickets on Monday, Aug. 3.
Tonight (Thursday, March 5) through Saturday at the Walker: Faye Driscoll: “Thank You for Coming: Space.” The Bessie Award-winning dancer and choreographer completes her Walker-commissioned trilogy, “Thank You for Coming,” with a performance that explores art, the body, loss and human connectivity. 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Mature content; no late seating. FMI and tickets ($26/$20.80 Walker members). Her first solo museum exhibition, “Faye Driscoll: Come On In,” opened Feb. 27 and is currently on display in Gallery 7.
Friday at Crooners: Julian Lage and Dave King. We’ve never seen or imagined these two together: the formidable and prodigious young guitarist who got his start at the side of vibraphonist Gary Burton, and the fierce and seemingly tireless drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus). The two have been touring with bassist Jorge Roeder as the Julian Lage Trio for Lage’s new album “Love Hurts.” What will they do here? Your guess is as good as ours, but it will be worth finding out. In the Dunsmore Room. Doors at 9 p.m., show at 9:30. FMI and tickets ($25-30).
Saturday at Orchestra Hall: “The Russian Century” with Sam and Sarah. Violist Sam Bergman and conductor Sarah Hicks were longtime hosts of the Minnesota Orchestra’s “Inside the Classics” series. Each concert usually featured a single work or longish excerpt, with Bergman and Hicks providing background and insights in curated conversations. “Inside the Classics” has been rebranded as “Sam and Sarah concerts,” and the content is even more lively. Bergman and Hicks still talk to the audience, but the music is several brief selections by a variety of composers, grouped around a theme. We were at the first Sam and Sarah concert in February, “Music and the Mind,” and found it enjoyable and enlightening. In “The Russian Century,” they’ll guide us through 120 years of Russian music and history. Stay after for an onstage reception with the musicians. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($32.75/20/12/free for ages 6-15).
Sunday at the Fitzgerald Theater: National Geographic Live: Mark Synnott: “Life on the Vertical.” Synnott is an adventure writer, author (“The Impossible Climb”) and big wall climber. He has climbed Yosemite’s El Capitan 22 times, including several one-day ascents. His search for unclimbed and unexplored rock walls has taken him to Alaska, Baffin Island, Patagonia, Pakistan, Tibet, Borneo and other places most of us will never visit, and if we do, we won’t climb thousands of feet straight up when we get there. Synott also uses his climbing skills to help scientists make discoveries in inaccessible places. Hearing him talk about his life and adventures, he sounds like the most normal guy in the world. Doors at 1 p.m., show at 2 p.m. FMI and tickets ($25-45).