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‘Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Babble Lab,’ ‘Cat in the Hat’ in CTC’s new lineup

ALSO: “Ancient Caves” at the Science Museum; Louis Jenkins Remembrance and Celebration at the Guthrie; and more.

“The Wizard of Oz”
CTC’s 2015 production of “The Wizard of Oz” won a 2016 Ivey Award for Overall Excellence.
Photo by Dan Norman

A wizard, a cat in a stovepipe hat, a wimpy kid and a virtuosic one-woman show will return to the Children’s Theatre Company in 2020-21. Of the seven productions announced for the new season, four are bringbacks. But enough time has passed since we saw them last that the potential audience has changed. There’s a new crop of kids.

Four of the seven are musicals, one is a world premiere, one is a touring production and one is a new version of a CTC staple from the past, not seen here since 2012.

Here’s the lineup.

Sept. 15-Oct. 18: “The Pout-Pout Fish.” Adapted from the best-selling picture book series by the puppeteers of AchesonWalsh Studios, this colorful production features puppets, surf rock music and live performers in an undersea adventure. Its appearance at CTC will be the start of a national tour.

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Sept. 29-Nov. 15: “Seedfolks.” We loved, loved, loved this when it premiered here in 2014, with Sonja Parks playing all 11 roles. The story of an immigrant neighborhood in Cleveland transformed by a community garden toured Minnesota and the U.S. and traveled to South Africa. It’s a terrific play for anyone ages 8 and up. Parks won’t be available this time around, but we’re not worried and we plan to see it again.

Nov. 3 through Jan. 3, 2021: “The Wizard of Oz.” CTC’s 2015 production – adapted for the Royal Shakespeare Company, based on the movie and directed by Peter Brosius – won a 2016 Ivey Award for Overall Excellence. A good choice for a holiday show.

Jan. 26-March 7, 2021: “Babble Lab.” Written and performed by CTC Acting Company member Autumn Ness, directed by Peter Brosius, this world premiere for preschoolers is based on Dadaist sound poetry. Ness plays a scientist whose lab is taken over by letters when an experiment goes awry. Ness received an award from Theatre Communications Group to develop this work, which was inspired by her own children’s experiences and struggles learning to speak, read and communicate.

Dean Holt as the Cat in the Hat
Photo by Dan Norman
Dean Holt as the Cat in the Hat
Feb. 16-April 4, 2021: “Pippi Longstocking: The Family Musical.” This is not the version CTC last presented in 2012. Of course, it’s still based on the novel by Astrid Lindgren about a rebellious red-headed 9-year old. But this time, the music and lyrics are by Danish folk star Sebastian and the adaptation is by Sebastian and Swedish playwright Staffan Götestam. So it’s essentially new to the theater.

March 30-June 6, 2021: “Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat.” CTC gave this show its American premiere in 2012, brought it back in 2014, then made us wait seven years to see it again. The company knows Dr. Seuss very well – it has developed and premiered three original productions based on Seuss books – and you can’t go wrong with Dean Holt in the title role.

April 27-June 20, 2021: “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical.” Based on the best-selling book series by Jeff Kinney, developed by CTC with Kevin McCollum, producer of “Six,” “Rent,” “In the Heights” and other hit shows, this was pretty great when it had its world premiere here in April 2016. It will return with changes and adjustments including new songs.

New season subscriptions and renewals are on sale now; 612-874-0400. Single tickets will go on sale in July.

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Ruggero Allifranchini leaves SPCO

The associate concertmaster for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Ruggero Allifranchini, abruptly resigned on March 3. The news first appeared on the cultural website Slipped Disc. SPCO members were told in an email from General Manager Jason Piehl.

Lindsey Thoreson Hanson, the SPCO’s chief patron development officer, responded to a request from MinnPost with, “I can confirm that Ruggero has resigned from his position with the SPCO to pursue other endeavors. I do not have any additional information to share.” Allifranchini’s bio is no longer on the SPCO’s website.

The violinist is also a member of the chamber music ensemble Accordo, which is presented by the Schubert Club. On Monday, the Schubert Club’s Kristina Gorder MacKenzie told MinnPost, “Ruggero will not be playing in Accordo’s two remaining programs this season. And as of now, the Accordo line-up for 2020-21 is not yet finalized.” Accordo will announce its 2020-21 season in April.

The picks

Canceled tonight (Tuesday, March 10) at the Walker: Daniel DeSure’s Insights Design lecture. “The Walker has regretfully cancelled … with Los Angeles-based designer Daniel DeSure due to an abundance of caution for our guest. The other events in the series remain as scheduled at this time. Ticket holders have been contacted directly.”

Now at the Science Museum’s Omnitheater: “Ancient Caves.” Hey everyone, how about we all stay out of the St. Paul caves and go to this movie instead? It follows paleoclimatologist Gina Mosely as she goes deep into caves around the world, researching historical climate change. (Meanwhile, the U’s Larry Edwards is analyzing the core samples Mosely collects.) Narrated by Bryan Cranston, “Ancient Caves” is a Science Museum of Minnesota original production. See it on the 90-foot domed screen. FMI including trailer, times and tickets ($8.95-9.95; members free). Closes May 24.

Cuban violinist-vocalist Yilian Cañizares, left, performs with Omar Sosa's Aguas Trio tonight at the Cedar.
Photo by Franck Socha
Cuban violinist-vocalist Yilian Cañizares, left, performs with Omar Sosa's Aguas Trio tonight at the Cedar.
Tonight at the Cedar: Omar Sosa Aguas Trio. The stellar Cuban pianist Sosa has been this way before, appearing at the Dakota, playing his luminous music. Inspired by water, his Aguas trio includes Cuban violinist-vocalist Yilian Cañizares and Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles. Jazz writer Andrew Gilbert saw them a few days ago in Oakland and wrote, “Beyond his keyboard prowess, Sosa is a savvy showman, and in Cañizares he’s found an equally incandescent partner. Playing and singing, sometimes simultaneously, she radiates joy while providing an earthly counterpart to his shimmering, rhapsodic glissandos.” Cañizares reminds us a bit of Esperanza Spalding. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30. FMI and tickets ($25 advance/$28 day of show).

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Wednesday at the Guthrie: Louis Jenkins Remembrance and Celebration. Mark Rylance will host an evening of “Poems, Tributes, Memories, Music, and perhaps some Drama” in honor of Minnesota poet Louis Jenkins, who died on December 21. Rylance was a great fan of Jenkins; together they wrote the play “Nice Fish,” which premiered at the Guthrie and went on to engagements in London’s West End and Off Broadway. 7:30 p.m. on the Wurtele Thrust Stage. Free.

Thursday at Parallel Café: Book launch for Patrick Johnson’s “Gatekeeper.” Winner of the 2019 Ballard Spahr Poetry Prize, Johnson will present his debut poetry collection with a reading and a conversation with prize judge and poet Khaled Mattawa. Formerly known as the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, this major award includes a cash prize ($10,000) and publication by Minneapolis-based indie publisher Milkweed Editions (priceless). 7 p.m. reception, 7:30 reading and conversation, 8:30 p.m. signing. Free. RSVP.

Theo Langason
Photo by Peter Morrow
Theo Langason
Starts Thursday: Red Eye Theater: Welcome Home//Home Edition. In 2018, Red Eye’s home for 30 years – a small but mighty storefront space in the Loring Park neighborhood – was demolished for apartments. The theater is now temporarily homeless, which makes Theo Langason’s new evening-length work so fitting. One of Red Eye’s seven artistic directors (a new model formed when co-founders Steve Busa and Miriam Must stepped down, also in 2018), Langason has created an evening-length work of improvisation, conversation, poetry and song to explore the concept of home. Starting tonight, he’ll take it to a series of 10 different homes in the Twin Cities – in Phillips West and Powderhorn, Mac-Groveland, Northeast and other neighborhoods. FMI and tickets ($15-25; pay what you wish).