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Ordway announces Broadway season; three big online music festivals are coming

ALSO: Greta Oglesby reads from her memoir; Novel Stages crosses boundaries, challenges genres; and more.

March 2021 will bring a touring production of the Broadway hit “Waitress,” with songs by Grammy winner Sara Bareilles.
March 2021 will bring a touring production of the Broadway hit “Waitress,” with songs by Grammy winner Sara Bareilles.
Courtesy of the Ordway

The 2020-21 Broadway at the Ordway season, five shows long, will start Dec. 1 with an Ordway Original holiday production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” By then, said president and CEO Jamie Grant, “we’re sincerely hoping we can safely reunite with our guests.”

The Ordway’s flagship season will continue in February 2021 with a new touring production of “An Officer and a Gentleman,” a musical romance based on the 1980s hit movie starring Richard Gere. March will bring a touring production of the Broadway hit “Waitress,” with songs by Grammy winner Sara Bareilles.

April will see the regional premiere of “Triangle,” a new musical about two love stories 100 years apart, set against the backdrop of the historic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. It will be produced in partnership with Park Square Theatre. The season will end with an Ordway Original production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Rent,” set to open in July.

The Ordway also announced a new resident artists program. The inaugural resident artists for 2020-21 are Tyler Michaels King and Jamecia Bennett. Both were featured in last summer’s “42nd Street,” Michaels King as Bert Barry and Bennett as Maggie Jones.

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The 2020-21 season will include new benefits for subscribers, including Backstage Pass, with access to conversations and behind-the-scenes content. Season subscriptions are available at the Ordway’s website and 651-224-4222.

Virtual Minnesota Book Awards ceremony is a winner

The livestream started a little late. The chat was hopping. All the winners were reached by phone for their immediate (not pre-recorded) reactions to the news. (Even in a pandemic, winning is fun.) Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan gave a special welcome. T. Mychael Rambo sang “Accentuate the Positive.”

Rambo was the warm and congenial emcee of the Minnesota Book Awards, streamed Tuesday night at the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library website and on YouTube. The live part took almost exactly an hour. Rambo was joined by Alayna Hopkins, director of programs and services for the Friends. Considering that this was the first-ever livestreamed Minnesota Book Awards, it’s traditionally a live event with a big, happy crowd, and this year’s was supposed to take place at the Ordway Concert Hall, it went very well.

There were not a lot of surprises among the winners, many of whom have won previous Minnesota Book Awards. But a good time was had by all, including those of us watching at home on our computers or tablets or phones.

These are the winners, announced in the order we learned them livestreamed.

Minnesota Nonfiction: Christopher P. Lehman, “Slavery’s Reach: Southern Slaveholders in the North Star State.”

Middle Grade Literature: Kate Allen, “The Line Tender.”

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction: Karen Babine, “All the Wild Hungers.”

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Children’s Literature: Kao Kalia Yang, “A Map Into the World,” illustrated by Seo Kim.

General Nonfiction: David Treuer, “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present.”

Su Hwang
Minnesota Book Awards
Su Hwang
Young Adult Literature: Naomi Kritzer, “Catfishing on CatNet.”

Novel & Short Story: Sheila O’Connor, “Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions.”

Poetry: Su Hwang, “Bodega.”

Genre Fiction: Marlon James, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf .”

Kao Kalia Yang, David Treuer, Marlon James, Karin Babine and Sheila O’Connor had all won Minnesota Book Awards before.

Also honored during the ceremony were previously announced winners of three special awards:

The Book Artist Award. This went to the collaborative group responsible for creating the artist’s book “My Mighty Journey: A Waterfall’s Story,” written by John Coy and illustrated by Gaylord Schanilec.

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The Hognander Minnesota History Award. William D. Green was the recipient for his book, “The Children of Lincoln: White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota.”

James Lenfestey
Minnesota Book Awards
James Lenfestey
The Kay Sexton Award. This award goes to an individual or organization for making outstanding contributions to Minnesota’s literary community. Jim Lenfestey’s bona fides are legion: his own many books of poetry and essays, his activism (most recently “Poets and Writers and Musicians Against the War on Earth”), his teaching, his unflagging support for all of our literary presses, Open Book (he served on the capital campaign committee), the Literary Witnesses poetry series at Plymouth Church (he chaired it for 15 years), Robert Bly’s papers at the Andersen Library (he led the charge to bring them there), and the list goes on.

You can catch up on the whole evening at the Friends’ YouTube page.

We spoke with Friends President Beth Burns a little over a month ago, when things were still in the planning stages.

The picks

Penumbra Theatre tipped us to this recent video of company member Greta Oglesby reading from her memoir, “Mama ’n Nem: Handprints on My Life.” Oglesby shares an excerpt about her favorite aunt, inviting us all to reflect on people who have inspired us, guided us, and been important to us.

Today (Thursday, April 30) starting at 2 p.m.: International Jazz Day 2020. The 9th International Jazz Day concert – billed in the rest of the world as the World Cup of Jazz – was supposed to take place in Cape Town, South Africa, the first African country to host this global celebration. Instead, it will be (surprise!) streamed live from many remote locations, and some artists have sent previously recorded videos. Hosted by Herbie Hancock, with help from Forrest Whitaker and Morgan Freeman, it will be a stellar lineup, with performances by Dee Dee Bridgewater, Joey DeFrancesco, Lang Lang, John McLaughlin, Jane Monheit, Danilo Pérez, Diane Reeves, Cécile McLorin Salvant, John Scofield, Lizz Wright and more. It starts at 2 p.m. but you can tune in anytime.

Tonight (Thursday, April 30) at 7 p.m.: Jazz Fest Live with the Emmet Cohen Trio. A piano prodigy, winner of the 2019 American Pianist Award and friend to our Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Emmet Cohen and his trio have been livestreaming weekly Monday-night concerts from Cohen’s apartment in Harlem. With Russell Hall on bass and Kyle Poole on drums, these “Live from Emmet’s Place” events have become Monday musts for jazz lovers and Cohen fans. You’ll probably want to join that crowd after seeing tonight’s performance. This is a great trio, young, lively and full of ideas. Go here to “save your spot.”  

Friday (May 1) all day: Festival of the Valkyries: Women. Power. Music. on Facebook and Zoom. You can still be in your jammies – this free, all-day, online music festival kicks off at 8:30 in the morning – but don’t sleep in. Sponsored by The Current, it will include a 9 a.m. panel discussion, a 10:30 a.m. keynote address by Andrea Swensson, more than 20 performances by Minnesota women and nonbinary musicians, and a dance party. A sampling: Kat Perkins, Venus DeMars, Annie Mack, Kiss the Tiger, Gaelynn Lea, Jillian Rae, Katy Vernon, Mayda, Joyann Parker, Davina Lozier (of Davina and the Vagabonds). The performances take place on the Valkyrie Music Collective’s Facebook page, the rest on Zoom. FMI and registration for the Zoom parts.

Friday (May 1): New online screenings from the MSP Film Society. Available to watch starting at 12 noon: Director César Diaz’s “Our Mothers,” a 2020 MSPIFF Official Selection. Free live Q&As with Diaz on Saturday, May 2, at 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 3, at 3 p.m. The documentary “Botero.” Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan’s “Pahokee,” set in a small town in the Florida Everglades. Live Q&A with the directors on Saturday, May 2, at 7 p.m. “Capital in the 21st Century,” an eye-opening journey through wealth and power based on the international bestseller by economist Thomas Piketty. Live virtual roundtable with Piketty presented by the New Republic on Sunday, May 3, at 2 p.m. Go here to see the full list of films currently available for viewing. FMI and tickets ($12) at the links. Your purchase(s) will directly support MSP Film.

Kaleena Miller
Photo by Tim Rummelhoff
Kaleena Miller
Saturday (May 2) starting at 2 p.m.: Novel Stages. It’s as if Liquid Music, Schubert Club Mix, the Walker and the American Composers Forum got together to create an online festival. That’s not who made this – Bobby Maher is the founder, curator and producer – but it’s all about music and artists crossing boundaries and genres. The performances are not live; some are pre-recorded from the artists’ studios and homes (for better audio and video quality), with new presentations meant for your screen, and some are previously unavailable concert footage. Artists include Kip Jones and ETHEL, Kaleena Miller, Eric Mayson, Grant Cutler, Roomful of Teeth, Mark Morris Dance Group, Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond) and Cameron Kinghorn & Friends, a dream lineup for fans of new music and invention. Novel Stages is not free, but ticket sales support the artists and their projects. And $30 for more than 15 artist sets and 8 hours of performances, plus downloads of all videos following the festival, is a steal, to put it gently. FMI including schedule and link to tickets.