Yellow Tree Theatre in Osseo has announced its first season under new artistic leadership. It’s transitional, part Petersons and part Van.
Husband-and-wife Jason Peterson and Jessica Lind Peterson founded the theater in 2008, turned it into a regional powerhouse, and stepped down in 2020 when Jason took a new position in Duluth. Austene Van was named producing artistic director in February 2121. A seasoned theater pro with serious credits all over the cities, she was already familiar with Yellow Tree, having directed Marco Ramirez’s “The Royale” there in 2018. In Feb. 2020, she directed Dominique Morisseau’s “Skeleton Crew,” Yellow Tree’s last fully staged production before COVID struck.
One of Van’s early acts was to put together Yellow Tree’s first-ever summer concert series, a way to bring people together safely outdoors for live music. “C’mon … it’s summer in Minnesota!” said the email you got if you’re on Yellow Tree’s list. “Step away from the air conditioning and get outside!” Along with music, she promised “beer, snacks, plus big trees with shade!” The series is still going on at the bandshell in Osseo’s Boerboom Park. Tonight (Thursday, Aug. 12), singer Julius Collins will perform a Prince tribute; Tuesday, Aug. 24, will feature singer Jennifer Grimm. The music starts at 7 p.m. and it’s free. Bring your own blankets and lawn chairs.
Van’s debut season on Yellow Tree’s stage includes four productions.
Sept. 17-Oct. 17: Ken Ludwig’s “Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood.” Canceled by COVID in 2020-21, comic playwright Ludwig’s lively take on a legend will finally have its Minnesota premiere. Critics have called it “fun, frothy,” “brightly colored” and “lighthearted.” Maid Marian is no longer a damsel in distress, but a brainy diplomat and a skilled archer.
Nov. 12-Jan 2, 2022: Jessica Lind Peterson: “Another Miracle on Christmas Lake.” Yellow Tree audiences loved co-founder Jessica Lind Peterson’s zany and hilarious Christmas plays, which included “Miracle on Christmas Lake,” “Another Miracle on Christmas Lake,” “A Hunting Shack Christmas” and “A Gone Fishin’ Christmas.” It would be silly not to stage one and have a holiday win. Charles Fraser will direct.
Feb. 4-March 6, 2022: Sarah Ruhl: “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play).” Van will direct Ruhl’s critically acclaimed play about the history and politics of relationships, science and electricity. Among other things. To our knowledge, it hasn’t been staged here since the Jungle’s 2012 production.
April 8-May 8, 2022: “Passing Strange.” Van will direct this co-production with New Dawn Theater, which she founded in 2018. (“Skeleton Crew” was a co-production.) With book and lyrics by Stew, music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, “Passing Strange” is a rock musical about the costs of being a young Black artist.
V is for virtual, L is for live and in person. (This may be the first time in 17 months when all the picks are live and in person.)
L Tonight (Thursday, Aug. 12), 6-8 p.m. All My Relations Arts: Outdoor opening reception for “Yödoishëndahgwa’geh (a place for rest)” by Rosy Simas. Part of a larger three-year project, Yödoishëndahgwa’geh is an intersensorial space of moving image and sound by Seneca transdisciplinary and dance artist Simas and composer Francois Richomme. Its intention is to contribute to the healing of our ancestors and generations yet to be born. By resting and taking refuge in this space, you will influence the installation and contribute to future iterations. Yödoishëndahgwa’geh continues through Sept. 21.
L Now at the Lagoon: “Ailey.” Jamila Wignot’s documentary examines the life of the famed Black choreographer through his own words, archival footage and audio, and interviews with those who knew him best. FMI, times and tickets.
L Now through Friday, Aug. 20, at the Pace Gallery in New York: “JoAnn Verburg: For Now.” We don’t usually send readers to events in New York City, but if you happen to be in New York or you’re going to New York, this modern art gallery in Chelsea is a worthy stop. (If you know someone in New York, send them.)
Verburg, a renowned American photographer who splits her time between Minneapolis and Spoleto, Italy, has several multi-frame photo and video works in her first solo exhibition at Pace. The show is all olive trees, captured with her large-format camera in Italy, California and Israel. Your eye is drawn to leaves, branches and fruit in sharp focus, and then to the same in soft focus, to light and air in between. With the city just outside the door, each is a space of reflection and a different vantage point, both landscape and still life. Move from the stills to the video for subtle movement and the rustling of leaves in the wind.
Verburg’s many exhibitions have included “Present on the Road to Bazzano,” a solo show at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2001, and “Present Tense: Photographs by JoAnn Verburg,” which began at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2007 and traveled to the Walker in 2008. Her works are in the collections of all three museums, among many others. Mia considers her “one of the most important artists working in Minnesota today.” FMI.
L Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m., Orchestra Hall: Minnesota Orchestra: Dvořák’s New World Symphony. Principal guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, chief conductor of Norway’s Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra, and a contralto whose latest album finds her singing Handel, Vivaldi and Antonio Lotti, Nathalie Stutzmann will lead a program of two big works: Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 featuring Czech pianist Lukáš Vondráček and Dvořák’s “From the New World.” This should be quite a night. Just a few distanced seats remain and masks must be worn. FMI and tickets.
L Saturday, 8 p.m., at the Black Dog: Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog: Youth Jazz Showcase and Sophia Kickhofel Group. A jazz prodigy who grew up in Apple Valley and has already played Carnegie Hall, alto saxophonist Kickhofel now leads her own group, with Cyrus Mackey on trumpet, Miguel Hurtado on drums, Graydon Peterson on bass and Iasse Corson on piano. Their 9:30 p.m. set will follow an 8 p.m. opener by even younger up-and-coming jazz musicians. Free, but show some love to the tip jar (that’s how the musicians are paid) and be kind to your server. Reserved seating is available ($20). FMI.
L Monday, Aug. 16, 7:30 p.m., Icehouse: JC Sanford’s Imminent Standards Trio CD Release. Trombonist Sanford, bassist Jeff Bailey and drummer Phil Hey first played together on Feb. 6, 2020, at Imminent Brewing in Northfield, where Sanford lives. All exceptional artists, they clicked and looked forward to playing more. When COVID nixed getting together, they played socially distanced in the recording studio, infusing their set with as much spontaneity as they would have with a live audience. The tunes are standards, the mood is easy, and Monday’s performance will be an indoor show. 6 p.m. doors, $12 cover. To reserve a table, add $25/person for a food and beverage voucher. FMI and tickets.