We might as well celebrate the Fourth of July while we still have a democracy. If, like me, you’re not really a fireworks fan, there are lots of fun activities to celebrate this weekend. Perhaps you’d like to take in an outdoor play or classical music concert at a park and soak in some nature while you’re at it? Other shows you may want to check out this weekend include the last chance to see “The Impact Theory of Mass Extinction” at In the Heart of the Beast, and a new adaptation of “Emma” at the Guthrie. Also this weekend, enjoy the silky vocals of Leslie Vincent, or head to Mortimer’s for a fundraiser for She Rock She Rock.
Leslie Vincent Live at Apoy
Treat yourself to Filipino fine dining as you’re accompanied by the sweet voice of Leslie Vincent. Vincent has been busy of late, performing at the Twin Cities Jazz Fest and at Pride, and coming up later this month, she’ll be at kj’s hideaway and at Centennial Lakes Park. Friday’s show offers an intimate evening, bringing her theatrical jazz, pop and folk sensibility to your dining experience. 9 p.m. Friday, July 1, at Apoy ($5 suggested donation). More information here.
Love’s Labor’s Lost
One of the great enticements the summer offers is outdoor performances, and the Classical Actors Ensemble delivers with this year’s Shakespeare in Our Parks performance around the Twin Cities. In “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” four young men (one happens to be a king) swear an oath that they’ll abstain from delicious food, sleeping more than three hours a night, and romance of any kind. Their resolve gets quickly thwarted when they each fall in love with four young women (one who happens to be a princess). Along the way, there’s a play within a play, goofy side plots, and witticisms galore as the playwright makes fun of the academic institutions of his day. CAE’s youthful cast brings a fresh energy to the show, and even has a choir that sings modern music to add to the experience. Bring a picnic and mosquito lotion and get ready to soak up nature and theater in the great outdoors. The show performs at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at Franconia, Friday, July 1, at Como Lakeside Pavilion, Saturday, July 2, at Lake of the Isles, and Sunday, July 3, at Harriet Island Tiger Stage. The run goes through July 17 at various venues (free). More information here.
If you’re a fan of of “Clueless,” the 1995 comedy starring Alicia Silverstone and the late, shining star Brittany Murphy, which is arguably the best adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma” to date (let’s not mention that awful Weinstein-produced version), you may enjoy Kate Hammill’s adaptation now playing at the Guthrie. Like Amy Heckerling, who wrote and directed “Clueless,” Hammill leans into the comedy, with director Meredith McDonough also emphasizing slapstick and physical humor to tell the story. The silliness of each of the characters are highlighted to the extreme, and along the way, a feminist message seeps in through the story.
At the heart of “Emma” is a critique of benevolence. The vain and flighty Emma spends the first half of the play matchmaking her friends and acquaintances for what she tells herself and others are altruistic reasons, but it becomes clear she’s more motivated by making herself feel good. (This is all rather Nietzsche-esque, though Austen was writing about 50 years before Nietzsche.) Hammill’s script gets this conflict (and Emma’s discovery of her misuse of privilege/power) exactly right, and the romance of the story works really well. Amelia Pedlow, who plays Emma, excels at balancing Emma’s silliness with vulnerability, and she seamlessly weaves in the social commentary via direct address to the audience. The production pushes the humor awkwardly at times, like a really annoying bit about porridge, for example. As a whole, it’s worth enduring the groany parts for the meatier elements that reveal themselves in the second act. Quick word of advice if you do go: Eat before the show, as the restaurant situation in that area is a bit of a barren wasteland after 9 p.m. The play runs through Aug. 21 at the Guthrie ($26-$80). More information here.
‘The Impact Theory of Mass Extinction’
There’s so much joy in “The Impact Theory of Mass Extinction,” a puppet show written by Junauda Petrus-Nasah, the stage bursts with it. When you enter In the Heart of the Beast’s Avalon Theatre, you walk into a whimsical world of prehistoric delights. Vines hang from the ceiling, while a foliage-bedecked music area sits in front of a glittery pink curtain. On one side, you see a cityscape twinkling with lights. As the show progresses, two queer teenagers take the audience on a journey from the 1980s to the time of the dinosaurs, encountering magic, dancing and connection along the way.
Part of what makes this piece special is the ingenious talent of set and puppet designer Steve Ackerman, whose madcap whimsy and sense of lowbrow, low-budget spectacle adds a wonderful frenetic energy to the piece. Director Harry Waters Jr. and the cast, meanwhile, find the balance between sweet moments of loving and exuberance. You don’t want to miss this one. There’s one more general audience performance on Friday night, and a BIPOC performance Saturday at the Avalon ($30 or pay what you can). More information here.
Minneapolis Pops Orchestra
The Minneapolis Pops Orchestra opens its final season under the direction of Maestro Jere Lantz at Lake Harriet Bandshell this weekend. The fun starts off on Saturday with the “Pops Preview Potpourri.” It will have snippets of what will come throughout the rest of the season, including music by Hector Berlioz, Johann Strauss II, and Gilbert & Sullivan, plus music from movies including “Star Wars” and “The Magnificent Seven.” Sunday’s performance is titled “American Celebration,” on the day before the Fourth of July. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 2, and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3, at Lake Harriet Bandshell (free). More information here.
Listen to tunes by local bands all while supporting a great organization that supports girls, women and trans and nonbinary musicians through education and opportunities. Through lessons, open mics, retreats and other programming, She Rock She Rock is doing the work of widening opportunities for young musicians of marginalized genders. Support them at a show presented by Faded Handstamp Promotions and Mortimer’s where the artists are donating their ticket sales to the organization’s work. Among the groups are Crush Scene, Zen is In, and Natalie Fideler. You’ll get a download link to an MP3 of the night’s recording. Doors at 6:30 p.m., music from 7 p.m. to 1:40 a.m. at Mortimer’s ($15 suggested donation). More information here.