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Weekend Picks: Samantha Bee, No Coast Craft-o-rama, music of Douglas Ewart

Plus: “Three Decembers,” an opera about family, chosen family and secrets; The Isles Ensemble explores the challenges of mental illness; Kaleena Miller’s “Quartet.”

Siena Forest as Bea in “Three Decembers.”
Siena Forest as Bea in “Three Decembers.”
Courtesy of the Skylark Opera Theatre

Looking for something fun to do for Mother’s Day? There are lots of opportunities popping up around the Twin Cities this weekend, including Skylark Opera Theatre’s production of “Three Decembers,” Samantha Bee coming to Pantages, and No Coast Craft-o-rama’s spring fair at the Midtown Global Market. Also this week, Zeitgeist celebrates the work of Douglas Ewart, Kaleena Miller brings the fruits of new collaborations to the Southern Theater, and The Isles Ensemble takes a deep dive into the experience of mental illness. 

Three Decembers 

After composer Jake Heggie collaborated with the great American playwright Terrence McNally on the opera version of “Dead Man Walking,” in 2000, McNally mentioned to Heggie he had a short, unpublished script called “Some Christmas Letters (and a Couple of Phone Calls).” McNally had written it for an AIDS benefit in 1999. “It felt true, honest, emotionally big, and exactly what I was looking for as a chamber opera,” Heggie wrote in a program note about the script.

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Heggie worked with librettist Gene Scheer to transform the play into an opera called “Three Decembers,” adding certain plot elements to the story about a famous Broadway stage actor and her two adult children. It’s a piece about family, chosen family, and secrets. Gary Briggle directs the Skylark Opera production, starring Norah Long, Siena Forest, and Tony Potts. Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 14 at 2 p.m., through May 21 at the Jungle Theater ($55). More information here.

Douglas Ewart, the multi-instrumentalist, composer, visual artist and educator, is the McKnight Foundation's 2022 Distinguished Artist.
Douglas Ewart

Music of Douglas Ewart 

This weekend, new music chamber ensemble Zeitgeist presents the first two of three concerts honoring composer, improviser, visual artist and multi-instrumentalist Douglas R. Ewart. The group will perform the world premiere of Ewart’s “Crepuscule,” for piano and marimba, written for Zeitgeist, as well as several other of his chamber music pieces — The Red Hills, Marcus Garvey, Songs of Stories of Hopes, Dreams, and Visions. Then on June 15, they’ll perform “Sonic Tops,” a celebration of music making and community at the Northside Healing Space. This weekend’s performances take place Friday, May 12 and Saturday May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Studio Z ($20). More information here

Samantha Bee 

For nearly 20 years, Canadian comedian Samantha Bee was a fixture in the television comedy scene, first as a correspondent on “The Daily Show” beginning in 2003, and then as the star of “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” on TBS. She was terrific in both with clever commentary and cheerful acerbity. It’s a damn shame the latter was canceled. Now you can catch Bee live as part of her national tour. Get her fresh takes on politics, feminism, culture, and more. The show is Friday, May 12 at 7 p.m. at Pantages ($39.50 through $129.50). More information here

Kaleena Miller: Quartet 

Kaleena Miller uses feet like a percussive instrument, creating dance works that are as much about the sound they create as they are about movement. In “Quartet,” the choreographer teams up with three dancers from the East Coast, plus a cohort of local movers for a work structured in four sections. With her collaborators, Miller has been exploring collaboration and listening, working in mostly leather soled shoes, and with additional collaboration with bassist Cody McKinney and vocalist Aby Wolf, who will perform live. Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 14 at 2 p.m. at the Southern Theater ($25). More information here

No Coast Craft-o-Rama 

Normally a holiday event, No Coast Craft-o-Rama changes things up with a spring event bursting with 35 local vendors. Take your pick of ceramic art, letterpress greeting cards, up-cycled wearables, kaleidoscope jewelry, aromatherapy, artsy tools, cat underwear, plant-based make-up, and more. It takes place Saturday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Midtown Global Market (free). More information here

Isles Ensemble
Isles Ensemble

Beautiful Minds 

The Isles Ensemble, a chamber ensemble based out of the Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church, performs a work by local composer  AJ Isaacson-Zvidzwa that explores the artist’s experiences with mental illness. Drawing on words from her journal as well as quotes from Robert Schumann, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and Hector Berlioz, Isaacson-Zvidzwa’s “Angels Sang to Me,” for soprano and string quartet, illuminates the challenges of living with mental illness through beautiful music. The Isles Ensemble also takes on the E-flat, Op. 47, Quartet by Robert Schumann, who also battled with mental illness, as well as Two Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano, Op. 91, by Schumann’s good friend Johannes Brahms. Twin Cities soprano Maria Jette joins the ensemble for the concert. Sunday, May 14 at 4 p.m. at Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church ($25). More information here