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Weekend Picks: Glensheen the musical, Loch Mess, and cellos aplenty

Plus: Highlighting misogyny and discrimination in the music industry in new exhibit; a mixed media exhibit from Laura Youngbird; NUNNABOVE featured in upcoming fundraiser; and more.

Jen Maren as Marjorie Congdon Caldwell Hagen in “Glensheen.”
Jen Maren as Marjorie Congdon Caldwell Hagen in “Glensheen.”
Photo by Rick Spalding

I ventured to theater productions indoors and outdoors and have reports for you about my findings in this edition of Weekend Picks. The short story is that “Glensheen” at the History Theatre is as fabulous as when I saw it back in 2015, and “Loch Mess” on top of the Bakken Museum is a delight. In other picks this week, Journey North continues its conversation about the future of opera with a night of music and storytelling by women and nonbinary performers. Also this week, Laura Youngbird is featured at the All My Relations Gallery, cello extraordinaires visit the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, and Arm in Arm in Africa’s annual fundraiser promises great music by local family band, Nunnabove. 

Glensheen 

Before there was Serial, the Casey Anthony trial or the OJ Simpson trial, there were the trials of Marjorie Congdon Caldwell Hagen and her second husband, Roger Caldwell. They both faced murder charges after Marjorie’s adopted mother, heiress Elisabeth Congdon and Elisabeth’s nurse, Velma Pietila were found brutally murdered in the Glensheen mansion in Duluth in 1977. 

The sensational story’s twists and turns is the makings of The History Theatre’s hit musical, “Glensheen,” which has returned to Saint Paul until July 23. Book writer Jeffrey Hatcher and composer/lyricist Chan Poling have turned the dreadful tale (don’t Wikipedia it!) into a playful romp, making for a bit of enjoyable schadenfreude. I watched “Glensheen” back in 2015, and immediately became obsessed with not only the dastardly details but also the creator’s clever music and text. Jen Maren has returned as the fabulously fashioned (thanks to costume designer E. Amy Hill), brash and seemingly duplicitous Marjorie, while Dane Stauffer and Wendy Lehr reprise their roles (Stauffer as Roger and other small parts, Lehr as Elisabeth, Marjorie’s attorney, and an Agatha Christie cameo) with comic sensibility along with the ensemble cast. Ron Peluso’s direction makes this a playfully orchestrated bit of escapist indulgence to add to your summer theater fare this month. 

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Thursday, July 13 at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 14 and Saturday July 15 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 16 at 2 p.m., through July 23. ($30-74). More information here

Journey North: Changing the Narrative 

In 2021, Journey North Opera Company initiated a new series that highlights voices of female and nonbinary artists, and gave the artists space to share experiences of misogyny and discrimination in the music industry. Now in its third year, “Changing the Narrative,” continues the conversation with stories and songs by eight talented singers accompanied on the piano. 

It takes place Thursday, July 13 at 6 p.m. at Urban Growler Brewery (free). More information here

“Loch Mess! The World’s Largest Freshwater Musical” mixes historical fiction with camp in an over the top romp through mariner lore, vaudeville antics, sea monsters, queer desire, and a bit of feminism.
Photo by Nicole Neri
“Loch Mess! The World’s Largest Freshwater Musical” mixes historical fiction with camp in an over the top romp through mariner lore, vaudeville antics, sea monsters, queer desire, and a bit of feminism.

Loch Mess! The World’s Largest Freshwater Musical

“Loch Mess! The World’s Largest Freshwater Musical” had me giggling on top of the Bakken Museum last week. The musical by Josef Evans, directed by Joel Sass, mixes historical fiction with camp in an over the top romp through mariner lore, vaudeville antics, sea monsters, queer desire, and a bit of feminism. The singers are all quite good— Lux Mortenson and France Roberts make a fine pair as the diva and her adoring manager, while May Heinecke gives a noteworthy understated performance as First Mate Tate. Sass brings Evans’ clever script to full goofy glory in this pleasure of a summer musical. And you really can’t beat the view from the west side of Bde Maka Ska. 

This is the last weekend. Friday, July 14, Saturday, July 15, and Sunday, July 16, at 7 p.m. at the Bakken Museum ($30). More information here

Laura Youngbird, Inde Wiisagendam (My Heart Hurts), Mixed Media Watercolor Silkscreen, 2020
Laura Youngbird, Inde Wiisagendam (My Heart Hurts), Mixed Media Watercolor Silkscreen, 2020

Laura Youngbird: Inde Wiisagendam (My Heart Hurts) 

Artist Laura Youngbird was inspired by photographs of her grandmother as well as memories of her mother sewing for a series of work centered around the symbolic meanings of dresses. From the threads that tie fabric together to the act of covering and even hiding, Youngbird uses mixed media to look at both the loving, caring connotations of dress sewing to its connection to U.S. assimilation policy and the way Native children historically were forced to acculturate to the dominant culture. 

Opening reception and artist talk takes place Friday, July 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., artist on view through September 9. (Free). More information here

Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir
Supplied
Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir

CelloICI 

Three internationally renowned cellists are in town for the International Cello Institute, where advanced cello students from around the world will spend three weeks at St. Olaf working with faculty and guest artists on their craft. As part of the Institute, the featured soloists each give a concert in downtown Minneapolis. 

The concerts begin this week, featuring guest artist Blaise Déjardin, principal cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. That takes place Friday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church ($30). That’s followed by concerts featuring Columbian soloist Santiago Cañón-Valencia on July 21 and Icelandic-American soloist and teaching artist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir on 28. More information here

Together We Can 

Arm in Arm in Africa, an organization that supports communities in South Africa with food, education, and health care, is hosting its annual summer fundraiser on Monday, with a concert featuring the four person sibling musical group NUNNABOVE. They were on Season 13 of America’s Got Talent, and have been playing around the Twin Cities all summer, including Twin Cities Pride and Taste of Minnesota. MPR’s Angela Davis hosts the evening.

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The fundraiser takes place Monday, July 17 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Sociable Cider Werks ($65-75). More information about tickets or how to donate here