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Weekend picks: Get your ghoul on at ‘The Haunted Avalon’ and with Sparkle Theatricals; get real-life scared contemplating a post-Roe world

Plus: VocalEssence performs with the St. Olaf Choir; a Hmong-American exhibit of art in different mediums in the east metro, and a Halloween puppet extravaganza on the Midtown Greenway.

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre masks
In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre wades into the Halloween show market with a new production, “The Haunted Avalon: A Puppet Theatre Showcase.”
Photo by Uche Iroegbu

Halloween approaches and Twin Cities arts organizations are ready. Whether you’re in the mood for immersive outdoor puppetry, ghoulish puppets, Edgar Allen Poe-themed stories or reproductive rights restrictions, venture into shows across the Twin Cities. Oops, that last one isn’t necessarily Halloween-themed, but Frank Theatre’s timely production of “Fetal” features real life that’s just as scary. Also this week, Pao Houa Her curates an exhibition of Hmong artists at Century College, and VocalEssence joins forces with St. Olaf Choir in this week’s Weekend Picks.

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‘The Haunted Avalon’

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre wades into the Halloween show market with a new production, “The Haunted Avalon: A Puppet Theatre Showcase.” Emcees Harry Waters Jr. and Orren Fen guide visitors through a series of vignettes and scenes with live music, toy theater, shadow puppetry, marionettes and more. Daily Thursday, Oct. 26, through Monday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m. at HOBT’s Avalon theater. ($35, $15 children up to 13). More information here.

Xee Reiter, Jungle, 24”x 24”, Acrylic on canvas, 2021
Xee Reiter, Jungle, 24”x 24”, Acrylic on canvas, 2021

‘How We Got Here & Where We’re Going’

2023 Guggenheim Fellow Pao Houa Her has curated a new exhibition opening at Century College this week, highlighting four Hmong-American artists working in different mediums. From textile art and beadwork to moving images, the exhibition offers a window into contemporary practices growing out of Hmong artistic knowledge. The opening reception takes place Sunday, Oct. 26, from 5 to 7 p.m., with the exhibition running through Jan. 25. A related moving image screening takes place Nov. 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. (free). More information here.

Barebones 30th Annual Halloween Extravaganza

Mexican Theater artist Sofia Padilla and longtime Barebones artist Heather Hinrichsen direct this year’s Annual Halloween Extravaganza. Barebones presented the puppet and fire-filled community celebration for many years at Hidden Fall Regional Park, but returns for a second year to the Midtown Greenway for a pageant of live music, stilting, dance, and ginormous puppets. Friday, Oct. 27, Saturday, Oct. 28, Sunday, Oct. 29, and Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. on the Midtown Greenway between 10th and 11th avenues ($20 suggested donation). More information here.

Poe is Me

If the recent Netflix series “The Fall of the House of Usher” has got you craving for all things Poe, Sparkle Theatricals has you covered. This weekend, they’re bringing several of Poe’s tales to life as part of an evening of tales, games and treats. They’re also presenting the winners of a Poe-inspired contest the company conducted. For example, one of the winners, Linda Shapiro, penned “Tell-Tale,” about “a wise-cracking young woman, kidnapped by a weirdo and sequestered in an underground apartment and forced to tell him stories,” Shapiro tells me over email. Other contest winners are Tia Tanzer, Stella Brown, Beverly Powell, Naomi Allen and A. Pablo Iannone. Friday, Oct. 27, and Saturday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Community Cave in Carleton Artist Lofts ($25). More information here.

Julia Valen, Elena Yazzie, and Carolyn Pool in “Fetal.”
Photo by Tony Nelson
Julia Valen, Elena Yazzie, and Carolyn Pool in “Fetal.”


After more than three and a half years, Frank Theatre returns to live performance this week, and in a move that goes in keeping with the company’s history, are producing a work that takes on one of the most important political issues facing America. Trista Baldwin that takes on our new post-Roe v. Wade reality with “Fetal.” Wendy Knox directs the four-person cast in a piece set in Texas on the day of the Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court. Two adult women and a teenager with very different life circumstances wait in a clinic after the announcement of Roe being overturned. In the room as well is a clinic worker, who also acts as a voice inside the women’s heads. Baldwin takes the audience on a journey toward revolution in this relevant storyline. Friday night’s opening is sold up, but as of writing, tickets are still available Saturday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with the run going through Nov. 19 ($30). More information here.

VocalEssence and the St. Olaf Choir
Courtesy of VocalEssence
VocalEssence and the St. Olaf Choir

VocalEssence and the St. Olaf Choir

VocalEssence opens its 55th concert season by teaming up with the revered St. Olaf Choir, a 75-member a capella ensemble led by conductor Anton Armstrong. The VocalEssence Chorus and Ensemble Singers and the St. Olaf Choir perform a piece by St. Olaf alumna Jocelyn Hogan, honoring the legacy of Sigrid Johnson, who taught at St. Olaf for 32 years and conducted the first-year women’s chorus. Also on the program is “Requiem,” by Brazilian classical composer José Maurícío Nuñes-García, plus works by Steven Stucky, Healey Willan, Dominick Argento and Francis Poulenc. VocalEssence artistic director Philip Brunelle and associate artistic director G. Phillip Shoultz III conduct along with Armstrong. Sunday, Oct. 29, at 4 p.m. at Central Lutheran Church ($25-45). More information here.