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'Til Death: A Marriage Musical at Art House North


You guys. This musical is cute as sh*t. But before I dive into it, I want to quickly geek out about the venue, Art House North.


This was my first time at Art House North, and I was excited before I even stepped inside. According to Art House North’s website, this building is over 100 years old. Originally a church, Troy and Sara Groves bought it and converted it into a theater in 2011. Those who know me personally know that I work for an organization called the Incremental Development Alliance. We are a nonprofit made up of developers, architects, urban planners, place makers, and dedicated community members who work across North America helping locals strengthen their neighborhoods through small-scale real estate projects. The idea is that communities should be improved from within by the people who actually live there (as opposed to giant development corporations headquartered in L.A. or New York or wherever that come in, plop a huge, blocky, expensive apartment complex in the middle of a street and never think about the community impact).


One of the major ways IncDev encourages people to do small development projects is by renovating an existing building. Through my work, I’ve seen single-family houses converted to multi-unit residences, banks to bookstores, law offices to apartments, and more. Art House North is the first old building I’ve seen converted to a theater with the original façade intact. And right in my city! Squee! I was so so SO excited about this space, and even more excited when I found out that Bucket Brigade Theater, the theater company of Jeremiah and Vanessa Gamble who wrote and starred in ‘Til Death: A Marriage Musical, lives just literally down the street AND intermission was catered by Brake Bread, a local bakery that does business also literally down the street. It’s things like this that create a strong sense of place for a neighborhood and its residents. It’s walkable, hyper-local, and deeply loved by its residents and businesses. Every neighborhood in America could learn something from this West St. Paul neighborhood. And the fact that there’s a beautiful little theater in the mix just warms my nerdy little heart. This venue is definitely one I want to keep coming back to!


Ok, now for what you’re actually here for: ‘Til Death: A Marriage Musical. This show opened in 2012 and has been a Valentine’s season staple at Art House North since 2014. Like I said, it's cute as sh*t. And I have to say, there aren't many plays out there as simultaneously cringe-worthy, adorable, and deeply poignant as this one. Til Death tells the story of Ethan (Jeremiah Gamble) and Olivia (Vanessa Gamble), a couple separated after nearly 15 years of marriage who are fooled by their parents into spending their anniversary weekend together in a tiny cabin in the woods. Not long after arriving, a honeymooning couple, Leslie (Damian Leverett) and Freddie (Anna Leverett), become stranded on their way up the mountain and end up stuck for the night. AND SHENANIGANS ENSUE!


I have to admit, right off the bat I was a little turned off by Leslie and Freddie. They just seemed SO ridiculous and not at all realistic. But as the show went on, we were able to see more sides of their personalities that kind of explained why they are the way they are, which made them feel much more real. All four of the actors were great, but Damian Leverett was a standout to me (in part because he’s freaking adorable and looks like the lead in a DCOM). He is so funny and pure in his interpretation of Leslie, a character that I think could easily become obnoxious if not acted just right. Damian and Anna were just precious as Leslie and Freddie, and by the end of the show, I was fully on board with the relationship that I’d initially found to be off putting. (Also, “When life gives us lemons, we’ll say ‘YUM!’” is my new life motto.)


Of course, there’s a lot to love in Ethan and Olivia, as well, specifically in the little things, which is a recurring theme in the show. They’ve certainly struggled to find solid ground in their relationship, but there’s a genuine love between them that’s undeniable, even in their rockiest moments. Vanessa Gamble, who I’ve seen perform before and consistently love, is perfection through the entire show. Her voice is just unbelievable! The entire cast also has great comedic timing; the slow motion moments, in particular, really had me laughing. I’m not someone who often laughs out loud while watching plays or TV or movies or whatever, but I found myself laughing out loud multiple times in this show.


‘Til Death is a heartwarming, quirky, and insightful play about what it takes to make a relationship last. The cast, all married couples themselves, are delightful to watch. Whether you've seen it in the past or are coming in brand new like I was, this show would make a fun, creative, and affordable Valentine’s Day activity for any couple. It's a beautiful reminder of how lucky we are to live in an area teeming with so much local talent. And on top of all that, there are delicious free cupcakes during intermission! Score!


‘Til Death: A Marriage Musical is playing at Art House North through Feb. 22. Visit bucketbrigadetheater.com for tickets.

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