The start of the new year often has people looking back on the last year. But, with all the incredible theater ahead for the Twin Cities in 2020, I'm more interested in looking forward. Here are the top 9 shows I'm looking forward to this year! (It was very, very hard to narrow this down to 9...)
“’Under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than he could with a hit.’ A down-on-his-luck Broadway producer and his mild-mannered accountant come up with a scheme to produce the most notorious flop they can find. And so begins one of the most hilarious cons in musical theatre history!”
I love a musical, and I love a comedy. The Producers is the cream of the crop in both genres. This show, based on Mel Brooks’ 1967 film of the same name, debuted on Broadway in 2001 and swept that year’s Tony Awards, winning a record-breaking 12 awards. As famous as it is and as many times as I’ve heard it referenced, I’ve never actually seen this play. I can’t wait to watch the always fabulous Lakeshore Players’ production this spring!
Playing April 17 – May 17.
“When a restless, creative, and ambitious window washer named J. Pierrepont Finch happens upon a book entitled “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” he decides to begin his own rise up the corporate ladder. With the book’s instructions and a dose of his own cleverness, Finch starts by landing a job in the mailroom at the World Wide Wicket Company. Along the way, he encounters aggressively compliant “company men,” backstabbing coworkers, caffeine addiction, office politics, and—of course—true love.”
I was a mega-fan of Daniel Radcliffe as a child. Because, you know, he’s Harry Potter! But it turns out he’s also an incredibly skilled stage actor, and he also starred in the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 2011, which put the show on the map for me. Still, in all that time, I’ve never seen it live. This is a bucket list show for me, and I’m stoked to get to check it off my list at Lyric. (And hey, casting people, can I recommend giving Daniel Radcliffe a call?)
Playing July 10 – August 9
“Aviatrix Amelia Earhart, evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and author Agatha Christie each vanished mysteriously: Agatha disappeared for eleven days; Aimee disappeared for three weeks; and of course Amelia vanished completely. VANISHING POINT, a musical comedy-fantasy, brings these three women together as they solve the mystery of their disappearances from their own lives. The show has a cast of three: the women play not only their central role but also each others’ mothers, husbands, friends, reporters, and so on.”
I am deeply obsessed with Amelia Earhart. Ever since sixth grade social studies, I’ve been entirely fixated with her life and disappearance. I also (obviously) love theater, and if you pair the two together, you can bet your bottom dollar I will be there! I also can’t get enough of theater that teaches me about historical events, so I’m doubly looking forward to learning more about the other featured ladies of this production, Aimee Semple McPherson and Agatha Christie. Chameleon Theater Circle is one of my favorite theaters in the Twin Cities, so I have no doubts Vanishing Point will be a slam dunk.
Playing March 6 - 22
“In the early twentieth century, Henrietta Leavitt and a group of women ‘computers’ pursued astronomical research at the Harvard Observatory under the supervision of a male scientist. Their work proved to be crucial to the development of the field. Henrietta herself had to balance her dedication to her work with the demands of her family, health challenges, and the possibility of personal relationships. The achievements and difficulties of a woman scientist in a challenging historical period combine in this thought-provoking and engaging play by Lauren Gunderson. Come listen to the music of the spheres, in the stunning and unique setting of the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium.”
A play in a planetarium?!? Sign me up! I cannot wait to see this one. I’m a sucker for a great set, and a literal planetarium sounds pretty unbelievable. This seems to be a show filled to the brim with inspirational woman power; the description gives me Hidden Figures vibes. Despite knowing very little about the play, this one has seriously piqued my interest. Is it February yet?
Playing February 22 – March 8
“This passionate, timeless, and indelible story of love among young artists in Paris, can stake its claim as the world’s most popular opera. Theater Latté Da brings Peter Rothstein’s innovative, award-winning staging to the intimate Ritz Theater. Lyrical and touchingly beautiful, La Bohème is the definitive depiction of the joys and sorrows of love and loss, and a celebration of art in the face of adversity.”
La vie boheme! I can’t wait to see the opera that inspired Rent! I happen to love opera, and I have my high school band director to thank for that. Back in the day, when I was a French horn player, our band played "Nessun Dorma" from Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot. I was so moved by the piece that I started listening to other opera songs, as well, and my love of the genre was born. The fact that this inspired Rent is the icing on the cake. (Anyone else planning to see this and watch Rent on Netflix immediately after to compare and contrast?)
Playing March 11 – April 26
“It’s a typical morning at Scranton’s third largest paper company until, for no logical reason, a documentary crew begins filming the lives of the employees of Dunder Mifflin… Don’t miss this hilarious, unauthorized parody of the hit TV show, The Office.”
Ok, who DOESN’T love The Office? It’s an absolute classic, and, while I’ll always be skeptical of anything trying to recapture the magic of the show, I can’t not see a musical version of The Office. Seeing Michael, Jim, Pam, Dwight, Angela, and the gang sing and dance will be an actual dream come true. I have nothing more to say.
Playing May 19 - 23
“Join us for one weekend in January for our “short musicals” festival. We’ll present a flight of a half dozen 10 to 20-minute musicals, with brief intermissions between each to enjoy a flight of your favorite beverage – wine, specialty cocktails or non-alcoholic options!”
This is theater, especially musical theater, like I’ve never seen it before. I don’t know what to expect, but I know I’m counting down the days until January 23. I generally do some pretty thorough research before I decide to buy tickets for a show, but with A Flight of Short Musicals, I’ve deliberately decided not to look up any of the musicals. I am someone who tends to suck at sitting through really long things (looking at you, Lord of the Rings), so I kind of think this will be perfect for me. Stay tuned to find out!
Playing January 23 – 25
“When a handsome stranger pulls into her driveway to ask for directions, Italian housewife Francesca’s life changes in an instant. After fleeing World War II-torn Europe with her American soldier husband, Francesca has built a quiet, unassuming life in rural Iowa. The unexpected arrival of National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid, who comes to Madison County while Francesca’s family is away at a county fair, forces an impossible choice. Which matters more: a once-in-a-lifetime love, or caring for family and community? With a lush, romantic score from modern musical theater master Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County is a heartbreaking yet hopeful portrait of one woman, standing at a crossroads, without a map.”
Jason Robert Brown has my whole heart. The Last Five Years has been one of my favorite shows for years, and I will happily listen to anything and everything he has written. ("Jason’s Song" on Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman album? Incredible.) The Bridges of Madison County is a stage adaptation of the best-selling novella, which was also turned into a movie. This is the story about love and timing, and how the two don’t always align. The score is beautiful, and Artistry has never once let me down in terms of production value, so I anticipate this being an incredible show. The cherry on top is Artistry’s NextGen Theater initiative, which offers tickets to patrons under age 30 for just $17!
Playing January 24 - February 16
“Broadway’s COME FROM AWAY is a Best Musical winner all across North America! This New York Times critics’ pick takes you into the heart of the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.”
My number one pick goes out to my dad! After years of bonding with my brothers at football games (which, for the record, I was always invited to but had absolutely no interest in attending), my dad started taking me to a play every year to do some father daughter bonding in. It’s always one of my favorite days of the year, and not to toot our own horns, but we happen to be fantastic at choosing plays. Last year, I chose Dear Evan Hansen. This year, my dad has chosen Come From Away. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews of Come From Away, and the fact that it’s based on a true story makes it even more interesting to me. I have listened to the soundtrack several times, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it performed in person. I anticipate this being one of my favorite plays I see in 2020. Theater is way better than sports.
Playing August 11 – 23.