News

Have You Heard of the Margolis Method?

Park Square actors, creative teams, and all theatre lovers, check out this FREE opportunity presented by Metro State University Theater Underground/Student Life Leadership Development.

We are invited to this workshop with award-winning theatre artist Kari Margolis on Monday, Oct 21, 6:30 – 9 p.m. in the Andy Boss Rehearsal Hall in the lower level of the Hamm Building.

Please dress in clothing fit for movement (sweatpants, t-shirts, yoga gear, etc.). Note: Kari encourages participants to work barefoot. Join us for a night to Discover, Explore, Expand and Connect!

To register, send an email to jonathanbeller@metrostate.edu

margolismethod.org

Monsters and Mainstream Tension in ROCKY HORROR

SEEING DOUBLE: MONSTERS AND MAINSTREAM TENSION IN THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW

Super-fans Dori Hartley and Sal Piro at the Waverly Theater NYC 1977 during a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Credit unknown.

When the Narrator opens The Rocky Horror Show (RHS) with a timeline of 1930s to 60s science fiction films, the audience is set up for the fantastical B-movie send up of Brad and Janet’s wild night in Doctor Frank N’ Furter’s lab. And since it first hit the West End London stage in 1973, the fandom of RHS – and its subsequent 1975 film adaptation The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) – has ritualized costumes, lip syncs, call-backs and the time warp in perfect alignment with this camp classic.

As a dramaturg, what most excites me about our audience revisiting this classic in the theater is the opportunity to investigate RHS as a living artifact. The science fiction and horror genres also lend themselves well to such an investigation. In “The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s,” gay film critic Robin Wood describes the genre as the relationship between normality – “boringly constant: the heterosexual monogamous couple, the family and the social institutions (police, church, armed forces) that support and defend them” – and The Monster, whose form fluctuates to suit whatever threatens current society. Though a parody of its genres, RHS similarly acts as a fun house mirror to reflect its era’s repression and fear around sex, politics, pop culture, and technological advancement. As Wood goes on to say, “One of the functions of the concept of entertainment is to act as a kind of partial sleep of consciousness, in which the most dangerous and subversive implications can disguise themselves.”

As I watched rehearsals, I considered what this Frankensteinian, gender playful, rock-and-roll, alien invasion romp could reveal about repression and fears in 1973, and what the impact is of telling these stories in 2019.

Time Warp

It’s clear from RHS costume designer Sue Blane’s idealization of American squares that Brad and Janet stand-in for the 1950s mainstream. Contrast that with Frank, Magenta and Riff-Raff’s gender-swapped, proto-punk fashion, helped along by the production team’s make-up artist Pierre la Roche, who famously styled David Bowie. The tension between 50s nostalgia and 70s cultural rebellion that played out on stage was also happening in the world. In the early 1970s British teens were enamored with Teddy Boy and Girl fashion that borrowed heavily from retro Edwardian silhouettes. Glam rockers, like the New York Dolls, experimented with sexuality and femininity in their styling while sticking to a conservative late-50s sound. And in America, shiny polyester and exaggerated bell bottoms and collars were growing popular on a backdrop of clean cut, Motown pop.

Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N Furter in the original stage production of The Rocky Horror Show.

It was only a few years before rebellion broke loose, making way for New York’s afros, free love and free drug discotheques, and London designer Vivienne Westwood’s Sex, a boutique that would sell her ripped fishnet stockings and stylings synonymous with the Sex Pistols and punk rock. How do these mainstream tensions between sex, politics and pop culture play out today? Consider sex worker-turned-rap celebrity Cardi B. As 2018 America wrestled with its relationship to Latinx immigrants, Cardi topped the charts with bilingual, crossover hit “I Like It,” featuring Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny, Columbian star J.Balvin and a sample from a classic 1967 boogaloo song by Pete Rodriguez. Modern cultural producers who are cast as “monsters” continue to use music and fashion to perform their rebellion.

Sweet “T”

In the 1970s activists and trans people of color Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera used “transvestite” and “transsexual” as the accurate words to describe themselves and their communities’ identities. And when RHPS midnight movie showings began in 1975 at Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village – New York’s queer epicenter and same neighborhood where Johnson and Rivera organized Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries and rioted in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn – original fans embraced Frank’s transgressive qualities as embodied in that word. They transformed the theater into a safe space for exploring and performing gender, sexuality, and fantasy, a legacy which continues in Rocky Horror fandom today.

Sylvia Rivera (left) and Marsha P. Johnson (second from left). Image via NETFLIX, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.

However in inheriting this legacy, we also confront the tension in how our language has shifted. We’ve collectively decided referring to anyone in the queer community – who does not use these words to label themselves – is outdated at best, derogatory and violent at worst. LGBTQ media monitoring organization GLAAD advises the use of the terms “cross-dress,” and relatedly “drag,” to replace “transvestite” in its media guide, addressing queer representation in RHS as such:

“It’s important to understand the difference between drag culture and trans reality. The former can be about performance, exaggeration, and entertainment; the latter is about people’s actual lives. Plenty of transgender people have begun their journeys in the drag community, and you will find many trans folks who adore all of the subversive, transgressive energy that drag can bring. But many of are uneasy when our lives are mistaken for “performance,” and it’s disrespectful to trans people to conflate the two.”

Ricky Morisseau in Park Square’s THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. Photo by Dan Norman.

In staging our production, director Ilana Ransom Toeplitz thought about how our narrator could help guide the audience through this tension. We worked to create storytelling that helped actor Ricky Morrisseau celebrate the fantasy of Dr Frank-N-Furter, as well as embody a more modern drag persona, authentic to his own gender performance. As you watch our loving send-up and participate in an over forty-year tradition of Rocky Horror fun, I hope you keep in mind the high stakes for those who “rebel” against conformity, repression and cultural fear, in both the safe subversive space of the theater and the more tense mainstream world.

 

Morgan Holmes is the dramaturg on The Rocky Horror Show and a member of Park Square’s Emerging Leaders Advisory Board. She is an all-around theatermaker – writing, directing, dramaturging and administrating across the Twin Cities. She is most interested in identity, ritual, intimacy, and internet culture, which she explores as co-creator of Perspectives Theater Company.

 

 

For further reading:

Creatures of the Night: The Rocky Horror Experience by Sal Piro
American Nightmare: Essays on the Horror Film by Robin Wood, et al
Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan, and Beyond by Robin Wood
Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries: Survival, Revolt and Queer Antagonist Struggle, a zine by Untorelli Press

GLAAD Media Reference Guides – “Transgender” and “In Focus: Covering the Transgender Community

 

Park Square’s Oldest Worker Dead On The Job

“She’ll be missed, but more than anyone else, she’d want us to go on,” said artistic director Flordelino Lagundino when he heard the news. “She helped build more than 300 sets here,” added executive director Michael-jon Pease. “She and Richard Cook (former artistic director) had their fights, but she was the first one he chose for his team when he became artistic director.”

Coworkers gather to grieve the loss of their beloved colleague.

Bessie, Park Square’s table saw, gave out during work on the set for The Rocky Horror Show yesterday afternoon at the age of 65. She’d suffered a stroke earlier in the year, but facility director Dave Peterson rewired her motor in a daring triple bypass, after which she returned to work the next day.

Bessie rolled off the assembly line in 1954 and joined the Park Square team as a seasoned professional in 1980. In her early days, when Richard Cook still built sets in addition to everything else on his plate, Bessie claimed the one of his fingertips during a late night dispute over one of Richard’s designs. “He told me that was the last time he listened to pop music while working,” said Michael-jon. “Abba was playing on the radio. When he got back from the ER, he switched to MPR and never went back to Top 40.”

The staff gathered briefly to remember their cantankerous comrade, fondly recalling her high pitched whine when she was in high production mode. “And unto sawdust she shall return.”

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested for a new SAW STOP table saw ($4,000), which  can stop rotating in 1/1000,000,000 of a second, saving staff member fingers. Saw Stop also features 99.98% dust collection efficiency for safer air in the workplace. Visit https://youtu.be/6wtdUfZGfMg to learn more about SAW STOP and donate securely online at https://boxoffice.printtixusa.com/parksquaretheatre/donate.

Announcing Season Changes

To our valued Park Square Theatre Patrons,

The sets for Aubergine and The Rocky Horror Show are being built and rehearsals begin soon. We can’t wait to welcome you to the innovative, transformative and audacious new season!

We are writing to share some significant changes to the 2019-2020 season program.

  • Due to audience demand, we will be launching an encore presentation of last year’s smash hit, Marie and Rosetta on our Andy Boss Stage (June 19 to August 2, 2020). Jamecia Bennett will be reprising her powerful performance of songs including “This Train” and “Didn’t it Rain” in the intimate embrace of the Boss Stage. Talk about spine tingling!
  • In order to accommodate important script development and artist schedules, the world premiere of Un (the completely true story of the rise of Kim Jong Un) and The Revolutionists will move to Fall 2020. We have also canceled the three performances of A Raisin in the Sun.

These changes will help make each production stronger and assure a successful season ahead for all of us. It has been very rare in our history when we’ve had to invoke the “all dates, titles and artists subject to change” clause in our season listings. We know this may be an inconvenience for some and we are very truly sorry to have to change our announced plans.

For those who have tickets to or packages that include the cancelled performances, here are the options available for your tickets to the affected shows:

  • Exchange your tickets to a different production in the season – including Marie and Rosetta – at no additional charge
  • Receive a credit to your account in the amount of the purchased tickets, which can be redeemed for any future ticket purchase (including a 2020-2021 season package)
  • Donate your tickets as a tax-deductible contribution to Park Square Theatre

We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work with you to handle your season tickets. Please contact the Ticket Office at 651-291-7005, or by email at tickets@parksquaretheatre.org to let us know how you would like to proceed.

We look forward to seeing you at Park Square this season!

All our best,

Flordelino Lagundino,  Artistic Director

C. Michael-jon Pease, CFRE, Executive Director

Call for Participants

CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS — TELL YOUR STORY ON STAGE!
New theatre production will explore St Paul’s Hmong story through the voices of community members.

Face to Face: our Hmong community

Application Deadline: Tuesday, Oct 1, 2019
Performances: March 5-16, 2020
Rehearsals: Feb 8th-Mar 4, 2020

Fill out an online application form HERE
Download a printable form HERE

Translation services and assistance filling out the form is available as needed with one week notice.

Project Description

Information Sessions

Join us for an info session to learn more about the project!

Tuesday, Sept 10, 6:00 PM
Asian Economic Development Association
422 University Ave W, St Paul

Saturday, Spet 21, 10:30 AM
East Side Freedom Library
1105 Greenbrier St, St Paul

Park Square Theatre is partnering with Ping Chong + Company, and Twin Cities artist Katie Ka Vang, to present Face to Face: our Hmong community, an interview-based theatre production exploring the diverse experiences and histories of Minnesota’s Hmong population.

Ping Chong + Company is an internationally acclaimed theater company known for bringing unheard voices to the stage. Sara from Ping Chong + Company, and Katie will conduct extensive interviews with Hmong community members with Minnesota stories. The interviews become the basis of a script which will be performed by the interviewees themselves. The production will weave together personal, historical and political narratives.

The goal of Face to Face is to use theater and personal testimony to foster greater understanding among Hmong and other communities in Minnesota.We are looking for stories that reflect a wide range of Hmong experiences – interests, ages, stories and identities.

No previous performance experience required!
Those chosen to perform in the March production will receive a $1,000 stipend + $200 parking stipend.

Watch this short documentary for an example of Ping Chong + Company’s previous project: Beyond Sacred
Click for more information about Ping Chong + Company

Interviews (lasting approximately 2 hours) will take place approximately between Oct 12-23. If you are chosen for an interview, we will contact you and do our best to work with your schedule.

For more information contact:
Katie Ka Vang, katieka.vang@gmail.com – or –
Rachel Wandrei, wandrei@parksquaretheatre.org. 651.767.8485

Important Dates

Oct 1, 2019 — Application Deadline

Oct 12–23 — Interviews with applicants

Feb 8–Mar 4, 2020 — Rehearsals (evenings and weekends, 3-4 days/week, 3-4 hours/day. Schedule will be developed based on availability of participants)

March 5–15 — Performances:

  • Thurs, Mar 5, 10 or 10:30 am
  • Thurs, Mar 5, 7:30 pm
  • Fri, Mar 6, 7:30 pm
  • Sat, Mar 7, 7:30 pm
  • Sun, Mar 8, 2:00 pm
  • Tues, Mar 10, 10 or 10:30 am
  • Wed, Mar 11, 10 or 10:30 am
  • Thurs, Mar 12, 10 or 10:30 am
  • Thurs, Mar 12, 7:30 pm
  • Fri, Mar 13, 7:30 pm
  • Sat, Mar 14, 7:30 pm
  • Sun, Mar 15, 2:00 pm

Requirements

Participants must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Identify as Hmong.
  • Be comfortable speaking and reading in English, as well as their first language, if English is not their first language.
  • Be willing to talk openly about their lives, family, culture and customs, and share their thoughts in a public forum.
  • Be willing to talk openly about cultural differences and identity issues, and make observations about the culture and communities in which they currently live.
  • Be willing to allow others to express contrary opinions or political views.
  • Be available for an initial interview lasting approximately 2 hours between the dates of Oct 12-23, 2019
  • Selected participants must be available for 1-2 additional interviews lasting approximately 2 hours each, plus some hours of research, possibly about their family or the history and culture of their place of origin.
  • Be available for 3-4 weeks of evening and weekend rehearsals (about 3-4 days/week, 3-4 hours/day) in the period leading up to production (3-4 weeks leading up to March 5th, 2020, the show premiere date). Please note that you will be compensated for your time.
  • Be available for all technical rehearsals and performances.

PLEASE NOTE: This project does not require that participants have previous performance, dance, or singing experience, but they must be willing to share their personal experiences on stage and in public. No memorization is involved in the performance.  The script will be read on stage in English except for a potential song or poem in one’s own language.

Not all people interviewed will be selected to participate in the final project. For those who are selected, not every experience shared in the interview process will be included in the final production.

Application Deadline Tuesday, Oct 1, 2019

Fill out an online application form HERE
Download a printable form HERE

Blue Ribbon State Fair Specials!

Blue Ribbon State Fair Specials!

Big Savings during Park Square’s GREAT STATE FAIR SALE!
It is Minnesota State Fair time, and the only things better than corn on the cob and chocolate chip cookies are Park Square’s Blue Ribbon Specials!

  • The best in live theatre presented in innovative and audacious ways.
  • Offers good Aug 22 through Labor Day only!
  • $25 Area 2 / $45 Area 1 tickets. See our new seating charts!*
  • Order online or call 651.291.7005 (Tues- Fri, 12-5 pm)

AUBERGINE
Sep 20 – Oct 20, 2019
Nothing says love like a home-cooked meal.

$25 Area 2 / $45 Area 1 tickets for one special weekend. Use code MIN

  • Friday Oct 4, 7:30pm
  • Saturday, Oct 5, 7:30pm
  • Sunday, Oct 6, 2:00pm
  • Wednesday, Oct 16, 7:30pm

BUY TICKETS to Aubergine



THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW
Sep 27-Nov 2, 2019
Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!

$25 Area 2/$45 Area 1 tickets on four Wednesdays. Use code MIN

  • Wednesday, Oct 9, 7:30pm
  • Wednesday, Oct 16, 7:30pm
  • Wednesday, Oct 23, 7:30pm
  • Wednesday, Oct 30, 7:30pm

BUY TICKETS to The Rocky Horror Show



PAIGE IN FULL: A B-Girl’s Visual Mixtape
Oct 25-27, 2019
A powerful storytelling experience that blends poetry, dance, music and visual arts. 

$20 tickets. All seats. One day only! Use code PIF

  • Sunday, Oct 27, 2:00pm

BUY TICKETS to Paige In Full



PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Nov 15-Dec 22, 2019
Love is a serious game and the Bennets are playing for keeps!
$25 Area 2/$45 Area 1 tickets during Thanksgiving Weekend. Use code MIN

  • Friday, Nov 29, 7:30pm
  • Saturday, Nov 30, 7:30pm
  • Sunday, Dec 1, 2:00pm

BUY TICKETS to Pride and Prejudice


*To make your theatre experience even better, Park Square has reorganized our seating charts into Area 1 and Area 2 price tiers.
Graphic Seating Chart for Proscenium Stage - Please phone the ticket office at 651.291.7005 for assistance with accessibility and seat selectionGraphic Seating Chart for Boss Thrust Stage - Please phone the ticket office at 651.291.7005 for assistance with accessibility and seat selection

Let’s do the Time Warp Again!

Let's do the Time Warp Again!

PARK SQUARE DOES THE TIME WARP WITH ROCKY HORROR MUSICAL
Naughty Fun in the Era of Trans Rights and #MeToo

Media Contact – Connie Shaver
shaver@parksquaretheatre.org 

Saint Paul, Minn., August 5, 2019 – Park Square Theatre opens its Proscenium Stage Season with the Tony Award-nominated campy rock musical THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW by Richard O’Brien (Sept 27 – Nov 2, 2019), directed by Ilana Ransom Toeplitz. “I really want to rock the house and upend the way that people think of Park Square,” says Flordelino Lagundino, Park Square’s Artistic Director. “This is a great show to bring the generations together – those that stood in line as teenagers to see the original movie in 1975 (coincidentally the year Park Square opened), and young people experiencing it for their first time. I want the walls to shake and for people to get up, dance, laugh and have a good time!”

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW will be Toeplitz’s Park Square and Twin Cities directing debut. She has served as associate director for the national tours of DIRTY DANCING: THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE and A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL!, as well as being a Drama League Director’s Project Alum (2017 Leo Shull New Musicals Directing Fellow). “The whole night should feel like a party that’s been locked up in a time machine for years, begging to come out and play,” says Toeplitz. “It all culminates in Frank-N-Furter’s epic floor show, which has all the glitz of a David Bowie concert combined with all of the glam of an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Audience participation is encouraged.”

In the campy, audaciously sexy story, naïve sweethearts Brad and Janet get a flat tire during a storm and seek shelter at the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a “sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania.” As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters. Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest scientific creation: a muscular man named “Rocky.”

What started as a stage musical in 1973 became a cult classic film starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Meat Loaf in 1975. Most recently, Fox remade the classic for the small screen starring black transgender activist Laverne Cox in the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (played by Tim Curry in the original).

Photo of an androgynous actor in black corset, gloves, and fishnet tights.

Gracie Anderson as Frank. Photo by Richard Fleischman.

The cast includes local favorites Gracie Anderson (Dr. Frank-N-Furter), Marcela Michelle (Narrator), Natalie Shaw (Janet), Ben Lohrberg (Brad), Randy Schmeling* (Riff Raff), Celena Vera Morgan (Columbia), Hope Nordquist (Magenta), Rush Benson* (Rocky), Cameron Reeves (Eddie), and Sara Ochs (Dr. Scott).

The Production team includes: Ashawnti Sakina Ford (Assistant Director Fellow), Andrew Fleser (Music Director), An-Lin Dauber (Set Designer), Peter Morrow (Sound Designer), Andrew Griffin (Light Designer), Foster Johns (Vocal Coach), Mary Capers (Assistant Wigs Design Fellow). *Member, Actors Equity Association

Ticket prices: Previews: $25-$37. Regular Run: $25-$55. Discounts are available for seniors, military personnel, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square Ticket Office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday), or online at parksquaretheatre.org.   #PSTRocky

SEASON TICKETS are on sale now.  Subscription package prices begin at $66.

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Previews: Sep 27 – Oct 3, 2019
Opening Night: Oct 4, 2019
Regular Run: Oct 4 – Nov 2, 2019

Tickets: Previews: $20-$37; Regular Run: $25-$55
The Ticket Office is open from noon to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Friday. Call 651.291.7005.

PHOTOS by Richard Fleischman parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/

PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. www.parksquaretheatre.org

Statement against Sexual Harassment and Abuse

We, the staff of Park Square Theatre, wish to acknowledge the pain and suffering endured by the victims of sexual abuse during the 1970s and 80s as young students at the Children’s Theatre Company. We grieve the deep damage and destruction of life that has occurred in the wake of this abuse. As a part of the larger theatre community, we are grateful to the victims for their courageous fight to be heard and to help guide us to solutions for ways true healing can begin to occur.

We see survivors of harassment, abuse and trauma as strong, whole human beings and important partners in the work to create a positive and healthy theatrical culture. We promise to listen and learn from all that has happened and we offer our hand in any way we can be of help.

We recognize that Park Square Theatre, as an institution, has not until this time spoken out against the culture of complicit silence around sexual abuse that was the industry norm for generations. That silence has allowed those in positions of power to harass and abuse artists, technicians and staff who are dependent on them for work. We also recognize that our art form itself – with its depictions of human behaviors including romantic intimacy, and physical, emotional and sexual violence –  creates situations where abuse can occur. Therefore, it is our responsibility to promote policies and procedures that protect those who work at Park Square Theatre.

We are determined to continue to learn and make changes to improve our workplace culture. For our part, we wish to submit the following measures that we at Park Square plan to take to create a healthier climate in our own organization.

  • Continue to develop and improve our code of conduct, anti-harassment policies and practices.
  • Discuss our behavior expectations and policies at job orientations, first rehearsals, and start of technical rehearsals for all productions
  • Promote a culture where those who experience or observe harassment feel safe reporting it to company leadership.
  • Hire trained intimacy directors when a play’s content calls for it.
  • Participate in ongoing conversations about sexual abuse prevention within the greater Twin Cities and national theatre community.

In addition to these internal actions, Park Square and its staff will make a financial contribution and encourage others to contribute to the Memorial for Sexual Assault Survivors at Boom Island Park.

We are determined to make our practice and our spaces safe from harassment and abuse for all of us who create and contribute to the art of theatre. We will not tolerate harassment and abuse at Park Square Theatre.

2019-2020 Season opens with AUBERGINE

Park Square Theatre opens its 2019-2020 Theatre Season with the area premiere of Aubergine by Julia Cho — a poignant and lyrical new play

Saint Paul, Minn., July 29, 2019 – Park Square Theatre opens its 2019-2020 Theatre Season on the Andy Boss Trust Stage with the area premiere of Aubergine (SEPT 20 – OCT 20, 2019) by Julia Cho, author of The Language Archive. Aubergine will be directed by Park Square’s Artistic Director Flordelino Lagundino – his Park Square directing debut.

In this poignant and lyrical new play, a son cooks a meal for his dying father to say everything that words can’t. Since this first generation Korean American speaks English and only limited Korean, the making of a perfect meal is an expression more precise than language, and the medium through which his love gradually reveals itself.

“This was one of the most beautiful plays I have ever read,” says Flordelino. “When I encountered it for the first time, I felt it was the best play I had read by an Asian American author in the last ten years. The writing feels so personal. It is a humorous and sensitive play about memories, food, and a relationship fractured by the loss of native language and the distance created between families because of war and the resulting Korean diaspora.”

“This play is also personal to me and plays out in my own history” Flordelino continues. “My father is Filipino, I am Filipino-American. I don’t speak his dialect, Ilocano. This is something that immigrants from any country feel.  I also think it’s a fascinating exploration of men as caregivers since Ray’s father in the play is in hospice care. The personal aspects hit home.”

The cast includes, Sun Mee Chomet*, Shanan Custer, Song Kim, Glenn Kubota, Kurt Kwan*, and Darrick Mosley*.

The Production team includes: Lindsey Cacich Samples (Assistant Director Fellow), Deb O (Set Designer), Amber Brown (Costume Design), Matt Otto (Sound Designer), Karin Olson (Light Designer), Kenji Shoemaker (Properties Designer), Kathy Maxwell (Video Designer), Annie Enneking (Fitght Choreographer), Ruth Coughlin Lencowski (Vocal Coach), Akiem Scott (Assistant Sound Design Fellow), Maxwell Colliard (Assistant Video Design Fellow).

*Member, Actors Equity Association

Picture of a man in a chef jacket surrounded by vines and eggplants. Heading says "Nothing says love like a home-cooked meal."

Ticket prices: Previews: $20-$37. Regular Run: $25-$55. Discounts are available for seniors, military personnel, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square Ticket Office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday), or online at parksquaretheatre.org.   #PSTAubergine

TICKETS are on sale now.  Subscription package prices begin at $66.

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Previews: Sep 20 – Sep 26, 2019

Opening Night: Sep 27, 2019

Regular Run: Sep 27 – Oct 20, 2019

Tickets: Previews: $20-$37; Regular Run: $25-$55

Ticket office: 651.291.7005 or www.parksquaretheatre.org

The Ticket Office is open from noon to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Friday. Call 651.291.7005.

 

PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. www.parksquaretheatre.org

 

Park Square’s Love Affair with Mystery

Park Square’s Love Affair with Mystery – From Dial M For Murder to Rule of Thumb

Hercule Poirot, the well-known Belgian detective created by Agatha Christie, made his debut on the Park Square Theatre Proscenium Stage on July 19th along with a cast of intriguing (and often, wonderfully despicable) characters.  Agatha Christie: Rule of Thumb, by the much loved mystery writer unfolds in three intricate one-acts and runs through August 25!

E.J. Subkoviak, Michael Paul Levin and Derek Dirlam in Might as Well Be Dead: A Nero Wolfe Mystery, 2017.

Park Square has a long history of producing theatre from the diverse mystery canon, including Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, Might as Well Be Dead: A Nero Wolfe Mystery, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, among others. Many of these plays were championed by our Mystery Writers Producers Club (MWPC), a devoted community of mystery genre lovers who help support our mystery show each season.

We reached out to Executive Director C. Michael-Jon Pease to talk about Park Square’s legacy of producing mystery plays and why our audiences love them.

What was the first mystery play ever produced at Park Square?

Picture of a newspaper article.

Review of Dial M for Murder, 1975.

Michael-Jon: Park Square produced its first mystery in its first season (Dial M For Murder, 1975), but didn’t produce one again until 1993 with Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Park Square rented the Historic Hamm Building Theatre (now our current Proscenium stage) for the first time for that production to test out the location with a “Summer on Seventh” promotion in partnership with the Ordway, the City’s Cultural STAR program and (this really dates you!), Dayton’s River Room Restaurant. The show was a hit and was extended, breaking all previous PST box office records. One of the company members from that show who really made a name for herself was Teresa Sterns, who became the project manager for huge nonprofit development projects like the Science Museum of Minnesota, the new “M” (Minnesota Museum of American Art) as well as more modest projects like Park Square’s Andy Boss Stage.

Bob Davis in Spider's Web

Bob Davis in Spider’s Web, 2009.

This year’s Rule of Thumb is only the third time we’ve produced Agatha Christie, the last time was in 2009 with Spider’s Web, which also featured Bob Davis — as the murder victim.

Why do you think mystery plays are so popular?

Michael-Jon: Mystery fans tell us that they really enjoy the mental stimulation of keeping up with the clues and trying to outwit the detective. It’s also delicious when the production reveals something to the audience that it hasn’t yet been revealed to the characters themselves. Don’t be fooled though, those clues might be red herrings. A period mystery has the added layer of putting the audience in another place and time when the social and environmental cues were so different from today. We often put “Easter eggs” in a production for true fans or history buffs to find. For example, in The Red Box, the paintings on set were the exact images described in the books as being in Nero Wolfe’s study. Following one of those performances, there was a lively debate about the clue of masking tape; the audience member insisted that masking tape hadn’t been invented then. Thanks to a 3M employee who was in the audience, however, we didn’t even need to resort to Google to learn the exact year when the St Paul Company introduced masking tape.

We do sometimes get caught out by a sharp eye, however. During that same production of The Red Box, one fan noticed that the telephone cord was a few years off of the time period.

With the exception of 2012, each of the last 11 seasons has included a mystery, usually in the summer. The mystery genre has also inspired three commissions: The Red Box and Might As Well Be Dead (both Nero Wolfe adaptations by Joseph Goodrich) and Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders by Jeffrey Hatcher, adapted from Larry Millett’s novel about Sherlock in Minnesota. So far, nearly 80,000 people have seen mysteries at Park Square and they have definitely become our answer to A Christmas Carol – a fun, intergenerational outing for families, literature and mystery fans. I remember when the movie Murder on the Orient Express came out starring Albert Finney as Poirot in 1974 when I was just 7. That was our family outing for Mother’s Day and my very first mystery. I was hooked!

Get tickets to Agatha Christie: Rule of Thumb HERE.

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Audrey Park, Bob Davis and Rajané Katurah in Rule of Thumb, 2019.

Coming Summer of 2020 – Holmes and Watson. Sherlock Holmes is dead, or is he? Dr. Watson receives a telegram from a mental asylum: three patients are claiming to be Sherlock Holmes. Did the world’s greatest sleuth fake his own death? Who’s the real detective and who are the impostors? Tight, clever and full of suspense, this is Jeffrey Hatcher (Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders, Mr. Holmes) at his best. Season Tickets available now.

Interview by Rebecca Nichloson.