Tickets: 651.291.7005

Press Release

Unpacking a Theatre Attic

Unpacking a Theatre Attic

New Landmark Center Exhibition Explores Park Square Theatre’s First 43 Years

MEDIA CONTACT

Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Saint Paul, Minn., July 25, 2018 – Park Square Theatre announces UNPACKING A THEATRE ATTIC: Park Square Theatre’s First 43 Years, a new exhibition at Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul that will run September 6– 30, 2018. Richard Cook, who has worked at Park Square Theatre since its first season in 1975, is literally “going through the trunks” to choose images and mementoes from every one of the theatre’s 350 productions. The exhibit will be arranged thematically to explore Park Square’s staggering range of programming, from Shakespeare to mysteries to world premieres. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Two special events will bookmark the month-long exhibition. The first will be a gala retirement party at 5:30 p.m. on September 6 to toast Cook’s long career as a Twin Cities theatre leader. The second will be the official welcome for Park Square’s new artistic director, Flordelino Lagundino, at 5:30 p.m. on September 26. The public is invited to both events, but RSVPs are required. Please email lchristensen@parksquaretheatre.org.

“Talk about ‘this is your life’ – the process of curating this exhibit has been an unbelievable dive into our history,” says Richard Cook. “So many moments of great work by artists and plays that I loved have washed over me every time I’ve opened a file or box. It’s also been interesting – and sometimes instructive – to read old reviews and think ‘I don’t remember that experience that way at all’ or ‘Yes! That was a fine moment and even the critics agreed!’”

Richard Cook, outgoing artistic director

Many boxes of Park Square’s archives are now stored at the Performing Arts Archives at the University of Minnesota’s Elmer L. Andersen Library. The Performing Arts Archives was established in 1971 by the University of Minnesota Libraries for the preservation and study of the records relating to Minnesota’s rich history of theatre, music, dance, and associated organizations. Its goal is to document as fully as possible the activities of individuals and groups in both professional and amateur performing arts throughout the state. The collections include the most important companies in each of the major arts fields.

Still more important documents have been in the basement office in the Historic Hamm Building that Richard has occupied for the last quarter century – and of course the stray items that landed in his apartment in Saint Paul’s Lowertown. “In 1980 when I took the torch as artistic director from founder Paul Mathey and my husband Steven became managing director, we kept pretty consistent records. But the first five years of the company’s history, and its pre-Park Square life as the Smith Park Gallery performance space and then Variety Hall Theatre, are largely undocumented,” admits Cook. “It’s important to me to organize and make all the notes I can to honor the innovators like Paul who were creating the first Lowertown arts scene in the 1970s.”

Set construction for Marat Sade, 1979.

“We started in the Park Square Court building as a small performance space at the end of the Smith Park art gallery. Artists put on poetry readings and raw, new performance work – almost like an early version of Patrick’s Cabaret,” Cook remembers. “There was a pottery studio and an astrological bookstore in the building, and MPR had its first tiny studio on the ground floor. Today’s artistic energy feels so much like that era.  Artists are creating new companies out of sheer grit and vision, often with a desire to protest injustice and change systems. I am inspired by the ways the new generation of artistic leaders – like our incoming artistic director Flordelino Lagundino – are building on those 1970s foundations. For this exhibit, I hope those who have grown up in the local theatre community find their special Park Square memories – stories that moved them, productions that built lifelong friends and shaped careers, and artists we’ve all treasured on our stages and elsewhere. I also hope those new to Park Square or the Twin Cities find inspiration for the future. It’s been a great ride and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”

Exhibit Details:

Presenting sponsor:

Unpacking a Theatre Attic: Park Square Theatre’s First 43 Years

A New Exhibition at Landmark Center, September 3 – 30, 2018

Landmark Center (North Gallery off the 6th Street entrance)

75 5th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102 · (651) 292-3233

Park Square’s NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN takes to Stages Around the Country

Local star Regina Williams heads to Atlanta for a new production.

Nina Simone: Four Women at Park Square Theatre, 2017

Regina Marie Williams in NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN at Park Square Theatre. PC: Petronella J. Ytsma.

MEDIA CONTACT

Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Following the success of its world premiere commission at Park Square Theatre in 2016, NINA SIMONE: FOUR WOMEN went on to a second production at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., one of the nation’s top regional theatres last year. This month, Regina Marie Williams, who originated the title role at Park Square, and in fact inspired the commission of the play, heads to Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre in Atlanta to star in a new production that will play September 25-Oct 21, 2018. While True Colors is a natural home for this dynamic play, which broke box office records for Park Square’s Andy Boss Stage, there is also a strong link between the theatres through Jamil Jude, who was Park Square’s Artistic Programming Associate during both Saint Paul runs of the play, and he is now Kenny Leon’s Associate Artistic Director.

Williams shared her excitement for the role, “Sometimes Nina’s voice would be warm and soothing, other times angry and harsh, and then light and sweet. Her voice, her music, made me feel.” She added, “Over the years I have performed in musicals and plays, comedy and tragedy, Shakespeare and Wilson. The variety has been a gift and will be an asset when working to access the brilliance, the vulnerability, the self-righteousness, the humanity, and the Goddess in Nina.”

Playwright Christina Ham

The play is gaining speed around the country with upcoming productions at Northlight Theatre outside of Chicago, Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, NC and The Black Rep in St. Louis. Its writer, local artist Christina Ham, is enjoying a banner year. She is a Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center, and the Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Pillsbury House Theatre and a writer on the Netflix horror series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Inspiring A New Generation of Agitators

Local premiere is the nation’s second production of timely new script by Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Mat Smart

Emily Gunyou Halaas (Susan B. Anthony) and Mikell Sapp (Frederick Douglass). PC: Petronella J. Ytsma.

MEDIA CONTACT

Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Park Square Theatre announces the regional premiere production of THE AGITATORS by Mat Smart, a core writer of the Minneapolis-based Playwrights’ Center. The play, which examines the tempestuous friendship of women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony and civil rights activist Fredrick Douglass, was commissioned by Geva Theatre in Rochester, New York, where the two giants of history first became friends. Park Square’s production of this timely play, only the second in the nation, will play on the Park Square Proscenium Stage from September 21 to October 28, 2018. Weekday matinees for schools will be offered on Oct 16, 17, 23, 24, Signe V. Harriday, who last directed Park Square’s production of CARDBOARD PIANO – and incidentally just won gold in synchronized swimming at the Gay Games in Paris — will direct. The production features Emily Gunyou Halaas* as Anthony and Mikell Sapp* as Douglass.

Director Signe V. Harriday

“When I read this script, I was immediately struck by its timeliness,” said Park Square Executive Director Michael-jon Pease. “Through an historic lens, it hits directly at the intersectionality of feminism and civil rights and the relationship between modern agitators leading the Women’s March on Washington and Black Lives Matter. 2020 brings the centenary of the 19th Amendment, which makes the play feel all the more contemporary.”

The play is constructed as a series of powerful vignettes set largely in the Northeast, beginning with the first meeting between Anthony and Douglass in the 1840s. Douglass, who was born a slave, faced prejudice and violence in his fight for passage of the 15th Amendment giving black citizens the right to vote. He spoke in Winona and Saint Paul during his campaign to change the constitution. His pride and joy was his wife, Anna, and their five children.

In contrast, the never-married Anthony, meanwhile, born into a Quaker household, was a driving force in the women’s suffrage cause, advocating for all people despite race, gender or class. The two had respect and affection for each other, but their relationship was never without its moments of bickering and tension. In one pivotal scene, Douglass and Anthony engage in a head-to-head disagreement on the constitutional amendment during the 1869 American Equal Rights Association meeting. Each took money from known opponents of the other’s cause, but each buoyed the other personally and professionally.

Myra Bradwell, founder for the Chicago Legal News and women’s rights activist.

Park Square will partner with the Hamline University Center for Justice and Law on two free public programs related to the show, which will be given by Leondra M. Hanson, J.D., Associate Professor, Legal Studies Department Chair, and Director of Graduate Legal Education. The first program, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11, is  Behind the Scenes: Bradwell v. Illinois about the late 19th Century legal reformer Myra Bradwell, who founded the Chicago Legal News and fought for the right for women to practice law. This program will provide CLE credits for those in the legal profession. Learn More and RSVP.

The second program will be offered at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October  4 and is called Life, Love & Activism:  America’s First female lawyers. Learn More and RSVP.

Post-show discussions with the cast will be offered on Wednesday, September 27 and Sunday, October 7.

The production team for THE AGITATORS includes Sarah Brandner (Scenic Design); Bill Cottman (Video Design); Aaron Chvatal (Costume Design); Robert Dunn (Wig Design); Abbee Warmboe (Properties Design); Michael P. Kittle (Lighting Design); Christy Johnson (Sound Design); Peter Rachleff (Dramaturg); Lyndsey Harter* (Stage Manager); Haley Walsh (Assistant Stage Manager)

Ticket prices: Previews: $20-$37. Regular Run: $25-$60. 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 www.parksquaretheatre.org.   #PSTAgitators

*Member, Actors Equity Association

 CALENDAR INFORMATION

Previews: September 21-27, 2018

Opening Night: September 28

Regular Run: September 28 – October 28, 2018

Tickets: Previews: $20-$37; Regular Run: $25-$60

PARK SQUARE THEATRE, 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul

Ticket office: 651-291-7005 or www.parksquaretheatre.org

Green: 7:30pm, Orange:  2:00pm

P – Preview
B – 99¢ Bargain Preview
D – Post-show Discussion
O – Opening Night
ASL – American Sign Language
AD – Audio Description
C – Open Captioning

Wine, Women, and…Questionable Text Messages

Local comedy duo creates a “large pour” of laughter in SOMETIME’S THERE’S WINE

MEDIA CONTACT

Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Park Square Theatre announces the return of renowned Twin Cities comedy duo, Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool, to the Andy Boss Stage to open the 2018-2019 theatre season with a new production of Sometimes There’s Wine (Sept 14 – Oct 14, 2018). The follow-up to 2 Sugars, Room for Cream, which was featured in the debut season of the Boss Stage in 2014, is written and performed by Custer and Pool who are both Park Square audience favorites.  Both were featured in CALENDAR GIRLS and Pool opened last season on the Boss Stage in HENRY & ALICE: INTO THE WILD. Angela Timberman, featured in the 2016 production of THE REALISTIC JONESES by Will Eno, makes her Park Square directing debut.

The play’s debut at the 2016 Fringe Festival was a favorite for both critics and audiences, winning the coveted Fringe Encore.

“In the era of #MeToo, we feel women-driven comedy has a unique role to play,” says Custer. “Creating roles for women that say the things we normally don’t get to hear onstage is why we do what we do and, after the last couple of years, there’s even more to say.”

The production team for Sometimes There’s Wine includes Sadie Ward (Scenic Design); Michael P. Kittle (Lighting Design); Eric Webster (Sound Design); Megan Fae Dougherty* (Stage Manager); Kyla Moloney (Assistant Stage Manager)

Ticket prices: Previews: $20-$37. Regular Run: $25-$60. 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 www.parksquaretheatre.org.   #PSTWine #2SugarsShow

*Member, Actors Equity Association

CALENDAR INFORMATION

Previews: Sept 14-20

Opening Night: Sept 21

Regular Run: Sept 21-Oct 14

Tickets: Previews: $20-$37; Regular Run: $25-$60

PARK SQUARE THEATRE, 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul

Ticket office: 651-291-7005 or www.parksquaretheatre.org

 

 

Green: 7:30 pm, Orange:  2:00 pm

P – Preview
B – 99¢ Bargain Preview
D – Post-show Discussion
O – Opening Night
ASL – American Sign Language
AD – Audio Description
C – Open Captioning

Park Square Will Host Triple Espresso

Beloved “caffeinated comedy” crosses the river to the Boss Stage

logo for Triple Espresso - stylized coffee cup and hand drawn type in black, red, and grey on white background

 

Saint Paul, Minn., June 18, 2018 – Park Square Theatre is partnering with The Daniel Group to bring the 23-year phenomenon TRIPLE ESPRESSO — A HIGHLY CAFFEINATED COMEDY to Park Square’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage November 9, 2018 – January 13, 2019.

 

“This partnership brings together two amazingly loyal audiences to experience downtown Saint Paul’s parks, skating rink, restaurants, music venues and hotels when they are spangled with white lights and good cheer,” says Park Square Executive Director Michael-jon Pease. “Plus, this partnership makes great use of the Boss Stage during a time when we’re otherwise only performing in the mornings for school groups.”

 

Park Square and The Daniel Group had hoped to partner several years ago to present Park Square’s popular production of 2 PIANOS/4 HANDS at the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis, which was the home to TRIPLE ESPRESSO for 20 years. “We loved working together because as producers, we were on the same page,” said Dennis Babcock, the Executive Producer of TRIPLE ESPRESSO. “Both shows shared the amazing talent that is Michael Pearce Donley, but we couldn’t get the numbers to work. I’ve been a Park Square fan for many years and every time I get their marketing materials I think, ‘Yes, they know how to do it!’ I’m thrilled we could make this partnership work.”

TRIPLE ESPRESSO is a truly homegrown hit show. Early in 1995, while Bill Arnold was having breakfast with Michael Pearce Donley, and Bob Stromberg in Minneapolis, the three local solo performers decided it would be fun to write something they could perform together. As motivation to buckle down and write it, they booked a performance for four weeks later.

Using Arnold’s magic and comedy, Donley’s original music, and Stromberg’s physical humor, the three put together a show with elements of slapstick, vaudeville, and a touch of audience involvement. The next year, Dennis Babcock, former General Manager of the Guthrie Theatre, came on board as Executive Producer.

The show proved to be a hit and went on to become the longest running show at Music Box Theatre (April 3, 1996 – April 27, 2008 continuously; holiday productions 2009-2016); the longest continuously running show in San Diego (January 14, 1998-February 17, 2008); and the longest running show in the history of Iowa. Add productions and tours from Alexandria, Minn. to Dublin, Ireland and Ghent, Belgium and the show has played to more than 2 million people in 60+ cities in 6 countries in 3 languages.

 

Performance Dates:
November 9, 2018 – January 13, 2019

 

Ticket prices:
Preview on November 9: $25.
Regular Run: $39.50-$47.50 for theatre seats. $47.50-$52.50 for exclusive seating at cabaret tables.
Discounts are available for seniors, children, members of the military, groups, and ASL/AD patrons. Tickets go on sale June 21 at the Park Square ticket office, in person at 20 W. Seventh Place or by phone: 651.291.7005 (12 noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday). Purchase online at parksquaretheatre.org.

 

2018-2019 PARK SQUARE THEATRE SEASON TICKETS are on sale now (packages do not include TRIPLE ESPRESSO, which is an add-on event). Season packages range in size from all nine plays in the season to a choose-your-own series of three or more. Subscription package prices begin at $75.

 

PHOTOS By Anna Eveslage, PHOTOS no credit needed

 

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Park Square Announces New Artistic Director

Theatre’s Third Artistic Leader Has Performed and Worked in Minnesota

 

Saint Paul, Minn., June 12, 2018 – Park Square Theatre announces the hire of its new Artistic Director – the third in the organization’s history – after a five-month national search that attracted 113 applications from across the country (22 from Minnesota) and two from the United Kingdom.

Park Square Theatre's Artistic Director Flordelino Lagundino — head and torso shot, wearing grey jacket, white shirt, and black necktie

Succession Committee Co-Chairs, Jewelie Grape and Nancy Feldman said, “We are simply thrilled to announce, after a unanimous vote from both the committee and the full board, that Park Square Theatre’s new John W. Harris Family Artistic Director is Flordelino Lagundino. His warm and generous spirit, commitment to artistic excellence, education and full inclusion make him the perfect choice to lead the next era of Park Square’s community impact.”

 

Richard Cook – who had his first directing/designing job with Park Square in 1975 and has been the artistic leader since 1980 – is thrilled with his successor. “Flordelino is both a theatre-maker and a company-builder, which builds on our history,” Cook said. “As a leader, he is ambitious for his fellow artists and professionals. Empathetic by nature, he listens intently and pulls people together to make things happen. He’s assisted such directors as Ping Chong and Lisa Peterson, with Amanda Dehnert, Davis McCallum and Kenny Leon on works ranging from STICKFLY to RICHARD II. He loves Shakespeare as well as the many working writers he’s performed and supported. I believe Flordelino will be able to honor all that’s best about Park Square while leading us to a new place: as a vigorously inclusive, leading-edge theatre-maker, deeply embedded in the Twin Cities – with a voice bigger than our size that can and deserves to be heard nationally. How promising and exciting!”

 

For his part, Flordelino, who starts work on August 1, 2018, says, “My vision for Park Square Theatre is to have impact with bold, theatrical events which surprise and transform our audiences. Together, we will build a theatre that represents us all; the story of inclusion will permeate every aspect of our organization – from the choice of plays (classical to contemporary), to the way we market our shows and sell our tickets, to faces that we see in our audience and how we interact with the community.”

“We will build this theatre with love,” says Flordelino. “Audiences will see it in the details and care we put into our productions. Students will feel it in how we welcome them into our theatre. The board will know it as they invite new friends to the hottest show in town. People who have been othered will see it when actors who look like them share their stories.”

Flordelino will have strategic overlap with Richard Cook, who retires on September 1 after 43 years with the company. An exhibition to celebrate the history and contributions of Park Square Theatre will be held at Landmark Center during the month of September 2018. It will open officially on Thursday, September 6 with an evening reception in honor of Richard Cook. The community will be invited to officially welcome Flordelino Lagundino at a reception in the exhibition on Wednesday, September 26.

 

FIRST “NAMED” ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Thanks to a new major contribution to Park Square Theatre, the new Artistic Director’s official title will be “The John W. Harris Family Artistic Director.” “It is so exciting to have true community ownership of the new artistic director with John’s major gift,” said Michael-jon Pease, Park Square’s executive director. “Obviously, we’re taking a cue from our orchestra and university colleagues who have long traditions of named chairs. John’s gift is a major investment in this important transition from Richard’s legacy to a new generation. This named gift takes our ‘theatre for you (yes you)’ tagline to a whole new level!”

 

ABOUT FLORDELINO LAGUNDINO

Flordelino Lagundino is a NYC-based director, actor, and producer and currently the SDC Foundation Sir John Gielgud Classical Directing Fellow working at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. He worked in Minneapolis last year at The Guthrie, where he assistant directed BLITHE SPIRIT in 2017 and at Mixed Blood Theatre, where his performance in VIETGONE won an Ivey Award as part of “Best Ensemble.”

Lagundino is the artistic director of Generator Theater Company based in Juneau, Alaska and has served as the AD for Leviathan Lab in New York City, a creative studio whose mission is the advancement of Asian and Asian American (A/AA) performing artists and their work. He has also served as associate producer at La Jolla Playhouse, and was the founding producer of Romp of Otters (the graduate theater company at Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company).

In addition to being a recent Drama League New York Directing Fellow, Lagundino has been the recipient of directing fellowships at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage, and The Kennedy Center. He has taught at Brown University, The University of Texas at Austin, The New School, and University of Alaska-Southeast.

Directing credits include: Sweeney Todd, Animals Out of Paper, Doubt, Yellowman, and Cedar House (Perseverance Theatre); Flipzoids, True West, The Reincarnation of Stories, title of show – co-director, and Shakespeare’s R&J (Generator Theater); Sweeney Todd (Juneau Symphony); and In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), Much Ado About Nothing, Stone Cold Dead Serious, and In the Blood (Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company).

He has also directed with International Theatre and Literacy Project at Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda, and has developed new work with Syracuse Stage, New Dramatists, The Lark, Pan Asian Rep, Perseverance Theatre, Arena Stage, Generator Theater, Leviathan Lab, and Brown University.

In addition to Mixed Blood Theatre, acting credits include The Old Globe, The Kennedy Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Perseverance Theatre, Pan Asian Rep, African Continuum Theatre Company, The Folger Theatre, ZACH Theatre, Young Playwrights’ Theater, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

He is a graduate of the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company MFA directing program, and of The University of Texas at Austin where he received an MFA in acting.

 

ABOUT THE SEARCH

Park Square retained Robin Gillette of Arts Progress LLC to manage the search. In fall 2017, Park Square Theatre’s succession committee launched a series of constituent interviews, including artists (directors, designers and actors), staff, funders and local artistic leaders. The goal was to hear from a variety of perspectives about the challenges and opportunities currently facing the theatre as well as seeking insight on the skills and qualities necessary and/or desirable for its next artistic leader.

“Before and during the process, input was sought from multiple stakeholders,” confirmed Robin Gillette. “At every stage of the process, the pool of candidates has been diverse, in terms of gender, age, race/ethnic origin, sexual orientation and geography (local vs national).” Board President Paul Mattessich confirmed that diversity was crucial to the committee, to avoid any pre-conceived notion of what Park Square’s next AD “should” be. “I’ve been involved in so many searches over my career,” said Mattessich, who is Executive Director of Wilder Research. “I’ve never seen a candidate pool that started – and remained – so diverse in every way. It just felt so natural. I really feel we achieved our goal to select the candidate best suited to work in tandem with Michael-jon Pease [Park Square’s Executive Director], to lead Park Square – its staff, board and artists – into the next era.”

 

HEADSHOT

HEADSHOT 2 (photos courtesy of Park Square Theatre)

flordelinolagundino.com

 

#   #   #

Park Square Presents French Twist

Flying Foot Forum’s 25th Anniversary production celebrates an American’s view of Paris from the Can-Can to Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron

French Twist graphic - dark red script text on white background

 

Saint Paul, Minn., May 8, 2018 – Park Square Theatre’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage is once again the home to Flying Foot Forum’s signature storytelling with FRENCH TWIST, a cabaret of gorgeous music, theatrical storytelling and percussive dance set in a Paris Nightclub that runs from June 22 to July 15, 2018. This 25th anniversary production starts with the premise of the company’s original production which premiered at The Guthrie in 2008, but now includes new characters, melodic new songs and inventive dances. Director/choreographer Joe Chvala fuses vaudeville, tap, cabaret, follies, opera, and percussive art forms to evoke American’s wildest imaginings of life in the City of Light.

 

The piece opens with “All Creatures Are Now Merry-Minded,” a riotous medley of caricatures of familiar characters from a myriad of operas. With boundless energy, the company dances its way through an amazing variety of classical music, including a Bach fugue danced on and off chairs. Act II introduces a medium who conjures up the spirits of bygone Paris, from the jazz artists of the 1920’s American expat scene to Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier. “It’s eclectic, fun, wild, and of course there’s the Can-Can,” says founding Artistic Director Joe Chvala. Some of us oldsters in the company have been doing the Can-Can for decades, so we have to remember to give the young dancers the truly gymnastic moves and try not to kill ourselves,” he laughs.

One of the new numbers depicts Loie Fuller, considered by many to be the godmother of modern dance, even before Isadora Duncan. Loie was an American actress who became a sensation at the Exposition Universelle with her Serpentine Dance, using long flowing fabric and colored stage lights. In Joe Chvala’s talented hands, her swathes of fabric suddenly turn into the sky above the city and the setting for a great tap number in the spirit of Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron from the 1950s movie AMERICAN IN PARIS. There will even be a little Flamenco woven into the evening courtesy of Molly Kay Stoltz of Zorongo Flamenco.

“This show is perfect for the Boss Stage,” says Chvala. “It transforms beautifully into an intimate nightclub setting, as we learned with PASSING THROUGH PIG’S EYE last summer. More than that, the lobby, its proximity to the Dakota’s Vieux-Carrė jazz club and the whole ambiance of the Historic Hamm Building put you in the right mood for the atmosphere we’re creating.”

The fact that Flying Foot Forum is celebrating 25 years comes almost as a surprise to its founder. “What became a company started first as a big performance, and then we just kept going,” Chvala says. “Once we established ourselves as a company, I remember going to the 20th anniversary concert of an African Dance company and thinking ‘I wonder if we’ll ever make it 20 years.’ It’s truly wonderful that three of our original dancers and musical collaborators like rhythm-wizard Peter O’Gorman are still creating with us. Each generation of new dancers, like the amazing Brandon Jackson who plays La Bijoux in French Twist – keep adding to our aesthetic as they bring their unique energies to the process.”

Flying Foot Forum’s unique style of percussive dance continues to ripple out through choreographers and companies in Minnesota and beyond. “Over the years, we’ve worked with so many great dancers and choreographers like Brian Sostek and Tamara Kangas Erickson,” confirms Chvala. “Sometimes I see a show and think ‘I wonder if that idea was inspired by something we did?’ After 25 years, we are still finding new ways to explore our art form. It’s been a tremendous gift to have this crazy idea take off.”

Celebrate 25 years of Flying Foot Forum with their new production of FRENCH TWIST, featuring the fabulously furious feet of founding members Jan Campbell, Joe Chvala, Karla Grotting and veterans Jeremy Bensussan, Peter O’Gorman and Charles Robison are joined by Brandon Jackson, Falicia Cunningham, Molly Kay Stoltz, Kaleena Miller and Michael Hasenmueller.

 

The creative team for the production includes Cynthia Forsgren (Costume Designer), Robin McIntyre (Scenic Designer) and Eric Jensen (Music Director)

 

Performance Schedule:

Previews begin Friday, June 22, and continue through Thursday, June 28. June 29 is Opening Night, and the run continues through July 15. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. except for Saturday and Sunday matinees, which begin at 2 p.m. All performances are on Park Square’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage in Saint Paul’s historic Hamm Building, 408 St. Peter Street.

There will also be two nights of works in progress created by Joe Chvala and company members including a work in progress premiere of a Flying Foot Forum film project Mondays, July 2 and 9.

 

Ticket prices

Previews: $20/$27/$37. Regular Run: $25/$40/$60. Discounts are available for seniors, members of the military, those age 30 and under, groups, and ASL/AD patrons. 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.

 

2018-2019 PARK SQUARE THEATRE SEASON TICKETS are on sale now. Season packages range in size from all nine plays in the season to a choose-your-own series of three or more. Subscription package prices begin at $75. SINGLE TICKETS will go on sale this summer.

 

*Member, Actors Equity Association

 

PHOTO HERE

 

#   #   #

Not Your Daddy’s Sherlock

The premiere of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville is witty and fast-paced – with women playing the famous sleuthing duo

 

Baskerville graphic - red text on white background

Saint Paul, Minn., May 1, 2018 – Park Square Theatre cherishes its summertime tradition of cozying audiences up with a good mystery. This year’s edition for the company’s 43rd season – Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY – offers a fresh take for Holmes devotees AND a special invitation for those who’ve never spent an evening with the iconic sleuth. McKenna Kelly-Eiding (closing a spectacular run in THE WOLVES at The Jungle) stars as Sherlock Holmes and Sara Richardson* (last seen at Park Square in THE LIAR) as Dr. Watson. The remaining 40 characters in this smart send-up of The Hound of the Baskervilles are played by just three actors: Eric “Pogi” Sumangil*; Ricardo Beaird; and Marika Proctor*. Cue the lightning fast costume changes as the dynamic duo sniff out the culprit when wealthy Henry Baskerville is threatened by the fable of a bloodthirsty hound on the moors.

Women have been winning over Holmes fans in recent years, from Lucy Liu as Watson in the CBS series ELEMENTARY to Christopher Walsh’s new play MISS HOLMES to Carole Nelson Douglas’ eight acclaimed Irene Adler suspense novels, the first to reinvent a woman from the Holmes “canon” as the protagonist. Director Theo Langason, in his Park Square directing debut, admits that “some Sherlockians will be skeptical of a woman in the role,” Langason admits. “But all the things we love about the character – intuition, ingenuity, intelligence – aren’t tied to gender. And when I saw McKenna’s audition, her performance was so grounded – which this script needs since the other actors jump from character to character.”

In many ways, Watson takes center stage as the cataloguer and help mate. Like the character of Archie Goodwin in the two Nero Wolfe mysteries Park Square has commissioned, Watson serves as the “investigator on the ground” while the great detective muses in solitude. “Sara Richardson is so wonderful, I’m glad we get to spend so much time with her as Watson in this play,” says Langason.

Langason relishes the challenges of tweaking audience expectations while staying true to the core of the Holmes story that keeps winning fans generation after generation. “Sherlock is a fascinating character,” he says. “He deserves a role in the pantheon of super heroes. I mean, without Sherlock Holmes, is it possible to have Batman? This show clips along with a very atmospheric, cinematic quality that I think will be really satisfying to both the artists and the audience. Peter Morrow (the sound designer) and I are working hard on where the sound comes from in the auditorium, trying to achieve the sensation you get in a surround sound movie theatre. I want those howls off the moors to give us all the heebee jeebees!”

The creative team for the production includes Ashawnti Ford (Assistant Director), Eli Sherlock Schlatter (Set Designer), Mandi Johnson (Costume Designer), Peter Morrow (Sound Designer), Michael Kittel (Light Designer), Sadie Ward, Properties Designer, and Keely Wolter (Dialect Coach). Laura Topham* will serve as Stage Manager and Sam Diekman* is the Assistant Stage Manager.

Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY

Performance Schedule:

Previews begin Friday, June 15, and continue through Thursday, June 20. June 21 is Opening Night, and the run continues through August 5. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. except for Saturday and Sunday matinees, which begin at 2 p.m. All performances are on the company’s Proscenium Stage in Saint Paul’s historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place.

Ticket prices:

Previews: $20/$27/$37. Regular Run: $25/$40/$60. Discounts are available for seniors, members of the military, those age 30 and under, groups, and ASL/AD patrons. 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. 2018-2019 SEASON TICKETS are on sale now. Season packages range in size from all nine plays in the season to a choose-your-own series of three or more. Subscription package prices begin at $75. SINGLE TICKETS will go on sale this summer.

 

*Member, Actors Equity Association

 

PHOTOS by Petronella J Ytsma

 

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Park Square Invites Seniors from the Seats to the Stage

Park Square Invites Seniors from the Seats to the Stage

New Theatre Workshops Designed for Theatre Lovers age 55 and up

 

Saint Paul, Minn., March 14, 2018 – In partnership with Aroha Philanthropies, Park Square Theatre announces its first hands-on theatre workshops for adults 55 and up. The Saint Paul theatre company – well known for its teen education program, which introduces 30,000 students in 7th-12th grade to live professional theatre each season – is piloting two public workshops this year as well as a series offered with Lyngblomsten Care Center’s “2nd Half” program in Saint Paul. The program is designed to spark creative potential and fun for older adults with leading Twin Cities stage artists. Workshops are eight sessions each with an optional opportunity to present what they have learned on Park Square’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage. The cost for each workshop is $90 or $150 per couple.

The series kicks off April 10 with Storytelling: From the Page to the Stage taught by Dane Stauffer, star of the recent musical hit GLENSHEEN and recent performance in Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol on Park Square’s Boss Stage. Using writing exercises and theatre games, participants will develop their unique point of view, and learn how to express themselves freely in all situations. Over eight sessions, Stauffer will lead the class through exercises to develop a collaborative ensemble and help each participant write and perform a story with conviction and joy. The class will culminate in an optional storytelling evening in Park Square Theatre’s Andy Boss Thrust Stage.

Theatre Workshops for adults 55 and over at Park Square Theatre - Minneapolis & St. Paul, MinnesotaThe series continues on Sept 10 with a workshop called Make ‘em Laugh: Comedy Styles and Performance designed and led by actress, comedian and writer Shanan Custer (co-creator and star of the upcoming Park Square production of SOMETIMES THERE’S WINE). Custer will explore the genius of comedy greats like Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, and Carol Burnett and teach the techniques they used to create each type of comedy. Exercises and games will help participants discover and refine their ability to create and perform comedy, whether the goal is an open mic night or just to be the life of the party.

“The chance to work in a small group with these amazing artists is truly special,” says Park Square’s Education Director Mary M. Finnerty. “You can’t find better artists who are truly dedicated to working with older adults to help them bond, have fun and learn new skills. You should walk away reveling in how creative and spontaneous you really are – especially if you’ve never done anything like this.”

This pilot series is underwritten by Aroha Philanthropies, founded by Falcon Heights Native Ellen Michelson. “Today, we can expect thirty more years of life than past generations – years that hold tremendous, but often untapped, potential for vitality and contribution,” says Michelson. “Engaging in the arts has always brought joy into my life, from childhood to the present day. As we age, our capacity for creativity increases and making art together opens the creative spirit, brings us together, and adds joy to the years after 55.”

 

To register for the workshops, contact Park Square Ticket Office between Noon to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Friday at 651.291.7005 or visit https://parksquaretheatre.org/education/adult-education-theatre-workshops/

 

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Park Square Announces 44th Season

Park Square Announces 44th Season

Premieres and partnerships will greet a new Artistic Director

Saint Paul, Minn., Feb. 12, 2018 – Park Square Theatre announced its 44th theatre season for 2018-2019 today. A wide-ranging mix of projects, including a regional premiere celebrating the origins of Rock n’ Roll, a brand-new musical created by and for millennials, a Greek tragedy, an American classic comedy and a just-released trio of Agatha Christie murder mysteries.

Park Square’s new season continues the theatre’s commitment to present area, regional, Midwest and world premieres, as well as supporting key partnerships with both new and established local theatre producers.

This is the final season to be created by Artistic Director Richard Cook, whose retirement after 43 years at the theatre begins as the season opens in September.

“The new season line-up is a wonderful launch for our next Artistic Director, who should be in place later this summer,” says Jewelie Grape, Park Square’s Vice President and co-chair of the board’s succession committee. “The range of stories and artistic partnerships build on Richard’s legacy and put us squarely in the current moment with projects created by today’s Gen X, Gen Z and Millennial artists. This is a season created with our current and emerging audiences in mind, offering experiences that can engage their minds and delight their spirits.”

“Whether gently humorous or intentionally challenging, these stories explore our human resilience and the many ways we help support and push each other to be our best,” says Cook. He continues, “Gender parity, diversity, equity and inclusion are energizing goals of our Generations Forward strategic plan which inform this season—on stage and off. In this transitional season, I’ve sought to introduce our new artistic director to a sampling of the writers/adaptors, directors and producing partners I trust and respect.”

The season opens on the Andy Boss Thrust Stage with a new production of Sometimes There’s Wine (Sept 14 – Oct 14, 2018). The follow-up to 2 Sugars, Room for Cream, which was featured in the debut season of the Boss Stage, is written and performed by Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool. Custer and Pool were both in Dead Man’s Cell Phone and Calendar Girls at Park Square. “In the era of #MeToo, we feel women-driven comedy has a unique role to play,” says Custer. “Creating roles for women that say the things we normally don’t get to hear onstage is why we do what we do and, after the last couple of years, there’s even more to say.“

The piece’s debut at the 2016 Fringe Festival was a favorite for both critics and audiences, who laughed along with the creators at the often mundane circumstances that happen in “that little sliver of time in a woman’s life when she can either get pregnant or break a hip.”

The season continues on the Park Square Proscenium Stage with the regional premiere and second production of The Agitators by Playwright’s Center Fellow Mat Smart (Sept 21 – Oct 28, 2018). The show, which had its world premiere just last November at Geva Theatre in Rochester, NY, charts the enduring and often tempestuous friendship of 19th-century activists Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. “It can be easy to think, ah, an historical drama, that will be tidy and pat,” says Park Square’s Associate Artistic Director Laura Leffler. “But Mat writes with such muscle – the characters just leap off the page – and the script calls for what should prove to be some really powerful designs. Signe V. Harriday, who directed the theatre’s current powerhouse production of Cardboard Piano will helm the production. “Signe has such a beautiful, tight directing style. I can’t wait to see what she does with the piece,” says Leffler.

In December, Park Square continues its tradition of “counter programming” for the holiday season by featuring another strong story about women: the area premiere of Marie and Rosetta written by George Brant and directed by Frank Theatre’s Wendy Knox (Nov 23 – Dec 30, 2018). “The Godmother of Rock n’ Roll” and 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Early Influence Inductee Sister Rosetta Tharpe — who influenced performers from Elvis to Hendrix — plucks prim-and-proper Marie Knight from a rival gospel show. The two challenge one another on music, life, and The Almighty. This story of letting loose, finding your voice, and freeing your soul is a soaring music-theatre experience chock full of roof-raising performances.

2019 kicks off with Theatre Coup d’Etat’s production of the Greek tragedy Antigone, directed and designed by Meagan Kedrowski (Feb 1 – Mar 3, 2019). Originally written by Sophocles, the play explores the timeless debate of which law is greater: man’s or the gods’. This critically praised production, which premiered in 2016, is a devised adaptation that propels the action through powerful, ritual-infused scenes heightened by fight choreography and percussive sound.

“Early in the story, Antigone is told by her sister: ‘We are only women. We cannot fight with men who create laws,’” notes Kedrowski. “In a time where a serious cultural shift is happening in how we listen to women’s voices, and what they are saying, it’s important to see women standing up and fighting for what they believe — fighting for their truth.”

A first for Theatre Coup d’Etat, this partnership will also feature several weeks of daytime matinees for students as part of Park Square Theatre’s 3M Student Series, which reaches 30,000 teens annually.

At the same time, the Proscenium Stage will feature a production by theatre in residence Girl Friday Productions, under the leadership of Kirby Bennett, of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth (Feb 7 – Mar 3, 2019). This new production will be directed and designed by Joel Sass.

The Skin of Our Teeth is a surprisingly modern and optimistic tribute to the invincibility of the human spirit,” says Girl Friday’s Artistic Director Kirby Bennett. “Through the adventures of an eternal American family who prevail over a series of catastrophes, the play examines the cyclical nature of human existence.”

“When Girl Friday first explored this work in 2009, our country was in the depth of economic crisis,” Bennett explained. “Ten years later, we find ourselves facing different and more challenging circumstances. The Skin of Our Teeth explores the nature of human resilience and hope in ways that are unexpected, hilarious and profoundly moving.”

The season continues with Park Square’s first Chan Poling musical, Heaven (May 31 – Jun 23, 2019), created and directed by Joe Chvala and originally staged in 2011 at The Guthrie’s Dowling Studio. The first production was a sell-out and Chvala and Poling have been eager to revisit this story set during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. Photographer Peter Adamson finds himself on a journey with his translator Faruk to save Faruk’s wife. Friendship, love and painfully beautiful moments come to life with full-ensemble street dance and driving songs by Chan Poling (GLENSHEEN, The Suburbs).

“Heaven is in part a cautionary tale about how unchecked divisiveness among people of any nation opens an opportunity for leaders seeking power to manipulate people based on their fear, resentment, and anger, sometimes leading an otherwise peaceable nation to violence and even civil war,” says Chvala. “The timely point Heaven makes is that it can happen anywhere if we are not careful.”

 

Park Square’s summer fare kicks off on the Boss Stage with the world premiere of Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant (Jun 14 – Jul 28, 2019), with book, music and lyrics by Keith Hovis. Described as Avenue Q meets The Book of Mormon with a little bit of Heathers mixed in, this newly created musical satire reflects the quirks of small town life. In 1997, a contestant died onstage and permanently ended the popular local talent pageant. Twenty years later, Frannie Foster Wallace still blames all her failures in life on losing out on the chance to become Jefferson’s Sparkling Junior Champion. That is, until she gets the chance for a rematch with the surviving contestants.

The work, which had its first stage of development as part of the 2017 Fringe Festival, will be directed by Park Square’s Associate Artistic Director Laura Leffler. “When I saw Jefferson at the Fringe, I was elated,” says Leffler. “Here was this hilarious musical with a story that really is as heart-wrenching as it is heart-warming, and it was just shimmering with potential. I’m very excited to get to dig into the lives of these zany, yet relatable characters with Keith and allow the story to continue to blossom.”

 

Park Square Theatre’s first season in 1975 featured a mystery (Dial M for Murder), so it is fitting that Richard Cook’s final season ends with Agatha Christie’s Rule of Thumb (Jul 12 – Aug 25, 2019). This is actually three one-act murder mysteries by the most-read mystery writer of all time: In The Wasp’s Nest, Hercule Poirot comes between a bitter triangle of lovers to prevent a sinister murder; in The Rats, adulterous lovers find themselves lured to a flat, only to be trapped like rats and framed for murder; and completing the triple bill is a tense thriller about a woman who is hospitalized after seemingly falling from her balcony in The Patient. “I think this community’s devoted mystery fans will enjoy an evening of three different styles of mystery stories – and of course the first time Hercule Poirot will be seen on our stage,” says Richard Cook.

 

There is one title in the season yet to be announced when the rights are confirmed as the new theatre company PRIME Productions joins Park Square as a theatre in residence. Dates will be April 19 to May 19, 2019, on the Andy Boss Stage. PRIME Productions, co-founded by Alison Edwards, Elena Giannetti and Shelli Place, explores, illuminates and supports women over fifty and their stories. Park Square has hosted two readings by PRIME over the past two years. PRIME’s debut production of Little Wars was mounted at Mixed Blood Theatre in spring 2017.

 

In addition to the full season of public performances, Park Square will mount 146 daytime matinees for students in 7th-12th grade from its repertory of literary classics Of Mice and Men, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, and The Diary of Anne Frank. Student matinees of The Agitators and Marie and Rosetta will also be offered to the region’s largest teen theatre audience.

 

SEASON TICKETS are on sale now. Current subscribers have priority in ordering through March. Seating of new subscriptions will begin in April. Season packages range in size from all nine plays in the season to a choose-your-own series of three or more. Subscription package prices begin at $75. SINGLE TICKETS will go on sale this summer.

 

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

 

PHOTOS

Richard Cook’s headshots by Petronella Y. Ytsma HERE

ANTIGONE courtesy Park Square Theatre

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP SPARKLING JUNIOR TALENT PAGEANT by Keith Hovis

SOMETIME THERE’S WINE by Richard Fleischman

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