Catch a budding thespian on the rise and be entertained in the meantime. This fall, Minnesota college theater departments are offering an array of significant literary works from amusing to solemn. Here are five noteworthy Minnesota college productions.
Minnesota State University—Mankato
201 Performing Arts Center
Mankato, MN 56001
Dates: Oct. 17-27, 2013
Noel Coward’s 1941 record-setting London comedy became a Broadway hit often revived and remade. Coward keeps his audience on the edge of their seats watching successful socialite and novelist Charles Condomine beset by one surprising twist of fate after another dealing with relation wives. It all starts when our central character visits Madame Arcati, a medium, to learn about the occult for his novel. They inadvertently stir up the presence of his first wife, now deceased for seven years. One can feel her rage as she sweeps in to Charles’ present life. Few could anticipate the ensuing antics. By the way, only he can see her. Minnesota State Mankato presented “Blithe Spirit” in 1956 and summer of 1988.
Night of the Iguana
3300 Century Ave. N.
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Dates: Oct 18-27, 2013
Century College attracts talented students and community members alike to Theatre Club, Concert Band and Jazz Fest during the school year as well as providing an outdoor theatre complex for Shakespeare and Company in the summer. This fall’s attraction is the Tennessee William’s classic. “Night of the Iguana” is named after the symbolism of Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon coming to the end of his rope, similar to the fate of an iguana some Mexicans had tied to a pole. Blasphemy, institutionalization for a nervous breakdown, de-frocking and finally, a sexual indiscretion with a minor may cause him to lose his stopgap employment as a tour guide in Mexico. We explore the character of a man as he develops a deeply human bond with another lost soul on his tour.
320 Third St. E.
Northfield, MN 55057
Dates: Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, 2013
Riotous disorder and mistaken identities abound as Viola conceals her gender to search for her lost brother. Our heroine enters the service of Duke Orsino. The Duke asks Viola to be an intermediary to profess his passionate love to another woman, Olivia. Our senses are heightened, as the woman is instead attracted to Viola, whom we know is disguised as a man. It doesn’t help that the Duke’s pompous steward is fooled into believing that Olivia is interested in him. Meanwhile, Viola is becoming attracted to her employer, Duke Orsino. See what happens when Viola’s lost brother appears and Olivia mistakes him for Viola.
House of Bernarda Alba
Tjornhom-Nelson Theater, Foss Center
2211 Riverside Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Dates: Nov. 1-10, 2013
Six strong actresses display their dramatic talent in this trying tragedy. Just last year, Backstage magazine listed Augsburg College as one of the top five U.S. institutions for theater majors who wish to continue their studies professionally. Imagine a wealthy matriarch, Bernarda Alba, losing her husband but insisting on upholding her will and family honor with eight years of mourning for herself and five daughters, aged 20 to 39. The repressive heat is an apt symbol for Alba’s tyranny. Passions explode on the stage as five ladies confront one another on issues of inheritance and marriage. Meanwhile, a despotic mother smothers their desires and freedoms.
In The Heights
St. Olaf College
1520 St. Olaf Avenue
Northfield, MN 55057
Dates: Nov 15-24, 2013
The many talented young musicians who choose to attend St. Olaf will have an opportunity to show their stuff. They will fill the 348-seat Kelsey proscenium theater with high-energy salsa, hip-hop, clever rhyming lyrics and dance. Karen Peterson Wilson will direct this play that takes place in the Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights, New York. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote both music and lyrics for this 2008 Tony Awards Best Musical.
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.