“Vitality of the cultural community” led Sir Tyrone Guthrie, in 1960, to select Minneapolis/St. Paul over six other cities competing for the project. Vitality grew from the special long-term bond that was created between directors, artists and patrons. Their interaction with the University of Minnesota Rarig Center has produced actors who regularly perform locally, and now local theater groups are flourishing. These six summer selections attest to the vitality of theater in Minnesota.

(credit: chanhassentheatres.com)

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
501 W 78th St
Chanhassen, MN 55317
(952) 934-1525

Dates: Now through September 29

Recent rave and Broadway musical hit comes to Minnesota. The story, a musical spoof of the ’80’s cult classic with Olivia Newton-John, is light hearted and fun. See this take on the roller-disco craze of decades past. The award-winning music features popular ’80s songs like “Magic,” “All Over The World,” “Suddenly,” “I’m Alive,” “Evil Woman,” “Have You Never Been Mellow” and “Xanadu.” The show opened on Broadway in 2007 and ran over 500 nights, receiving nominations and awards, and is now showing on Chanhassen’s Main Stage.

(credit: guthrietheater.org)

“The Sunshine Boys”
Guthrie Theater
818 S 2nd St
Minneapolis, MN 55415
(612) 377-2224

Dates: Now through September 2

“The Sunshine Boys” is the epitome of Guthrie’s idea: produce great works of literature, “cultivate the artists’ talents” and “nourish the audience.” Neil Simon’s perennial favorite will showcase Guthrie’s “dream team” of Raye Birk and Peter Michael Goetz. Picture a pair of cantankerous vaudeville comedians, who never really got along, being invited to reunite in a 1972 CBS special on the history of comedy. Gary Gisselman directs the shenanigans that ensue as two old vaudevillians vie to get in the last word during rehearsal and on air. This play is showcased on the Wurtele Thrust Stage.

(credit: chicagothemusical.com)

Ordway Center
345 Washington St
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 224-4222

Dates: August 7 through August 12

The longest running musical in history is also playing in St. Paul. This satire of prohibition-era criminal celebrities and a corrupt criminal justice system is based on actual crimes and criminals first exposed in 1926. Twenty-one live, show-stopping songs and dazzling dance sequences have earned this show six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy. Why spend up to $251 for the show on 49th and Broadway when you can see it in St. Paul for a much more agreeable price?

Related: Best Movie Theaters In The Twin Cities

(credit: muperformingarts.org)

“Into the Woods”
Park Square Theatre
20 W 7th Place
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 291-7005

Dates: July 20 through August 5

Have you ever wondered what were the consequences of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel or Cinderella’s wishes and quests? This musical intertwines fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm in a manner appropriate for those nine and older. Casting, costumes and staging are re-imagined in an Asian-American perspective, giving this 25-year old Tony Award-winning musical a unique perspective.

(credit: plymouthplayhouse.com)

“A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement”
Plymouth Playhouse
2705 Annapolis Lane N
Plymouth, MN 55441
(763) 553-1600

Dates: Now through August 26

This summer is the last chance to catch the Church Basement Ladies in their fourth musical “A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement.” A good set of songs and Minnesota humor attracts fans by the busloads to celebrate the church basement and the ladies who work there. You won’t miss a punch line in this intimate, 211-seat theater where every audience member sits within 25 feet of the stage and every actor wears a microphone.

(credit: stagestheatre.org)

“Seussical – Theatre for Young Audiences Version”
Stages Theatre Company
1111 Mainstreet
Hopkins, MN 55343
(952) 979-1111

Dates: Now through August 5

Horton the Elephant takes on responsibilities of life when he finds the people of Whoville on a speck of dust and then later when he has to guard Mayzie La Bird’s egg. “It’s fun to have fun—but you have to know how,” said Dr. Seuss. Stages Theatre Company plays to more than 130,000 young people and their families every year, engaging young artists with themes relevant to their lives. Bring the kids out for this performance of yet another brilliant Dr. Seuss creation.

Related: Best Summertime Theatre Activities For Kids In Minnesota

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from 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.