Summer Snapshots: Arts and Culture

Last "Summer Snapshot," I promise--especially in light of the fact that it is now, officially fall!

My family's always been hugely into culture. I saw my first Broadway musical ("Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," with Donny Osmond, duh) at the age of 5. We always had season tickets to The Children's Theater, and went to "The Nutcracker" or Lorie Line's concert or "A Christmas Carol" annually around the holidays. 

I'm so thankful to my parents for fostering a love of theatre in us early on in life. It's always been a priority to our family, so it's become a priority for me as a young adult to make sure I stay exposed to culture through the arts. As I mentioned, I'm getting plenty of Minnesota Orchestra action this year, but this summer was particularly rich with plays, musicals and opportunities to enjoy live performances in general. 


August and September have been so busy, with two weekends featuring doubleheaders of plays and musicals! When my sister Em was home over Labor Day, we saw "The Little Mermaid" at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre on a Thursday night, and "The Book of Mormon" at the Orpheum on a Sunday!

The Chanhassen is always such a hilarious claims to be the largest working dinner theater in the country, and every time we go, we all order "The Famous Chicken Chanhassen" and a towering chocolate cake at intermission. The play itself was delightful! I unashamedly adore Disney despite my age, and the show brought the fun, lighthearted spirit of the movie to life with a fun set, amazing costumes, and talented singers. 

I've already seen "The Book of Mormon" (we went for my 24th birthday), but that didn't stop the evening from being insanely hilarious. The play is laugh-out-loud from start to finish, rife with off-color jokes and irreverent songs poking fun at everything from homosexuality to third-world poverty to AIDS. I can't recommend it highly enough...but unless your parents are cool like mine, maybe leave them at home!

This past weekend, I saw "The Heidi Chronicles" with Hal at the Guthrie on Friday and "Hello Dolly!" at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre with my grandma, godparents and parents on Sunday. Before I dive into those shows, I have to digress for a minute to rave about an amazing opportunity for any Twin Cities residents with a passion for theater. Hal and I are members of Open Call, the Guthrie's new society for young professionals, which means we get to attend four plays throughout the year in addition to happy hours and the season's opening Midsummer Night Gala. Every July on the evening of the Aquatennial Fireworks Show, the Guthrie hosts a cocktail gala for its donors and society members, so we got to get all dressed up, drink wine and watch the fireworks with this view: 

Not too shabby--I was totally having a Princess Jasmine moment. 

Anyway, "The Heidi Chronicles" blew both of us away! Neither of us were familiar with the play...we knew nothing, not the playwright, era, not even if it was a drama or comedy. We were so pleasantly surprised with its witty, sharp take on the evolution of feminism through the 60s, 70s, and 80s. We saw it on opening night, and I can't stress highly enough that YOU SHOULD GO. The set and sound design are fantastic, the show is smart and entertaining...just get thyself to the rush line and buy some day-of tickets, you don't want to miss this one. 

"Hello, Dolly!" was the total opposite end of the spectrum...but just as fabulous. I had never seen the show and couldn't claim familiarity with the music, but my entourage couldn't have been more excited. We also saw opening night--how fancy am I, seeing two opening nights in one weekend?! I just loved it! Though the show takes place in the 1890s, its charm, warmth and sweetness seemed timeless. 

Other Arts: 

In July, Hannah invited us to join her at the Pourhouse, of all places, for an aerial acrobatics show that her cousin was participating in. I went in having no idea what to expect, and that's probably a good thing, because I never would have expected what I saw. The show featured some burlesque, some fire-dancing, and a whole lot of this: 

Yes. Hanging and twisting and contorting, like 50 feet off the ground, in silks. It blew my mind in every way imaginable. These people managed to perform what I thought were super technical acrobatics, while looking calm, collected and graceful. I'd love to find somewhere to take a class...anyone in? 

Em and I checked out Gavin DeGraw and Matt Nathanson at the Myth when she was home over the Fourth of July. It was...meh. We got there late-ish, so we had a terrible view and missed most of the show from behind a pillar. That said, Gavin put on a dynamic, well-rounded show that featured all our old favorites as well as material off his new album. 

Finally, we checked out one of our local favorites, Dustin Hatzenbuhler, at Nicollet Island Pavilion in July. Dustin took voice from our old piano teacher, and we've followed his career on and off since I was in high school. Fun fact: he auditioned for The Voice and got some hefty TV time at the blind auditions! If you ever spot his name on a concert billing, definitely check him out--he's delightful. 

That about wraps up my summer...even as temperatures fall, I'm hoping to keep getting my butt to theaters, concert halls and clubs to keep up my Minneapolis art crawl!