Band nerds and black ties.

Early in June, I lucked out with a week that offered me the opportunity to double-dip on my favorite obsession: anything related to music or theater. Throwing two of my favorite people, Dr. Ken Dye and Joe Dowling, into the mix just made it even better!

The Notre Dame Alumni Clubs around the country host annual “Notre Dame Nights” to recognize the efforts of their clubs, fundraise, and celebrate the conclusion of every school year. One of the highlights of the event every year is the speaker the Club gets to bring in from campus. This year the Minnesota Club was graced with the presence of everyone’s favorite director of university bands, Ken Dye! Hal and I made a date night out of it and it couldn’t have been more fun. Hosted at Jax Café, the food was delicious and the company was even better.

I have so much respect for how the Notre Dame Club of Minnesota works tirelessly to enhance and support the Notre Dame experience for current students, alums, and parents in the Twin Cities. To get to attend this event and hear so much about how our club has impacted the community here in the Twin Cities and on campus gave me enough warm fuzzies to get me through to football season. Add to that the fact that we have several local Club board members headed to the big leagues at the national level, and it was an even more exciting year to celebrate ND and MN!

And of course, Dr. Dye. Hearing him give a speech left me with the oddest, best sense of déjà vu because he spoke to this room full of influential alums and tuition-paying parents exactly as he spoke to his 400 bandmembers on campus…a little scattered, a lot of dry wit, and a constant, prevalent love for his band, the campus, and the Notre Dame family and traditions. I don’t think the band-nerdy smile fell off my face for even a moment, and Hal and I constantly caught each other’s eyes and silently laughed at the “Dye-isms” liberally sprinkled through the speech.

We wrapped up the night with a full MN ND band members photo…the past, present, and future of the band in Minnesota! So great to see so many people come out to support the Band of the Fighting Irish and the Notre Dame Club of Minnesota.

Rocketing forward a few days now…my mom and I, as previously chronicled, are pretty huge Joe Dowling fangirls. As his twenty-year tenure as the Guthrie’s artistic director wound to a close, the local theater community spent the entire spring celebrating him and capped off the events with a black-tie gala and stage revue, “All the World’s a Stage,” in his honor.

We jumped at the invitation to attend, and got all dolled up in our black-tie confusing is black-tie dress code for women, ps? We struggled for months to figure out the right balance! Of course, a night on the town wouldn’t be complete without a great dinner beforehand. We took the opportunity to make it a night out at 112 Eatery, a Twin Cities fave that I had never visited.

I recommend the Romaine and Roquefort salad and the pan-fried gnocchi…oh my gosh, so melt-in-your-mouth tender.

We arrived with a bit of extra time in advance to mill around, grab a glass of (complimentary, oooh fancy) champagne, and enjoy the fabulous people-watching. Minnesotans sure do clean up nicely when there’s incentive to do so!

The revue itself completely exceeded my expectations. Featuring over 70 actors who had worked under Dowling in his time at the Guthrie, it made me laugh, it made me cry, and it gave me chills. The sheer amount of respect, love and creative dedication displayed by every actor on that stage was the greatest testament to the impact Dowling has had at the Guthrie and in the Twin Cities theater community at large.

Watching him take the stage with open arms at the end of the show, to the thunderous sounds of a four-minute standing ovation, while I sobbed uncontrollably and unashamedly, is a Guthrie moment I’ll remember for life.

And getting to hear him talking through his own tears about how grateful he is for his time at the Guthrie moved me (and the rest of the audience) to more ovations.

The post show reception featured a real live step-and-repeat…total pretend Hollywood Moment!...more champagne, and a chance to check out the digital interactive media portion of the night in the Dowling Studio.

The “Dowling Tree,” a large-scale fully integrated art installation, featured an “element” from each show Joe directed in his time at the Guthrie. Whether it was a prop, a costume, a set piece (the tree itself), a photo, an audio clip, or even a quote projected on the walls and ceiling, each selection was made for a specific reason.

Every creative department in the Guthrie was also represented…the scene teams, the costume shop, and the lighting and sound techs.

The magnitude and intricacy of the installation was hard to capture on camera; needless to say we spent way too much time examining every detail and trying to spot the shows we’d seen! The backdrop also made for some prime photo cute is my mother? 

The gala downstairs featured the Minnesota Jazz Chamber Orchestra...

...and some sweet and on-theme treats. We mixed and mingled for a bit with the other patrons and the night’s actors before our (my) heels started to hurt and headed out around 11:30. Highlight of the night? I accidentally hit Sally Wingert with my purse, and Peter Michael Goetz, perhaps best known to non-Minneapolitans as the father-in-law in “Father of the Bride,” was in the drink line behind us for a whole two minutes!


On our way out, I totally took a creeper pic of Joe Dowling’s back. My only regret is that I was too starstruck to congratulate and thank him in person for being one of the greatest influences in my love for theater. All in all, a great night to celebrate and conclude a great week of worshipping the arts!