Quote of the Day: I regard theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being. Oscar Wilde

Where to even begin to recap this come back year of theater – 2022! What a thrill to be back in the audience, to breathe the same air, laugh and cry together, cheer, sigh, and feel all the emotions that live theater evokes. Above all – Gratitude. Here’s the list.

6 Touring Broadway Musicals
13 Twin Cities Theater produced musicals

16 Twin Cities Theater produced plays, including 4 world premieres and 3 delightful Christmas plays
7 Local productions in the Brainerd Lakes area, including the final performance by Patrick Spradlin in Clarence Darrow before he retired as Theater Director at Central Lakes College
Final UMN Jazz band concert for my son Charlie
And, final performance directed by Ron Peluso who retired after 27 years with the History Theatre.

The Twin Cities Theater Bloggers are preparing our annual list of favorites. It was very hard to choose. All the theaters did amazing work, adding diversity, developing new work, and lifting up stories that have a lasting impact. 

“Me and the Sky” Becky Gulsvig and others. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Top touring show for me was Come from Away. This one will always hold a special place. I love it so much that I saw it twice while on tour in Minneapolis, and once on Broadway in 2017. It shows the tremendous kindness and generosity of a community during a terrible tragedy, set to music that evokes all the emotions with the beat and melodies from around the world. I’m sad to see that it closed on Broadway, but it will live on in theaters around the world.

I saw the beautiful, sexy, multi-music-mash-up Moulin Rouge for the first time, as well as the mythology turned musical Hadestown, which was stunning. Wicked was as magical as ever, and I was thrilled to get to see the smash hit Six return to the Ordway. The story behind The Temptations in Ain’t Too Proud was wonderful, such talent in this long lasting group.

The Twin Cities Theaters shone bright in 2022 with all their gorgeous musicals. The Chanhassen had a huge success with Footloose. Reed Sigmund returned to his iconic role as The Grinch at the Children’s Theater. I stand by my statement, “Reed Sigmund is my favorite Grinch of all time!” The Church Basement Ladies launched their 9th installment of the hotdish slinging – community gathering women of the church, finding their own, strong voices in Plowin’ Thru 1975. Vanessa Gamble’s portrayal of the enthusiastic, slightly delusion Florence Foster Jenkins in Souvenir was brilliant. It’s a huge challenge for a talented, trained singer to intentionally sing off-key! I finally got to see Theatre Elison’s Ghost Quartet. I’ve listened to the music many times, since. The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company did two shows this year – an excellent move! Lyric Arts did a delightful production of Something Rotten! Artistry’s Memphis was one of my nominations for the TCTB awards, as well as Theater Latté Da’s Jelly’s Last Jam and Merrily We Roll Along. As they say, an embarrassment of riches!

Reese Britts, Becca Hart, and Dylan Frederick in Merrily We Roll Along at Theater Latte’ Da. Photo: Dan Norman

It felt like the Twin Cities Theater makers had a theme this year of exploring your roots. The Jungle’s Cambodian Rock Band (in partnership with Theater MU) and Redwood held these themes. Park Square Theatre and Full Circle Theater Company partnered to produced the world premiere of R.A. Shiomi’s Fire in the New World, the third installment of his Asian-American (Canadian) detective series. We also experienced the world premiere of Parks by Harrison David Rivers at the History Theatre and Sally & Tom by Suzan-Lori Parks at the Guthrie Theater.

Dark & Stormy returned with another thought-provoking dark comedy, God of Carnage. I was thrilled to see Kate Danley’s world premiere of The Mysterious Affair at Styles at the Twin Cities’ oldest community theater, Theatre in the Round. I was so curious about this stunning adaptation of Agatha Christie’s first novel featuring Hercule Poirot and how well it fit the staging of Theatre in the Round that I contacted the theater and ended up in a lovely email exchange with the playwright. I think that Play off the Page was the first to review her new work! I might also have been the first to publish a review of Fire in the New World.

I ended this remarkable come back year of theater with four delightful plays. My friend Joanna, her daughter Miss B, and I had a Pemberley Christmas weekend with Georgiana and Kitty at the Jungle Theater and Miss Bennet at Lyric Arts. Both written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. Ron Peluso exited the stage as Artistic Director at the History Theatre with the play he first directed there in 1988, A Servants’ Christmas. The History Theatre has produced this show several times, but it was my first time seeing it, and it was charming and heartfelt. The standing ovation goes to Ron Peluso for all his fine work at the History Theatre, developing new work and lifting up the various voices of Minnesotans and beyond. 

Stephen Epp as the Aviator and Reed Northrup as the Little Prince. Photo: Dan Norman

My number one favorite show of 2022, and the last one I saw before the year ended – The Little Prince by the inimitable creative team of The Moving Company members Director Dominique Serrand, Steven Epp and Nathan Keepers, with Reed Northrup, Wariboko Semenitari, and Catherine Young. They brought to life all the magic that is theater. This story of imagination, wonder, magic, friendship, loss and loneliness was exactly the story for me as the year came to a close. This fantastical adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s book by the same name is still playing at the Guthrie Theater through Feb. 5, 2023. Don’t miss it. 

Long post, but it felt good to relive the year of theater and all the magic it created along with wonderful dates with friends and family to experience it together. Theater is the greatest way to build community. I’m so grateful it’s back and going strong. The 2023 season also looks amazing.

I hope you had a good year in your adventures.

Here’s to 2023 – the Journey continues.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What are some of the highlights for you from 2022? What are you looking forward to in 2023?

*Twin Cities Theater Bloggers image created by Carol Jackson