Friday, June 21, 2013

Comings And Goings

We skipped Bloomington Civic Theatre’s recent production, now closed, of Yasmina Reza’s oft-performed “Art”. We simply were unable to interest ourselves in a non-professional production of such a schematic play.

Minneapolis Musical Theatre’s current production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, “Sunset Boulevard”, closes this weekend at New Century Theatre. The reviews scared us off—and word-of-mouth has been even worse than the reviews. I am told ticket sales have been very scarce.

We are presently trying to decide whether Park Square Theatre’s current production of Jeffrey Hatcher’s “Sherlock Holmes And The Adventure Of The Suicide Club” is worth a trip to Saint Paul. We are also trying to determine whether Theatre In The Round’s current production of Ludmilla Bollow’s “In The Rest Room At Rosenblooms”, a play whose premise sounded promising on paper, can possibly be as bad as the reviews have suggested.

This weekend, we WILL see The National Theatre Of Great Britain’s production of “War Horse”, a stage adaptation of the Michael Morpurgo children’s novel. “War Horse” has settled in for a two-week run at the Orpheum Theatre.


In August, for the first time, we shall attend The Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Over four days, we shall see eight of this year’s twelve Stratford productions.

Each day, we shall pair a heavy play with a not-so-heavy play.

On our first day, we shall see “Blithe Spirit” and “Measure For Measure”. On our second day, we shall see a new work and Schiller’s grand “Mary Stuart”. On our third day, we shall see “The Merchant Of Venice” and “Fiddler On The Roof”. On our final day, we shall see “Romeo And Juliet” and a new stage adaptation of “The Three Musketeers”.

The 2013 Stratford Shakespeare Festival should be a good follow-up to last summer’s visit to The Shaw Festival, where we saw everything on the bill.


As a general rule, we do not attend concerts or other music events in summer months—and this summer will be no different. There is nothing announced we want to hear.

The Twin Cities hosts a couple of minor enterprises, both small, that offer summer opera performances; we have never paid attention to either enterprise. Skylark Opera offered “The Mikado” this summer. I believe the performance run has already ended. Mill City Opera will offer “The Barber Of Seville” next month. We shall not be in attendance.

Each July, the city of Winona convenes its Minnesota Beethoven Festival. We have never attended a single performance—although we had acquired tickets last year to hear the Leipzig Quartet (at the last minute, we decided to go up to the lake that weekend rather than down to Winona).

The rarest of occurrences is scheduled for this year’s Minnesota Beethoven Festival: an appearance by a visiting orchestra. The Russian National Orchestra is scheduled to give one concert (under a conductor unknown outside Russia) during the Minnesota Beethoven Festival. The orchestra’s Winona appearance will be the first by a visiting orchestra to Minnesota in years and years and years; visiting orchestras are never heard here.

We shall not attend the concert. We have no desire to drive all the way down to Winona and back on a weeknight.


In decades past, my parents used to be able to drive down to Ames or Iowa City on an occasional weekend and hear top-flight American and European orchestras on tour. Both Iowa State University and The University Of Iowa used to sponsor appearances by world-class artists and ensembles in extensive (and very impressive) performing-arts subscriptions.

Performing-arts subscriptions, everywhere, began to wither in the 1990s; for reasons of mounting cost, it became impossible for universities—or other sponsors—to continue such programming at exalted levels.

Today, if one wants to hear touring orchestras with any frequency, one must travel to New York or Washington—or to Europe.

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