It’s back: Walker on the Green Artist-Designed Mini-Golf

Artist-Designed Mini-Golf is back at the Walker’s Sculpture Garden. As part of the media preview on May 20, my friend and I putted our way through both A and B courses (9 holes each) and lazily kept score. There’s no par for the course, so we just chatted in between strokes and took the time to read about each hole (which were delightfully full of puns). The Walker has a masterful summer event here not only bringing the art outside but creating a way to engage, both with the pieces and each other. It’s no wonder people keep coming back. Continue Reading

How the Nicollet Mall Project construction affects you

Nicollet Mall is going to look a lot different in 2017: refined pedestrian paths, more greenery and better lighting are some of the improvements to transform the Mall into a “must-see destination” as bullet-pointed in the Minneapolis Downtown’s Council 2025 plan. But before the new Mall becomes a reality, there’s the always-dreaded construction, which starts this spring with utility work (upgrading and relocating power, gas, telecommunications, sanitary sewer and water lines); the full construction begins in 2016.So what does that mean for the masses of people who bike, walk and work on Nicollet?The Nicollet Mall Farmers Market will be relocated one block to Hennepin Avenue for both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Food trucks and vendors will also be moved off the Mall in 2015 and 2016. Sidewalk dining will remain open through construction, but some restaurants may decide to remove it temporarily at some points.You’ll still be able to walk down Nicollet and access every business—one side of the street will remain open at all times. Buses will detour starting sometime this May and will return to normal when construction is done in 2017. Taxis also are not allowed to drive down the Mall, and they will not be allowed north of 12th Street in 2017. With the absence of taxis and buses, bikers will have the street to themselves at least for 2015. In 2016, when the real construction begins, there will be no bikers allowed until the project is complete.Feeling a little bummed about the construction? Just flip through some of the photos above that represent the future Nicollet Mall to keep in mind when times get rough (see all photos here).Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Continue Reading

Guthrie to move, turn building into condos

In a stunning press conference this morning, the Guthrie Theater announced that it is returning to Minneapolis’s Lowry Hill neighborhood and converting part of its iconic building on the banks of the Mississippi River into condos. These twin measures, some of the most far-reaching in the company’s 52-year history, sent shockwaves through the Twin Cities theatre and Downtown East communities.Editor’s note: This feature is part of the Daily Planet’s April Fools’ Day Arts Coverage.The first part of the plan, constructing a new theatre complex near the Walker Art Museum, is a return to the Guthrie’s founding roots and location for decades. (The Walker’s parking garage sits on the site of the old theatre.) This new complex, tentatively named Guthrie 2.0, will sit above the I-94/Hennepin Ave/Lyndale Ave interchange, long an area eyesore and transit bottleneck. After initial plans to redesign the corridor were rebuffed by area residents, city and state officials met with the Federal Highway Administration to draft a new plan that will completely redraw it, covering up I-94 with a series of public parks and the new theatre complex, as well as an expansion of the Walker Art Museum.Judging by questions at the press conference, the most controversial portion of the plan is not the move to build a new theatre complex, however, but the conversion of part of its iconic building to condos. The Guthrie moved to its current location in 2006, consolidating its operations in distinctive new building designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” enchants the Orpheum Theatre

The crowd that filled the seats on Tuesday, Mar. 10 for the opening night of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast consisted heavily of children, but that doesn’t mean their parents weren’t humming along during intermission (and in the bathroom). The age range indicates throwback Disney movies aren’t going anywhere (as if there was any question), and reincarnated forms like the musical production of Beauty and the Beast only prolong Disney’s success. Among being a master at creating ear worms, Disney productions strike a chord with generations across the board, even despite the criticism the movies have received on social issues like gender and racial stereotypes.Beauty and the Beast is set in a 19th-century French village where Belle (Jillian Butterfield) finds herself wanting more than what “this poor provincial town” has to offer. Because she is a voracious reader and her father is an eccentric inventor (Thomas Mothershed), the people of her small town treat her as an outcast (“Look there she goes that girl is so peculiar / I wonder if she’s feeling well / With a dreamy, far-off look / And her nose stuck in a book / What a puzzle to the rest of us is Belle”). What really makes people—especially the women—question Belle is her rejection of the egotistical town hunk, Gaston (Cameron Bond), who’s drawn to her beauty and sets out to marry her. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” at the Guthrie Theater: Light and smart

Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is an adaptation in the same sense that the movie Jurassic Park is an adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name. The basic concept is the same, some common beats are hit, and much of the rest is entirely its own animal. (No velociraptors were harmed in the making of Hatcher’s A Connecticut Yankee.) The looseness of Hatcher’s adaptation is a strength, producing a satire that is much funnier than a straight adaptation would have been. The Acting Company’s premiere of this play, now at the Guthrie, makes for a light but smartly done evening.Without giving too much away, Hatcher’s version of this tale starts in a scenario ripe for comedy: a high school reunion. Some razzing and an old flame later, Hank (Andy Nogasky) is unexpectedly thrown back in time to the court of King Arthur (Adam Mondschein). Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” woos at the Orpheum Theatre

For my family, White Christmas is the official start of the holiday season; my sister makes sure we watch it every year the day after Thanksgiving—it’s become a tradition for us. With that said, I went into the opening night of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical on November 25 at the Orpheum Theatre with a little bit of a bias. It’s near impossible to live up to the bass-baritone Bing Crosby and tap-dancing Danny Kaye, but it’s hardly fair to compare the 1954 classic with the musical. Ultimately, the movie and the travelling production does what it should do and inspires the warm and fuzzies just in time for the holidays.While there are minorish plot divergences in the musical, the skeleton of the White Christmas movie plot remains intact. Two army buddies, after serving the 151st division in World War II together, go on to form a successful duet, Wallace and Davis (Davis and Wallace!). Continue Reading

Holiday Roundup 2014: Old traditions and new

Whether you’re keeping to old traditions or looking for something new, there’s something to fit everyone’s fancy this holiday season. From seeing classic or quirky theater, shopping local for your loved ones, or enjoying some drinks for a cause, we’ve got our bases covered in our holiday events roundup.THEATERGoing into its 40th year, A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater is a tradition for many Minnesotans. Everyone should see it at least once. Read my review from last year, and also Jay Gabler’s (2012) and Christopher Kehoe’s (2011).Striking 12 at Bloomington Civic Theatre, a “concert-with-a-story musical event,” tells the story of a grump who’s in need of some Christmas cheer and strives to be a new holiday tradition.La Natividad: de Acuerdo a San Mateo y San Lucas (The Nativity: According to St. Matthew and St. Continue Reading

PHOTOS | 2014 Zombie Pub Crawl

On Saturday, October 11, the Zombie Pub Crawl took over downtown Minneapolis.Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Continue Reading

MUSIC REVIEW | DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist turn tables at Skyway Theatre

School was in session last night in the Twin Cities as DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist rolled into the Skyway Theater with an aggressive and infinitely danceable turntable sound brought out through the record collection of the “The Godfather” of Hip Hop culture, Afrikaa Bambaataa.One part excellent turntable DJ show, one part history lesson, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist’s “Renegades of Rhythm”  tour is a headfirst dive into the crates of one of modern music’s most influential figures. The pair bounce between six turntables and numerous old-school gadgets to spin decades worth of hit records into one amazing mix in what is a worthy tribute to an individual that both cite as an important influence on their work.DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist invited the crowd which packed into the Skyway Theater on a journey through the decades, putting a modern spin on the tracks which Bambaataa became a legend with, on the very same records that Afrika Bambaataa used. There was a sense of importance in what the duo was trying to accomplish as they brought to life a spirit of a pioneering era, paying homage to their influence while trying to both educate and entertain, hoping to instill within the crowd a sense of how meaningful these records were both as physical historical objects and as the sources of the beats which drove not just this show but decades worth of shows previous. There was a sense of reverence from the pair as they engaged with Bambaataa’s collection, and this sense of reverence seemed to transfer nicely to the crowd, who, while perhaps a little too timid to dance, were nonetheless appreciative of what DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist were trying to accomplish.The music was the central feature of the show, as it should be, with only a small video backdrop behind the pair to offer any sort of distraction for the attention impaired. The duo spun records and twiddled knobs in front of the modestly sized video screen which played host to images of Bambaataa and the Bronx community which he was so central a part of. Continue Reading

Red Hot Gold Rush and more at Minnesota Opera Gala

Minnesota Opera celebrated the start of its 2014-2015 season on Saturday with a gala dinner, a Puccini opera, and an elaborate post-performance afterparty. The Wild West setting of the opera was matched by the Red Hot Gold Rush theme of the afterparty, and patrons were treated to live music, dancing, and themed activities such as panning for gold.Nonprofit fundraising in the United States in the aftermath of the Great Recession is a highly competitive activity. To start with, prospective major donors are almost always solicited (“courted”, in industry parlance) by a wide variety of organizations clamoring for their attention. Capital campaigns and years of recession-induced emergency appeals have exhausted many donors both emotionally and financially; donor fatigue, when a long-time donor decides that enough is enough and stops giving, is every development officer’s nightmare. A well-done and unique gala can provide an important means of reconnecting with an existing donor base, engaging with potential new ones, and creating an atmosphere that encourages donations on the spot – while also catering to a variety of interests and abilities.The first portion of MNOpera’s 2014 gala celebration was the gala dinner itself. Continue Reading