Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Comes Magically to Life at Stages Theatre Company in Hopkins

The two major family holiday shows this season are Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Children’s Theatre Company and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at Stages theatre Company. Both come from animated Christmas specials that I grew up watching every year during their annual broadcasts in December. Like CTC’s production of Grinch, Stages goes all out to recreate the look and feel of the original animated classic. It’s an impressive show filled with ingenious ways to recreate all your favorite moments from childhood viewings. A very faithful adaptation that adds nothing plot wise but does fill the show out with a little more musical segments, all are welcome additions. It’s the perfect show for families to get them in the Christmas spirit and create that sense of magical wonder in the wee ones.

The script was adapted from the story by Robert L. May and the song by Johnny Marks by Robert Penola with arrangements by Timothy Splain and orchestrations by William C. White. The story is told by Sam the Snowman as he recalls the year they almost cancelled Christmas due to the worst winter storm they’d ever seen. We see Santa’s first meeting with Rudolph, his meet cute with Clarice, and his exclusion from reindeer games. We meet Hermey, the elf who dreams of being a real Dentist and teams up with fellow misfit Rudolph to try and find a place where they will fit in. Along the way they hook up with silver and gold prospector Yukon Cornelius. Yukon Cornelius helps them to escape from the Abominable Snow Monster or Bumble as Yukon calls him. Adrift on an ice raft they come ashore on the island of misfit toys, which are toys that nobody wants like a train with square wheels and a Charlie-in-the-Box. Rudolph and his friends are asked to speak to Santa when they go back to Christmas Town about finding children for the misfit toys. Worried that his nose endangers his friends, Rudolph sneaks off in the night, when he discovers that his parents and Clarice have left to search for him he goes looking for them and finds them in the lair of the Abominable Snow Monster! Rudolph will need the help of his friends to safe his loved ones, but at what cost will the rescue come? You’ll have to see the show to find out.

The cast does a fine job of embodying these well known characters making an effort to sound like the original voices as much as possible. Standouts in the cast include Stages veteran Bruce Rowan who guides us through the story as Sam the Snowman much as Burl Ives did in the original. Todd Bruse as Coach Comet & Yukon Cornelius, he manages to make Comets snubbing of Rudolph after his red nose is discovered not quite as harsh as it comes off in the original, which is a well made change. Athan Fischer as Rudolph cannot emulate the voice we are used to and that’s okay but a misstep in direction is taken when the puppet used in the first scene of a baby Rudolph, does speak with that voice. It would have been better to use Fischer’s voice consistently. Matt Ouren is quite good as Hermey the elf that is just a little bit different than the other elves, at least in his career aspirations.

The true star of the show though is the look and aesthetic of the production. Everything from the Set Design by Gretchen Katt to the Lighting Design by Karin Olson goes towards creating the world of Rankin and Bass’s classic stop motion animated special. Going into Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, I wondered how they are going to pull off certain scenes or if they would need to be changed. Stages approached this with a can do attitude and I can’t think of a thing they changed. We have flying reindeers, a giant bumble, and even several Christmas tree forest animals. Which brings us to Costumes & Make-up Designer Samantha Fromm Haddow, based off the original designs done by Christina A. Richardson, who has made every character on stage look like the original versions, it was like seeing these characters come to life. The forest creatures and misfit toys also look like the originals and are brought to life very effectively by puppeteers much the same way as Olaf in the stage version of Frozen. All of the stage magic employed really contributes to creating what is simply a wondrous musical experience.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is highly recommended for a family holiday outing it’s a great alternative to The Guthrie Theaters A Christmas Carol for those with kids under ten, for whom that show might be to frightening. It’s also a great alternative to CTC Grinch for families on a budget as tickets are about half the price, and both shows will delight their target age groups. The production runs through December 27th for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.stagestheatre.org/rudolph/

Don’t want to miss a single review from The Stages of MN? You can subscribe and have every post sent directly to your email. To Subscribe on your computer: from the home page on the right, enter your email address and click subscribe. On your mobile device scroll to the bottom of the page and do the same. Also you can follow me on Facebook, search @thestagesofmn and click follow and on Instagram thestagesofmn. I am also a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, you can read roundups of shows by my colleagues and I on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers. Follow that group, It’s a great way to see reviews for shows I don’t get to. We have some exciting things in the works for 2023 for the TCTB and our readers follows us to be the first to know about those happenings.

A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater an Annual Tradition Still Gets Me in the Holiday Spirit

Photo by Dan Norman

Last night was the opening of the Guthrie Theater’s 48th production of A Christmas Carol. It’s a sign in the Twin cities that the holiday season has begun. If you’ve lived in the Twin Cities for a decade or more it’s likely you’ve seen one of the Guthrie Theaters annual productions of A Christmas Carol. It’s sort of a MN tradition, like Lefse at Thanksgiving. If you are new to town and haven’t gone yet, don’t worry you will, it’s as inevitable as taxes and the Vikings not going to the Super Bowl. Every production is different of course, some cast changes occur from year to year certainly, but for many years they utilize the same costume, set designs, and script. This year is the second run of their reimagined production using a script by Lavina Jadhwani and Directed by Guthrie Artistic Director Joseph Haj. In its second year, this adaptation featuring much of the same cast, has been tweaked ever so slightly and as a result they have improved upon a good thing. Matthew Saldivar as Scrooge seems to have embraced more of the humor this year and a couple of technical aspects have been adjusted and it has made for a smoother and richer production overall. More than last year I was completely taken with this adaptation, it’s a testament to all involved that a story we know so well can be enjoyed over and over again.

A Christmas Carol was first published as a Novella in 1843, in 1844 the first stage adaptations appeared. It tells the story of a miserly old business man Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited on Christmas Eve by three ghosts sent by his old business partner Jacob Marley. The ghosts are spirits of different times. The first is the Ghost of Christmas Past and shows him scenes from his past. Second, the Ghost of Christmas Present, which gives him a look into the lives of those celebrating Christmas that year, including his nephew Fred, and the family of his clerk, Bob Cratchit. Lastly, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, wherein he sees his own future and people’s responses to it. The point of these visitations sent to Scrooge by Marley is so that he might learn the error of his ways and change while there is still time. Scrooge of course comes to realize how he changed over time and of the fruitlessness of such a selfish existence. By the end of the play he has found the spirit of Christmas and no longers thinks of it as a humbug. What this adaptation does that is different from some others is introducing earlier in the story Scrooge’s desire to change. Not simply from being frightened by the ghosts, but we sense very quickly he has seen the errors of his ways and is trying to find the path to redemption. Rather than being afraid of the results should he not change, we see a Scrooge who is seeking change. This shift in focus doesn’t alter the plot but it does make Scrooge more of an active participant in his own redemption. It is a positive message and fits well with Dickens themes and message.

Matthew Saldivar in his second year as Scrooge finds humor when appropriate but also sells the desire for redemption. The Guthrie always puts together a fine ensemble of actors. Some standouts in this production were John Catron back again as Bob Cratchit, whose embodiment of the glass is always half full philosophy felt like a sincere representation of a deeply good person rather than a fool who doesn’t realize how badly off he is. Also Emjoy Gavino who reprises the role of Mrs. Cratchit, who is not quite as charitable as Bob, but won over as we are by his unwavering goodness. They play a very well matched couple and their banter rings true. Charity Jones as the Ghost of Jacob Marley is a performance that felt rather fresh, it wasn’t the usual slow talking moaning ghost, there was a little more there and that definitely worked well and marked this as a fresh take on the material. Eric Sharp as Scrooge’s nephew Fred wonderfully captures the amiable nature of a man who simply refuses to be offended by his uncles constant rejection. It’s nice to see a cast made up principally of local actors and including area favorites like Regina Marie Williams, Tyler Michaels King, Paul de Cordova, and China Brickey.

One of the greatest successes of this production are on the technical side including set design, lighting, and projection effects. I like the set design, this old London cityscape that seems to tower over the characters. Shifting into different configurations so that new elements can be brought forward or rotated to reveal a new environment. There were a couple of issues I had last year that seem to have been tweaked for this years run. Last year I commented that the scenery has windows that can be seen through, on a couple of occasions I was distracted by seeing characters I shouldn’t moving behind the scenery. The blocking seems to have been adjusted to avoid that this year. Secondly, there was a short scene where Scrooge visits a ship out at sea. Last year as I recall there was a large set piece with characters atop it moved in to represent a ship at sea which seemed cumbersome and unnecessarily extravagant, the scene still occurs but the set piece has been removed and the characters simply come forward from an opening in the set. This is a case of less is more, we keep the scene but are not brought out of the moment by what feels like too much for too little, I think this adjustment by director Haj is well made. The scene is still combined with a sea projection which is an effective technique but, as I noted last year, it stayed on far too long after that scene had ended. We were well into the next bit, back on land, and it was still running. Another very well executed technical aspect was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The Costume Designer Toni-Leslie James has created a costume that feels like something out of a Guillermo del Toro film. It frightened Scrooge onstage and I didn’t feel so brave myself, this is primarily the moment that informs my advice to parents that the production might be to scary for those under ten. The ghost costume must stand ten feet if not more and is a marvel to behold and is impressively worn and controlled by Andy Frye. Though there is no dialogue for the actor it’s as impressive a performance as any on the stage, movements that are otherworldly yet extremely expressive.

The Guthrie has created this tradition of the annual mounting of A Christmas Carol and I like to think of families getting together once a year at the holidays to take the joys of a outing to the theater. I’m not implying that people should see A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie every year, but create that tradition of enjoying live theatre for the holidays. This show is probably too dark and scary for kids under 10, but when the kids get to the appropriate age, introduce them to this MN Staple of ghosts and Christmas spirit. Until then there are plenty of local options like Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Children’s Theatre Company and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at Stages Theatre Company. Then, next year find another show perhaps Penumbra’s Black Nativity, and then another, and well, then probably circle back to A Christmas Carol. There is a reason it’s in it’s 48th year, people come back to it. Partly because it is one of those stories that resonates with all of us.

A Christmas Carol runs through December 31st for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.guthrietheater.org/shows-and-tickets/2022-2023-season/a-christmas-carol/

Don’t want to miss a single review from The Stages of MN? You can subscribe and have every post sent directly to your email. To Subscribe on your computer: from the home page on the right, enter your email address and click subscribe. On your mobile device scroll to the bottom of the page and do the same. Also you can follow me on Facebook, search @thestagesofmn and click follow and on Instagram thestagesofmn. I am also a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, you can read roundups of shows by my colleagues and I on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers. Follow that group, It’s a great way to see reviews for shows I don’t get to. We have some exciting things in the works for 2023 for the TCTB and our readers follows us to be the first to know about those happenings.

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Comes to Life at The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

The first of the Christmas shows is upon us and The Children’s Theatre Company’s (CTC) production of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is going to be a hard one to top when it comes to holiday shows for the entire family. This is the company’s 10th mounting of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! It was originally commissioned by CTC and they held the world premier in 1994, but somehow it was my first time seeing it. When a company remounts a particular show about every three years it’s a sure sign that they have something very special on their hands. That is certainly the case here. It manages that rare feat of taking a well known classic adapting for a new medium, retaining what makes it a classic without simply repeating every beat of the original source material. It manages to be its own thing, fresh and lively, but without losing the feel of what generations have come to know and love. If you want to dazzle the little ones with a little christmas magic, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the CTC will be just the ticket. You will believe a dog can pull a sleigh.

With Book and Lyrics by Timothy Mason and music by Mel Marvin this is absolutely the story you know so well from the original storybook and the beloved 1966 cartoon special. But with the addition of a framing story featuring and old retired Max the dog recounting the year the Grinch stole christmas and a bunch of musical numbers. What’s delightful is that this adaptation retains the original books use of rhyme throughout. For the uninitiated who grew up without books or TV the plot is:

“A miserly and miserable, ever-so-cantankerous Grinch has observed the despicable Christmas joy of the Whos with disdain, from a distance, for decades. Enough! In this favorite holiday story, filled with music and Seussian rhymes, he conceives a dastardly plot to destroy the holiday they love. It’s the smallest of the Whos, tiny Cindy Lou, who extends a hand. Through the combination of kindness and community, we witness not only a change in the course of Who-History, but the size and capacity of the cantankerous Grinch’s heart.”

From the CTC Website

The cast is led by Reed Sigmund whose Grinch should immediately be cast as the Emcee in the next local production of Cabaret. Sigmund avoids the obvious and makes the role his own. He’s scary when he needs to be finding just the right level for a theatre full of children. He seems completely at home in the green fur and makeup and having seen his performance I can see why they’ve brought him back for what is his 5th run in the role, he completely owns it. Providing excellent support are Dean Holt and Audrey Mojica as the old and young Max’s. Mojica in particular, a 10th grader at St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts, impresses with her ability to hold her own on stage with Sigmund, it’s not easy to make an impression when you are sharing the stage with such a wild character as the Grinch. Elsa Dungan-Hawks plays Cindy-Lou Who and really shines in the role, she gets a very sweet song to sing with the Grinch entitled Santa For a Day and she carries it off beautifully.

What really makes this productions capture the imaginations of its audience, young and old alike, are the creative folks behind the scenes who bring the world of the Grinch and Whoville to life. The set design by Tom Butsch captures the look and feel of the original along with the costumes by David Kay Mickelsen you feel like you are watching a storybook or cartoon come to life. The projection design by Craig Gottschalk is minimally used, but when it is, it’s very effective. The lighting design by by Nancy Schertler helps to sell several of the visual illusions, particularly they Grinch’s trip down the mountain on his sleigh being pulled by young Max. I loved the theatrical stage magic that director Peter C. Brosius brought together with his team to tell this story in a way that allowed us to completely suspend our disbelief and be carried away by the story. This is a beautifully realized production in every way imaginable and a wonderful adventure to start the holiday season with.

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! runs through January 8th at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://childrenstheatre.org/whats-on/how-the-grinch-stole-22-23/

Don’t want to miss a single review from The Stages of MN? You can subscribe and have every post sent directly to your email. To Subscribe on your computer: from the home page on the right, enter your email address and click subscribe. On your mobile device scroll to the bottom of the page and do the same. Also you can follow me on Facebook, search @thestagesofmn and click follow and on Instagram thestagesofmn. I am also a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, you can read roundups of shows by my colleagues and I on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers. Follow that group, It’s a great way to see reviews for shows I don’t get to. We have some exciting things in the works for 2023 for the TCTB and our readers follows us to be the first to know about those happenings.

The Pirates of Penzance at Howard Conn Fine Arts Center in Minneapolis

Poster design by Tom McGregor and Mary Olson

The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company (GSVLOC) could be named the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Silly Opera Company (GSVSOC) as G&S Operas are awfully silly in the best possible way. Their latest production The Pirates of Penzance is no exception and as such is hugely enjoyable and entertaining. GSVLOC is an unusual company in that they only perform the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and has been doing so in rotation since 1979. Sometimes what you need to do is find out what you are good at, and do that. GSVLOC is very good at staging the works of G & S and I hope they continue to produce them for many years to come. Unlike what we usually think of when we say”Opera” for these productions there is no need for captions so that you can understand what everyone is singing, they are in english and it is not so stylized so as to be unintelligible. Easy to follow, well sung and with a wonderful sense of humor. What is so remarkable about these works is how modern the humor feels despite being, in the case of The Pirates of Penzance, over 140 years old. It’s the sort of Opera you can safely bring the whole family to as the humor is universal.

The plot centers around Frederic who was apprenticed to pirates as a young boy due to his nursemaid Ruth mishearing his father’s instructions. As the Opera opens Frederic has turned 21 and the Pirates are throwing a party for him as this marks the end of his endenturement. Frederic reveals to the Pirate King that he has stayed with them out of a sense of duty though he knew it was a mistake, but now as he is free he feels his duty is now to eradicate the pirates. Parting from the pirates Frederic comes across a party of young women, the daughters of Major-General Stanley, who is of course the very model of a modern Major-General. He falls in love with the one daughter who will have him despite his past association with pirates. Her name is Mabel. Just when all seems too good to be true, the pirates arrive and attempt to make off with the Major-General’s daughters. Luckily the Major-General knows of these tenderhearted pirates and their weakness for orphans. He lies to the Pirate King that he is an orphan and so the pirates leave empty handed. In Act II just before Frederic is about to lead a group of policemen against the pirates, the Pirate King and Ruth pay him a visit and point out a paradox that they thought he might find humorous. It seems Frederic was born on February 29th, leap year, so technically he is only a little over five years old. Thanks to his overdeveloped sense of duty, Frederic returns to the ranks of the pirates and plans to remain with them until 1940 when he will have had 21 birthdays. Mabel, as any young woman in love would, has agreed to wait for him. Silliness continues to ensue.

The Howard Conn Fine Arts Center is not a large Theater or stage, but somehow it manages to hold a cast of 30 performers. True about 20 are unnamed Pirates, Policemen, Daughters and their Governesses, but the sound they make together is impressive. Seth Tychon Steidl plays Frederic and Lara Trujillo plays Ruth and more than any other actors they seemed to fully embody their roles. Not only is everyone in the entire ensemble in great vocal form but all thirty of them uniformly understand the tone of the piece. Director Gary Briggle understands the humorous elements and finds the perfect way to stage each beat to maximize it’s comic potential. The production is under the musical direction of Randal A. Buikema who along with his orchestra bring one of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s best loved compositions to exquisite life. Wendy Waszut-Barret’s set design and scenic backdrop are perfectly complemented by Carl Schoenborn’s lighting design. This is particularly well exhibited during the Overture which plays as the lighting slowly changes and with them comes beautiful, subtle changes in the look of the main backdrop of a pirate ship sailing on the horizon. It’s an effective way to visually engage the audience and enables them to connect to the music on a level beyond aurelly.

GSVLOC’s production of The Pirates of Penzance or The Slave of Duty is a joyful production filled with witty lyrics and magically engaging music performed by a group of talented and comedically gifted actors and musicians. Don’t miss your chance to see one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most well known and brilliant very light operas. The play runs through November 20th at the Howard Conn Fine Arts Center for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://gsvloc.org/on-stage/, you can also find a lot of very interesting information on their sites about G&S and the theatre company.

Don’t want to miss a single review from The Stages of MN? You can subscribe and have every post sent directly to your email. To Subscribe on your computer: from the home page on the right, enter your email address and click subscribe. On your mobile device scroll to the bottom of the page and do the same. Also you can follow me on Facebook, search @thestagesofmn and click follow and on Instagram thestagesofmn. I am also a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, you can read roundups of shows by my colleagues and I on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers. Follow that group, It’s a great way to see reviews for shows I don’t get to. We have some exciting things in the works for 2023 for the TCTB and our readers follows us to be the first to know about those happenings.

The Boys Room is Brutal But Also Bitingly Funny at the Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul

Linda Kelsey and Lucy Farrell Photo by Alyssa Kristine Photography

The Boys Room by Joel Drake Johnson which had its world premiere in Chicago in 2011, is making its area premiere this month at Gremlin theatre in St. Paul. Having seen the play I cannot imagine why it has taken eleven years for a local theater to produce this powerful, funny, dark, heartbreaking play. The play features four meaty roles that any actor would relish the opportunity to play. Perhaps we are fortunate that it didn’t play before now because it’s hard to imagine a production that could improve on this one. There isn’t anything that doesn’t work in this production, working from a brilliant script, every aspect from the lighting, set design, and performances is flawless. It’s wonderful to see something new that feels raw and real in such a visceral way, this is theater that will move you at times to laugh and at times, to cry.

Johnson’s play tells of two grown sons who come home to the house they grew up in to escape the adult world they can’t seem to face anymore. Tim has been living back with his Mom, Susan, for awhile having gotten divorced and lost his job, he is there because he has nowhere else to go. Ron has walked out on his wife, who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, and their daughter Roann, he’s there because he wants to be. Susan cares for her sons but isn’t overly affectionate towards them; however, she is warm and attentive to her granddaughter Roann. Ron and Tim, two grown brothers who don’t seem to like each other very much have a difficult time sharing their boyhood bedroom, easily falling back into old childish patterns. Much of the humor in the show comes from their adolescent behavior and bickering where much of the truth comes from the moments when they do connect as men. When Roann comes looking for her father to ask him questions, we see the depths and shallows of their characters. Roann also brings out the warmth and nurturing side in Susan. The Boys Room isn’t just about men who seem to have regressed back into children it’s about familial relationships. The dynamics between parents and children and grandparents and grandchildren and how they impact other relationships. It also explores our capacity for selfishness and who we are willing to be there for and who we aren’t.

Gremlin Theatre has rounded up three actors familiar to MN theatergoers who nail their parts but it’s newcomer Lucy Farrell who takes the stage as Roann about midway through the play announcing, there is a new rising star in the Twin Cities. To say Farrell blew me away would be an understatement, the first words on my lips as I left the play is who is this actress? Where did she come from? In her scenes with Linda Kelsey who plays her grandmother Susan, she has a playful rapport when they practice Susan’s Spanish together. But the two also have a very palpable tenderness that radiates from both of them. When she confronts her father and namesake Ron, played by Dan Hopman, she unleashes all of the anger and pain that we have seen glimpses of in the scenes leading up to it. She is adept at playing all these different aspects of the character, playful, confessional, worried, angry, sad, strong not in individual scenes, but you sense all of these multitudes within her the entire time. Gremlin Theatre Artistic Director Peter Christian Hansen plays Tim, the brother who is reading Jane Eyre for the second time so that he can try and connect with his own daughter. It may perhaps be unfair to devote so much time to Farrell’s performance when she is sharing the stage with three actors who give as memorable performances as her co-stars do. Hopman channels despondency perfectly, he somehow makes a character whose actions are pretty sickening somewhat sympathetic by the end. Hansen makes the frustration of Tim being intruded upon relatable through the tragic nature of his circumstance, showing us his pain and how much this room has become a refuge for him. Kelsey, plays Susan as a character who behaves differently depending on who she is with, but again, she makes it all feel authentic, we never don’t believe that the woman who is dismissive of Ron is the same woman who talks to her granddaughter with such love and warmth.

Brian Balcom directs the play, with perhaps the one small criticism I could make, there are a couple of fairly long stretches where a character sits with their back to the audience. But otherwise his staging works very well. I especially liked that characters in rooms other than where the action was taking place continued on with their lives, the lights would dim on them but they continued in conversation as if a mute button had been pressed. Carl Schoenborn as Technical Director and Scenic and Lighting Design created a space that clearly defines the two main areas of the house the boys bedroom and the kitchen using his lighting to direct our focus.

The Boys Room runs through November 27th for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://gremlintheatre.org/

Don’t want to miss a single review from The Stages of MN? You can subscribe and have every post sent directly to your email. To Subscribe on your computer: from the home page on the right, enter your email address and click subscribe. On your mobile device scroll to the bottom of the page and do the same. Also you can follow me on Facebook, search @thestagesofmn and click follow and on Instagram thestagesofmn. I am also a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, you can read roundups of shows by my colleagues and I on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers. Follow that group, It’s a great way to see reviews for shows I don’t get to. We have some exciting things in the works for 2023 for the TCTB and our readers follows us to be the first to know about those happenings.

Preview: The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society is Back Quicker Than Usual on November 6th at The Bryant-Lake Bowl Stage

Last weekend I took in my first performance by the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society (MORLS) in their new home at Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater. It was a fantastic show featuring two adaptations of segments of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the famous deleted first chapter “Dracula’s Guest” and the climactic final battle between Van Helsing and his associates and Dracula titled “The Red Six.” Rounding out the evening was a delightful installment of the MORLS original series Jimmy Montague, Antiquarian-for-Hire by Joshua English Scrimshaw titled “Farewell, My Bloody.” For the uninitiated the MORLS is four performers: Eric Webster, Joshua English Scrimshaw, Tim Uren, and for this next show special guest Rhiannon Fiskradatz in for regular Shanan Custer. While acting out multiple voice roles, the four also create all of the sound effects and music cues live, creating a theater of the mind. I’ll frequently close my eyes for stretches and just listen and let my imagination create the visuals. These are great shows for families as it gives young people an idea of what life was like before TV and the internet and Grandma and Grandpa will love it too as it may bring back happy memories of simpler times.

The next show again seems full of adaptations by the cast and another episode of Jimmy Montague, Antiquarian-for-Hire, here’s what’s on the program:

“The Shadow Over Innsmouth” from Rip Roaring Adventures
A student’s tour through New England reveals the unspoken history of Innsmouth and the horrific secret that lurks around every street corner! Adapted by Tim Uren from the 1936 story by H.P. Lovecraft.

“Smee” from The Weird Library
An innocent party game leads to dark revelations in this spooky adaptation of A.M. Burrage’s 1931 Christmas classic.

“Runestones are a Girl’s Best Friend” from Jimmy Montague, Antiquarian for Hire
Jimmy investigates the occult activities of Boss Karswell, a gangster with a knack for summoning demons. Joshua English Scrimshaw reimagines M.R. James’ 1911 story “Casting the Runes” as a hardboiled thriller.

From the Ghoulish Delights website

One great advantage to the move to the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater is that now you can enjoy food and beverage while taking in the program. The doors open at 6:30 with the show beginning at 7:00 PM. For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.ghoulishdelights.com/. Seating is general admission. I’ll be there so if you come make sure to say hi and join us. You can also find information about their podcast at the link above and how to be become a Patreon supporter with all the honors and benefits that entails.

Don’t want to miss a single review from The Stages of MN? You can subscribe and have every post sent directly to your email. To Subscribe on your computer: from the home page on the right, enter your email address and click subscribe. On your mobile device scroll to the bottom of the page and do the same. Also you can follow me on Facebook, search @thestagesofmn and click follow and on Instagram thestagesofmn. I am also a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, you can read roundups of shows by my colleagues and I on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers. Follow that group, It’s a great way to see reviews for shows I don’t get to. We have some exciting things in the works for 2023 for the TCTB and our readers follows us to be the first to know about those happenings.

Twin Cities Horror Festival Ends 10/30/22 This is My Final Review: Dead Mountain Was a Great End to This Fantastic Fright Filled Festival

Dead Mountain takes its inspiration from the true-life events of the Dyatlov Pass Incident where nine hikers mysteriously perished in 1959. The story is told in two parallel stories using the journal of one of the hikers as the link between the past and present threads. The present day story focuses on a group of American scholars and their guide who have come to collect data to prove their theory that the triggering cause of the incident was an avalanche. The show is well researched and uses actual journal entries from the original hikers. I’m so glad this was the show I ended my festival coverage on, it’s ranks among the top shows of the festival. It tells a scary story with the added creepiness of being based real events that are hard to explain, no matter what you think caused the deaths. It’s well acted and directed using the two ends of the space to allow for transitions between scenes and locations to flow quickly and for the past and present to meet. The script has some well placed humor as well as a couple of genuine shocks.

Ratings (1-5)
Language – 4
Violence – 3
Blood – 2
Warnings: Loud noises
Suggested Age: 16+

I can’t think of a better way to end my time at season XI of the TCHF, Highly recommend this show. But hurry the festival ends 10/30/22 and there is only one more performance of Dead Mountain at 6:00 PM on Sunday for more information and to purchase tickets for any of the remaining shows go to https://www.tchorrorfestival.com/

Here is the schedule for the remaining shows

Saturday, October 29
4:30pm Gillman Genesis
6:00pm Ted’s Talk
7:30pm Victor, Invictus
9:00pm Bad Egg
10:30pm Spooky & Gay

Sunday, October 30 (Closing Day!) 
1:30pm Gillman Genesis
3:00pm Edgar Perry 
4:30pm The Shrieking Harpies
6:00pm Dead Mountain
7:30pm All Your White Darlings
9:00pm Ted’s Talk

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