WORLD PREMIERE!!! The Next Great American Musical as it Turns Out, is Actually a Queer Asian Musical. “Interstate” Floors it at Mixed Blood Theatre.

Kai Alexander Judd and Rose Van Dyne in INTERSTATE Photo by Rich Ryan

Interstate is why I do this. This entire blog’s genesis was around the idea of having a way to let people know when there was great theater happening in our state. This is it boys, girls, and they/them’s – this is the one. Interstate, which is having its world premiere at the Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis is undoubtedly the best original musical to come along in years. A perfect cast brings the music, words, and hearts of its creators Melissa Li and Kit Yan to life. This is their story specifically, but it speaks to all of us. We talk about representation in the arts whether it be theatre, a TV show, movies, whatever. Interstate is about representation on every level from characters to casting. It’s also just great theatre, filled with songs that find a way into your heart immediately. A story set in 2008 that’s timely and important right at this moment in history. A tale that has to be told and these are the people to tell it.

Interstate is the story of Dash an Asian transgender spoken word poet and Adrian a lesbian singer songwriter. Together they form the Asian queer duo, Queer Malady. Queer Malady is on a cross country tour sharing their music and words with fans and building followers through their YouTube videos. Being Asian, queer, and having a desire towards activism, they have different priorities that will cause friction as they continue across the country. Their story is intercut with that of Henry, a South Asian Transgender 16 year old, living in Kentucky who has discovered Queer Malady on YouTube and found a hero specifically in Dash. Henry is not out to anyone but begins a blog to chronicle his journey and to connect with others who are on similar journeys. We blog to know we are not alone. Through Henry, we are shown the importance of seeing yourself reflected in the world around you, he is lost and confused and unsure how to be his true self until he discovers Dash online. When he finds Dash and Queer Malady’s music he sees a way forward.

The entire cast is excellent and should move immediately from here to Broadway after the show closes. The three leads deserve special mention. Kai Alexander Judd plays Dash to Rose Van Dyne’s Adrian, together they make Queer Malady seem like a duo that has been performing together for years. They both have excellent voices that ideally complement each other. They have a great chemistry on stage, believable as best friends whether they are joking around or screaming at each other, there is never a false note. They are superb, and as great as they are, it is Sushma Saha who plays Henry that is going to knock your socks off. They have a voice so beautiful that I found tears on my cheeks before their first song ended. Saha is not just a great voice though, there is a scene that takes place at Henry’s church. I don’t recall them even having a line of dialogue in the scene, but using just their eyes, broke my heart with their performance. All three actors impress with their commitment and willingness to go to very vulnerable places. The show doesn’t flinch away from dealing with aspects of transgender life that are not as well known, such as binders, top surgery, T-injections, and neither do the performers.

Sushma Saha in INTERSTATE Photo by Rich Ryan

The Book for the show co-written by Melissa Li and Kit Yan, music and lyrics by Li and poetry, and additional lyrics by Yan owes something to Rent. There are some stylistic similarities but it is an original and unique story. Those similarities are its strengths and only goes to prove what an influential show that was. Interstate also shares that sense of power and importance that Rent has. Li and Yan are committed to representation, their characters are on tour to reach out to and speak for the Asian Queer community, and the show itself holds to those values. Steadfastly, casting artists that represent the characters as written, the importance of which is echoed in one of Henry’s lines in the show, he says he’s starting the online blog because it’s the only place he sees someone like himself. The truly amazing aspect is how perfectly it flows within the narrative of the show. These are the themes and they are served well in the telling a very human and moving story. Often times a show that you might say has an agenda leads with it’s message and becomes self important. Interstate is a story about characters that we come to empathize with tremendously and through their tale, their message is conveyed. Li and Yan’s lyrics are some of the richest I have heard, songs that are so well crafted are rare even in big hit broadway musicals. A version of the show in progress played at the New York Musical Festival is where it won the award for Outstanding Lyrics.

Directed by Jesca Prudencio and assisted by Shannon TL Kerans the productions speeds along like Queer Malady roaring down the interstate highway. Scenic and Projection Designer Justin Humphres does a great job with what amounts to not a lot in the way of a set. Good use of projection and some really clever elements such as the car headlights in the floor are all that is needed. The rest is handled with Genoveva Castaneda’s well chosen props. It’s simple without feeling simple. We don’t need elaborate sets that evoke the details of the real world, the story and music have already transported us there.

I encourage everyone to see and take advantage of the opportunity to see this show. We’re so fortunate that something this great is having its world premiere here. In a perfect world, this show with this cast would move from here to Broadway, but the world isn’t perfect, so don’t miss the opportunity. This is one of those rare productions that you want to capture on film so you can view it over and over, but that is not what live theatre is. You have to seize the day, don’t miss it! Lastly, don’t wait until the last showing; there’s a good chance you’ll want to see it again or tell someone else to. I’ve already booked to see it again this Wednesday. For more information about Interstate and to purchase your tickets go to https://mixedblood.com/. Content warning. There is strong racial slurs and trans and homophobic language. There is also a scene of fairly graphic sexuality, no nudity but you should be aware of it. It is probably appropriate for anyone over 16 for those under that age, you know your own child best. I’d offer as guidance that it is on par with Rent in terms of these depictions, hopefully that helps guide you.

My Fair Lady at the Orpheum Theatre is an Elegant and Joyfully Fun Revival of a Classic of Musical Theater

My Fair Lady PHOTO BY © JOAN MARCUS

Revivals of classic musicals don’t always work. I was not a fan of The King and I when it came around a few years ago. It was a beautifully mounted production, but something just didn’t really work for me. It may have been the songs, of which there were only a couple that were really memorable. I’m happy to say My Fair Lady is a smashing success. Reminding us that great material never goes out of style. This is a richly designed and wonderfully performed production of a musical masterpiece. Filled with great songs and, as it always has, shines from a rich vein of humor. It’s easy to see why its revival was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, and difficult to see why it lost Best Musical Revival to Once on This Island, which I saw recently and while good, it doesn’t hold a candle to My Fair Lady.

My Fair Lady is a musical adaptation of the George Bernard Shaw 1913 play Pygmalion. It tells the exact same story only with musical numbers. Cockney Flower girl Eliza Doolittle is taken on as an experiment by Professor Henry Higgins a phoneticist. He will attempt to turn her into a proper english speaking woman in 6 months time. He is accompanied on this seemingly impossible task by fellow language enthusiast Colonel Pickering. But the road will not be easy, for even when they succeed in how she sounds, they have to contend with what she says. For their first test they will take Eliza to the horse races, she sounds perfectly elegant and proper, while she relays her belief that someone “done in” her relative. This “new small talk” as Higgins tries to pass it off as, acquires a devoted suitor for Eliza in the form of Freddy Eynsford-Hill. Who will spend much of his time thereafter hanging out “on the street where she(sic) lives”. We will also get to know Eliza’s Father who comes looking for money from Higgins to allow her to stay with him. He’s a man with a unique morality and strange logic, which will improve his station in life much to his consternation. At the end of the six months Professor Higgins presents Eliza at an Embassy Ballroom to see if anyone can tell she is not of their class. When the experiment is done, the reality sets in, Eliza should be on her way, but to where and what is she now fit for?

Eliza is played my Shereen Ahmed, she has a lovely voice, and handles the challenging speaking role well. Imagine having to master a nearly indecipherable Cockney accent and then a uber correct posh and proper english voice in the same show. Her standout song is “I Could Have Danced All Night”. As good as she is the real star of this production is Laird Mackintosh as Professor Henry Higgins. In a show full of accents and linguistic acrobatics, his is the crystal clear and concise voice that cuts through everything. He sings well and almost more importantly he has the perfect touch when it comes to the humor. The meld perfectly in his song “Why Can’t the English?”. However, the best voice in the company belongs to Sam Simahk who play Freddie, he gets the most romantic song to sing “”On the Street Where You Live”. In terms of comic acting Adam Grupper, delivers the goods as Eliza’s Dad Alfie.

The production itself is a gorgeousity to be sure. The sets by Michael Yeargan are very detailed and beautiful. The London street scene at the beginning starts everything off right. Designed using perspective and layered flats Yeargan creates a sense of scale that’s truly remarkable. The set for Higgins’s home is very cleverly designed on a turntable. You can follow the characters as they travel from room to room while the set spins. The backgrounds for the streets as well as at the ballroom are exquisite. However the ballroom does bring to mind the one design flaw I spotted. In that scene there are four, 2 dimensional flats that hang from the ceiling. They represent chandeliers, but they do not fit, they look like cardboard flats. Aside from that minor quibble, the look of the sets is remarkable. Complimenting them nicely is the lighting design by Donald Holder adding texture and mood to every scene. Of course the great source material from the celebrated collaborators of Lerner & Loewe is what really makes the show dazzle. All of these elements are brought together seamlessly under the flawless direction of Bartlett Sher.

My Fair Lady runs through March 8th for more information and to purchase tickets visit https://hennepintheatretrust.org/

Convert From Frank Theatre is Powerful Drama.

Photo by Tony Nelson

Convert written by Danai Gurira and playing at the Gremlin Theatre in St. Paul is an insightful look into British colonialism in south Africa. Focusing on the spread of Christianity and its effects on the native tribal people of Rhodesia where the play is set. A bit on the long side, it avoids outstaying its welcome thanks in part to the compelling conflict between Christianity and the tribal ways which is beautifully illustrated by the story’s main character Ester. A beautiful looking production that is packed with a talented cast, I found it mesmerizing.

Set in the late 1890’s, the play opens with Jekesai a young girl from the village being brought by her cousin to the home of Chilford for whom her aunt is housekeeper. Chilford is native to the area as well but he has been raised since a young boy and educated by white colonists, he hopes to one day become a Jesuit priest. Jekesai has been brought to him in hopes he will take her in and spare her from being traded as a wife to an old man for some goats by her uncle. Her aunt convinces Chilford that she wants to come there so she can learn about Jesus, which is the most important thing in the eyes of Chilford. He decides to take her in and teach her to speak English, to read, write and above all, how to be a Christian. Along with that, he gives her a new name, Ester. There is pulling over time between the Christian beliefs and the tribal ways of Ester’s people. This adds tensions between the native people and the colonizers, an increasing sense that revolt is coming. Convert is complex in it’s ideas but told in such a way that they’re made clear to the audience. There’s a simple logic to the way in which Ester interprets her world, but she is anything but simple. A woman of intelligence in a world that does not value that in a woman or a black person.

Leading the cast are Ashe Jaafaru as Ester, and Yinka Ayinde as Chilford. Jaafaru portrays Ester at first as a desperate scared girl, but as her lessons progress she has a way of conveying to the audience the connecting of dots. She reasons that because she said she wanted to learn about Jesus and thus was delivered from her fated marriage, that Jesus saved her. Later, she will use her superior knowledge of the scripture to correct a white Father. Chilford tells her she must never do that again but she debates him using logic that’s hard to argue with. Unfortunately, because of the times and her position, even though she is right, she learns that she’s wrong. Though her understanding of that again shows ultimately her higher intelligence. When the end comes she will prove to also have superior morality. Ayinde makes some interesting choices as Chilford, he’s a very moral character, but at times he uses his authority to override Ester and her Aunt. Ayinde will signal an end to his patience with a change in tone, and just for a moment let us see that as good intentioned as Chilford is, he is still just a man. His fondness for Ester and his pride in her accomplishments are shown, and though there’s never a hint of an attraction between them, Ayinde finds a way to make it felt that if there’s one woman he could love, it would be Ester. She’s the only person for whom his morality falters in the end.

Credit needs to also be given to Foster Johns as Dialect Couch. No one really speaks the Queen’s English in the play, many of the characters speak a mix of English as a second language and Shona. All amazingly consistent and credible. The other highlight of the show was the set design and lighting design. Joe Stanley’s set design is simple, everything takes place in the main room of Chilford’s home. Though The Gremlin Theatre is a relatively small black box theater, the set convincingly transports us to another country and another time. This transportation is aided greatly by Tony Stoeri’s lighting design. Stoeri creates moods with the lighting, highlighting the feel of the scenes. Creating shadows of different colors through the windows to evoke hope or danger depending on what is needed.

Convert plays through March 15th at the Gremlin Theatre for more information and to buy tickets go to http://franktheatre.org/

Pink Unicorn Moves, Entertains, Connects, and Educates. Everything Great Theatre Should Do.

Kate Guentzel – Photo by LaurenB photography 

I was really looking forward to the Illusion Theater’s production of Elise Forier Edie’s play The Pink Unicorn. Everything thing I read indicated it would be right up my alley. Nothing could have prepared me for one of the most moving evenings I’ve had in the theater all year. The Pink Unicorn is the best play about the experience of being a parent to a transgender child. It gets it exactly right, from the confusion to the mistakes, the fear for our children and the anger at those that hurt them. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about. Kate Guentzel’s performance is so open, honest and relatable it moved me to tears on three separate occasions in it’s 70 minute run time. You will not find a show playing in the Twin Cities this weekend that will do more for your understanding of others or your soul.

The Pink Unicorn is a one woman show based actual events from playwright Elise Forier Edie’s life. Kate Guentzel is Trisha a widowed mother of a daughter Jolene in a small Texas town. Trisha begins by telling about the day her 14 year old daughter told her that she was not a girl or a boy but that they are genderqueer. Trisha doesn’t know what that means and like most parents who are given this news she will be playing catch up with her child for a long time. She brings us along on their journey as Jolene now wanting to be called Joe tries to form a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at their high school. We share in her experiences with her church, her battles with the school, and the non acceptance of her mother. Through everything the character remains a fallible human. Trisha isn’t written as a hero or a character that leads the way and does no wrong. She shares her initial confusion which are natural to have about something we don’t understand. She also shares her urge to go in and beat it out of her child. She says and thinks things that are not OK, just like everyone else on the planet. The play isn’t afraid to show us that side, because it also shows us the moments where she steps up and supports her child letting her love rather than fears guide her. That is the path for every parent on this journey, grapple with unknown, make mistakes, try and learn from them, and ultimately let love show you the way.

I have not seen a performance this year that connected with me as strongly as Kate Guentzel’s did. It felt like she was performing directly to my son and I. Which it turns out she sort of was as we were in the front row and the only faces she could see in the audience with the lights down. I know that connection was also because as the parent of a transgender child, I related to the character of Trisha. However, I don’t think you have to be the parent of a transgender child to feel that connection though. I think every parent can relate to the character, in fact I think every parent should see this play. We can all understand the emotions she is having and for those who haven’t been through it personally, this show can be the catalyst for empathy and the beginnings of tolerance. I have on occasion, spoken to groups about our journey with or about our son. I do that because I learned very early in the process that sharing our personal story, more than statistics or newspaper and magazine articles, is what creates understanding. With understanding comes acceptance, and with acceptance hopefully comes support. Edie has found a way to do that with her play, we know that Trisha is a character in a play being performed by an actress, but we also feel the authenticity and know that the story is true. It creates that same empathy. If you do not understand all this “trans or genderqueer stuff” do yourself a favor, go to this play, it will help you understand. And finally, I cannot close without just saying that Kate Guentzel was dead brilliant, it was a privilege to be in the front row, to be spoken to so directly, to witness such a truthful and engaging performer own a role so completely. Her Southern Accent was so well done it was a bit of a shock when the talkback began to hear her own voice.

The Pink Unicorn is playing in St. Paul at The Lowry Lab Theater, remaining performances on March 1 and then March 12, 13 & 15. General Admission tickets are only $15 (this is a steal). Click here for more information and tickets go to http://www.illusiontheater.org

The show is also continuing a tour in MN see locations and dates below.

TheaterB in Moorhead on March 7 and 8
Pioneer Place Theater In St Cloud on March 4 
Dalko Arts in New Prague on March 6
Fair trade Books in Red Wing on  March 14

Toot Productions’ Tweezer Burn at Du Nord Craft Spirits in SE Minneapolis Entertains While Leaving You With Questions to Fuel Discussion and Thought.

First of all the location Du Nord Craft Spirits was really interesting. If you haven’t been there and enjoy a fun cocktail or two I’d highly recommend checking it out. I don’t drink but I had a really tasty mocktail called the St. Paul No. 2, caffeinated and spicy, it was a delight. Secondly, this reminded me of the experimental opera I reviewed last week, though way more accessible. In the program they label the show non-traditional theatre, and that seems like an accurate description. It’s theatre but it is also art, not that theatre isn’t art in general, it is, but this is art as in creating something with your hands and materials art. The show itself is hard to explain and the more I try to explain it, perhaps the less enjoyable it would be. A lot of the pleasure I got from it was not knowing what to expect or what would happen next. I would encourage anyone who is interested in art, particularly non-traditional art, as well as non traditional theatre, to check this out.

Let me set the stage a little without giving too much away. When we arrived for the show we were given tools (see photo above), programs, and latex gloves, it was very important that you get the right size gloves, don’t lose them they are very important later. Once the show starts the three performers who created the show with the Director Eric Larson come and ask for the tools that were distributed beforehand one by one. They then very assertively describe the tools and what they are used for. And… I have to just stop there, to describe it is to rob it of its wonder. The first act is fun, but there is also an informative side in the form of audio sampled from YouTube videos about art conservation and restoration. It’s this information combined with what transpires in the second act that raises some thought provoking question and discussion points. Don’t go to this show alone, you are going to want someone to discuss this show with afterward.

So what questions does it raise, what topics does it encourage discussion of? Well to my mind there isn’t a definitive answer to that. The creators may have a concept they want you to go away thinking about, but it isn’t explicit and I don’t think it really matters, I think what is important is that it gets you thinking and discussing and exploring ideas. For my wife and I, it raised questions about whether conservation should happen or if we should consider art work to age and change, just as it’s creators do as they age. The tools we use to create and restore, do they restore things or do they change them in different ways? We see in our society this desire to hold back time to maintain things as they are even going so far as to alter ourselves with surgeries to try and stay as we were. But all you have to do is look at Jennifer Jason Leigh’s face to see that when we try and restore things to how they were, we actually alter them into something different, frequently not something better either. Maybe those thoughts were already swirling around in my head because of a character in a play I saw the night before and not what the creators intended. But, I don’t think that matters, I think the important thing is not what the answers are but what questions it raises, and the thought that goes into exploring those questions.

Tweezer Burn runs just two more shows Sat Feb 29th @ 8:00 PM and Sun March 1 at 2:00 PM. For tickets and more information go to https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4474865

The Old Log Theatre Opens it’s 80th Year With a Winner, The Dixie Swim Club

Photo Old Log Theatre

The old Log Theatre is the oldest professional theatre in Minnesota, staging it’s first show in 1940. 80 years later it is showing us why. 2020 saw it complete it’s dead brilliant run of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder which opened in October 2019. Now with The Dixie Swim Club they demonstrate once again that they know what their audiences want and how to give it to them. The Dixie Swim Club is a laugh out loud comedy that find humor in character, and what characters they are. A talented cast of five local actresses that give such strong and endearing performances by the time the play ends, you feel like you have spent the evening as part of this close circle of friends rather than just as an observer. Yes, this is another show you can safely take Grandma too, and you know what? That’s great!

The Dixie Swim Club written by the team of Jessie Jone, Nicolas Hope, and Jamie Wooten is not an incredibly original play. It draws comparisons to Steel Magnolias among others. It follows five women who became friends when they were on their college swim team together. The play shows us them on four of their yearly Girls Weekend at a cabin on the beach in August. The first Girls Weekend takes place 22 years after graduation and by the last weekend, 33 years have passed in all. The script does a wonderful job of giving us details about their personalities that we can follow through each time jump. Sheree played by Shana Eisenberg is the planner and health conscious one. Jen Maren plays Dinah, the career focused lawyer who hasn’t made time for a personal life. Sara Marsh is Lexie the self absorbed serial divorcee. Bonni Allen is Jeri who starts the play as a nun. And finally, Melinda Kordich plays Vernadette, bad luck follows her around like an annoying little sister that cannot be shaken off or ditched. They are all terrific, but Vernadette and particularly Kordich’s performance was my favorite. The first time we see her in each time period she has something wrong that we can see, a sling on her arm, crutches…. The story about the cause and what is happening in her life are some of the best comedic touches. But what was really impressive is the way she didn’t wallow in her bad luck. She has such an “oh well, what can you do?” attitude about some of the worst luck I’ve ever heard of that you can’t help but admire her character. She faces ridiculous adversity with self deprecating humor, it’s a much better choice than the sad sack route. It also leads to one of my favorite lines from the play when after telling them what has happened to her this year, one of the others says “your life is just one long country song isn’t it?” to which she replies, “and the hits just keep on coming.”

The Director Eric Morris, who also directed A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, does another fantastic job here. He has steered the performers towards distinct and authentic characterizations, allowing us to feel for them but also finding the humor. That balance can be tricky, and Morris shows he know how to walk that tightrope with confidence. There is an interesting choice in the changes between scenes. We have some of the performers helping to set the scene for the next time period but also  Assistant Stage Manager, Annie Miners coming through and helping make the adjustments. It’s different because she is in full view of the audience and seems to be doing a little performance. For example, the first switch she comes out while Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” is playing, and she is doing a little bit of a dance while she makes the changes. This actual reminded me of a similar technique in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Steel Magnolias last fall. It threw me at the Guthrie, but this time around I think Morris made it work. First of all there is a fair amount of little things that need to be changed, glasses and other props removed from the scene. You either have to darken the stage or drop a curtain for far too long, or you work it into the show. In this case I took it to be the caretaker who comes in after this yearly reunion putting everything right. The final set change brings an unexpected sense of loss to the play, changing the tone slightly so that when we jump ahead 23 years we sense there was a loss. Lastly I want to point out the scenic and lighting design of Erik Paulson. The set is perfectly realized, it is the livingroom of the cabin they rent every year, it’s sort of standard stuff, but well executed. The neat touch is in the distance outside the cabin we see the ocean and a night sky. The trees outside the window have the palms moving in the breeze. The sunset also changes beautifully, as does the sky itself when a storm is approaching.

Plays through May 29th at the Old Log Theatre for more information and to purchase tickets click on http://oldlog.com/ .

Preview: Plan Ahead for the World Premiere of “Interstate” a New Queer Asian Pop-Rock Poetry Musical at Mixed Blood Theatre March 6-29

Photo by Rich Ryan

As many of you know my youngest son is transgender and gay. When a show comes along that represents his community, I try and make a point to see it with him if I can. Representation is an important aspect of art and culture. It’s vitally important for everyone to see themselves represented in the world around them. There are a lot of LGBTQ shows this winter and spring, all of them look super interesting. You can find my reviews for a couple of shows Superman Becomes Lois Lane which closes this weekend at the History Theatre and Significant Other which closes March 8th here and here I highly recommend both. I already had Interstate on my radar, tickets secured, and it was probably my most anticipated upcoming show based on what I already knew of it. When my community, The Twin Cities Theater Bloggers (TCTB), were invited to go and spend some time with the Creators of Interstate I jumped at the chance.

Melissa Li and Kit Yan

Interstate is the creation of Melissa Li (she/her/hers) and Kit Yan (He/She/They) and was inspired by a cross country tour they undertook in 2008 performing in 32 states. Melissa co-wrote the Book for the musical as well as the music and lyrics. She has written other musicals as well including Surviving the Nian Which was a Jonathan Larson Grant Recipient. Kit co-wrote the book as well as writing poetry and additional lyrics for Interstate. Kit’s show Queer Heartaches has won five awards at the Chicago and SF Fringe Festivals. They are currently collaborating on a new musical comedy Miss Step which from what I’ve read I sure hope I get a chance to see it on a Twin Cities stage in the near future. That’s just the tip of the iceberg with these two warm and inviting artists, if you are interested in learning more about them check out their websites http://melissali.com/ and https://kityanpoet.com/. Listening To Kit and Melissa talk about the shows genesis it’s easy to see that they have poured their heart and souls into this project. Semi Autobiographical, it deals with a multitude of themes. Their friendship, which in real life, didn’t survive their tour. Kit described Melissa as his nemesis for awhile until they finally made up. It tells the story of queer Asian duo Dash and Adrian as they tour the nation. Dash is a transgender spoken word poet, and Adrian a lesbian singer-songwriter. The tour takes place in 2008 at the dawn of social media as we know it. Their music is discovered by Henry, a south Asian transgender sixteen year old (hey my Trans son is 16) blogger (hey I’m a blogger) from middle America. Henry decides to seek out and meet his heroes. Li’s site calls it a

“Story about how two transgender people at different stages of their journey navigate love, family, masculinity, and finding community in the era of social media.”

melissali.com/theater

Can you see why I’m excited for this show? On top of that I have been listening to the songs the last couple of days and I really like this music. Melissa described the music as being three distinct styles. First there is the band’s songs they perform, those seem steeped in spoken word and contain some powerful messages. Secondly, there are more standard “musical” songs, where the characters sing about their feelings rather than speak them like we are used to in contemporary musical theater. Thirdly, Henry’s more electronic youth music. I’m looking forward to hearing all of it live. Kit and Melissa stressed how adamant they are about casting transgender actors in the transgender roles and casting asian actors. This speaks to the representation I addressed earlier, and an important factor in the casting.

We were lucky enough when we met up that the three young stars stopped by. Meeting them and talking with them it’s clear they found the perfect Dash, Adrian and Henry. Kai Alexander Judd plays Dash. Sushma Saha plays Henry, and Rose Van Dyne is Adrian. They range in age from 21 to 23 and a more open and engaging group of young performers you’d ever want to meet. They had just gotten back from grabbing dinner together and you could tell they were all enjoying each others company. I have a feeling they are going to rock our worlds come March 6th.

Before I let you go I do want to point out a couple of other shows opening soon that have a LGBTQ aspect to them. Uprising Theatre Company is doing a series of 4 new plays this year by transgender or nonbinary playwrights. The first of these runs March 6th through 23rd and is entitled Doctor Voynich and Her Children. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets https://www.uprisingtheatreco.com/. The other is Illusion Theater’s show The Pink Unicorn which runs Fri – Sun Feb 28 thru March 1st and Thurs, Fri, Sun March 12, 13, 15. for more information and to purchase tickets for this show click on http://www.illusiontheater.org/

Don’t wait for my review of Interstate, I’m fairly confident from what I’ve heard and seen already that this is going to be a show to remember. For tickets go to https://mixedblood.com/on-stage/interstate/ . Keep in mind that Mixed Blood have several programs to help make theatre accessible to everyone. Copied from the Mixed Blood theatre website are these programs:

RADICAL HOSPITALITY

Through Radical Hospitality, admission is provided at no-cost for folks who find cost a barrier to attending Mixed Blood. Admission is on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens two hours before every show; seating begins 30 minutes before show time and is general admission (no assigned seats).

and:

Interstate Buy One Give One

$70.00

Mixed Blood is proud to host OutFront Minnesota’s Youth Leadership Council as INTERSTATE’s Radical Hospitality partner.  When you pay it forward with a “Buy One, Give One” ticket purchase, you guarantee your own admission and underwrite admission for a Youth Leadership Council member, too.  OutFront Minnesota’s mission is to create a state where lesbian, gay, bisexual,transgender, and queer people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination. OutFront’s Youth Leadership Council is a year-long leadership program for a select group of LGBTQ+ student leaders who meet twice a month. The Leadership Council is crucial in the planning and execution of our annual Youth Summit which brings together more than 500 LGBTQ+ and allied students and educators from across the state to collaborate, learn, and take action.