Theater Latté Da invests in growth and new work development with two new leadership positions

MINNEAPOLIS, MN December 11, 2017Theater Latté Da (TLD) announces Michelle Woster will be joining the company as Managing Director. As Latté Da continues to expand its commitment to developing new musical theater works, re-imagining work from the canon, touring its original work across the country, and managing the Ritz Theater (the company’s new home in northeast Minneapolis), increased staff capacity was needed to support the efforts.

Woster was hired as the first managing director of Ten Thousand Things in 2003, where she worked for ten years with the company’s small staff and board to grow this locally-recognized treasure into a leader on the national theater scene. For the past four years she held senior development positions at the Center for Victims of Torture and The Family Partnership. Woster holds a B.A. in English from The University of St. Thomas and a M.P.A. from The University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Michelle lives in Northeast Minneapolis with her husband Peter Quale and their three children. Woster will oversee all business aspects of TLD with a primary focus on development and operations.

“I am excited to start meeting many of Latté Da’s donors and patrons who have carried the company to its 20th season, and to build new relationships with theater enthusiasts looking to invest in the creation of new work and the artists who will bring those stories to life,” said Woster.

In an effort to seek out new projects and writers, maintain a presence at new work festivals, and support the future development and production of Theater Latté Da’s NEXT Festival, the company’s new works festival, TLD has created the new position of Associate Artistic Director, which will be filled by Elissa Adams.

Adams has spent her career developing new work. In her 19 seasons as Director of New Play development at Children's Theatre Company, she commissioned and developed more than 45 new plays and musicals that premiered at CTC and went on to productions across the country. She was Literary Manager/Dramaturg at La Jolla Playhouse and Director of Playwright Services at The Playwrights' Center, where she oversaw the Center's Jerome and McKnight Fellowships and served as Artistic Director of PlayLabs. She is a frequent dramaturg at the Sundance Theatre Lab, an Adjunct Professor at MCAD, a recipient of the McKnight Theatre Artist Fellowship and a former Board Member at Open Eye Figure Theatre and TYA/USA. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from UC San Diego.

Adams has worked with Latté Da’s NEXT Festival before, where she has served as a dramaturg from the beginning and has facilitated the curatorial process of the Festival for the past two years. “It is such an exciting time to be joining Theatre Latté Da, says Adams. Thanks to the strong foundation of excellent new work that Peter and a host of wonderful artists have created over the past 20 years, the company’s reputation as an incubator of and launching pad for new musicals is really taking flight. Latté Da is earning a reputation nationally I look forward to helping spread the word so the organization and its artists can soar.”

“Michelle and Elissa bring with them a wealth of experience, but more importantly a bold vision for the future of the American Theater. We are thrilled to have them at the helm of Theater Latté Da's next chapter.”

Theater Latté Da Board Chair Jaime Roman says, “After our recent strategic planning, the board felt strongly that now was the time to “lean in” to our ambitions to become a nationally recognized center for the creation of the new canon of American musical theater, while establishing our new home at the Ritz Theater as a community hub in Northeast Minneapolis. These two additions to our staff will help bring our ambitions to life.”

Theater Latté Da is currently presenting A Christmas Carole Petersen at the Ritz Theater, running through Dec 30, and will open Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins on February 10, 2018, and the world premiere of Five Points opening on April 6. 

About the NEXT Festival

In 2013, TLD launched the NEXT Festival, inviting audiences to participate in the generative creative process of creating a new work. Each year three new musicals or plays with music receive a two-week workshop and two to three public readings. In 2015, TLD expanded on our commitment to playwrights, composers, and lyricists, and launched a robust new works initiative called NEXT 20/20. The initiative will develop 20 new musicals, or plays with music, over a five-year period, and will shepherd many of them to full production.  The goal of the endeavor is for the artists to receive the resources, time, and space needed to think big, to explore new ideas, and to discover the best course of action to move their work forward.

About Theater Latté Da

Founded in 1998, Theater Latté Da (TLD) is in its 20th season of presenting original and re-imagined musical theater. Theater Latté Da seeks to create new connections between story, music, artist, and audience by exploring and expanding the art of musical theater. TLD is dedicated to expanding the American Musical Theater with work that speaks to a contemporary audience. Theater Latté Da has fostered innovation and diversity since its conception. We believe in work that is bold and collaborative; we act with integrity and gratitude. These values are integral to the organization’s health and drives the discussion at every stage of decision-making. Through productions that transcend the conventional, the organization helps solidify the Twin Cities’ reputation as a place where progressive art plays a vital role.

Theater Latté Da is the only nonprofit professional theater in the Twin Cities that exclusively produces musical theater. Since its inception, TLD has presented 70 Mainstage productions, including ten world premieres, and ten area premieres. Each has garnered critical acclaim and earned its artists and TLD a host of awards, including: seven IVEY Awards for overall excellence, National Endowment for the Arts, the Gabriel Award for Broadcast Excellence, and the American Theater Wing National Theater Company Award. In addition to our Twin Cities presence, TLD’s original production All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 is celebrating its 11th anniversary with a national tour to 16 cities, ranging from New Jersey to California and Wisconsin to Florida. TLD’s provocative staging of Ragtime was remounted at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington in October 2017, and will be remounted at Asolo Repertory Theater in Florida in May 2018.

Since 1998, TLD has performed in venues throughout the Twin Cities, ranging from the intimate 120-seat Loring Playhouse to the Pantages Theater in downtown Minneapolis. To deepen our relationship with Twin Cities audiences and to better reach the communities we serve, Latté Da decided to make a permanent home in northeast Minneapolis. In 2016, TLD became the proud owner of the historic Ritz Theater, a 234-seat theater with administrative offices, rehearsal space, dressing rooms, and box office.

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Theater Latté Da's original work A CHRISTMAS CAROLE PETERSEN brightens the holiday season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2017
Contact: Andrew Leshovsky
andrew@latteda.org
612-767-5646 office

CAROLE RETURNS…TO DECK THE HALLS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!
THEATER LATTÉ DA’S ORIGINAL WORK
A CHRISTMAS CAROLE PETERSEN BRIGHTENS THE HOLIDAY SEASON

This hilarious holiday production features Tod Petersen, along with Ryan Lee,
Jody Briskey, and Dominique Wooten.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS

Performances begin November 29 at the Ritz Theater in NE Minneapolis.

Single tickets are on sale now at latteda.org or 612-339-3003.

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) Single tickets are on sale now for Theater Latté Da’s highly-celebrated original work A CHRISTMAS CAROLE PETERSEN. Carole returns this season for the homegrown holiday comedy. Written by Tod Petersen and Theater Latté Da Artistic Director Peter Rothstein, A CHRISTMAS CAROLE PETERSEN has been hailed “a stunning triumph,” “a yuletide must,” and “laugh-out-loud funny.” Rothstein will direct with Denise Prosek as music director. Performances begin November 29 at the Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE in Minneapolis). Single tickets and season tickets can be purchased at latteda.org or by calling 612-339-3003.

Carole returns…and she’s ready to deck the halls!  There’s no denying the power of the holidays to bring out the best and worst in all of us. Acclaimed storyteller Tod Petersen reflects on the yuletide season with his family in Mankato, Minnesota, and pays particular tribute to the show’s namesake—his mother Carole.

On the autobiographical musical Rothstein offers, “Tod Petersen and I have been friends for nearly 20 years and we’ve spent much of that time making each other laugh. I directed Tod in several productions before I became aware of his skills as a storyteller.” He continues, “A Christmas Carole Petersen premiered in 2000 and after a well-received return to Theater Latté Da last season, Carole is back again.”

The production combines comedic monologues and covers of classic holiday songs and features Tod Petersen (Theater Latté Da: GYPSY!, A Christmas Carole Petersen, Parade, A Man of No Importance) as himself and other members of his Mankato community. Petersen recently starred as “Mature Bobby” in the History Theatre production of Teen Idol: The Bobby Vee Story. The cast also includes a trio called “The Carolettes” portrayed by Jody Briskey, returning to Theater Latté Da (GYPSY!, Parade, A Christmas Carole Petersen); Dominique Wooten, who was seen in Theater Latté Da’s production of Sweeney Todd as the corrupt Beadle Bamford; and singer-songwriter Ryan Lee, returns to Theater Latté Da (A Christmas Carole Peterson) after his recent appearance as Bobby Perillo in DalekoArts production of The Rink.

Theater Latté Da is an award-winning Twin Cities musical theater company that combines music and story to illuminate the breadth and depth of the human experience. The company seeks to create new connections between story, music, artists, and audience by exploring and expanding the art of musical theater.  latteda.org

FACT SHEET:

A Christmas Carole Petersen

Written by: Tod Petersen and Peter Rothstein
Directed by: Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by: Denise Prosek

Featuring: Tod Petersen, Ryan Lee, Jody Briskey, and Dominique Wooten
Dates: Wednesday, November 29 – Saturday, December 30, 2017
Venue: Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis MN 55413)

Tickets: $29-49

Carole returns…and she’s ready to deck the halls!  The celebrated holiday comedy returns to the Ritz Theater. There’s no denying the power of the holidays to bring out the best and worst in all of us. Acclaimed storyteller Tod Petersen reflects on the yuletide season with his family in Mankato, Minnesota, and pays particular tribute to the show’s namesake—his mother Carole. Join us for this hilarious and heartwarming Theater Latté Da original.

Performance Dates and Times:

Wednesday, November 29 at 7:30 pm (Preview)
Thursday, November 30 at 7:30 pm (Preview)
Friday, December 1 at 7:30 pm (Preview)
Saturday, December 2 at 7:30 pm (Opening Night)
Sunday, December 3 at 2:00 pm
Wednesday, December 6 at 7:30 pm
Thursday, December 7 at 7:30 pm
Friday, December 8 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 9 at 2:00 pm
Saturday, December 9 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 10 at 2:00 pm
Wednesday, December 13 at 7:30 pm
Thursday, December 14 at 7:30 pm (ASL/AD)
Friday, December 15 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 16 at 2:00 pm
Saturday, December 16 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 17 at 2:00 pm
Tuesday, December 19 at 7:30 pm
Wednesday, December 20 at 7:30 pm
Thursday, December 21 at 7:30 pm
Friday, December 22 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 23 at 2:00 pm
Saturday, December 23 at 7:30 pm
Tuesday, December 26 at 7:30 pm
Wednesday, December 27 at 7:30 pm
Thursday, December 28 at 7:30 pm
Friday, December 29 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 30 at 2:00 pm
Saturday, December 30 at 7:30 pm

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Ivey Awards honor best in local theater for 2017

By CHRIS HEWITT |  Pioneer Press

PUBLISHED: September 27, 2017 at 10:19 am | UPDATED: September 27, 2017 at 10:19 am

Theater Latte Da’s “Ragtime” earned the Ivey for Overall Excellence. (Dan Norman/Theater Latte Da)

Theater Latte Da’s “Ragtime” earned the Ivey for Overall Excellence. (Dan Norman/Theater Latte Da)

Actor Meghan Kreidler went home with two Ivey Awards at ceremonies Monday night.

Kreidler, currently on stage in Theater Latte Da’s “Man of La Mancha,” received the Emerging Artist award and was honored as a member of the Ensemble winner, “Vietgone.” The cast of that Mixed Blood Theatre musical drama also included Sun Mee Chomet, David Huynh, Flordelino Lagundino and Sherwin Resurreccion. (Chomet and Resurreccion were also double-winners Monday night, receiving acting trophies for “The Two Kids That Blow S— Up” at Theater Mu.)

The trophy for Lifetime Achievement was given to Ten Thousand Things founder Michelle Hensley, who has announced that the current season will be her last as the innovative company’s artistic director.

The annual Ivey winners are selected by a somewhat mysterious panel of 100 theater-makers and fans. Their other choices were:

Overall Excellence: “Ragtime,” Theater Latte Da

Production Design and Execution: “Six Degrees of Separation,” Theater Latte Da, awarded to Abbee Warmboe, Barry Browning, Sean Healey, Kate Sutton-Johnson, Bethany Reinfeld and Alice Fredrickson

Concept and Execution: “Safe at Home,” Mixed Blood

Actor: Nilaja Sun, “Pike St.,” Pillsbury House Theatre; Steven Epp, “Fiddler on the Roof,” Ten Thousand Things

Director: Noel Raymond, “The Children,” Pillsbury House Theatre

Emotional Impact: “Wit,” Artistry

'Screw fear!' was a rallying cry at last night's Ivey Awards

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 by Jay Gabler, City Pages

It was already Meghan Kreidler's night before she took the State Theatre stage to accept the coveted Ivey Award as this year's honored Emerging Artist.

The powerhouse performer was up there early on to accept an Ivey as a member of the Mixed Blood Vietgone ensemble, and she subsequently wowed the crowd with a solo rap from that show. The Emerging Artist award capped a remarkable, busy year for the actor, who also fronts local rock band Kiss the Tiger.

"Thank you for letting me take ownership of who I am," she said to Theater Mu, the company she called "my first home" on local stages. She added, "Screw fear!" The latter sentiment was in keeping with the spirit of a night where -- as has been the case in recent national award ceremonies -- the Trump administration was a constant point of reference and disdain, while never being explicitly called out.

The lifetime achievement Ivey went to Michelle Hensley, who's about to retire as founder and artistic director of Ten Thousand Things. She garnered waves of applause, first for her remarkable achievement in creating a nationally-noted model for bringing theater to underserved audiences and then for her call to increase the number of women leading local theater companies.

After a realization that "I was going to have to make my own place" as a woman making theater at the start of her career, in the 1980s, Hensley noted that there will be some prominent vacancies atop local companies over the next several years. "Most of those positions need to be filled by women," she said to emphatic cheers, "and the majority need to be women of color."

As in past years, the Ivey evaluators were over the moon for Theater Latté Da. The company's Ragtime took an Overall Excellence award, and their Six Degrees of Separation was honored for the technical design and execution of a show that, among other nice touches, incorporated original works by local artists into its set depicting a luxury apartment in New York City.

Mixed Blood was also doubly honored. In addition to the award for the Vietgone acting ensemble, the West Bank company won an Ivey for their unusual and absorbing Safe at Home, a baseball play staged at CHS Field. (At that announcement the house band, led by Latté Da's Denise Prosek, swung into John Fogerty's "Centerfield.")

Pillsbury House was a third company earning two Iveys. Nilaja Sun took an Ivey for her powerhouse solo performance in Pike Street. Noël Raymond also won, in absentia, for directing Pillsbury House's The Children.

The remaining Iveys were spread entirely among relatively small companies, with none of the megaphone-shaped awards going to the Guthrie, the Jungle, or Park Square Theatre. The Guthrie's Joseph Haj and the Jungle's Sarah Rasmussen both appeared as presenters, though, cementing the evening's sense of solidarity and goodwill.

Steven Epp, whose Moving Company engendered a wave of controversy for its Refugia at the Guthrie this year, won an Ivey for his uncontroversial and excellent performance in Ten Thousand Things' Fiddler on the Roof. "I just want to apologize to people who actually know how to sing and do musicals," said Epp after he caught his breath from the long jog to the stage.

Additional acting honors went to Sun Mee Chomet and Sherwin Resurreccion, for carrying Mu's intimate two-hander The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up. "Sherwin's probably at the bar," joked Chomet, accepting the Ivey alone.

Artistry's Wit took an Ivey for "emotional impact," although star Sally Wingert wasn't available to join her colleagues in accepting the award. A near-speechless Benjamin McGovern, who directed the show, did his best in her absence.

This year's Iveys were the first to be held since founder Scott Mayer stepped down, but there were no tributes to him, as the focus of the big show — among American theater award ceremonies, only the Tonys draw more attendees — remained on the artists. The absence of the detail-oriented Mayer was felt in a few spots. For example, the awards' Twitter account, which typically live-tweets the show, has been silent since March 12 ("Good for #surdyks").

A radiant Thomasina Petrus and a comically shambling Mark Benninghofen hosted, with Petrus taking the mic for a memorial medley that may have marked the first time Billie Holiday's "I'll Be Seeing You" has ever been mashed up with Bon Jovi's "It's My Life."

In a moving final touch, the hosts and a range of performers joined the young cast of Stages Theatre Company's Stone Soup, after that show's "Build a Feast," for a culminating performance of "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen.

At ceremony's close, child actor Alejandro Vega flipped the switch on a single light. That's a stage tradition and, in this case, a public nod to the Ghostlight Project, a nationwide initiative of solidarity among theaters resisting discrimination and marginalization in our precipitous political moment. It was a welcome reminder that, while you win some and you don't win some, ultimately we're all in this together.
 

Theater founder Michelle Hensley and actor-singer Meghan Kreidler head honorees in Twin Cities theater celebration

Rohan Preston, Star Tribune

Michelle Hensley, whose Ten Thousand Things troupe has brought quality theater to underserved audiences in Minnesota jails, shelters and community centers for 25 years, received the Ivey Award for lifetime achievement Monday at the State Theatre in Minneapolis.

That accolade, selected by the artistic directors of other Twin Cities theaters, was among 11 awards presented Monday during a high-gloss ceremony. It marked a career-capping achievement for Hensley, who will step down as artistic director next year.

“You guys have said so many nice things about me,” said Hensley, clearly humbled. She paid tribute to her ancestors, the artists she works with and the communities her company serves. She also called for the appointment of female arts leaders to positions that come open in the next five years in order to change the field.

Meghan Kreidler, currently starring in “The Man of La Mancha” at Theatre Latté Da, was honored with the Ivey for outstanding emerging artist. She thanked the many Twin Cities companies where she has worked, but especially Theater Mu, which helped her connect strongly with her Asian-American heritage.

Kreidler also was part of the Ivey-winning acting ensemble of “Vietgone,” a hip-hop-inflected musical staged at Mixed Blood Theatre, along with Sun Mee Chomet and Sherwin Resurreccion, who also won Iveys for their performances in Theater Mu’s production of “The Two Kids That Blow S — - Up.”

Theatre Latté Da was honored with two Iveys — one for overall excellence for its revival of the melting-pot musical “Ragtime,” and another for the clever design team behind “Six Degrees of Separation,” John Guare’s play about ambition and impersonation.

Pillsbury House co-artistic director Noël Raymond was honored for her directing work on “The Children,” a human-and-puppet re-imagining of the Greek tragedy “Antigone.”

Pillsbury House also figured in another award, for writer/actor Nilaja Sun’s tour-de-force solo show “Pike St.,” in which she evoked a whole community on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Mixed Blood Theatre’s “Safe at Home,” a baseball-themed work staged in the locker rooms, press box and other locales around CHS Field in St. Paul, was recognized for the ambition of its conception and execution.

Veteran actor Steven Epp was given an Ivey for his starring role in Ten Thousand Things’ revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Also honored was director Ben McGovern’s production of “Wit,” in which stalwart Twin Cities actor Sally Wingert shaved her head to play a cancer patient.

Presenters at this year’s Iveys included artistic directors Joseph Haj of the Guthrie, Peter Brosius of Children’s Theatre and Ron Peluso of History Theatre. Performers included Kasano Mwanza, who sang “Beauty School Dropout” from Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ “Grease.” Excerpts from shows at Jungle and Frank theaters were performed.

The Iveys combine the spirit of the Tony Awards with a unique Minnesota touch that seeks to prevent hurt feelings. Those under consideration for awards are not announced in advance. And there are no fixed categories.

The awards were founded in 2004 by Scott Mayer, who stepped down from running the event last year.

The awards are now under the aegis of Arts Ink, a marketing and communications agency whose CEO, Amy Hawkins Newton, has been on the Ivey advisory board for 10 years.

Humans of La Mancha: Theater Latté Da Brings Diversity, Humanity, and Modernity to an Old Favorite

By Andy Browers, Author, Bookriot.com

Man of La Mancha is one of the most reliable workhorses of the stage. Massive touring productions, dinner theaters, high schools, colleges, church basement drama clubs—you name it, they have done it, and people came and probably adored it. It’s one of those shows capable of doing much of its own heavy lifting, and if you get the lines right and assert some degree of mastery over its galloping music, the thing is going to be a success.

It is also a show set in a particular intersection of time, space, and cruelty called the Spanish Inquisition. So build that dungeon, dress that ensemble in rags, and transport us back to 17th century Espana. Right?

Not always. Director Peter Rothstein has expertly lifted the theatrical nesting doll of plays within plays from one period of barbaric inhumanity and inserted it right into another—the present day. It shouldn’t work. There should be no parallels between our points in history. We should have left the incarceration, intimidation, and grievous mistreatment of neighbors who make us uncomfortable in the 17th century. But we didn’t.

So swap that dusty old dungeon for a stark, cold, concrete holding cell filled for the most part with ethnic minorities. Let us watch, from the moment the house is open, as more are brought in until, at last, we see the small-statured intellectual and his friend shown into the room and we know it’s time to hitch up the old workhorse and get to it.

And let me just say: it works.

Let me also say that I am a sentimental fool with an unkickable idealism habit and a bottomless appetite for metaphor, so this show kind of speaks of my Quixotic language. Like  the Lord of La Mancha himself, I saw many castles in Theater Latté Da’s masterful production looming behind the veneer of reality—subtext coaxed out by a fresh setting.

I thought about prisons. Yes, the preshow included a literal cell becoming occupied. But perhaps as equally frightening and cold was the psychological prison they began to occupy. Did they talk to each other? No. In fact, one character moved away when another took the seat immediately next to hers. These people are scared and they are isolated, insular, incarcerated within themselves. Welcome to 2017.

Everything changes when Miguel de Cervantes presents his theatrical defense before the Governor and company. A shared purpose and unified effort to bring Cervantes’ dream to life also brings each detainee to life, and if that ain’t a metaphor for the beauty of community, cooperation, teamwork and/or art and its ability to free us from the imagined cells dividing us, then I don’t know what is.

The play within the play became a stripped down, streamlined production with found objects providing sound effects and characters suggested artfully by partial masks and selective costume pieces, akin to the productions another Twin Cities company frequently delivers to prisons, shelters, and other lonely, hopeless people. The diverse cast of fifteen did the work of double or triple that number, led by the charismatic and buoyant performance of Martin Sola. The emotional and violent peaks and valleys of Meghan Kreidler’s Aldonza reached aching highs and lows, and I have never felt a crowd share in the triumph of the rumble against the muleteers more viscerally than I did on Friday night. The trio set in the Padre’s (Jon-Michael Reese) confessional was fresh and hilarious. Andre Shoals’ warmhearted fussbudget Innkeeper also deserves mention. Really, the ensemble worked as an excellent, cohesive and inventive whole. 

The button of the show is a reprise of its greatest hit, and to quote the Padre, “I feel with pain that once again we now will hear an often heard refrain.” Only there was no pain. Zero pain. The song became something new; as the cast broke into “The Impossible Dream” , they broke it like a prism as it split into a handful of different languages into a musical theatre melting pot reflecting the American experience, the La Mancha experience, and the human experience all at once. Is it any wonder why people shot out of their seats to applaud the very second the cast stopped singing?

No way. Man of La Mancha lives, and it is not to be missed.

Andy Browers is a writer, actor, and director from Cloquet, MN. He contributes regularly to bookriot.com, and is currently working on a collection of essays related to pop culture. Andy will direct The Great Gatsby at Lakeshore Players in White Bear Lake, opening Dec. 2017. 

Theater Latte Da turns staple 'Man of La Mancha' into a protest piece

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 by Jay Gabler, City Pages

After the curtain call at Sunday’s matinee performance of Man of La Mancha, director Peter Rothstein stepped onstage to salute an early mentor, in attendance, who helped inspire his lifelong love of theater. She must have been gratified to see how her former student is multiplying her gift, creating productions that remind audiences why art matters.

In this particular instance, Rothstein has revitalized a musical that’s been consigned to musty dinner theaters. Man of La Mancha is far from the most obvious show to prove demonstrably relevant in 2017, but Rothstein homes in on one of the musical’s key lines: “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?”

Rothstein sets Theater Latté Da’s new production in an immigration detention center: a brutal chamber with concrete walls and stained floors, a grating buzzer sounding whenever the security door is opened. By removing the play-within-a-play’s setting from the Spanish Inquisition to the present day, Rothstein brings the themes of human dignity and desperate imagination into sharp relief.

Once the story is underway, though, the production luxuriates in the brilliant music and witty script that have kept playwright Dale Wasserman’s adaptation of Don Quixote in regular rotation for half a century. As author Miguel de Cervantes, Martín Solá sublimely embodies the noble mien that makes the ostensibly disordered Spaniard a magnetic figure. He’s accompanied by Sancho (Zach Garcia), his right-hand man.

One of Rothstein’s many excellent choices here was to cast the fierce Meghan Kreidler as Aldonza. Far from the blowsy wench her clients perceive, Kreidler makes Aldonza a formidable personality who’s devastating in her disappointment when her Don proves unable to defend her. Her eponymous testimonial song is at the dark heart of this moving production.

It’s not all gloom in La Mancha, though, thanks to on-point character acting by the entire ensemble—notably Andre Shoals as the Innkeeper and Jon-Michael Reese as an amusingly reluctant Padre. With Reese flanked by McKinnley Aitchison’s Antonia and Sara Ochs’ Housekeeper, “I’m Only Thinking of Him” is so entertaining that you can almost miss the pristine quality of the trio’s singing.

A four-member band is hidden from view, but their presence is strongly felt as music director Denise Prosek captures the warmth of composer Mitch Leigh’s Spanish-flavored music.

The production ends with a gut punch, as we return to the detention center and the diverse characters step forward to sing a reprise chorus of “The Impossible Dream.” After last fall’s election, theater artists across the country promised to respond swiftly. Who could have guessed that a 1964 musical would constitute one of this season’s most powerful rebukes?

Man of La Mancha
Ritz Theater
345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis
612-339-3003; through October 22

 

Theater Latté Da opens 2017-18 season with nicely realized 'Man of La Mancha'

GRAYDON ROYCE, Special to the Star Tribune

Martín Solá and Meghan Kreidler star in “Man of La Mancha” at Theater Latté Da. Below, Kreidler portrays Aldonza, who blossoms under Don Quixote’s influence. PHOTO BY ALLEN WEEKS

Martín Solá and Meghan Kreidler star in “Man of La Mancha” at Theater Latté Da. Below, Kreidler portrays Aldonza, who blossoms under Don Quixote’s influence.
PHOTO BY ALLEN WEEKS

In a crazy world, who is the sane human? Is he the one who tilts at windmills, creates his own heroes and dreams of impossibilities because only in fantasy is there the hope of a different world?

This was the philosophy behind “Man of La Mancha,” which might today be nothing more than a dusty old musical if not for the elusive nature of its truth and purpose.

Theater Latté Da has opened its 20th season with a nicely realized staging of “La Mancha,” a work drawing inspiration from writer Miguel de Cervantes and his dazzling protagonist, Don Quixote.

Director Peter Rothstein places the work in the cinder-block holding area of a modern detention center (set by Michael Hoover). It’s a well-intentioned stab at relevancy that makes its case convincingly up to the point where the dialogue references the historic Spanish Inquisition.

We get the point. Resisting absurdity in a world of claustrophobic ideology is timeless.

Cervantes (Martín Solá) puts on a play within a play, telling the story of Don Quixote in hopes that the prisoners will find him innocent in their kangaroo court.

Kreidler portrays Aldonza, who blossoms under Don Quixote’s influence. Photo By Allen weeks.

Kreidler portrays Aldonza, who blossoms under Don Quixote’s influence. Photo By Allen weeks.

It is a stunning moment when that drama begins in Rothstein’s production. Designer Marcus Dilliard’s lights shift from cold klieg to dramatic red. Handmade props (Abbee Warmboe) and masks (Abbey Syme) are distributed to the prisoners, who become actors in telling the story of the “knight errant.”

Solá has the requisite charisma, voice and stamina to make Cervantes/Quixote a man who convinces his fellow prisoners that he deserves better than his fate. He might not be the craziest or most mesmerizing Quixote I’ve seen. He is flush with nobility and honor, though.

Meghan Kreidler portrays the sullen Aldonza, who slowly blossoms under the influence of Cervantes/Quixote and becomes devoted to him. One almost feels a breeze every time Kreidler crosses the stage, as she is so physically dominant and spiritually tough. Her voice, loud and brash, softens remarkably in “What Does He Want of Me?”

Zachary Garcia is just a bit off as the bumbling Sancho — more cute than amusing. Andre Shoals is excellent as the Governor, a sympathetic prisoner who has agreed to give Cervantes a fair hearing in the prisoners’ kangaroo court. Rodolfo Nieto, Sara Ochs and McKinnley Aitchison stand out in the ensemble.

Everyone on stage, under Denise Prosek’s musical direction, sings well and fight choreographer Annie Enneking gets to show off her chops with a lot of bodies heaving themselves around the stage.

“La Mancha” did not send me away with the thrill of “Sweeney Todd” or “Ragtime” in recent years at Latté Da. It is, however, everything this company does so well with musical theater: conceive, articulate, find the passion and tend to all the details. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Graydon Royce is a longtime Star Tribune critic.

The quest and questions of ‘Man of La Mancha’ almost impossibly current

By CHRIS HEWITT | chewitt@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press

PUBLISHED: September 12, 2017 at 4:38 pm | UPDATED: September 12, 2017 at 11:04 pm

“When life seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?” That quotation feels completely of-the-moment, but it comes from Miguel de Cervantes’ four-century-old “Don Quixote.”

“That quote has been ringing in my ear every day I read the paper and scratch my head and think, ‘Where do I live? Who are my neighbors?” says Peter Rothstein, whose Theater Latte Da opens the “Don Quixote”-inspired “Man of La Mancha” this weekend. “It’s our 20th-anniversary season and we wanted to open with something that is about the power of storytelling, the power of theater.”

Martin Sola, Zachary Garcia and Andre Shoals rehearse a scene from Theater Latte Da’s modern-day “Man of La Mancha.” (Emilee Elofson/Theater Latte Da)

“Man of La Mancha” is a musical theater classic. But if you’re remembering a guy in a feathered hat and a waistcoat singing “The Impossible Dream,” you should not expect that image in Latte Da’s take, which Rothstein describes as contemporary and political.

Inspired by the fact that “La Mancha” features a play-within-a-play, Latte Da is reimagining the musical in a waiting room, where a diverse group of people brings to life Cervantes’ story of the dreamer, Don Quixote, his loyal sidekick, Sancho Panza, and his muse, who is variously known as Dulcinea and Aldonza. Originally set during the Spanish Inquisition, with Cervantes awaiting trial, this “La Mancha” takes place in an uncertain present.

The opportunity to reflect the diverse community in which we live and “to bring hope to a world that seems to be without it” has returned Rothstein to “La Mancha” for the first time since Grand Rapids High School, when he played The Padre in the show.

Peter Rothstein at a 2014 rehearsal for “Cabaret.” (John Autey/Pioneer Press)

” ‘Man of La Mancha’ is set in a medieval prison, during the Spanish Inquisition and it’s described as ‘a common room for those who wait,’ ” Rothstein says. “I was thinking, ‘What would that look like in contemporary society?’ ”

Latte Da won’t be specifying the common room in which its characters wait. Is it the Department of Motor Vehicles? An immigration holding facility? A police station? An airport? But Rothstein thinks most audience members will be able to relate to the powerlessness of being in the sort of place where we await our fates at the hands of bureaucracy.

“I’ve been stuck in Customs. I was out of the country, doing research, during 9/11 and I was put in a waiting room, waiting to talk to someone,” Rothstein says. “The space is a structure you don’t necessarily agree with — especially in our present political situation — and it’s about, ‘Where do you find your voice inside of that structure?’ ”

Those feelings of powerlessness are not just theoretical in this “Man of La Mancha.” Rothstein had cast an actor from Colombia for this production, but efforts to get her a work visa were denied and, ultimately, the role had to be re-cast.

Casting, in general, was tricky, according to Rothstein.

“It’s a fairly tall order. There’s not a lot of music inside the work, so I knew I wanted actors who could handle the language. And we’re doing it with 11 actors, so I knew they’d be playing multiple roles,” says Rothstein. “I was also looking for diversity in all sorts of ways and I knew I needed smart actors who want to have these conversations but also have strong singing and acting chops.”

Broadway veteran Martin Sola left the Gloria Estefan musical, “On Your Feet,” to make his Latte Da debut as Quixote. Meghan Kreidler, whose musical appearances have included Mu Performing Arts’ “Flower Drum Song,” will play Aldonza/Dulcinea. And the cast boasts Latte Da veterans Sara Ochs (“Sweeney Todd”), Dan Hopman (“Into the Woods”) and Andre Shoals (“Ragtime”).

They will all be in modern dress in this stripped down “Man of La Mancha,” which the director describes as “exquisite and primitive,” in keeping with the imaginative work done by Twin Cities theater company Ten Thousand Things, for whom he directed “Doubt” and “Once on This Island.”

“When you look at the Inquisition, it’s interesting that the day Columbus sailed to America was the beginning of it. And that, under the Inquisition, those who practiced Judaism had to convert to Catholicism or be imprisoned. It’s not so terribly far-fetched,” says Rothstein, a former altar boy who notes that, despite the original setting, one of the play’s most sympathetic characters is a Catholic priest. “I’m not saying we are living in the Spanish Inquisition. But when you read the paper, when you watch the news, there are ideologies that are frighteningly familiar.”

In other words, the setting of this modern “Man of La Mancha” is designed to do two things: To ask audiences to reflect on how much things have changed in the 400 years since Cervantes’ day. And to reflect on how much they haven’t.

IF YOU GO

  • What: “Man of La Mancha”
  • When: Through Oct. 22
  • Where: Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, Mpls.
  • Tickets: $47-$39, 612-339-3003 or latteda.org

Theater Latté Da opens Season 20 with a bold re-imagining of the musical MAN OF LA MANCHA, Broadway veteran Martín Solá stars as Don Quixote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 7, 2017

Contact: Andrew Leshovsky
andrew@latteda.org
612-767-5646 office

THEATER LATTÉ DA OPENS SEASON 20 WITH A BOLD
RE-IMAGINING OF THE MUSICAL MAN OF LA MANCHA,
BROADWAY VETERAN MART
ÍN SOLÁ STARS AS DON QUIXOTE

One of the most honored musicals of the American theater, MAN OF LA MANCHA was inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th Century masterpiece Don Quixote.

MAN OF LA MANCHA features Martín Solá as Don Quixote/Miguel de Cervantes,
Meghan Kreidler as Aldonza, and Zachary Garcia as Sancho Panza.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS

Performances begin September 13 at the Ritz Theater.
Single tickets and season tickets are on sale now at latteda.org or 612-339-3003.

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) Theater Latté Da today announced casting for the powerful, groundbreaking musical MAN OF LA MANCHA. Winner of 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical Play, this musical features a compelling book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and score by Mitch Leigh. Theater Latté Da Artistic Director Peter Rothstein will re-imagine the production with Resident Music Director Denise Prosek. Performances begin September 13 at the Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE in Minneapolis). Single tickets and season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at latteda.org or by calling 612-339-3003.

One of the most honored musicals of the American theater, Man of La Mancha was inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th Century masterpiece Don Quixote. It received five Tony Awards, including one for best musical play, as well as the Drama Critics Circle Award for best musical. Powerful, brutal, funny, and heartbreaking, Man of La Mancha celebrates the perseverance of one man who refuses to relinquish his ideals; and who is determined to see life “not as it is, but as it ought to be.”

“There is a quote from Cervantes’ Don Quixote that has been ringing through my mind for the past 6 or 7 months, says Artistic Director Peter Rothstein, “’when life seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies.’ I am looking forward to reimagining this great work of musical theater in a contemporary, political context.”

To launch Theater Latté Da’s 20th Anniversary season, Rothstein has assembled a dazzling cast: Martín Solá, a theater, film, and television actor, stars as the idealistic knight errant Don Quixote. Solá’s most recent appearance was in Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Broadway musical On Your Feet. He made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning revival of The King and I starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy. Additional Broadway credits include Baz Luhrmann’s production of Puccini’s La Bohèmeand Coram Boy. “I am thrilled to be joining the company of Man of La Mancha at Theater Latté Da,” says Solá. “Cervantes and Quixote are amazingly complex and iconic figures, the likes of which an actor longs to play. I am also looking forward to spending time in the Twin Cities again, and exploring Minneapolis. In 2004, I was on tour with The King and I and we played the Ordway in Saint Paul. I have very fond memories of my time there.”

The production also features Twin Cities emerging artist Meghan Kreidler as the vivacious and tortured Aldonza. Kreidler most recently appeared in Mixed Blood’s production of Vietgone to much critical acclaim. Described as one of the area’s best talents, Kreidler has also appeared in Mu Performing Arts/Park Square Theatre’s production of Flower Drum Song and Mu Performing Arts production of A Little Night MusicZachary Garcia, starring as Sancho Panza, recently appeared as Woody in Theatre in the Round’s production of Six Degrees of Separation and Hal in Proof at Artistry.

Several cast members will make their debut in Theater Latté Da’s first production of the season. Jon-Michael Reese, who recently appeared in public readings of Five Points and Goddess as part of Theater Latté Da’s NEXT Festival 2017, is featured as the Padre; Rodolfo Nieto makes his debut as Dr. Carasco; Dan Hopman  returns to Latté Da as the Captain of the Inquisition (Latté Da: Into the Woods); Sara Ochs as the Housekeeper and Maria (Latté Da: Sweeney Todd); Andre Shoals as the Innkeeper (Latté Da: Peter and the Starcatcher); Matt Riehle as the Barber (Latté Da: C.); McKinnley Aitchinsonmakes her Latté Da debut as Antonia/Moorish Girl.

MAN OF LA MANCHA features scenic design by Michael Hoover, costume design by Rich Hamson, and lighting design by Marcus Dilliard.

Theater Latté Da is an award-winning Twin Cities musical theater company that combines music and story to illuminate the breadth and depth of the human experience. The company seeks to create new connections between story, music, artists, and audience by exploring and expanding the art of musical theater.  www.latteda.org

FACT SHEET:

MAN OF LA MANCHA

Book by Dale Wasserman
Lyrics by Joe Darion
Music by Mitch Leigh
Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece Don Quixote
Directed by Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by Denise Prosek

Featuring: McKinnley Aitchison, Zachary Garcia, Dan Hopman, Meghan Kreidler, Rodolfo Nieto, Sarah Ochs, Jon-Michael Reese, Matt Riehle, Martín Solá, and Andre Shoals

Dates: Wednesday, September 13 – Sunday, October 22, 2017

Venue: Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis MN 55413)

One of the most honored musicals of the American theater, Man of La Mancha was inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th Century masterpiece Don Quixote. It received five Tony Awards, including one for best musical play, as well as the Drama Critics Circle Award for best musical. Powerful, brutal, funny, and heartbreaking, Man of La Mancha celebrates the perseverance of one man who refuses to relinquish his ideals, and who is determined to see life “not as it is, but as it ought to be.”

Performance Dates and Times:

Wednesday, September 13 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
Thursday, September 14 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
Friday, September 15 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
Saturday, September 16 at 7:30 PM (Opening Night)
Sunday, September 17 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, September 20 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, September 21 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, September 22 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, September 23 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, September 23 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, September 24 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, September 27 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, September 28 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, September 29 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, September 30 at 2:00PM
Saturday, September 30 at 7:30PM
Sunday, October 1 at 2:00PM (Post-show Discussion)
Wednesday, October 4 at 7:30PM
Thursday, October 5 at 7:30PM (Post-show Discussion)
Friday, October 6 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, October 7 at 2:00PM
Saturday, October 7 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, October 8 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, October 12 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, October 13 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, October 14 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, October 14 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, October 15 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, October 18 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, October 19 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, October 20 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, October 21 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, October 21 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, October 22 at 2:00 PM

###

Theater Latté Da Announces 2017-18 Season

American Theatre Editors American Theatre Magazine

May 2, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS: Theater Latté Da has announced its 20th anniversary season, which will feature five musicals, including a Sondheim production, a local holiday favorite, and a world premiere. This season marks the first in the company’s new Ritz Theater.

“I am truly grateful for the generosity and support of this community,” said founding artistic director, Peter Rothstein in a statement. “With our 20th anniversary season, we continue to stretch the boundaries of musical theatre, telling stories that resonate with our contemporary world.”

The season kicks off with Man of La Mancha (Sept. 13–Oct. 22), by Dale Wasserman with lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. Inspired by Cervantes’s Don Quixote, this musical drama follows the famed author through trials and mishaps during the Spanish Inquisition and will be re-imagined in a contemporary setting.

Next up will be A Christmas Carole Petersen (Nov. 29–Dec. 30), by Tod Petersen and Peter Rothstein. Back for its 11th consecutive year, this show follows Carole Petersen, the author’s mother, and her obsessive love for all things Christmas.

Ringing in the new year will be Assassins (Feb. 7–March 18, 2018), with book by John Weidman with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. This musical explores the psychology of four assassins, and one would-be assassin, of U.S. presidents, and the extremes people will go to for power.

Following will be the world premiere of Five Points: An American Musical (April 4–May 6, 2018), by Harrison David Rivers with music by Ethan D. Pakchar and Douglas Lyons, and lyrics by Lyons. Set in New York City during the Civil War, this musical follows two men, a young black performer and an Irish immigrant, and their struggles in pursuit of the American dream.

Wrapping up the season will be Underneath the Lintel (May 30–July 1, 2018), by Glen Berger with original music by Frank London. A Dutch librarian sets out to find who’s responsible for returning a travel guide that’s 113 years overdue, with only some writing in the margins and a dry-cleaning ticket as clues.

The annual NEXT Festival will also run during summer 2018, showcasing three new musical works.

Theater Latté Da is committed to the expansion of musical theatre and sharing it with the community.

'Man of La Mancha' to open 2017-18 Latté Da season; 'La Bohème' coming up

Pamela EspelandMinnPost

May 4, 2017

Theater Latté Da has announced its 20th anniversary season, a provocative blend of new works and classics served up with a few twists. Hint: Tyler Michaels will play Lee Harvey Oswald.

Now settled into its new home in the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis, Latté Da will open 2017-18 on Sept. 13 with the five-time Tony winner “Man of La Mancha.” Founding Artistic Director Peter Rothstein sees it as a musical that “celebrates the perseverance of one man who refuses to relinquish his ideals.” He’ll set it in an immigration holding center with a multilingual cast, featuring Jon-Michael Reese and Rodolfo Nieto in their Latté Da debuts.

We’ll get a Christmas break from worldly concerns with “A Christmas Carole Petersen,” Tod Petersen’s ode to his mother, Carole, and her love of all things Christmas. The holiday hit will return for its 11th season beginning Nov. 29.

Starting Feb. 7, 2018, Latté Da will continue its love affair with Stephen Sondheim (after “Sunday in the Park With George,” “Company,” “Into the Woods,” “Gypsy,” and the brilliant “Sweeney Todd”) with “Assassins,” the multiple Tony winner about our nation’s culture of celebrity. What’s one of the fastest routes to instant fame? Shoot a U.S. president. Here’s where Michaels stars as Oswald, with Dieter Bierbraurer as John Wilkes Booth and Sara Ochs as Sara Jane Moore. The Ritz will be converted into a sinister fairground. This could be the most talked-about production of the season.

April 4 brings the world premiere of “Five Points: An American Musical,” with a book by Harrison David Rivers, music by Ethan D. Pakchar and Douglas Lyons, and lyrics by Lyons. Set in New York City in 1853, it tells the stories of two men, one a young black performer at a dance hall and the other an Irish immigrant. In a statement, Rothstein said, “Harrison David Rivers’ book provides an insightful look at the complicated relationship between the African American community and the recent European immigrants who converged on New York’s Lower East Side.”

The season’s final show, which opens May 30, is Glen Berger’s “Underneath the Lintel.” The play about a librarian who embarks on a journey that spans the globe and the ages has been performed around the world and translated into many languages. Latté Da’s production will be the first to feature live music (following up on this year’s “Six Degrees of Separation”), and the role of the librarian, originally written for a man, will be played here by Sally Wingert.

Latté Da's annual NEXT Festival of new works will take place in the summer, dates and venues TBD.

Season tickets are on sale now.

Penumbra and Theater Latte Da enter the Trump era with timely 2017-18 seasons

Jay GablerCity Pages Minneapolis

May 2, 2017

Standing onstage at the Ritz to announce Theater Latté Da’s 20th anniversary season, Peter Rothstein recited a line from Man of La Mancha that, he said, has been resonating with him of late.

“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?”

The 2017-18 theatrical season is the first to be announced in the Trump era, and companies across the country are grappling with what that means for their programming. In the cases of Theater Latté Da and Penumbra Theatre, both of which announced their upcoming seasons this week, it means work that’s sharply engaged with questions of truth, justice, and identity.

In addition to the season-opening Man of La Mancha, Theatre Latté Da’s season will also include a world premiere musical set during the Civil War, Stephen Sondheim’s controversial Assassins, and a reimagining of the one-man (now, one-woman) show Underneath the Lintel.

Penumbra is also getting musical with a 30th anniversary production of its beloved Black Nativity, as well as with a Children’s Theatre Company co-production of The Wiz. Its season kicks off with Alice Childress’ Wedding Band, concludes with Harrison David Rivers’ This Bitter Earth, and features Khanisha Foster’s world premiere play Joy Rebel.

Man of La Mancha may seem like an escapist nugget, but Rothstein says he plans to set it in a contemporary context: an immigration holding center. Assassins, a 1990 musical about actual and would-be presidential killers, is set in a fairground shooting gallery. Latté Da will invite the audience onstage before each performance to visit the dark carnival. If you’ve been dying to see Tyler Michaels play Lee Harvey Oswald, this will be your chance.

“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?”

The 2017-18 theatrical season is the first to be announced in the Trump era, and companies across the country are grappling with what that means for their programming. In the cases of Theater Latté Da and Penumbra Theatre, both of which announced their upcoming seasons this week, it means work that’s sharply engaged with questions of truth, justice, and identity.

In addition to the season-opening Man of La Mancha, Theatre Latté Da’s season will also include a world premiere musical set during the Civil War, Stephen Sondheim’s controversial Assassins, and a reimagining of the one-man (now, one-woman) show Underneath the Lintel.

Penumbra is also getting musical with a 30th anniversary production of its beloved Black Nativity, as well as with a Children’s Theatre Company co-production of The Wiz. Its season kicks off with Alice Childress’ Wedding Band, concludes with Harrison David Rivers’ This Bitter Earth, and features Khanisha Foster’s world premiere play Joy Rebel.

Man of La Mancha may seem like an escapist nugget, but Rothstein says he plans to set it in a contemporary context: an immigration holding center. Assassins, a 1990 musical about actual and would-be presidential killers, is set in a fairground shooting gallery. Latté Da will invite the audience onstage before each performance to visit the dark carnival. If you’ve been dying to see Tyler Michaels play Lee Harvey Oswald, this will be your chance.

Rivers, a playwright based in St. Paul, will have a play onstage in each of the Twin Cities come April 2018, when Penumbra’s production of This Bitter Earth coincides with Theater Latté Da’s premiere of his musical Five Points. Ethan D. Pakchar and Douglas Lyons wrote the music for the show, which centers on a young black entertainer and an Irish jig master caught up in the draft riots of 1863.

Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy will direct Wedding Band, a 1962 play from the Black Arts Movement. Foster’s Joy Rebel examines multiracial identity, and Roger Guenveur Smith will take the Penumbra stage in February for the one-man show Frederick Douglass NOW. (Sorry, Mr. President, Frederick Douglass himself will not actually appear on stage.)

Latté Da will stretch the season into the summer months with Underneath the Lintel, a well-known 2001 play about a questing librarian that’s recently been a Minnesota Fringe Festival favorite starring local actor Pat O’Brien. In Latté Da’s take, the male central character will become a woman, played by Sally Wingert. The company is also bringing playwright Glen Berger to town to collaborate with klezmer master Frank London in creating new musical elements for the show.

The coming season will also be Sarah Bellamy’s first full season as sole artistic director of Penumbra. “I am excited,” she said in a press release, “to welcome audiences and artists to celebrate the courage of those who love outside the lines, who fight to be all of who they are, and in doing so, urge us to manifest a more loving, inclusive America.”

Theatre Latté Da: 2017-18 season

Man of La Mancha By Dale Wasserman Lyrics by Joe Darion Music by Mitch Leigh Directed by Peter Rothstein Sept. 13 - Oct. 22, 2017

A Christmas Carole Petersen By Tod Petersen and Peter Rothstein Directed by Peter Rothstein Nov. 29 - Dec. 30, 2017

Assassins Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim Book by John Weidman Directed by Peter Rothstein Feb. 7 - March 18, 2018

Five Points: An American Musical (world premiere) Book by Harrison David Rivers Music by Ethan D. Pakchar and Douglas Lyons Lyrics by Douglas Lyons Directed by Peter Rothstein April 4 - May 6, 2018

Underneath the Lintel By Glen Berger Music by Frank London Directed by Peter Rothstein May 30 - July 1, 2018

New Work Festival Summer 2018

Classics and new work in next Theater Latte Da season

Chris HewittPioneer Press

May 2, 2017

A timely presentation of a controversial Stephen Sondheim musical is among the offerings next season from Theater Latte Da.

Featuring a song called “The Gun Song,” weapons and political unrest are both themes in “Assassins,” which Latte Da will produce in February 2018. With a cast including Dieter Bierbrauer, Tyler Michaels and Sara Ochs, the show features presidential assassins and would-be assassins in a nightmarish carnival setting, where they talk about their motivations.

“Man of La Mancha” opens Latte Da’s 2017-18 season at the Ritz Theater in September, followed by the 11th version of Tod Petersen’s holiday hit, “A Christmas Carole Petersen.” Next up is “Assassins” and then the world premiere of another politically charged work, “Five Points: An American Musical.”

With a book by St. Paul playwright Harrison David Rivers — whose “This Bitter Earth” will be at Penumbra Theatre next season — “Five Points” features music by Ethan D. Pakchar and Douglas Lyons, who also wrote the lyrics. Set in New York City on the eve of the Civil War, its main characters are a black man and a white man whose paths collide in that time of upheaval.

Latte Da favorite Sally Wingert, who just closed in the theater’s “Six Degrees of Separation,” will return in another play that uses live musical elements. “Underneath the Lintel,” by Glen Berger (with music by Frank London) is a solo piece that stars Wingert as a Dutch librarian who goes on a worldwide adventure, spurred by the discovery of a book that was returned, 113 years overdue.

Peter Rothstein, artistic director of Latte Da, is on tap to direct all five shows. The Next Festival, featuring staged readings of new work, will also return in a season that finds Latte Da on the road with remountings of its stripped-down “Ragtime” and the holiday show, “All is Calm” (neither will be seen in the Twin Cities). Season subscriptions are available at 612-339-3003 or theaterlatteda.com.

Theater Latté Da Launches its 20th Anniversary Season!

  For Immediate Release May 1, 2017 Contact: Emilee Elofson emilee@latteda.org 612-225-1246 office

 

 

Theater Latté Da Launches its 20th Anniversary Season

The Company Continues its Rigorous Exploration of Musical Storytelling, including a Reimagined Classic, a Rarely-Produced Sondheim Musical, and a World Premiere

Season subscriptions are on sale now and can be purchased at latteda.org/subscribe or by calling 612-339-3003.

(Minneapolis, St. Paul) In September, Theater Latté Da will launch its 20th Anniversary Season at their new home, the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis. The highly celebrated company will launch a season that boldly reimagines work from the canon, continues its passion for Stephen Sondheim’s work, infuses a globally successful play with live music, premieres a new musical set in the Civil War, and continues its robust commitment to the development of new musicals and plays with music.

Founding Artistic Director Peter Rothstein states, "I am truly grateful for the generosity and support of this community. We simply could not do the work we do without an adventurous audience, generous donors, and a state that truly values the arts. With our 20th Anniversary Season we continue to stretch the boundaries of musical theater, telling stories that resonate with our contemporary world."

The season opens September 13 with Man of La Mancha by Dale Wasserman with lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. One of the most honored musicals of the American Theater, Man of La Mancha was inspired by Miguel de Cervantes' 17th Century masterpiece Don Quixote. It received five Tony Awards, including one for best musical play, as well as the Drama Critics Circle Award for best musical. Rothstein states, "Man of La Mancha celebrates the perseverance of one man who refuses to relinquish his ideals, who is determined to 'see life not as it is, but as it ought to be.'"

The Theater Latté Da production will reimagine the musical drama in a contemporary context, and will feature a multi-lingual cast. The production will feature Twin Cities newcomer Jon-Michael Reese as The Padre and Rodolfo Nieto as Dr. Carasco, both making their Latté Da debuts.

The Company's holiday hit, A Christmas Carole Petersen, returns for its eleventh holiday season. Tod Petersen’s (Gypsy, Our Town, A Man of No Importance) hilarious ode to his mother Carole and her overly enthusiastic love of all things Christmas is one of the most requested shows in Latté Da's history.

Latté Da continues its celebrated commitment to the work of Stephen Sondheim having produced Sunday in the Park with George, Company, Into the Woods, Gypsy, and their hugely successful production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The rarely produced Assassins will begin performances February 7, 2018. A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassins combines Sondheim's signature blend of intelligent lyrics and stunning music with a panoramic story of our nation's culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it. John Weidman's book is bold, original, disturbing, and alarmingly funny. Rothstein states, "The musical provides a theatrical glimpse into the psychology of America's four successful and five would-be presidential assassins, and has earned its place as one of the most controversial musicals ever written."

Latté Da's production will feature Dieter Bierbraurer (Oliver!, Company, Floyd Collins) in the role of John Wilkes Booth, Tyler Michaels (Peter and the Starcatcher, Sweeney Todd, Cabaret) in the role of Lee Harvey Oswald, and Sara Ochs (A Christmas Carole Petersen, Sweeney Todd, Company).  in the role of Sara Jane Moore. The Ritz Theater will be converted into a sinister fairground and will open an hour prior to each performance. The audience will be encouraged to join the cast on stage for concessions, libations, and carnival games.

Beginning performances on April 4, 2018 will be the world premiere of Five Points, with a book by Harrison David Rivers, music by Ethan D. Pakchar and Douglas Lyons, and lyrics by Douglas Lyons. Set in New York City in 1853, amidst the tumult of the Civil War, Five Points chronicles the journeys of two men, Willie Lane, a young black performer at the famed Almack’s Dance Hall, and John Diamond, an Irish immigrant and former jig champion, as they risk everything in pursuit of the American Dream. Inspired by real events, this world premiere musical is about what happens when worlds collide -- both the chaos and the possibility.

Rothstein states, "I believe in telling big stories and important stories; Five Points is both. Harrison David Rivers' book provides an insightful look at the complicated relationship between the African American community and the recent European immigrants who converged on New York's Lower East Side, specifically with regard to the recruitment of soldiers into the Union Army. The score by Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar is one of the most exciting new scores I've ever heard. It is a sophisticated fusion of Gospel, Celtic, Broadway, and contemporary pop."

The final show of the 20th Anniversary Season will be Underneath the Lintel by Glen Berger with original music by Frank London. The production stars Sally Wingert (Six Degrees of Separation, Sweeney Todd, Cabaret) as a Dutch librarian who embarks on a quest to find out who anonymously returned a library book; a travel guide which is 113 years overdue. A clue scribbled in the margin of the book and an unclaimed dry-cleaning ticket take her on a mysterious adventure that spans the globe and the ages. The librarian, who has never left her native town of Hoofdrop, grows ever-determined to track down the offender. As she travels around the world on her obsessive search, she finds herself on a journey that not only unlocks ancient mysteries, but moves her to new revelations about her own place in the universe.

Glen Berger's celebrated play has been performed around the world and has been translated into numerous languages, but Latté Da's production will be the first time the play is performed with live music. Rothstein has been collaborating with playwright Glen Berger, composer Frank London (bandleader of the New York-based Klezmatics), and musician Dan Chouinard to explore how live music might elevate Berger's funny, whimsical, and poignant play.

Theater Latté Da continues its robust commitment to new work with their NEXT Festival. The summer festival showcases three new works that stretch the boundaries of musical storytelling, where audience members are invited into the ground floor of the creative process.

Season tickets are currently on sale; packages start at $105. Call the box office at 612-339-3003, or visit LatteDa.org

Theater Latté Da On The Road

Theater Latté Da's powerful reimagining of Ragtime, that opened the company's 19th season, will be remounted at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre in the fall of 2017 and at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida in the spring of 2018

All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, by Peter Rothstein with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, will not play in the Twin Cities this year but will tour to California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Iowa, Wisconsin, and five communities in Minnesota.

 

20th ANNIVERSARY SEASON AT A GLANCE

 

MAN OF LA MANCHA

Written by Dale Wasserman

Lyrics by Joe Darion

Music by Mitch Leigh

Directed by Peter Rothstein

Music Direction by Denise Prosek

Featuring Rodolfo Nieto and Jon-Michael Reese

September 13, 2017 - October 22, 2017

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROLE PETERSEN

Written by Tod Petersen and Peter Rothstein

Directed by Peter Rothstein

Music Direction by Denise Prosek

Starring Tod Petersen

November 29, 2017 - December 30, 2017

 

ASSASSINS

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Book by John Weidman

Directed by Peter Rothstein

Music Direction by Jason Hansen

Featuring Deiter Bierbrauer, Tyler Michaels, and Sara Ochs

February 7, 2018 - March 18, 2018

 

FIVE POINTS (World Premiere)

Book by Harrison David Rivers

Music by Ethan D. Pakchar & Douglas Lyons

Lyrics by Douglas Lyons

April 4, 2018 - May 6, 2018

 

UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL

By Glen Berger

Music by Frank London

Directed by Peter Rothstein

Music Direction by Dan Chouinard

Starring Sally Wingert

May 30, 2018 - July 1, 2018

 

NEXT FESTIVAL

Summer 2018

Venues and show titles to be announced

 

All performances are at the Ritz Theater, 345 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis.

 

 

 

 

 

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Theater Latte Da's 'Six Degrees' adds another week of performances

Rohan PrestonStar Tribune

March 28, 2017

It's not just the unusually warm spring weather that is exciting people in the Twin Cities. "Six Degrees" also is hot in Minneapolis.

Producer Theater Latte Da has announced that director Peter Rothstein's revival of John Guare's 1990 play has added a week of performances at the Ritz Theater.

The one-act stars Mark Benninghofen (left), Sally Wingert and JuCoby Johnson, who plays a young conman pretending to be Sidney Poitier's son in this tale of art, impersonation and cunning.

Rothstein's production has received strong notices and audiences apparently agree. The show will now close April 15.

 

Theater Latte Da to revive its powerful 'Ragtime' on the coasts

Rohan PrestonStar Tribune

March 22, 2017

Theater Latte Da is restaging its powerful production of “Ragtime” for audiences in the northwest and southeast next season.

Theater founder and director Peter Rothstein has been tapped to remount his re-imagined version of the musical for the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle in the fall and the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota in spring 2018.

With a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, “Ragtime” tells of the American dream as seen by three groups: blacks, whites and immigrant Jews. The size of the show has made it somewhat prohibitively expensive to stage, since it usually has a cast with three distinct groupings of people.

Rothstein decided to stage the show with a slimmed down cast where all the players support each of the three interlocking narratives.

“The metaphor there, that all the people are responsible for each other’s stories, adds another layer to show,” said Rothstein.

He added: “There are reductions that feel like reductions and reductions that feel like bold choices. According to the audience response and reviews, this one worked.”

Rothstein will take most of his creative team with him, including scenic designer Michael Hoover, costume designer Trevor Bowen and choreographer Kelli Foster Warder.

He’s not sure if he will be able to take his actors. In the Twin Cities, the production starred David Murray as Coalhouse Walker Jr. and Traci Allen Shannon as his wife (pictured in this photo by Dan Norman.). Other headliners were Britta Ollmann as the white mother, Sasha Andreev as immigrant Tateh and Andre Shoals as Booker T. Washington.

Latte Da has toured “All is Calm” at the holidays for the past 10 years.

“But this is the first time we’ll take a production that originated here elsewhere,” said Rothstein. “I’m super-excited about it. The piece created such needed dialogue here and we hope that it will instigate similar dialogue in these communities, too.”

 

REVIEW: Six Degrees of Cons (Theater Latté Da)

Bev WolfeTwin Cities Arts Reader

March 21, 2017

Phoniness, lack of human connectedness and class distinctions are the prevalent themes in John Guare’s play Six Degrees of Separation, which opened last weekend at Theater Latte Da. The play originally debuted on Broadway in 1990 and was nominated for both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for Best Play. Peter Rothstein directs a crisply paced and thoughtful production of Guare’s play.

The play begins with the well-to-do, but temporarily asset-depleted, couple of Ouisa and Flanders Kittredge hosting a wealthy friend named Geoffrey. Geoffrey is an industrialist from South Africa, which during the play is still in the midst of Apartheid. Flanders is an art dealer who is in critical need of acquiring an expensive painting for resale to Japanese buyers. The Kittredges need to persuade Geoffrey to invest $2 million to complete the acquisition. As their evening begins, they are interrupted by a young, well-dressed but bleeding young man named Paul who has just been stabbed. Paul claims he goes to Harvard with the Kittredge’s children and sought help at their place because he was mugged. With a little bit of first aid, Paul proceeds to flatter and charm the Kittredges and Geoffrey.

In addition to attending college with their children, Paul reveals that he is the son of Sidney Poitier. A running joke in the play is that Poitier is directing the movie version of the musical Cats. With Paul’s charm and his promise to make all three of them extras in Cats, Flanders is able to obtain the necessary monetary commitment from Geoffrey. The Kittredges insist that Paul stay the night, but the Kittredges’ wonderful evening crashes with a thud the next morning when, in a very jarring scene, they discover that Paul has brought a naked street hustler into their home.

The Kittredges still hang on to the thought that Paul is Poitier’s son until they learn that their friends had a similar evening and similarly expect to be cast in Cats. The couples contact the police and find at least one more victim. They also confirm that their children do not know Paul. Despite his culture mannerism and appearance, it is learned that that Paul was also a street hustler. He became involved with an MIT student who went to high school with the victims’ children and who schooled Paul in the ways of the well-to-do as well as the known gossip about these affluent parents. However, Paul’s phony persona takes a tragic turn when he takes advantage of a young, poor couple who befriended him.

The play is set in for the late 1980s and its datedness seems quaint. No one uses cell phones and, more importantly, there is no Internet whereby the Kittredges could quickly verify Paul’s connection to Sidney Poitier. Instead, Ouisa must go to a secondhand bookstore to find an out-of-date Poitier biography to verify that Paul was not Poitier’s son.

JuCoby Johnson plays a charming and convincing Paul, who is either a) the ultimate con artist, or b) so desperate to be in the upper class that he starts to believe his own con. Sally Wingert shines in the role of Ouisa. She makes believable the fact that her character, despite knowing of Paul’s deception, has a closer emotion bond to this stranger than she has with her own children, or even her husband. Mark Benninghofen, as Flanders, captures the essence of a man who is primarily interested in his bottom line and has no sympathy for Paul, but who can’t say no to his wife when she wants them to pick up Paul and help him turn himself into the police. Jay Albright, as Dr. Fine (another of Paul’s victims), brings some welcome humor to the play as he relates his encounter with Paul.

When I first saw that this show was part of Theater Latte Da’s season, I assumed it was a musical version of the play. However, there is no musical version of the play – at least not yet – but director Peter Rothstein successfully takes an innovative approach for integrating music by having the actors perform music both as background for certain scenes and during the transitions.

Kate Sutton-Johnson’s set design is another highlight in the show. The set displays a lavish, but realistic upper class living room surrounding by art including a Kandinsky constructivist painting in the center of the stage. It was in great contrast to the bare and raw staging that has been more commonly used at the Ritz Theater.

Staging a non-musical is a significant directional change for Theater Latte Da, but, with a fine cast, it has proven to be a very successful direction. This production does justice to the many layers of Guare’s play.

Theater Latte Da's Six Degrees of Separation

Kare 11 TVPat Evans

March 21, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS - Inspired by the real-life con artist David Hampton, the acclaimed drama "Six Degrees of Separation" is now being performed at Minneapolis Ritz Theatre through April 9.

The witty and sincere social commentary wrestles with the human desire for meaningful connection.

Paul, a young black man, convinces wealthy white New York couple Ouisa and Flan Kittredge that he is the son of Sidney Poitier. Enraptured by his intellect and charm, the couple invite him to stay the night. But Paul’s ruse is soon undone, leading to discoveries that leave them all forever changed.

Nominated for four Tony awards, Six Degrees of Separation is a singular tragicomedy on race, class and manners. Peter Rothstein directs a stellar cast of actors and musicians who inhabit and underscore John Guare’s riveting drama. The Theater Latté Da production contains full-frontal male nudity, strong language, and adult situations.

For tickets visit latteda.org or call 612-339-3003.