THEATER LATTÉ DA ANNOUNCES THE CASTS FOR THE 2018 NEXT FESTIVAL

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

THEATER LATTÉ DA ANNOUNCES THE CASTS FOR THE 2018 NEXT FESTIVAL

Theater Latté Da hosts the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT)’s New Work Roundtable from Thursday, July 19 – Friday, July 20 as part of this year’s NEXT Festival.

 Four dynamic new works from Angelica Cheri and Ross Baum, Jelloslave cellists Michelle Kinney and Jacqueline Ultan, Michael Gruber, Harrison David Rivers, Matt Spring, Nikki Swoboda, Ryan Underbakke, and Max Wojtanowicz that stretch the boundaries of musical theater, will receive workshops culminating in eight public readings.

To Let Go and Fall features the talents of Mark Benninghofen, John Jamison, JuCoby Johnson, Tyler Michaels, Derek Prestly, and Andre Shoals. Gun and Powder features the talents of Matt Bailey, Ivory Doublette, John Jamison, Eben Logan, Thomasina Petrus, T. Mychael Rambo, Tres Searle, Traci Allen Shannon, Kendall Anne Thompson, and Max Wojtanowicz. 7 Shot Swing features the talents of Avi Aharoni, James Detmar, Jane Froiland, Brant Miller, Hope Nordquist, Kori Pullam, and Jon-Michael Reese. Pansy features the talents of Max Wojtanowicz.

Public presentations begin July 15 and run through July 28 at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis. $30 NEXT Festival passes and $15 single tickets go on sale June 15
at Latteda.org or 612-339-3003.

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) Theater Latté Da (TLD) announces the casts for this year's NEXT Festival. Each new work will each receive workshops and public presentations beginning Sunday, July 15. The NEXT Festival is part of TLD’s NEXT 20/20, a robust new work initiative aimed at developing 20 new musicals or plays-with-music by 2020, shepherding many of them to full production. Past NEXT Festivals have offered audiences a first look at new musicals that have gone on to full production including C. (2015) and Five Points (2018).

The first piece in the festival is To Let Go and Fall by Harrison David Rivers with music by Jelloslave cellists Michelle Kinney and Jacqueline Ultan. To Let Go and Fall is the story of Todd and Arthur, two former ballet dancers who reunite at New York’s Lincoln Center Plaza having not seen each other for more than 25 years. This beautifully-told story takes us through the lives of both men, their choices, regrets, and coming to terms with age, illness, and sexual identity.

 “Ask any playwright, workshop opportunities, like NEXT are where the magic happens,” says Twin Cities playwright Harrison David Rivers. “It’s where you meet your collaborators [possibly for the first time]. It’s where you hear your play aloud [possibly for the first time]. It’s where ideas are exchanged and questions asked. It’s where the story deepens, where it finds its heart. And in the case of To Let Go and Fall, it’s where I’ll hear my work set to music for the first time! I can’t wait to see what this magnificent team comes up with.”

To Let Go and Fall will be directed by Peter Rothstein with music direction by Michelle Kinney and Jacqueline Ultan and features the talents of Mark Benninghofen, John Jamison, JuCoby Johnson, Tyler Michaels, Derek Prestly, and Andre Shoals.

Public presentations of To Let Go and Fall are Sunday, July 15 at 2:00 pm and Monday, July 16 at 7:30 pm at the Ritz Theater.

The second piece in the festival is Gun and Powder with book and lyrics by Angelica Cheri and music by Ross Baum. Gun & Powder is inspired by the true story of Mary and Martha Clarke (book writer Angelica Cheri’s great aunts), African American sisters who passed for White and were notorious outlaws. Set in Post-Emancipation Texas, the musical follows Mary and Martha's journey of defying racial boundaries and seizing what rightfully belongs to them, by any means necessary. They are successful at their charade until they each find themselves in love, but with two very different men. 

 Nicole A. Watson will direct with music direction by John Lynn and features the talents of Matt Bailey, Ivory Doublette, John Jamison, Eben Logan, Thomasina Petrus, T. Mychael Rambo, Tres Searle, Traci Allen Shannon, Kendall Anne Thompson, and Max Wojtanowicz.

 Public presentations of Gun and Powder are Friday, July 20 at 7:30 pm and Monday, July 23 at 7:30 pm at the Ritz Theater.

The third piece receiving support during the NEXT Festival is 7 Shot Swing by Ryan Underbakke and Matt Spring. Physical theater meets cinematic staging in this mash-up of world myths and the Roaring Twenties, re-imagining Sun Wukong and Brer Rabbit in an action-packed heist gone wrong, the Osiris myth of Egypt as a Film Noir detective tale, and the Greek gods as a crime family rising to power.  

7 Shot Swing will be directed by Ryan Underbakke and features the talents of Avi Aharoni, James Detmar, Jane Froiland, Brant Miller, Hope Nordquist, Kori Pullam, and Jon-Michael Reese.

Public presentations of 7 Shot Swing are Thursday, July 26 and Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 at the Ritz Theater.

The final piece of the Festival is Pansy, written and performed by Max Wojtanowicz. Pansy is devised by Nikki Swoboda and Max Wojtanowicz, with music and additional lyrics by Michael Gruber. Los Angeles, 1940. The last remaining performer of the Pansy Craze holds court at a nightclub frequented by Hollywood stars, entertaining straight and gay audiences alike with original songs. A tribute to the oft-forgotten crusaders of the gay underground cabaret movement of the 1930s, Pansy is a story about singing out when the world demands your silence. The piece is inspired by Tyler Alpern’s research and book Bruz Fletcher: Camped, Tramped & A Riotous Vamp.

Pansy will be directed by Nikki Swoboda with music direction by Bradley Beahen and features the talents of Max Wojtanowicz.

Public presentations will be presented as a late-night cabaret on Thursday, July 26 and Saturday, July 28, 2018 at 9:30 pm.

As part of this year’s NEXT Festival, Theater Latté Da is proud to host the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT)’s New Work Roundtable from Thursday, July 19 – Friday, July 20. NAMT is a national membership organization committed to nurturing the creation, development, production, and presentation of new and classic musicals and provides a forum for the sharing of resources and information relating to the professional musical theatre community. The New Work Roundtable will bring together musical theater producers, administrators, and artists from across the country for a two-day gathering featuring panel discussions and special events. The Roundtable will focus on best practices for building regional new work development programs, fostering local talent and building community among local artists and sharing ways to maximize local partnerships and engage communities around new work. Twin Cities-based panelists will include Ben Cameron, President of the Jerome Foundation, Rod Kaats, Producing Artistic Director, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, playwright Harrison David Rivers, Ben Krywosz, Artistic Director, Nautilus Music-Theater, and others.

For more information or to register for the New Works Roundtable, visit: https://namt.org/events/new-works-roundtable-2018

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.

Festival Dates: July 15-28, 2018
All presentations will be held at the Ritz Theater.

Presentation Dates, Venues and Times:

TO LET GO AND FALL
Sunday, July 15 at 2:00 pm
Monday, July 16 at 7:30 pm

GUN AND POWDER
Friday, July 20 at 7:30 pm
Monday, July 23 at 7:30 pm

7 SHOT SWING
Thursday, July 26 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 pm

PANSY
Thursday, July 26 at 9:30 pm
Saturday, July 28 at 9:30 pm

###

THEATER LATTÉ DA CONTINUES ITS COMMITMENT TO NEW MUSICAL THEATER, ANNOUNCING A SLATE OF FOUR NEW WORKS AS PART OF THE 2018 NEXT FESTIVAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 8, 2018
Contact: Andrew Leshovsky
andrew@latteda.org
612-767-5646 office

THEATER LATTÉ DA CONTINUES ITS COMMITMENT TO NEW MUSICAL THEATER, ANNOUNCING A SLATE OF FOUR NEW WORKS AS PART OF
THE 2018 NEXT FESTIVAL


Theater Latté Da hosts the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT)’s New Work Roundtable from Thursday, July 19 – Friday, July 20 as part of this year’s NEXT Festival. 

Four dynamic new works from Angelica Cheri and Ross Baum, Jelloslave cellists Michelle Kinney and Jacqueline Ultan, Michael Gruber, Harrison David Rivers, Matt Spring, Nikki Swoboda, Ryan Underbakke, and Max Wojtanowicz that stretch the boundaries of musical theater, will receive workshops culminating in eight public readings.

Readings begin July 15 and run through July 28 at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis.
$30 NEXT Festival passes and $15 single tickets go on sale June 15
at Latteda.org or 612-339-3003.

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) Theater Latté Da (TLD) announces the slate of artists and projects for this year's NEXT Festival. Four dynamic new works from Angelica Cheri and Ross Baum, Jelloslave cellists Michelle Kinney and Jacqueline Ultar, Michael Gruber, Harrison David Rivers, Nikki Swoboda, Ryan Underbakke and Matt Spring, and Max Wojtanowicz will each receive workshops and public readings beginning Sunday, July 15. The NEXT Festival is part of TLD’s NEXT 20/20, a robust new work initiative aimed at developing 20 new musicals or plays-with-music by 2020, shepherding many of them to full production. Past NEXT Festivals have offered audiences a first look at new musicals that have gone on to full production including C. (2015) and Five Points (2018).

The first piece in the festival is To Let Go and Fall by Harrison David Rivers with music by Jelloslave cellists Michelle Kinney and Jacqueline Ultan. To Let Go and Fall is the story of Todd and Arthur, two former ballet dancers who reunite at New York’s Lincoln Center Plaza having not seen each other for more than 25 years. This beautifully-told story takes us through the lives of both men, their choices, regrets, and coming to terms with age, illness, and sexual identity. 

“Ask any playwright, workshop opportunities, like NEXT are where the magic happens,” says Twin Cities playwright Harrison David Rivers. “It’s where you meet your collaborators [possibly for the first time]. It’s where you hear your play aloud [possibly for the first time]. It’s where ideas are exchanged and questions asked. It’s where the story deepens, where it finds its heart. And in the case of To Let Go and Fall, it’s where I’ll hear my work set to music for the first time! I can’t wait to see what this magnificent team comes up with.”

To Let Go and Fall will be directed by Peter Rothstein with music direction by Michelle Kinney and Jacqueline Ultan.

Public readings of To Let Go and Fall are Sunday, July 15 at 2:00 pm and Monday, July 16 at 7:30 pm at the Ritz Theater.

The second piece in the festival is Gun and Powder with book and lyrics by Angelica Cheri and music by Ross Baum. Gun & Powder is inspired by the true story of Mary and Martha Clarke (book writer Angelica Cheri’s great aunts), African American sisters who passed for White and were notorious outlaws. Set in Post-Emancipation Texas, the musical follows Mary and Martha's journey of defying racial boundaries and seizing what rightfully belongs to them, by any means necessary. They are successful at their charade until they each find themselves in love, but with two very different men. 

 Nicole A. Watson will direct with music direction by John Lynn.

 Public Readings of Gun and Powder are Friday, July 20 at 7:30 pm and Monday, July 23 at 7:30 pm at the Ritz Theater.

The third piece receiving support during the NEXT Festival is 7 Shot Swing by Ryan Underbakke and Matt Spring. Physical theater meets cinematic staging in this mash-up of world myths and the Roaring Twenties, re-imagining Sun Wukong and Brer Rabbit in an action-packed heist gone wrong, the Osiris myth of Egypt as a Film Noir detective tale, and the Greek gods as a crime family rising to power.  

7 Shot Swing will be directed by Ryan Underbakke.

Public performances of 7 Shot Swing are Thursday, July 26 and Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 at the Ritz Theater.

The final piece of the Festival is Pansy, written and performed by Max Wojtanowicz. Pansy is devised by Nikki Swoboda and Max Wojtanowicz, with music and additional lyrics by Michael Gruber. Los Angeles, 1940. The last remaining performer of the Pansy Craze holds court at a nightclub frequented by Hollywood stars, entertaining straight and gay audiences alike with original songs. A tribute to the oft-forgotten crusaders of the gay underground cabaret movement of the 1930s, Pansy is a story about singing out when the world demands your silence. The piece is inspired by Tyler Alpern’s research and book Bruz Fletcher: Camped, Tramped & A Riotous Vamp.

Pansy will be directed by Nikki Swoboda with music direction by Bradley Beahen.

Public readings will be presented as a late-night cabaret on Thursday, July 26 and Saturday, July 28, 2018 at 9:30 pm.

As part of this year’s NEXT Festival, Theater Latté Da is proud to host the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT)’s New Work Roundtable from Thursday, July 19 – Friday, July 20. NAMT is a national membership organization committed to nurturing the creation, development, production, and presentation of new and classic musicals and provides a forum for the sharing of resources and information relating to the professional musical theatre community. The New Work Roundtable will bring together musical theater producers, administrators, and artists from across the country for a two-day gathering featuring panel discussions and special events. The Roundtable will focus on best practices for building regional new work development programs, fostering local talent and building community among local artists and sharing ways to maximize local partnerships and engage communities around new work. Twin Cities-based panelists will include Ben Cameron, President of the Jerome Foundation, Rod Kaats, Producing Artistic Director, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, playwright Harrison David Rivers, Ben Krywosz, Artistic Director, Nautilus Music-Theater, and others.

For more information or to register for the New Works Roundtable, visit: https://namt.org/events/new-works-roundtable-2018

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.

Festival Dates: July 15-28, 2018
All public readings will be presented at the Ritz Theater.

Performance Dates, Venues and Times:

TO LET GO AND FALL
Sunday, July 15 at 2:00 pm
Monday, July 16 at 7:30 pm
Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, MN

GUN AND POWDER
Friday, July 20 at 7:30 pm
Monday, July 23 at 7:30 pm
Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, MN

7 SHOT SWING
Thursday, July 26 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 pm
Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, MN

PANSY
Thursday, July 26 at 9:30 pm
Saturday, July 28 at 9:30 pm
Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, MN

###

Review: Sally Wingert soars as a librarian/detective in 'Underneath the Lintel' at Latté Da

 Sally Wingert in  Underneath the Lintel . Photo by Allen Weeks.

Sally Wingert in Underneath the Lintel. Photo by Allen Weeks.

June 4, 2018
Rohan Preston

“I. Was. Here.”

Actor Sally Wingert furiously chalks these words on the walls of the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis as she rushes through the aisles during her solo performance in “Underneath the Lintel.”

Underscoring themes in Glen Berger’s studied 2001 solo play, her emphatic act of theatrical vandalism gives specific meaning to the anonymous graffiti that people have written from time immemorial. Peter Rothstein’s must-see production at Theater Latté Da, which opened Saturday and continues through July 1, is a whodunit story that delves into myths around Jewish culture.

Wingert plays a fastidious librarian whose life is overturned when a book is dropped in a return box 113 years overdue. She is consumed by questions about the kind of miscreant who would do such a thing, and not have the decency to return the book in person. She wants to find him or his descendants — partly so she can have the pleasure of levying a fine.

The librarian becomes an obsessive detective, following clues to England, Germany, China and Australia, with excursions into language and history (she’s all about knowledge, after all) as she surveys the ephemera of a man’s life. She eventually wonders whether the book borrower is the so-called “wandering Jew,” a Christian legend about a man who lives forever.

The Meryl Streep of Twin Cities theater, Wingert is masterful as the librarian, delivering a tour de force that holds you from the first moment, when we hear a mysterious banging on a door, through the end, an exultation of light and flying paper. Reams of dialogue flow from her with honesty and wit. Yet she also is totally present for the audience, whom she addresses as if they were at a lecture. (When a patron’s cellphone went off on opening night, she mildly upbraided him.)

Rothstein’s staging is elegant and simple, creating a sense of awe around the story’s central mystery. He also has made music central to the performance, commissioning a hauntingly beautiful score from Frank London, trumpeter for the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, a New York group rooted in traditional Jewish music.

Michael Hoover’s set contains a projector and weathered books, which the librarian uses to present evidence from her travels. Behind a scrim, an array of suitcases rises to the ceiling, with two musicians perched above the stage: music director Dan Chouinard, who plays piano, organ and accordion, and Natalie Nowytski, who plays bass and sings.

For much of the show, the scrim is unlit. But when the musicians perform, it radiates like a baroque painting come to life. London’s keening, poignant songs add dimension to a text that asserts eternal themes against the threat of erasure, and artfully seeks to rewrite both the past and present.

Underneath the Lintel
Who: By Glen Berger. Music by Frank London. Directed by Peter Rothstein.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Fri.; 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat.; 2 p.m. Sun. Ends July 1.
Where: Ritz Theater, 345 13th Av. NE., Mpls.
Tickets: $29-$49. 612-339-3003, latteda.org.

Sally Wingert's New Century-Old Adventure

 Photo by Allen Weeks

Photo by Allen Weeks

Q&A with the star of Theater Latte Da's "Underneath the Lintel" (May 30-July 1), featuring new music by Frank London

BY LIANNA MATT

My first time seeing actor Sally Wingert, her energy carried the show.  She was Madame Arcati—the spry, exuberant, and eccentric medium in the Guthrie's Blithe Spirit this past October. A month after, I saw her in the Guthrie's Indecent as one of the supporting cast members who dared to show God of Vengeance to the world in the 1900s. Then came her spring performance in the Guthrie's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Wingert goes from show to show without stopping, and not only is she a mainstay at our blue-hued theater, she's a mainstay for the entire Twin Cities. Consequently, when we talked on the phone about her upcoming show Underneath the Lintel at Theater Latté Da (May 30-July 1), I tried to stick to the play instead of demanding her life story and asking star-struck questions.

Underneath the Lintel is about a librarian who receives a book 113 years overdue and goes on a grand adventure across the world to figure out who checked it out. (What else would one do in that situation?) Perhaps I held back too much when I talked with her, and maybe I don't have the complete picture of her thoughts. But even with the short conversation we had, it's apparent how much she loves the play, her work, Theater Latté Da, and the Twin Cities.

When I waffled on whether to call her a local actor—she has had stints in places like Broadway and London—she gently but firmly cut in to say, "I'm a local actor. I occasionally work out of town, but this is my home."

If you miss Underneath the Lintel, you will undoubtedly be able to see Wingert in other plays, solo or otherwise. However, the understated beauty that seems to exude from her descriptions of it, the particulars and the syntax that she extolled, are similar to a gardener talking about one rose he tends to among many. Each is special for different reasons, and Underneath the Lintel seems to promise something that is nostalgic, whimsical, and tenacious. Here's a snippet of what we talked about:

Had you read or seen Underneath the Lintel before?

I have never seen it before, and I had not read it prior to beginning to work on it. We did a workshop last summer with Glen Berger [the playwright] and Frank London [whom Latté Da commissioned to write new music for the play], and that was the first time I had first hand knowledge of it. I had sure heard about it. Both of the men that had performed it in new work, but T. Ryder Smith and David Chandler are actors that I've worked with, and I remember them talking about how important it was to them and how they loved that show.

Almost all of the play's performances feature a man as the librarian. How did you come to be the librarian, and did you have any thoughts on that?

A few years ago, a couple years ago, Glen adapted it. ... He had heard about a production where a woman had done it, and I don't remember this story although he did talk about it, and he thought, yeah, that works, with very little changes. Some of the gender pronouns are changed and all of that, but not much has changed, and to be honest with you, I cannot imagine it as a man now. I can't at all. It's interesting.

I think we can blast gender off the map kind of in a way now. I do. Maybe we always kind have, but in this day and age, we can. But to speak to Peter (Rothstein, Latté Da artistic director) casting me, I think he was looking for a project for us to do. I mean we have a lot of things to talk about, and he's a dear friend of mine as well, and I think he enjoys working with me as well, so we're always kind of looking projects to do, things to do. He was interested in Underneath the Lintel because Glen the playwright talks about his inspiration for the entire piece was in klezmer music.

Any other thoughts on gender roles and theater?

We're just behind. The notion of fluidity, inclusivity. I just think women are perhaps just demanding to be heard more, and perhaps the climate is more conducive to hearing what we have to say. But it's not just a two-gender deal, I think of the whole spectrum, and i think all of that can sort of ... There's just a lot of places where fluidity is interesting. I think it adds to the conversation; I think it can deepen the ideas, where we can go outside the box, giving everyone a chance. It's a learning curve we have to accept. 

 Sally Wingert with musical director Dan Chouinard rehearsing "Underneath the Lintel." Photo by Sally Wingert stars in the one-person play "Underneath the Lintel," showing at Theater Latté Da, May 30-July 1, featuring new music by Frank London. Photo by Emilee Elofson.

Sally Wingert with musical director Dan Chouinard rehearsing "Underneath the Lintel." Photo by Sally Wingert stars in the one-person play "Underneath the Lintel," showing at Theater Latté Da, May 30-July 1, featuring new music by Frank London. Photo by Emilee Elofson.

Do you relate to the character at all? 

This is probably my limitations as an actor because much of her rhythm is like my rhythm, but she is very much not me. This is not like Sally, although people will sure see me in it because that's what we do. We look for meaning, we look for similarity, and that's really fun. She has something that she really wants to share, and that is completely, you know, that's me. One of the reasons , the chief reason I love/hate, one of the reasons I love theater, is I absolutely love interaction with a larger community, a larger group of people, i.e. an audience. It's thrilling to me that we all come together and leave having shared something.

Reading a bit about the play's plot, the librarian seems stuck in the beginning. Do you agree?

I think that on some level, she has an awareness of being stuck, but I think this journey slightly sneaks up on her, one, and two, she's not self-actualized in that way of, "I'm gong to have an adventure in my life." She doesn't put on her adventure pants and say, "Let's go have fun, let's go learn." She's a librarian, and she's officious and she has all kinds of fact. When this overdue book happens, she's appalled and then becomes slightly curious, and that leads to more curiosity, leads to more discoveries, and all of a sudden her toe is dipped in the larger world, into experience and life, and she finds herself going on, not only accepting the adventure, but being really stimulated about it.

It's mine to mess up because it's a beautiful play, and the design's really cool, and the musicians (music director) Dan Chouinard and Natalie Nowtski are astonishing, so if it isn't good, you can blame me and you should.

How is doing a one-woman show?

Not the least of which, it's somewhat of an endurance contest, you know? There's a lot of energy that is being sent out. And in the rehearsal hall, although I have an astonishing stage management team and I mean really, like, please say that—it's an astonishing team, they're so kind, and of course Peter, they're really attentive and enrapt and listen well, but they can't begin to approximate the energy I hope to receive from the audience. By the end of the evening, I will no doubt be ready to sort of drop.

Last thoughts?

It would be lovely for me if you could mention the design team which is pretty fantastic and that Latté Da is a really fantastic theater to work at. The piece can make one feel pretty vulnerable—being the only speaking words on stage can be a lonely thing—but when you're at Latté Da, you never feel lonely.

I have one more general house-keeping question: How long is the play?

About 90 minutes, no intermission. So pee before you sit down. [laughs] 'Ever graceful, ever the lady,' she says.

THEATER LATTÉ DA ANNOUNCES A DAZZLING AND DYNAMIC 2018-2019 SEASON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2018
Contact: Andrew Leshovsky
andrew@latteda.org
612-767-5646 office

 

 Tyler Michaels ( Cabaret ) to star in the titular role of Hedwig in  Hedwig and the Angry Inch , Photo credit Tom Sandelands

Tyler Michaels (Cabaret) to star in the titular role of Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Photo credit Tom Sandelands

The company continues its wide-ranging exploration of musical storytelling with the regional premiere of ONCE, an Off-Broadway run of Theater Latté Da’s original ALL IS CALM, Sondheim’s romantic comedy A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, a theatrical concert of CANDIDE in partnership with VocalEssence, the genre-bending sensation HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, and the
world premiere of TO LET GO AND FALL.

Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at
Latteda.org/season-tickets or by calling 612-339-3003.

(MINNEAPOLIS/ST PAUL) In September, Theater Latté Da will open Season 21 at the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis. The highly-celebrated company will launch a season that encompasses a continued commitment to Stephen Sondheim’s work, receives an Off-Broadway debut of a Latté Da original, rocks the Ritz Theater with a Tony Award-winning musical, embarks on an exciting collaboration, premieres a beautiful new play with dance, and continues its robust commitment to the development of new musicals and plays with music.

“I am thrilled to collaborate with many of the Twin Cities finest artists on a slate of dynamic, adventurous musicals and the world premiere of a beautiful new play with music by Harrison David Rivers,” says Founding Artistic Director Peter Rothstein.

The season opens September 12 with the regional premiere of ONCE by Enda Walsh with music by Glen Hansard and lyrics by Markéta Irglova. On the streets of Dublin, an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant are drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, an unexpected friendship and collaboration quickly evolves into a powerful but complicated love story, underscored by emotionally charged music. Peter Rothstein directs Once with music director Jason Hansen and  choreographer Kelli Foster Warder. This production will feature Twin Cities natives Ben Bakken (Five Points) and Britta Ollmann (Ragtime).

Theater Latté Da announces ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914, the poignant docu-musical theatre work about the World War I Christmas truce, will receive it’s Off-Broadway debut at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in New York City November 9-December 30, 2018. Created and directed by Peter Rothstein, the a capella production which has become an annual holiday classic, is brought to life by a cast of 10 actor/singers and beautifully blends iconic WWI patriotic tunes, trench songs, medieval ballads and Christmas carols. This moving ode to peace is directed by Peter Rothstein with vocal arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach. Twin Cities audiences will have the opportunity to see All is Calm at the Ritz Theater in a special one weekend engagement Nov 1-4, 2018 before its Off-Broadway debut. The production will be available as a season ticket add-on.

Theater Latté Da continues its celebrated commitment to the work of Stephen Sondheim building on past productions including Sunday in the Park with George, Company, Into the WoodsGypsy, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and their hugely successful production of Assassins. Sondheim's A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, with a book by Hugh Wheeler, will begin performances January 23, 2019. Part comedy of manners, part sexual farce, this funny, elegant work inspired by Ingmar Bergman's period film Smiles on a Summer Night explores the tangled web of love affairs centered around actress Desirée Armfeldt. The musical features a romantic score, set entirely in 3/4 time signatures, including Sondheim’s most popular song “Send in the Clowns.” Sally Wingert (Sweeney Todd) stars as Desirée Armfeldt in Theater Latté Da’s production of this masterwork. Directed by Peter Rothstein with music direction by Jason Hansen.

In an exciting collaboration and partnership with VocalEssence, Minneapolis' premiere choral music ensemble under the direction of internationally renowned conductor Philip Brunelle, Theater Latté Da is thrilled to announce a theatrical concert of Leonard Bernstein's CANDIDE. A tale exploding with star-crossed lovers, villains, Monty Python-esque comedy, and a beautiful score, Candide combines the power of opera with the delights of musical theatre. Wrapped in irony, this musical follows the optimistic young Candide in search of “the best of all possible worlds” on an extraordinary journey to reunite with his soulmate. An all-star cast will perform a theatrical concert version along with VocalEssence, allowing audiences to savor the epic beauty of Bernstein’s music.  Twin Cities native Liv Redpath, a Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist during 2017-18 season at the LA Opera, is Cunégonde and Bradley Greenwald (C.) is Voltaire and Pangloss. Candide will be performed at the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts March 21-24, 2019. Performances will be available as a season ticket add-on.

In the spring, Theater Latté Da brings the bold, heartbreaking, and wickedly funny, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask to the Ritz Theater. “Groundbreaking and undoubtedly ahead of its time,” says Entertainment Weekly, this genre-bending, fourth-wall-smashing musical sensation, with a pulsing rock score and electrifying performances, tells the story of one of the most unique characters to ever hit the stage. Winner of the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.  Latté Da favorite Tyler Michaels (Assassins) stars in the titular role of Hedwig, and Meghan Kreidler (Man of La Mancha), Ivey award-winner for Emerging Artist in 2017, as Yitzhak.  

Performances for our final production of Season 21 begin May 29 with the world premiere of TO LET GO AND FALL by Twin Cities playwright Harrison David Rivers (Five Points). The play features original music by Minneapolis-based Jelloslave cellists Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney. Todd and Arthur are two former ballet dancers who reunite at New York’s Lincoln Center Plaza having not seen each other for more than 25 years. This beautifully-told story takes us through the lives of both men, their choices, their regrets, and their coming to terms with age, illness and sexual identity. Directed by Peter Rothstein, the production features André Shoals (Man of La Mancha) and Mark Benninghofen (Sweeney Todd).

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 $110. Call the box office at 612-339-3003 or purchase online at Latteda.org.

THEATER LATTÉ DA NATIONAL PRESENCE

Theater Latté Da announces ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914, the poignant musical theatre work about the World War I Christmas truce, will have its off-Broadway debut at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in New York City, presented by Laura Little Theatrical Productions. Created by Peter Rothstein, the production will run from November 9 thru December 30, 2018. Visit Alliscalm.org for more information.

Theater Latté Da’s highly-acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, that opened the company’s 18th season, will be remounted at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida in the spring of 2019. Asolorep.org

SEASON 21

ONCE

Book by Enda Walsh
Music by Glen Hansard
Lyrics by Markéta Irglova

Directed by Peter Rothstein

Music Direction by Jason Hansen
Choreography by Kelli Foster Warder
Starring Ben Bakken and Britta Ollmann

September 12 – October 21, 2018
Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914 (Season Add-on)
By Peter Rothstein
Vocal Arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach
Directed by Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by Erick Lichte

November 1 - 4, 2018
Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

November 9 - December 30, 2018
Off-Broadway
Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, 18 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC

Book by Hugh Wheeler
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by Jason Hansen
Starring Sally Wingert as Desirée Armfeldt

January 23 - March 3, 2019
Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

CANDIDE A Theatrical Concert (Season Add-on)
Presented in partnership with VocalEssence
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur
Additional Lyrics by John Latouche, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Lillian Hellman and Dorothy Parker
Directed by Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by Philip Brunelle
Starring Liv Redpath as Cunégonde and Bradley Greenwald as Pangloss/Voltaire

March 21 - 24, 2019
Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, 528 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, 55403

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH

Book by John Cameron Mitchell
Music and Lyrics are by Stephen Trask
Directed by Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by Jason Hansen
Starring Tyler Michaels as Hedwig and Meghan Kreidler as Yitzhak

March 27 - May 5, 2019
The Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

TO LET GO AND FALL (World Premiere)
By Harrison David Rivers

Directed by Peter Rothstein
Original music by Jelloslave cellists Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney
Starring André Shoals and Mark Benninghofen

May 29 – June 30, 2019
Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

NEXT FESTIVAL 2019 (Season Add-on)
July 2019
Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413


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Sally Wingert And Dan Chouinard Bring Theater Latté Da's UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL To Life With Original Music By Frank London

 Sally Wingert, Photo by Allen Weeks

Sally Wingert, Photo by Allen Weeks

Theater Latté Da’s production of Underneath the Lintel by Glen Berger
features a newly-commissioned score by Frank London.

Underneath the Lintel stars Sally Wingert with original music performed by
Dan Chouinard and vocals by Natalie Nowytski.

CLICK HERE FOR PROMO PHOTOS

Performances begin May 30 at the Ritz Theater.

Single tickets go on sale May 1.
Visit Latteda.org or call our Box Office at 612-339-3003.

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) Theater Latté Da announces single tickets go on sale May 1 for Underneath the Lintel, starring Sally Wingert. As part of Theater Latté Da’s commitment to developing new works, this production of Glen Berger’s acclaimed play features original music commissioned by Latté Da from Grammy award-winning composer Frank London, founding member of The Klezmatics. Theater Latté Da Artistic Director Peter Rothstein directs the production with Music Director Dan Chouinard and vocalist Natalie Nowytski. Performances begin May 30 at the Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE in Minneapolis). Single tickets go on sale May 1 and can be purchased at Latteda.org or by calling 612-339-3003.

Underneath the Lintel chronicles the journey of a librarian who finds herself caught up in a cosmic puzzle that makes the Da Vinci Code seem like a game of hide and seek. A clue scribbled in the margin of a returned library book that is 113 years overdue leads her on an unforgettable odyssey that spans the globe and the ages. As the librarian travels around the world on her obsessive search, she finds herself unlocking ancient mysteries and new revelations about her place in the universe.

Theater Latté Da is thrilled to bring together the talents of the Emmy award-winning playwright Glen Berger and the Grammy award-winning Frank London, who with The Klezmatics won a Grammy in Contemporary World Music. Berger has received commissions from the Children’s Theater of Minneapolis and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He has written over a dozen plays including and co-wrote the book for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which appeared on Broadway in 2010. Frank London co-founded The Klezmatics in 1986. He plays trumpet and keyboard and sings with the group and has written many of the Klezmatics’ most popular songs. London has also added virtuosity to hundreds of concerts and recordings by everyone from John Zorn to They Might Be Giants, Mel Torme to Iggy Pop, Pink Floyd, Youssou N’dour, LaMonte Young, Allen Ginsberg and LL Cool J. Called the “mystical high priest of Avant-Klez jazz,” London has made 30 solo recordings and is featured on over 400 CDs.

“When Peter Rothstein approached me with the idea of setting original music to this play that I thought I was done with fifteen years ago, and to commission my genius colleague and some-time collaborator Frank London to compose that music, I thought…hell yes,” says playwright Glen Berger. “All my plays are first inspired by music, and Underneath the Lintel was inspired particularly by certain Klezmer/Yiddish music from the 1920s and earlier. There’s no better artist on the planet to take my initial inspiration and run with it than Frank London. It’s a thrilling opportunity and I’m grateful to Theater Latté Da for making it possible." 

"Klezmer and Cantorial music has the ability to take us to another place—to evoke nostalgia, sentimentality, spirituality and mystery,” says Composer Frank London. “It’s been an interesting exploration into how to take a play and heighten not only emotions, but relationships both inner and outer.”

Underneath the Lintel features scenic design by Michael Hoover, costume design by Willene Mangham, and lighting design by Barry Browning.

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:

UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL

By Glen Berger
Original Music by Frank London
Directed by Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by Dan Chouinard

 Starring: Sally Wingert

Dates: Wednesday, May 30 – Sunday, July 1, 2018

Venue: Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis MN 55413)
Tickets: Starting at $29

Performance Dates and Times

Wednesday, May 30 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
Thursday, May 31 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
Friday, June 1 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
Saturday, June 2 at 7:30 PM (Opening Night)
Sunday, June 3 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, June 6 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, June 7 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, June 8 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 9 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, June 9 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 10 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, June 13 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, June 14 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, June 15 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 16 at 2:00PM
Saturday, June 16 at 7:30PM
Sunday, June 17 at 2:00PM (Post-show Discussion)
Wednesday, June 20 at 7:30PM
Thursday, June 21 at 7:30PM (Post-show Discussion)
Friday, June 22 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 23 at 2:00PM
Saturday, June 23 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 24 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, June 27 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, June 28 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, June 29 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 30 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, June 30 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, July 1 at 2:00 PM

N.Y.-set musical 'Five Points' has Broadway ambitions but a Minneapolis pedigree

 John Jamison and T. Mychael Rambo rehearsed “Five Points,” premiering this week at Theatre Latté Da. Photo by Brian Peterson.

John Jamison and T. Mychael Rambo rehearsed “Five Points,” premiering this week at Theatre Latté Da. Photo by Brian Peterson.

A new musical about the birth of tap dance has Broadway ambitions but a Minneapolis pedigree. 

By Rohan Preston
Star Tribune
April 3, 2018

It’s not happening in the theater meccas of New York, London or Chicago.

“Five Points,” a much-anticipated new musical about the cultural tensions between African- and Irish-Americans that gave rise to tap dance, will premiere Saturday at the cozy Ritz Theater in Minneapolis.

It could be an electrifying debut for the composing team of Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar, who have Broadway ambitions for the show.

Based in New York, they met in 2012 in the touring company of “The Book of Mormon” (Lyons was onstage, Pakchar in the pit on guitar). They’ve been called the next Pasek and Paul, the duo behind the Oscar-winning “La La Land” and current Broadway smash “Dear Evan Hansen.”

The stakes also are high for Twin Cities playwright Harrison David Rivers, whom they hired to write the book, and Theater Latté Da, which is producing the show with an all-local cast.

“Five Points” represents a bold statement as the theater marks its 20th year.

“We’ve certainly done big musicals before but this is hugely ambitious, in terms of the size of the cast, the scope of the story, and [the fact] that both music and dance are equal elements,” said Latté Da artistic director Peter Rothstein, who has overseen the show’s accelerated development over the past two years.

“This takes us to the next level.”

Super-sized dance-offs

Named for the seedy district of Manhattan that served as a gateway to poor immigrants and a refuge for ex-slaves, “Five Points” is set in 1863 as the Civil War raged.

Blacks and whites lived and worked together, often uneasily, in this community of strivers. They also competed in dance-offs — freestyling much like battling rappers do today. These contests grew into spectacles that drew huge crowds and were promoted by showmen such as P.T. Barnum, a character in the show.

“The way they danced then was like a sporting event,” said Lyons, who wrote the lyrics and collaborated with Pakchar on the music. “It was their Super Bowl.”

The narrative is built around two hoofers who competed in real life. William Henry Lane, aka Master Juba, was an inventive African-American master. John Diamond was an Irish minstrel who fused black steps with those from his homeland.

Lane is portrayed by Lamar Jefferson, part of the cast that premiered the musical “Girl Shakes Loose” at Penumbra last spring, while Ben Bakken, seen recently in Chanhassen’s “Grease,” plays Diamond.

The creative team has exercised its artistic license to give body and soul to people about whom not much is known. The contests between Lane and Diamond took place in the 1840s, but dropping them “in the middle of the Civil War gives us a ticking time clock,” Lyons said.

And although “Five Points” is history-based, it’s aimed at modern audiences. The music is “something that you could hear on the radio,” said Lyons.

Rivers said the added dramatic underpinning helped flesh out characters who are mere historical sketches.

“Willie was a very young man who essentially died of exhaustion after being danced to death by P.T. Barnum,” the playwright said. “And John Diamond was a good match for him. In these dance battles, one of the men would star and the other would mimic what he did and take it further. They would go back and forth like that, and their distinct styles would congeal into what we know as tap.”

He sees the show as a metaphor for America.

“These two cultures are thrust together and the result of their different styles is something brand new.”

Parallels to ‘Ragtime’

That’s also a central idea of “Ragtime,” the musical to which this show is inevitably compared.

After a memorable Minneapolis staging of “Ragtime” in 2016, Rothstein did a version in Seattle last year, starring Lyons.

“This is set 40 years before ‘Ragtime,’ but there are thematic similarities certainly, around issues of national identity and cultural clashes that led to the birth of new art forms,” the director said.

While there are three principal narratives in “Ragtime” — around Jewish immigrants, African-Americans and WASPs — “Five Points” has only two. Even so, it is jam-packed, even epic in scale. “Each story line can easily be its own musical, and we’ve doubled them up,” said Latté Da’s new associate artistic director, Elissa Adams.

The show has a high-gloss cast of 14 Twin Cities dancers, singers and actors — including Ann Michels, Dieter Bierbrauer, Thomasina Petrus and T. Mychael Rambo, fresh from playing The Wiz at Children’s Theatre — plus a five-piece band led by Latté Da’s musical director, Denise Prosek. Kelli Foster Warder, who choreographed “Ragtime,” is creating the tense, sometimes exultant dances.

The creative team chose not to replicate some egregious practices of the past, including blackface, which both Lane and Diamond used. It was mindful, too, of the “whitewashing” criticism around the recent Barnum film “The Greatest Showman.”

“We wanted to illuminate how he exploited marginalized talent,” said Rothstein. “We’re still finessing that.” The story line creates parallels between the way Barnum pitted groups against each other for money, and how the military created conflict by drafting Irish immigrants while refusing blacks.

These lessons aren’t just historical, said Rothstein, referencing structural inequities that cause the poor and underserved to turn on each other.

“This is a story about us, today.”

 

Theater Latté Da's ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914 to receive off-Broadway debut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 12, 2018

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

THEATER LATTÉ DA’S ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914 TO RECEIVE OFF-BROADWAY DEBUT

The highly celebrated docu-musical about an extraordinary moment in history will be presented at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture produced by Laura Little Theatrical Productions.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS

Performances begin November 9 and continue through December 30, 2018
at the Sheen Center, New York City. Visit alliscalm.org for more information. 

(MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL) Theater Latté Da announces ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914the poignant musical theatre work about the World War I Christmas truce, will have its off-Broadway debut at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in New York City, presented by Laura Little Theatrical Productions. Created by Peter Rothstein, the production combines period songs and firsthand accounts of this remarkable event and has become an annual holiday classic. Since its premiere in 2007, the a capella production is brought to life by a cast of 10 actor/singers and beautifully blends iconic WWI patriotic tunes, trench songs, medieval ballads and Christmas carols from England, Wales, France, Belgium and Germany with texts written by more than 30 World War I figures. This moving ode to peace is directed by Theater Latté Da’s founding Artistic Director Peter Rothstein with vocal arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach. ALL IS CALM premiered in a live radio broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio on December 21, 2007.

ALL IS CALM recalls an astounding moment in history when Allied and German soldiers met in “No Man’s Land” and laid down their arms to celebrate the holiday together by trading carols, sharing food and drink, playing soccer and burying the dead. In some places the truce lasted only a night, in others it endured until New Year’s Day. Rothstein believes that music, an important part of life in the trenches, helped create a context that made the truce possible. “Music was the common language, and as winter set in, the men began to hold impromptu concerts, singing to each other across the battle fields, creating trust and a camaraderie,” says Rothstein.

Rothstein conducted research for two years to develop ALL IS CALM. “I wanted to tell the story in their own words, I created the drama by stringing together letters, war documents, autobiographies, World War I poetry, gravestone inscriptions, even an old radio broadcast,” says Rothstein. “For decades, the truce was considered a romantic fable, fiction, and I wanted to give legitimate voice to this remarkable moment that had somehow been denied its rightful place in history. I cannot express how gratifying it has been to share the story of these heroic men, in their own words, across the country and around the globe.”

Since ALL IS CALM had its world premiere in a live broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio in 2007, the show has enjoyed global success with broadcasts on five continents through American Public Media and the European Broadcasting Union. The program has won awards including the Gold World Medal at the 2010 New York Festivals and the 2010 Gabriel Award, which honors works of excellence in broadcasting that serve audiences through the positive, creative treatment of concerns to humankind.

ALL IS CALM has toured the United States for ten seasons, reaching more than 50 cities playing prestigious venues such as The Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Cal Performances (Berkeley, CA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York). The work has also been licensed and performed by theater companies and choruses across the US and Canada.

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

About the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture

Located in the NoHo/East Village section of downtown New York on historic Bleecker Street, the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture is an vibrant new arts organization that presents over 75 events a year specializing in theatre, music, film, and talks. A project of the Archdiocese of New York, the Sheen Center complex encompasses the 270-seat Loreto mainstage theatre, a 90-seat Black Box Theatre, four rehearsal studios, and an Art Gallery. ALL IS CALM will be performed in the Loreto Mainstage Theater. www.sheencenter.org

About Laura Little Theatrical Productions

Laura Little Theatrical Productions brings vision and passion to producing exceptional theater. Broadway credits include co-producer of the Tony-award winning productions of Come From Away and Peter and the Starcatcher. Other producing credits include: First Date starring Zachary Levi, Johnny BaseballTraditions of Christmas and a reading of The Giver featuring Patty Duke. Laura Little has also produced concerts featuring Doug Webster, pianist/vocalist Kevin Cole, and singer Cami Bradley. She is looking forward to her role as lead producer in the off-Broadway production of Theater Latté Da’s All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914. www.lauralittletheatricals.com

FACT SHEET
ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914

Written by Peter Rothstein
Vocal Arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach
Directed by Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by Erick Lichte

Costume Design by Trevor Bowen
Lighting Design by Marcus Dilliard
Sound Design by Nicholas Tranby

The Western Front, Christmas, 1914. Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. A German soldier steps into No Man's Land singing "Stille Nacht." Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music, peace. A remarkable true story, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it.

 Venue: Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (18 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012)
Dates: Nov 9-Dec 30, 2018
Tickets: Visit sheencenter.org or call 212-925-2812

Performances Dates and Times

Friday, November 9, 2018 at 7:30PM (Preview)
Saturday, November 10, 2018 at 7:30PM (Preview)
Sunday, November 11, 2018 at 2:00PM (Preview)
Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 7:30PM (Preview)
Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 7:30PM (Preview)
Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 7:30PM (Preview)
Friday, November 16, 2018 at 7:30PM (Preview)
Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 7:30PM (Preview)
Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 2:00PM (Opening)
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 2:00PM
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 at 7:30PM
Friday, November 23, 2018 at 2:00PM
Friday, November 23, 2018 at 7:30PM
Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 2:00PM
Saturday, November 24, 2018 at 7:30PM
Sunday, November 25, 2018 at 2:00PM
Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 2:00PM
Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 7:30PM
Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 7:30PM
Friday, November 30, 2018 at 7:30PM
Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 2:00PM
Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 7:30PM
Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 2:00PM
Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 7:00PM
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 2:00PM
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7:30PM
Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 7:30PM
Friday, December 7, 2018 at 7:30PM
Saturday, December 8, 2018 at 7:30PM
Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 2:00PM
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at 2:00PM
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 at 7:30PM
Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 7:30PM
Friday, December 14, 2018 at 7:30PM
Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 2:00PM
Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 7:30PM
Sunday, December 16, 2018 at 2:00PM
Sunday, December 16, 2018 at 7:00PM
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 2:00PM
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 7:30PM
Thursday, December 20, 2018 at 7:30PM
Friday, December 21, 2018 at 7:30PM
Saturday, December 22, 2018 at 2:00PM
Saturday, December 22, 2018 at 7:30PM
Sunday, December 23, 2018 at 2:00PM
Monday, December 24, 2018 at 2:00PM
Wednesday, December 26, 2018 at 2:00PM
Wednesday, December 26, 2018 at 7:30PM
Thursday, December 27, 2018 at 7:30PM
Friday, December 28, 2018 at 7:30PM
Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 2:00PM
Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 7:30PM
Sunday, December 30, 2018 at 2:00PM
 

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Minneapolis theater takes a shot at controversial musical ASSASSINS

 Tyler Michaels (Balladeer/Oswald), Photo by Emilee Elofson

Tyler Michaels (Balladeer/Oswald), Photo by Emilee Elofson

By CHRIS HEWITT , STAR TRIBUNE
February 02, 2018 - 10:05 AM

Peter Rothstein had announced plans to produce “Assassins” when two events confirmed that it was the right time to stage the Stephen Sondheim musical about people who shoot presidents.

The first was last summer, at a concert staging of “Assassins” in New York.

“When they reached the line ‘Every now and then the country goes a little wrong,’ for a minute the show just stopped and people cheered,” said Rothstein, citing a song sung by John Wilkes Booth (“The Ballad of Booth”) in the show. “And then the singer gets to, ‘Every now and then a madman is bound to come along’ and it was the same thing: People cheered for a minute.”

Then, last fall, he was at a charity event when a stranger twice joined circles of people Rothstein was chatting with and introduced the topic of our current president, asking, “Can’t someone just shoot him?”

Says Rothstein, “I thought, ‘My God. Could I imagine my parents at a cocktail party — even with friends, never mind strangers — sharing a thought like that?’ ”

The bumpy history of 'Assassins'

“Let them cry, ‘Dirty traitor!’ They will understand it later. The country is not what it was.”

“The Ballad of Booth”

Rothstein has thought about staging the provocative show for years — he has a no-longer-secret aim for his Theater Latté Da to produce all of Sondheim’s works — but it’s been tricky finding the right time.

Opening this week at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis, “Assassins” features strong language and guns, but most of the controversy stems from asking audiences to empathize (but not agree) with the twisted thinking of some of history’s most notorious people, including Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and John Hinckley Jr.

“We have a board member who was recommending it, two years ago, and I dismissed it: ‘No, no. Not the right time. The first African-­American president is not the time,’ ” Rothstein said.

Also, while he loves the show, he wasn’t sure how to direct it.

“Maybe it’s because I’m an idealist, not a cynic, but I have struggled with finding its point of view, or being OK that maybe there isn’t a point of view,” he said.

What helped is the song “Something Just Broke,” which steps outside the stories of the assassins to show the audience the impact of the killers and would-be killers’ actions on a heartbroken public. That song was not in the original 1990 off-Broadway production — or in the first script Rothstein had for “Assassins” — but he said its addition to a 1992 London production helped him begin to unlock the musical.

“And, to be honest, the current political climate gave me a way in,” he said, citing a perception from the left and the right that something is broken in our government, as well as the epidemics of gun violence and untreated mental illness, both of which are themes addressed in “Assassins.”

“Nothin’ wrong about what I’ve done. Some men have everything and some have none.”

“The Ballad of Czolgosz”

“We’re trying to make it very, very clear that this show does not advocate that people take matters into their own hands,” Rothstein said. “But it does explore the psychology.

“People may say you shouldn’t empathize with this sort of behavior, but I don’t think that’s true. If you don’t empathize, how do you understand? How do you potentially change the course?”

There’s mental illness at the core of all of the characters in “Assassins” — from Charles J. Guiteau, who was angry at James Garfield for not making him an ambassador; to Hinckley, who claimed he attempted to kill Ronald Reagan to impress actor Jodie Foster — but Rothstein notes that they sought things most people seek: love, acceptance, fame, money, understanding.

“Assassins” gets that across with Sondheim’s trademark irony. “The Ballad of Booth,” for instance, contains shocking language as the murderer defends his actions, but it’s also the most beautiful song in the show.

“It’s so glorious, that piece of music,” Rothstein said. “There’s no way this piece could work as a play because the layering and juxtaposition of hearing people sing some pretty horrific things to this lush, gorgeous music is so important. Booth throws up the N-word inside the most glorious, lyrical line of the song.”

Those contrasts create some problems that Rothstein is using the rehearsal process to solve. For instance, Guiteau usually points a gun into the audience during “The Gun Song.” With a new outbreak of gun violence virtually every week, is that too much for an audience to take?

Rothstein loves that startling moment, which — irony again — also involves the play’s biggest laugh. But a call from a Latté Da subscriber, a psychologist at the Minneapolis Veterans Medical Center, has given him pause.

“She said, ‘I’m not telling you what to do, and we’re huge fans of the theater, but as someone who has worked with people who have post-traumatic stress, it can be really, really problematic to have a gun pointed in their direction,’ ” Rothstein said. As rehearsals began, he was still deciding how to stage the moment in a way that does not glorify guns or unduly alarm audiences.

The History Theatre in St. Paul staged “Assassins” in 1993. The show’s director, Ron Peluso, who subsequently became the theater’s artistic director, isn’t sure he would handle guns the same way in 2018.

“[Bill] Clinton had just been elected and I don’t recall any serious flak, but I wasn’t the one sitting in the hot seat then,” he said. “We were on a thrust [stage], so it was a very intimate space, with the audience sitting 5 feet away, and that very last moment, all nine assassins fired their weapons right into the house. Then, there was a blackout. And probably the letters started pouring in.

“I think if I were the artistic director, I would have a new idea for a guest director coming in today.”

“Aim for what you want a lot. Everybody gets a shot. Everybody’s got a right to their dreams.”

“Everybody’s Got the Right”

“The genius of the piece is they’ve made these characters so logical, and even simpatico with, at least, my view of how I want the world to be,” Rothstein said. “So I’m trying to figure out this idea of: How do you empathize with them up to that moment when you need to judge them? Because you do need that.”

In an immersive twist, Latté Da’s “Assassins” will give audiences a chance to interact with the characters. An hour before the show, theatergoers will be able to go up on the carnivallike set to chat with and buy drinks from the actors while also participating in games such as break-the-balloon-with-a-dart.

“I like that there’s not this fourth wall,” he said. “The audience are the actors’ scene partners. And the carnival setting is even more poignant right now because the presidency has become a circus, and, whether we want to be or not, we are all at this circus. Over the course of the evening, we begin maybe to think about, ‘I was having fun and a beer in the carnival. I just took a picture with [would-be Gerald Ford assassin] Squeaky Fromme. But now it has become this horrific space.’ ”

There’s more of Sondheim’s irony in that disconnect, but the goal of the production is sincere and irony-free: If audiences feel empathy for the assassin who has just handed them a Dum-Dums sucker as a prize, suggests Rothstein, they may also make the effort to understand why someone might feel so hopeless and disenfranchised that they make a terrible, terrible mistake.

“There’s another national anthem, folks. For those who never win. For the suckers, for the pikers. For the ones who might have been.”

“Another National Anthem”

@StribHewitt • 612-673-4367

Assassins

Who: By Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman. Directed by Peter Rothstein.

When: Previews 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Fri. Opening 7:30 p.m. Sat.; 2 p.m. Sun. Ends March 18.

Where: Ritz Theater, 345 13th Av. NE., Mpls.

Tickets: $29-$49, 612-339-3003, latteda.org.

THEATER LATTÉ DA ANNOUNCES THE CAST OF SONDHEIM’S HILARIOUS, THOUGHT-PROVOKING ASSASSINS

Considered Stephen Sondheim’s most controversial musical, ASSASSINS provides a glimpse into the psychology of America’s four successful and five would-be presidential assassins.

ASSASSINS features Tyler Michaels as the Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald,
Dieter Bierbrauer as John Wilkes Booth, and Shinah Brashears as Lynette "Squeaky” Fromme.

CLICK HERE FOR PROMOTIONAL PHOTOS

Performances begin February 7 at the Ritz Theater.
Single tickets go on sale January 2; season tickets are on sale now at latteda.org or 612-339-3003.

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) Theater Latté Da announces casting for the comedic and provocative musical ASSASSINS. Winner of 5 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical, Assassins lays bare the lives of nine individuals who assassinated or attempted to assassinate the President of the United States, in a one-act historical "revusical" that explores the dark side of the American experience. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, writers Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, bend the rules of time and space, taking us on a nightmarish roller coaster ride in which assassins and would-be assassins from different historical periods meet, intersect, and goad each other to harrowing acts in the name of the American Dream. Theater Latté Da Artistic Director Peter Rothstein directs the production with Music Director Jason Hansen. Performances begin February 7 at the Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE in Minneapolis). Single tickets go on sale January 2; season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at latteda.org or by calling 612-339-3003.

Set in an old-time carnival, Theater Latté Da invites patrons to arrive early and enter into an immersive experience with an hour-long pre-show carnival on stage. Audiences are encouraged to interact with the cast, enjoy food and drink, play vintage carnival games, and win prizes.

A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassins combines Stephen 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. Bold, original, disturbing, and alarmingly funny, Assassins has been called “the most controversial musical ever written.”

“I was inspired to do Assassins in our 20th season by the political discourse over the past 18 months. In our last election, both ends of the political spectrum focused their messages on how government has failed the American people,” says Rothstein. “Sondheim gives us powerful portraits of people who feel so disenfranchised from the American promise that they turn towards violence.  Doing Assassins now provides us with a way to ask the question: How might we pull ourselves and each other back from that kind of personal and political brink?"

Jason Hansen music directs Sondheim’s masterpiece. Collaborating with Latté Da is not new to Hansen, who has arranged and directed past productions including Aida and Into the Woods. “In Assassins, Sondheim conjures music from different periods in American life and allows them to refract and collide in such a powerful way. Audiences will hear American folk songs, Sousa-style marches, and the gospel sound of a late 1800’s tent revival. Plus, the whole musical is set inside a carnival, so aspects of the score even allude to turn-of-the-century circus and carnival music.”

Peter Rothstein has assembled an all-star cast including Tyler Michaels as the Balladeer and Lee Harvey Oswald. Michaels has appeared in multiple Theater Latté Da productions including Peter and the Starcatcher, Sweeney Todd, and Cabaret. Dieter Bierbrauer, a Latté Da favorite (Oliver, Company), stars as John Wilkes Booth. Shinah Brashears (Latté Da’s GYPSY!, Into the Woods) is Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. Eric Morris makes his Latté Da debut as Giuseppe Zangara. He was most recently seen in Old Log Theater’s Million Dollar Quartet. Several other cast members will make their return to Theater Latté Da’s most-anticipated production of the season. Sara Ochs (Man of La Mancha, Sweeney Todd) is Sara Jane Moore/Emma Goldman; Jim Detmar (Cabaret, Spring Awakening) as Samuel Byck, Rodolfo Nieto, who recently returned from the national tour of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, is Leon Czolgosz, Evan Tyler Wilson, (All is Calm, Sweeney Todd) is John Hinkley. Ben Dutcher (All is Calm, Master Class) is featured as Charles Guiteau. Matt Riehle (Man of La Mancha, C.) is the Proprietor. Mario Esteb (GYPSY!) is Billy.

ASSASSINS features scenic design by Eli Schlatter, costume design by Alice Fredrickson, 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:

ASSASSINS

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
Directed by Peter Rothstein
Music Direction by Jason Hansen

Featuring: Dieter Bierbrauer,* Shinah Brashears,* Jim Detmar,* Ben Dutcher,* Mario Esteb, Tyler Michaels,* Eric Morris,* Rodolfo Nieto, Sara Ochs,* Matt Riehle, Evan Tyler Wilson

Dates: Wednesday, February 7 – Sunday, March 18, 2018
Venue: Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis MN 55413)

A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassins combines Stephen 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. The musical provides a glimpse into the psychology of America’s four successful and five would-be presidential assassins. Bold, original, disturbing, and alarmingly funny, Assassins has been called “the most controversial musical ever written.”

Performance Dates and Times:
Wednesday, February 7 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
Thursday, February 8 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
Friday, February 9 at 7:30 PM (Preview)
Saturday, February 10 at 7:30 PM (Opening Night)
Sunday, February 11 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, February 14 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, February 15 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, February 16 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, February 17 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, February 17 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, February 18 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, February 21 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, February 22 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, February 23 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, February 24 at 2:00PM
Saturday, February 24 at 7:30PM
Sunday, February 25 at 2:00PM (Post-show Discussion)
Wednesday, February 28 at 7:30PM
Thursday, March 1 at 7:30PM (Post-show Discussion)
Friday, March 2 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 3 at 2:00PM
Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, March 4 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, March 7 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, March 8 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, March 9 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 10 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, March 10 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, March 11 at 2:00 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Wednesday, March 14 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, March 15 at 7:30 PM (Post-Show Discussion)
Friday, March 16 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 17 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, March 18 at 2:00 PM

THEATER LATTÉ DA TAKES CENTER STAGE IN SHERIDAN

 Tod Petersen (center) leads a band of carolers through a Partridge Family-esque tune in his largely one-man show, Theater Latté Da's “A Christmas Carole Petersen.” Photos by Allen Weeks

Tod Petersen (center) leads a band of carolers through a Partridge Family-esque tune in his largely one-man show, Theater Latté Da's “A Christmas Carole Petersen.” Photos by Allen Weeks

By ERIC BEST

The rising theater company is celebrating its 20th season in a new home

Tod Petersen is spending the holiday season pretending to be his mother on stage at the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis.

The actor and Columbia Heights resident is the star of “A Christmas Carole Petersen,” a 17-year-old show directed by Peter Rothstein, Theater Latté Da’s artistic director, that offers a twist on the popular tale of finding faith in Christmas.

The show, a staple from the rising non-profit musical theater company, has traversed venues over the years, from the Ordway Center to the Ritz, which Theater Latté Da purchased last year to make its new home. With its stage and admin offices in the historic building, staff with Theater Latté Da say the company is poised for growth.

“It really feels good to have a home and a neighborhood,” Petersen said.

The former movie theater has been a fixture in the Sheridan neighborhood for more than 90 years. The Ritz opened in 1926 and, over the years, has been the home of two performing arts company: Cricket Theatre in the 1970s and the Ballet of the Dolls for roughly the past decade. Without a permanent home, Theater Latté Da began using the roughly 240-seat theater a few years ago and moved ahead with the purchase last year.

The company, now in its 20th season, is no stranger to small theaters. Rothstein’s company got its start at the now-defunct Loring Playhouse, a 120-seat venue in Loring Park. The small size has led to longer runs of shows and more ambitiously creative work, Rothstein said.

“I’m not afraid to put adventurous work there because I don’t need to sell 2,000 seats a night,” he said.

 Photo credit Allen Weeks

Photo credit Allen Weeks

Not your mom’s “A Christmas Carol”

Petersen, an artistic associate and regular actor with Theater Latté Da, brought back “A Christmas Carole Petersen” by Rothstein’s request. The largely one-man show combines campy Christmas cabaret with the “A Christmas Carol” narrative of finding goodwill and the magic of the holiday.

For much of the show, the 6-foot-3 Petersen, this tale’s Scrooge, plays several characters, from the titular character — his mom with her Minnesota accent, Midwestern sensibilities and all — to a young, wide-eyed version of himself. The actor said the show isn’t exactly a documentary. Each character has several layers of enthusiasm added on.

“[My mother] is not as expressive, but as an actor I have to define my characters,” he said.

Straying from the traditional holiday story, “A Christmas Carole Petersen” delves into new territory as Petersen grapples with an over-functioning family, being a non-believer during Christmastime and depression. At one point, Petersen’s mom invites his ex-boyfriend to their holiday celebration during the height of his seasonal malaise.

Bringing the show back was an easy decision for Petersen, he said. For many actors, he said, Theater Latté Da is a company they aspire to work with.

“If they haven’t, they want to,” he said. “I think Theater Latté Da holds a valued place in the theater community just for excellence.”

Rothstein is a big reason why. Asked what he expects when he joins a Rothstein show, Petersen said the word “fun” comes to mind.

“Peter, along with his meticulous, thoughtful artistry, he’s hilarious, lighthearted [and] doesn’t take himself too seriously — [he] takes the work very seriously — but it’s a blast,” he said.

Rothstein said Theater Latté Da’s unique focus on musical theater, something theatergoers would typically see on Broadway, gives them a niche. A Stephen Sondheim show makes its way into each season.

The director said he wants the company to be “at the table” in producing the next generation of great American musical theater. As an art form, Rothstein said, musicals are shortchanged.

“It’s poetry. Its’ fashion. It’s drama. It’s putting all those arts forms on to the stage, and it’s thrilling to me,” he said.

ritz_1.jpg

Taking the national stage

Despite its humble home, Theater Latté Da is one of the fastest-growing performing arts companies in a dense Twin Cities theater scene.

Andrew Leshovsky, a marketing manager with the company, said the company’s subscriptions have exponentially grown in recent seasons. Theater Latté Da is adding more artistic and leadership staff while several of its most successful musicals are being restaged nationally in larger cities and getting globetrotting tours.

“We’re growing very quickly, which is a great problem to have,” Leshovsky said.

What’s next for the company? Building its audience in its new Northeast Minneapolis community. Many locals are still unaware that a high-profile theater company is producing nationally recognized work in a building that they may still think is vacant.

“We’ll have people that’ll just knock on the door and say ‘What’s going on? Who’s in here?’” Leshovsky said. “More than anything else, I think the neighbors were happy to have somebody come in and inhabit the space again.”

Rothstein said he wants the Ritz to be the area’s neighborhood theater. Theater Latté Da is building programs to reach residents, including a 13 for 13 program that allows people living in the 55413 ZIP code to buy $13 tickets.

The Ritz — an “icon of the neighborhood,” Rothstein said — gives the company a stage to be in the national dialogue on musical theater and grow their local audience.

“We’re invested locally in a way we have never been before because we’re owners of a building in a neighborhood of diversity [and] cultural exchange,” he said.

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