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.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FACT SHEET:

MAN OF LA MANCHA

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

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

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

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

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

Performance Dates and Times:

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

###

Theater Latté Da Announces 2017-18 Season

American Theatre Editors American Theatre Magazine

May 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pamela EspelandMinnPost

May 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season tickets are on sale now.

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

Jay GablerCity Pages Minneapolis

May 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theatre Latté Da: 2017-18 season

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

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

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

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

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

New Work Festival Summer 2018

Classics and new work in next Theater Latte Da season

Chris HewittPioneer Press

May 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theater Latté Da Launches its 20th Anniversary Season!

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

 

 

Theater Latté Da Launches its 20th Anniversary Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theater Latté Da On The Road

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

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

 

20th ANNIVERSARY SEASON AT A GLANCE

 

MAN OF LA MANCHA

Written by Dale Wasserman

Lyrics by Joe Darion

Music by Mitch Leigh

Directed by Peter Rothstein

Music Direction by Denise Prosek

Featuring Rodolfo Nieto and Jon-Michael Reese

September 13, 2017 - October 22, 2017

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROLE PETERSEN

Written by Tod Petersen and Peter Rothstein

Directed by Peter Rothstein

Music Direction by Denise Prosek

Starring Tod Petersen

November 29, 2017 - December 30, 2017

 

ASSASSINS

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Book by John Weidman

Directed by Peter Rothstein

Music Direction by Jason Hansen

Featuring Deiter Bierbrauer, Tyler Michaels, and Sara Ochs

February 7, 2018 - March 18, 2018

 

FIVE POINTS (World Premiere)

Book by Harrison David Rivers

Music by Ethan D. Pakchar & Douglas Lyons

Lyrics by Douglas Lyons

April 4, 2018 - May 6, 2018

 

UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL

By Glen Berger

Music by Frank London

Directed by Peter Rothstein

Music Direction by Dan Chouinard

Starring Sally Wingert

May 30, 2018 - July 1, 2018

 

NEXT FESTIVAL

Summer 2018

Venues and show titles to be announced

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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